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Posts Tagged ‘Election’

Day of Thanksgiving

November 4, 2008 1 comment

In the middle of yet another heated American election day, I received a call from a friend reminding me to pause and give thanks to God. As I thought about his simple reminder, this refrain from the ancient Israelites also came to mind:

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

As the ark of the covenant entered into Solomon’s Temple, the trumpets blared as the people joined the priests in proclaiming,

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

Again and again and again the refrain sounded across the land. All the while, the people proclaimed and sang about YHWH faithfulness to the covenant. From the seed of David, the Lord had raised up Solomon, a true prince of peace.

During the glory of his reign the Temple was built, nations streamed to Israel and the glory of the Lord truly did stream out of Zion.

As Israel rejoiced in her king and the completion of the Temple, they sang again and again:

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

Beyond the visible Temple or the glory of King Solomon, the people saw the glory of the Lord in His goodness and mercy that extended beyond any limitations of time and space.

Like the people of God from ancient Israel, we join our voices to theirs in thanksgiving as one acclaim of the God’s people from across the ages. This one voice resounds in thanksgiving, recalling again and again that the goodness and mercy of God cannot be restrained but extends beyond all we see, feel, hear, touch and ever know.

He is faithful, and in the midst of the American election returns, we can all proclaim God’s goodness and rejoice in His mercy that establishes His covenant upon the earth and reveals His glory throughout the land.

Electing Not To Vote

October 1, 2008 Leave a comment

My friend Charles Strohmer respond to a recent Chuck Colson editorial by suggesting that some Christians may see it as their sacred duty “not” to vote.

American Popular Culture

November 16, 2006 Leave a comment

While trying to find out some words related to treasure chest, I stumbled across an old Catholic comic book series and eventually ended up at the Authentic American History Center. This site provides a fascinating collection of American pop culture artifacts that reach all the way back to the revolution.

There are pamphlets, comics, images and audio files from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, early 1900s, WWI, WWII, and each decade up to the present. The topic range from religion to politics to other elements that captured the national  consciousness.

Way cool! Plus the Catholic comic book Treasure Chest was pretty interesting as well.

Thomas Merton and the Election

November 8, 2006 Leave a comment

The Merton Center for Contemplation sent out this wonderful quote today that fits perfect for our political frenzy.

“Meditation does not necessarily give us a privileged insight into the meaning of isolated historical events. These can remain for the Christian as much of an agonizing mystery as they do for anyone else. But for us the mystery contains, within its own darkness and its own silences, a presence and a meaning which we apprehend without fully understanding them. And by this spiritual contact, this act of faith, we are ourselves properly situated in the events around us, even though we may not quite see where they are going.

One thing is certain: the humility of faith, if it is followed by the proper consequences—by the acceptance of the work and sacrifice demanded by our providential task—will do far more to launch us into the full current of historical reality than the pompous rationalizations of politicians who think they are somehow the directors and manipulators of history. Politicians may indeed make history, but the meaning of what they are making turns out, inexorably, to have been something in a language they will never understand, which contradicts their own programs and turns all their achievements into an absurd parody of their promises and ideals.

Of course, it is true that religion on a superficial level, religion that is untrue to itself and God, easily comes to serve as the “opium of the people.” And this takes place whenever religion and prayer invoke the name of God for reasons and ends that have nothing to do with Him. When religion becomes a mere artificial façade to justify a social or economic system—when religion hands over its rites and language completely to the political propagandist, and when prayer becomes the vehicle for a purely secular ideological program, then religion does tend to become an opiate. It deadens the spirit enough to permit the substitution of a superficial fiction and mythology for the truth of life. And this brings about the alienation of the believer, so that his religious zeal becomes political fanaticism. His faith in God, while preserving its traditional formulas, becomes in fact faith in his own nation, class or race. His ethic ceases to be the law of God and love, and becomes the law of might-makes-right:  established privilege justifies everything. God is the status quo.”
Thomas Merton

From Contemplative Prayer. New York: Doubleday, 1996 edition

 

The End of Congress as We Know It

October 13, 2006 3 comments

In his 4th quarter Public Justice Report, James Skillen suggests that regardless of who wins what seats in the upcoming election little will probably change in Washington. First, he suggest voter apathy is high because “most voters seem to be aware that lobbyists have more power than they do, and that their vote won’t matter much. Many have also concluded that major problems won’t be solved by Washington, regardless of who wins election.”

Our current system is ill-equipped to solve the continuing stagnation in Washington politics, and Skillen believes that even the emergence of independents and third parties can do little to change the current atmosphere.

The problem? He suggests that our country desperately needs a system that represents the national interests because we are a nationwide community of citizens whose collective actions can have dramatic impact upon our culture and our world. Unfortunately, the system we have (and even independent and 3rd party groups) will not represent national interests but special interests groups. He proposes a focusing on building national parties:

What we need is something much more significant than election-campaign finance reform, or lobbying reform, or the growth of independent voters and representatives. We need a fundamental change in the electoral system that will help to produce national parties that are truly competitive and whose elected representatives will be answerable to party members and voters rather than to lobbyists. We need a system change that will lead to the representation of the real diversity of American voters in Congress and that will, thereby, draw voters out of their apathy into participation in elections and politics. We need 75 percent or more of voters to vote instead of 50 percent or less.

He continues with a proposal to change the way we elect representatives from focusing on districts to electing parties:

If each state eliminated all congressional districts and allowed any number of political parties (not only two) each to field a number of statewide candidates corresponding to the number of House seats to which the state is entitled, voters could then caste their votes for the party they really believed in. No votes would be lost as happens in a simple majority system. When the votes were tallied, each party would gain as many House seats as its percentage of the statewide vote entitled it, no more, no less. If the Republicans got 40 percent of the vote, they would win 40 percent of the seats. If the Democrats got 40 percent of the votes, they would win 40 percent of the seats. If the Libertarian Party, or Green Party, or Conservative Party won five percent of the vote, it would win five percent of the seats. If a Public Justice Party won 10 percent of the votes, it would win 10 percent of the seats.

Not only would such a system allow the diversity of American voters some real choices for a change, it would also compel parties in different states that share common principles and platforms to work together to build a national party. If all Republicans, or all Greens, or all Libertarians across the country did not bind themselves in a tight agreement about what they would aim to achieve when their elected representatives arrived in Washington, they would have no coalition of forces in Congress. This process would begin to force the emergence of truly national parties with national agendas. These parties would also have to decide ahead of time (and make public) which interest groups were supporting them and on what terms they would take those interest groups into account in their legislating. Voters would then be able to decide which party to support and would be able to help shape an overarching agenda for the party whose elected representatives would remain more accountable to its members and voters than to the interest groups.

Skillen believes this solution would do away with gerrymandering and hold officials to a greater level of accountability to national interests.

I still have to process Skillen’s proposal, but I am interested in the way he tackles the problems in Washington by suggesting it is a systems problem not simply a personnel problem. If anything, this could open a conversation about different ways to think about our current system; although I think most people would fear any tampering or changes to our current system.

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