Moral Contradictions

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Channeling Bryan

I am thoroughly enjoying Kazin's "A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan". One of the biggest reasons he inspired so many people was that he truly believed what he was fighting for reflected his strong religious beliefs. He viewed the issues of the day (which strangely mirror current issues) as moral issues that required tough moral decisions based on his Christian convinctions.

I repeatedly chastise today's politicians for simply pandering to the Christian right by working on "trivial" issues such as homosexuality while failing to work for solutions for the poor and homeless. We can sin by not taking action.

I also chastise Christians for assuming that the government is solely responsible for furthering God's Kingdom. Folks, Jesus gave us a church, not a government, and we must re-learn how to be good stewards of his gift and use it to affect and change society. Jesus proved He could change the world - heck, the course of history - no matter what type of government existed, whether it was a polytheistic imperialist or legalistic theocracy.

EM Risse at Bacon's Rebellion has a great write-up about why politicians focus on the 'trivial' issues instead of the more pressing, yet complex societal problems. Though he's writing for a Virginian audience, the message resonates for our entire country. Here's a quote:

Last week we were was puzzling over why the General Assembly would spend so much time on issues that are of limited importance: Like guns in private cars on commercial parking lots and defending citizens from the horrors of cameras that identify those who break the law by running red lights.

They were spending all this time and energy when there was a two-year budget to pass.


Legislators know that no matter what they do about the bills before them, there will be less and less affordable and accessible housing and the Shelter Crisis will continue to become worse for the vast majority of the citizens in the Commonwealth.

Not one legislator will yet admit these realities.

Not one of them has yet stated they know why these trends exist, but they know in their hearts – right hearts and left hearts – that this is happening. They know in spite of campaign promises and oaths of office it will continue to happen.

So legislators believe they might as well spend their time on something they can talk about "winning," or at least "fighting for," when they get home and especially when they next run for office.


A society that relies on a market economy to allocate resources and democratic process to guide governance is the sum of its citizens individual actions. Right now citizens of the Commonwealth are sliding toward total entropy with the governance practitioners going along for the ride.

We as Christians who don't fully identify with Christians in the GOP camp must learn to challenge the status quo, as Jesus did. We must learn to take our faith into the public square and demand that our politicians address our country's fundamental problems. Our society may be driven by a market economy, but that gives us no excuse for allowing the moral aspect of today's issues to take a backseat.

However, before we can hope to challenge our country and its politicians, we must be willing to challenge ourselves, myself included.

Micah 6:8:
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

The entire post is worth reading.


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