Posts Tagged With: Politics

The Demise of American Exceptionalism?

“American Exceptionalism” is a term that has resurfaced in recent times. This phrase has echoes in the American Revolution, Alex de Tocqueville and Abraham Lincoln. It reflects the unique origins and principles upon which the United States was established and its role in the world.

am-flagIf ever that phrase was under challenge it is now. When a nation of over 300 million people has placed before it two very unexceptional people as a choice for president any claim to exceptionalism comes under intense scrutiny. It could be argued that the two candidates, in fact, represent two aspects of American society that reveal the baser instincts of humanity – the power hungry political machine and the excesses of capitalism.

No matter who wins on Tuesday, the USA is going to struggle to assemble some social and political equilibrium in the future. This comes on top of its unwillingness as a society to deal with issues of guns, race and social inequality.

To prove to itself and the world that the title of being exceptional is justified, the nation needs to show that it has the willingness and moral fortitude to confront these issues. The next few decades will reveal which aspect of the American character will come to the fore.

 

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Categories: History, Politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

My Turn

I have been watching the American election process with a fascinated horror. It is like observing a slow motion train wreck and being helpless to do anything about it. For me, it is scary to think that the “winner” will wield amazing power within and outside the US.

Yet the most appalling part of this debacle is watching the behaviour of many of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Their writhing and slithering around the candidates with obfuscation and weasel words is sickening to witness.

Let’s get a  few things straight. Every political candidate is going to be flawed. We won’t get the perfect candidate until we are in heaven – and then we won’t need them anyway. Less flippantly however, it is the hope that fellow Christians put into the political process, as though this process is going to be a means of “salvation”, which is alarming.

Christ was neither for the Jewish leaders nor the Romans. His allegiance was to the Father. I think we can learn a lot from that. Our allegiance should not be primarily for one party or the other but to the Father and His purposes. Our task is to put forward an image of an entirely different Kingdom – not a kingdom where we need to create a hierarchy of crucial issues and  choose abortion over gun control, or tax over social justice as issues, but rather where we give the world in which we live a picture of what life can be like under King Jesus. We can begin by showing that in our families, in the way we treat the weak and the vulnerable … and the list is endless. The problem has been that we have seduced by our culture. That seduction is in large part the the reason why there is teeth gnashing amongst many Christians today.  We have come to realise, rather late, how far the temptation has led us astray

For too long we have made the mistake of  assuming that democracy is somehow “Christian”. Like Churchill I believe it is the worst of all forms of government  except for all the rest. Now that Western societies have largely foregone their Christian values of the past (which, by the way, enabled democracy to work) we can no longer assume that the majority will get things right. For Christians there is a growing clash of values. We need to rethink our place and purpose in modern post-Christian democracies. I am not saying, don’t be involved – we need to be. But it isn’t the source of our hope.

I believe we are seeing the discomfort and angst of that transition in the current US election. But that uncomfortableness is true for any political arena in Western democracies today. In the US today that change is so glaringly in the spotlight.

Our task is to think about what allegiance to the Father means and how we can be counter cultural in a genuine way in this changing world.

Categories: Christianity, Church, Politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

The Budget Betrayal and Christians

The Word in Hand

Whom do we follow?

Some time has passed since the Federal budget. In that time I have been reflecting on the responses by fellow Christians and non – Christians alike. Why has there been such an outcry? Politicians have lied to us in the past. There is nothing new about that. Why are people so affronted now?

I think I have one reason.  After the confusion and lies of the previous Labor government, Australians were looking for something new and fresh, something different from the turmoil and back flipping that had been going on.  They were tired of it.  Tony Abbott, astutely, played to that confusion and promised certainty and no more lies.  We all knew that the “lie” bit was a lie but we hoped anyway.  This desire of the people to have politics played differently was strong. We have seen that in the move to independent members of parliament and minor parties.

So when the budget came out and promise after promise was broken at a scale never before seen in Australian politics, many people felt betrayed and, I believe, justifiably so.  Even worse, the most vulnerable were targeted with the budget decisions – here and overseas.  If promises had to be broken why wasn’t the Paid Parental Leave scheme, delayed?  Is it too cynical to suggest that most of these people who would benefit would vote Liberal?  Why wasn’t the abolition of the Mining Rent Tax shelved – just as money was starting to come in?  Is it that the miners are too powerful?  There are many more uncomfortable questions like this.  Do I believe that we have to live within our means? Certainly, but there are different ways to go about it.  Starting from the weak up is not it.

But personally, I feel betrayed at a different level as well.  As a child of the King, and many in the Government claim to be His, I cringe when I see fellow children of the King, in politics, obfuscate, justify and support policies that would make the King weep.  Christ directed his followers to support the needy, weak and vulnerable.  He modelled it for us.  He, in fact, has given power to these brothers and sisters in politics and claims their first allegiance – before all else and that includes the Party.

So what is my job now? Matt 18 reminds me that when a brother or sister sins or sins against me I need to go them and speak to them.  And yes, undermining the safety net we have for the vulnerable, I believe, falls into that category. That will have to be my first step.  A step I need to take in grace – even when I feel angry and betrayed.

Categories: Ethics, Obedience, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

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