Monday, October 3, 2016

Getting Elected

"A Simple Blossom"
- in my meditation garden -

The other day I came across an interesting if not somewhat humorous observation about the “electability” of most candidates for major public offices in America today: politicians running for office stand little chance of being elected in November unless they are professed “Christians” or at least belong to some sort of recognized, established religion.

While I am relatively sure that this is a valid observation, I find it rather humorous because any politician who went around spouting what Jesus actually taught wouldn’t stand a chance of winning any elected office anywhere in this country nowadays.

After all, if you read what Jesus actually says in the New Testament he sounds like a subversive, radical, anti-government “socialist:”

-       Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.
-       Whatever you do to the least among you, you do to me.
-       Go sell all you have and give it to the poor.
-       Blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek.
-       Pray for your enemies, do good to those who harm you.

The teachings of the “real” Jesus just won’t do when it comes to getting elected, and so politicians have to to invent a new Jesus to fit their own agenda, an image that often bears little or no resemblance to who Jesus really was and what he actually taught.  

In their bid to get elected, many politicians invoke the name of Jesus in their campaigns, making sure to be photographed going to church and placing prominent clergy on the dais with them as they give their speeches. And yet, while Jesus spent his entire life preaching a gospel of promoting the dignity of every human being and excluding no one, politicians often preach just the opposite dogma in what they say to get elected – ignoring the needs of the weak and lowly and building walls to keep out those who are different.

The fact is that in America today, depictions of “God” are very often invented and remade to fit the image and the agenda of those who profess their belief in God.

The various “Prosperity Churches” in this country have fashioned “God” into something like a “good luck charm” - if you go to church and believe in God you will get rich quick and the more you give to the church the richer you will become. God has also been portrayed as the “Heavenly Warrior” leading the troops into battle assuring that our side wins the war. God is also the great “Football Coach in the Sky” who wants our team to win the game because we are better than and stronger than our opponents, and God is the “Vindictive Lawgiver” who stands in judgment against lawbreakers like those people of the same gender who get married to one another.  

God often looks like, thinks like and acts just like the people who claim that they believe in God.

I am reminded of something Anne Lamott once said:

You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image
when it turns out that God hates the same people you do.

I am often amused and bewildered by the outcry of people in this country who say that we should all get down on our knees and pray that we might all become a “God-fearing, Bible-believing nation” once again.  In point of fact,  I believe it would be a good idea if this nation did ascribe to core biblical values – values that call us all to live with kindness and compassion, to welcome foreigners and immigrants, to care for the poor, to respect the dignity of every human being and to treat the environment as a sacred place.

Sometimes you may need to be careful about what you pray for.

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