Friday, August 29, 2008

interesting choice

Americans have been offered an interesting choice when it comes to who to vote for this fall. The tickets on both sides are similar in different ways.

TIcket for the Democrats:
- little general experience
- no foreign relations experience
- can get the minority vote
- liberal

- lots of general experience
- lots of foreign relations experience
- can get the blue collar vote
- moderately liberal

Ticket for the Republicans:
- lots of general experience
- lots of foreign relations experience
- can get the independent/moderate vote
- moderately conservative

- little general experience
- no foreign relations experience
- can get the conservative & soccer mom vote
- conservative

It is interesting how similar McCain and Biden look and how similar Obama and Palin look. McCain and Biden are both the established Washington-types. They are both old, white men who have served in the Senate for decades. They are both more moderate than their running mates.

Likewise, Obama and Palin are Washington outsiders who want to shake things up. They both are young, attractive and new. Neither one has much experience and both are, in their own right, "minorities" in Washington. They both have already made history and will continue to make history if elected.

The big difference that I see is the order of the ticket. Democrats have put inexperience and newness at the top of the ticket with experience and age at the bottom. Republicans have reversed that order by putting experience and age at the top of the ticket with inexperience and newness at the bottom. It seems that each Presidential candidate has sought to bring balance to their ticket through their VP pick.

In the end, the outcome will be decided neither by the far right nor by the far left. It won't be decided by the blue states or the red states. As in past elections, this one will come down to the independents and the moderates, specifically the ones who are voting in swing states.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

and the VP will be...


Obama: a mix of preacher and professor
paired with
Biden: a mix of steel worker and statesman


McCain: a mix of maverick and war hero
paired with
Sarah Palin: a mix of reformer and soccer mom

What a weird election!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Principles and Policies for Christian Voters

If you read the title of this post, you might think that it is the title of a Religious Right group teaching church goers on how to vote Republican. This is just the sort of thing the Christian Coalition put out in the 90's.

Well, now Christian Democrats are using the same tactics. The very thing the Dems slammed the Religious Right for doing in the 90's, they are now doing. Sojourners has put out a pamphlet that directs Christians on how to vote on the issues. They call it "an issues guide for Christians." You can read it here.

To their credit, there is actually some good stuff in it. Here are their basic principles that they believe should guide Christians on what to vote for:

Compassion and Economic Justice
- Work must work and provide for family economic success and security.
- Children should not be poor.
- Extreme global poverty must end.

So far so good. These are things we can all stand for.

Peace and Restraint of Violence
- Bring peace to Iraq.
- Eliminate nuclear weapons.
- Support security and freedom in the Middle East.
- Strengthen the United Nations and international law to fight terrorism.

These views fall squarely in line with the Democratic Party's foreign policy. While I agree that these general principles are based on Christian values, the way you go about achieving these goals will vary depending on whether you are a Republican or Democrat.

Consistent Ethic of Life
- Dramatically reduce abortion.
- End capital punishment.
- Stop genocide.

This is where the supposed "Christian values" look more Democratic than Christian. If Sojourners really wanted to have a "Consistent Ethic of Life" then their language about abortion would match their language about genocide and capital punishment.

Notice how they want to "End" capital punishment and "Stop" genocide. But when it comes to abortion they can't bring themselves to use strong language like that. They don't want to "end" abortion or "stop" the mass genocide of unborn children, instead they only want to "dramatically reduce."

This kind of pandering to the Democratic party has no part in a pamphlet that claims to be espousing "Christian values." And conspicuously absent from the list is any discussion of ending "euthanasia." Once again, Sojourners shows their true colors.

Racial Justice
- Reverse racial disparities.
- End environmental racism.

Again, these basic goals and principles line up with Christian values. The way to accomplish these goals will differ based on party affiliation.

Human Rights, Dignity, and Gender Justice
- Establish humane and holistic immigration policies.
- End torture worldwide.
- Stop human trafficking, promote religious freedom, fight HIV/AIDS, and defend the rights of women.

Strengthen Families and Renew Culture
- Strengthen marriage and families.
- Restore integrity to our civic and business practices.
- Prevent violence.

Good Stewardship of God’s Creation
- Reverse global climate change.
- Prioritize clean air and water.
- Develop clean and renewable energy.

In these last three sections are some of the issues that Christians should be able to rally around the easiest. Christians from both parties shouldn't have views that are so different that they couldn't work to accomplish these goals.

So in this "Principles and Policies for Christian Voters" pamphlet we see some good ideas mixed in with some hypocrisy. While it clearly has a bent toward policies that align with the Democratic Party, there are some positive ideas that Christians can get behind.

