10.07.2012

Approaches to faith and politics.

According to Jackson, whose video appears below, "It is time [for the black church] to end the slavish devotion to the Democratic Party. [Because] They have insulted us, used us, and manipulated us.  [And] They have saturated the black community with ridiculous lies..."

For some time I have been caught in a tension.  On the one hand I feel compelled to raise a similar prophetic voice on the churches syncretism with the Republican Party.  I want to name the injustices I feel they implicitly or explicitly condone and sometimes even advocate for.  But at the same time I recognize that true reconciliation can only be found by people willing to dialog with respect and nuance.

Even while I have moved to the left, I continue to see the wisdom in some aspects of a more conservative approach.

This tension was illustrated for me when I watched the Jackson's video which was posted by a friend on facebook yesterday.  When I initially watched it I thought it was one-sided and manipulative.  It looked to me like Jackson was using his position as a pastor and his spiritual authority for political gains.  That is immoral.  I still think the video is possibly manipulative, but some friends pointed out that the man probably has the spiritual and relational authority to say what he said, at least for the audience he knows best, his black church.  If placed in the proper context, his words seem somewhat acceptable.



At the same time I thought, what if you flipped the script?  Does the tenor of what he said still hold true from an anti right-wing perspective?  Does what he said become appropriate if it comports with my personal politics?   Or does both a right wing critique and a left wing critique of this type fall flat?

With that in mind, I carefully listened to the video word by word and wrote a left-wing mirror image of what was said. It appears below.

I both do and do not agree with what I have written.  I am torn.  Do I embrace a radicle version of the Christian faith that leans well to the left?  I have certainly rejected much in Christian culture that leans to the right.  But for some reason I can't quite embrace the left.  I would like to think that I prefer to take a more nuanced road, a more respectful road.  But is that just a lack of commitment?  An inability to sacrifice?  Might what I have to say below be true?

What bothers and intrigues me is that I am compelled both to fight and make peace.  For those that take a partisan approach, I have some partisan answers.  For those that use Bible verses to judge others, I have some Bible verses in mind.  But I know that when I do, it is not quite right. Often, because I lack humility.


As Pastor Tim Keller discusses here, Jesus refuses political complacency, political simplicity, and political primacy.  We should too, and that is the approach I prefer, except when I don't.

I will say that if we are going to go down the road outlined in the video, there is a corollary to what was stated.  When I hear someone like Jackson make those type of statements, I am not inclined to back down from the fight.  I am inclined to double down.  The question is, should I.
 
Below is a near verbatim transcript of Jackson's video with a few changes.  The best way to read what follows is while listening to the video.  Judge for yourself if what either Jackson or I said ring true.