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What Hasn’t Changed

November 5, 2008

I have strenuously avoided talking about politics on this blog, as I maintain a healthy concern about not blending my public religious and political commitments too strongly.  The pastors who violated the tax codes to endorse political candidates from the pulpit engaged in abominable behavior.  As Christians we place our hopes in one man and one man alone: Jesus Christ.  From the pulpit we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the gospel of John McCain, Barack Obama, Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, or even Martin Luther King, Thomas Merton, Augustine of Hippo, or the Pope.  Endorsing a candidate from the pulpit focuses on the wrong king, the wrong kingdom, and is akin to idolatry.

And as a provisional elder in the UMC, I have no desire to play with fire in a public forum.  So no endorsements here.

But last night was a seismic event in US American history.  Barack Obama, an African-American man, has been chosen as the 44th President of the United States of America in an electoral college landslide.  And a conversation about race in America has begun.

It’s disturbing to me that some people want to frame Obama’s victory as evidence that we may live in a post-racial America.

Well, no.

I think we all recognize that Barack Obama’s life is in serious danger.  There are deeply racist fringe elements in our land who cannot and will not accept a black President, and harbor such deep, irrational racial hatred that they want him dead.  I am certain that the Secret Service has a challenge unlike any they have faced before.

If US America were truly a post-racial America then white privilege would no longer be a reality.  As a white male, though, I must recognize that I function in US American society as one who has a bit of a head start –  a place of privilege afforded to me by an accident of genetics.  The only real place I’m at a real disadvantage is in discussions of racism and sexism at seminary.  Though, to be honest, I have been told on more than one occasion that I am a very genuine, WYSIWYG person and that my lack of racism and sexism are transparent.

Obama’s optimistic, cyinicism-free campaign points toward a post-partisan political future.  God I wish that were true.  However I remember 1992 when Bill Clinton had scarcely taken office and “Impeach Hillary” bumper stickers showed up on cars.  I fully expect bitter, mean pushback from deeply partisan conservatives.  The right wing of the blogosphere is already atwitter with conspiracy theories and nonsense about birth certificates and ties to terrorism.  I would love to see this as a victory over partisan hackery and divide-and-conquer tactics, but I just can’t.  Not yet.

But ultimately I am filled with hope.  Not because of Barack Obama, but because I firmly and steadfastly believe that God is in the process.  I pray that our leaders, incumbents and those newly elected, hear God’s call to feed the hungry, to care for the infirm, to clothe the naked. To comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  To protect our most vulnerable, to humble the haughty.  To deliver the captives, whether from literal or metaphorical captivity.  May God grant us the discernment and wisdom to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2008 12:43 pm

    Get your ‘Impeach Obama’ Stickers, Shirts, Hats, Buttons, and More NOW at:

  2. November 5, 2008 12:50 pm

    I rest my case.

  3. November 5, 2008 3:44 pm

    Wow – that was quick.

    Well said, bro.

  4. Layman Erik permalink
    November 6, 2008 1:12 am

    Wow, you got all that.

    Different lenses I guess.

    I’m mostly just bummed that once again big money wins elections.

    Call me perpetually cynical.

  5. Layman Erik permalink
    November 6, 2008 1:26 am

    You are right about one thing, though, we certainly are far from post-racial. I spend my life around the young people that supposedly see things differently. But when I walk across campus, or eat in the University center, or look at the advertisements for club activities, or see where students choose to sit in my class etc. Mostly what you see is people apparently choosing to spend their time with people that (racially speaking) look like themselves.

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