There are two thing, however, that are somewhat disturbing about this pamphlet. First, it is scary just how much like the Religious Right it is. It is scary for a any group to try to suggest the "Christian" way to vote on all the issues. Sojourners needs to be careful with these sort of suggestions. They sound eerily like the Christian Coalition of the late 90's.

Secondly, it is disturbing to read what Sojourners believes is a "Consistent Ethic of Life." It is neither consistent nor much of an ethic at all. If they hope to motivate conservative Christians to be more passionate about economic, environmental and peace issues, they need to come clean about their lack of passion about life issues.

It is hypocritical to want to "end" genocide in Darfur without also wanting to "end" the genocide of the unborn in the U.S. Sojourners says, "All life is a sacred gift from God, and public policies should reflect a consistent ethic of life." I hope they eventually come to terms with the fullness of what this really means, especially when it comes to abortion.

Finally, I would just caution all Christians to be careful whenever any group decides that their way to vote is the "Christian" way to vote. Just as conservative Christians should be cautious with these sort of statements from the Christian Coalition, liberal Christians should be cautious with these sort of statements from Sojourners.

There are, no doubt, biblical principles that we are called to follow when it comes to public policy. But we each need to humbly admit that we all come into politics with our own biases even as we strive to put our Christian values above it all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

pro-life dems

Going against the flow is a hard thing to do. I have to hand it to the group "Democrats for Life of America." While most in the Democratic party are happy to stick with their tried-and-true views on abortion, this group is challenging the status quo from the inside out.

Democrats for Life of America is a national organization for pro-life members of the Democratic party (

Here is what their mission statement says:
Democrats for Life of America exists to foster respect for life, from the beginning of life to natural death. This includes, but is not limited to, opposition to abortion, capital punishment, and euthanasia. Democrats for Life of America is one of over 200 member organizations of Consistent Life: an international network for peace, justice and life.

Here is what this group is trying to do. They mobilize Democrats at local, state, and national levels to:
- elect pro-life Democrats to office
- support pro-life Democrats while in an elected position
- promote a pro-life plank in the Democratic Party platform
- achieve pro-life legislation with the help of national and state pro-life democrats
- participate actively in Democratic party functions and offices

I love this group. They decided not to just jump on the party bandwagon. Instead, they are willing to stand up for what they think is right even when it goes against the mainstream of their own party.

They remind me of the "creation care" movement that is happening among conservative evangelical Republicans. Care for the environment is important to these Republicans because they feel called to take care of God's creation. They fight for environmental issues even when other Republicans want to quiet their voices and push them to the fringe of the party.

The same is true for Democrats for Life. In an increasingly polarized political minefield that is Washington, D.C., I really respect those who are willing to go against what is easy in order to stand for what is right. May people from both sides of the aisle be willing to do this more and more.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Last second come from behind wins. Triumphs in the midst of tragedy. Winning for your team. Winning for your country. Breaking down in the middle of a race because of injury and deciding to finish anyway. Hearing your national anthem. Watching your flag be raised. Making the impossible happen. Giving everything you have because you spent that last four years training for this moment.

These are the things that I love about the Olympics. I love the athletic competition. I especially love that they are competing for their countries back home rather than just themselves. There is something more pure about sport when you are doing it for your country. National heroes are born at the Olympic games.

I also love that it is a little taste of the Kingdom of God. Regardless of the fighting or disagreements between nations, athletes still come and compete against each other. And remarkably these Olympiads from enemy nations still shake hands after a hard fought race.

All people from all over the globe come together. All the different languages can be heard. Everyone comes with a spirit of good will. This is just a taste of what it will be like when Jesus returns.

Philippians 2:9-11
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Everyone, from everywhere will gather. All languages will speak his name. All nations will bow their knee.

The opening ceremonies of the Olympics this year are being named the most visually spectacular in the history of the Olympics. If that is just a foretaste of the Kingdom, imagine what Christ's return will be like.

Friday, August 01, 2008

You are the light of the world

"You are the light of the world," Jesus says in Matthew 5:14. He doesn't challenge us to become a light for the world. He tells us what our real identity in Christ is. He reminds us of what we have forgotten. We already are the light of the world. After all, a "city on a hill cannot be hidden."

This is who we are as followers of Christ. Our challenge is not what we are going to be. We already are lights. Instead, our challenge is where we are going to be. Are we going to hide under a bowl or stand up on a lamp stand? Are we going to provide light for everything under the bowl, which happens to be our little introverted world, or are we going to give light to everyone in the house?

Jesus tells us who we are. He gives us our true identity. Then he asks us where we are going to stand. His call for us is to let our light shine before men that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.

I used to view this passage as a "who am I going to be" question. But I see that that question has already been answered. The passage is really telling me who I am and then asking me "where" I am going to put myself in light of my true identity.

God's desire is that we would put our lives out there. That we would live transparently "before men." And in that way, provide light to this dark world.