1 Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, my soul.
2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.
6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD.
Blogging-when-angry is not usually a good idea, but I don't think I'm so much angry right now as frustrated, sad, and upset. I just got back from a meeting where someone shared that he had just recently learned about this crazy notion that the Church could be involved in politics, and this would be great, because we could do more and better things and help solve problems and aren't we supposed to be out there among the people not just stuck inside our sanctuaries blah blah blah.
No. No no no. No. The answer to the world's problems is not (or maybe very, very rarely) the Church getting involved in politics. Perhaps occasionally. But more often than not, when the Church attempts to get involved in social, civic issues, she is most successful when she simply does what she's supposed to be doing and an attitude of "who cares what the state thinks, we'll die for this if we have to". Look at the major victories of the Church in the name of freedom from oppression and injustice in the last 150 years: Ending institutionalized slavery in the West, increasing civil rights for women and racial minorities, tearing the Iron Curtain from top to bottom, and destroying South African apartheid. What made these churchly ventures successful? Was it Harriet Beecher Stowe testifying before Congress, or was it because she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin? Did John Newton go storm the halls of Parliament? Or did he minister to William Wilberforce, a member of his flock? Did the clergy supporters of Martin Luther King, Jr. cozy up to the politicians of the day, or did they engage their neighborhoods in strategies of integration and preach Colossians 3:11 from the pulpit? Did Pope John Paul II go to the Kremlin to meet with Soviet leaders? Or did he go to Poland and pray? (While it's true that anti-apartheid efforts required a greater degree of direct political involvement from leaders such as Desmond Tutu, I think it can still be argued that the Church was the Church, rather than the Church was political. If that makes any sense at all. Which it probably doesn't.)
Anyhow, my point is: Politics looks sexy from the outside. She looks fun and hip and cool and star-studded and successful and powerful and central-to-everything. She looks exciting and glamorous and covered in bunting and fireworks. She looks influential and important and professional and ready to fight the good fight.
But she is a whore-ible Bride of Christ. Because Politics will sell herself to the highest bidder every time. Politics will tell you to put your faith in handshakes and yard signs and fundraisers to win, to "save the world". Politics will tell you that one more speech, one more phone call, one more door-knocking trip around the block; one more email, one more conference call, 1, no, 5, no, 10 hours more in a week is the difference between life and death, between life on top and total nuclear meltdown.
This is hard to see from the outside, I'll grant you. Because Politics is seductive. She winks at you from across the room with "bedroom eyes" and tells you that you are needed. She tells you that you can "be like God", that in fact you already are like God, "knowing good from evil", and the world needs your knowledge. She tells you that for a night with her - just a night, or a fortnight, a month, a year, a lifetime with her - she'll take you places you've never been, baby. Places where people treat you right and respect what you have to say, places that sparkle like the bubbles in champagne on Election Night. She leans over, just close enough so you can smell her perfume and and feel her breath on your neck when she says, "Come on, Sexy. We both want the same thing. I know how much you care about poor people/the environment/unborn babies/freedom from tyranny. Come with me, and we'll fight together. I can give you all the kingdoms of the world."
You want to go home with her. Heaven knows, you want to go home with her. She's beautiful and charming and really just absolutely enchanting. Your skin tingles just being near her. The way she tucks that lock of hair behind her ear and lays her hand on your shoulder damn near melts your socks off. And nobody's made you feel that way in a long, long time. So with one last "Am I crazy for doing this? Stop me now!" text to a friend, and a gulp of liquid courage, you lay your jacket across her shoulders as the two of you step out into the cool night air.
And at first, it's marvelous. Like honeymooners, you can't get enough of each other. The carefully crafted language, the sexy-as-hell question dodging, the late night philosophizing. The Secret Service and adrenaline rushes and polling data and new ad buys. Like first-time lovers languishing over each other's bodies, you savor every moment. Yes, you think. This is real, this is good, this is productive.
(Part II here)