Monday, April 21, 2014

The politics of the RISEN Jesus (Monday 21 April 2014)

A brief note this week since it is the holiday season, family are home, visitors are coming ...

The resurrection of Jesus is a key ingredient in consideration of the politics of Jesus. Jesus dead in the grave, his bones able to be visited by pilgrims and tourists alike could still be an influence on politics as a teacher of ethics and wisdom. Or, maybe confined to the annals of history (see other rabbis of his time). But the resurrected Jesus impacts the story of Western culture and other cultures today with a vital political ingredient: hope for a better life.

A further aspect is that the resurrection is proclaimed as a public fact of history, validating the gospel of Jesus Christ as a message for all. Hope for a better life is hope for change for all people, not just for those who identify themselves as Christians.

In a democracy this translates to evaluation of proposals: which proposals offer prospects - credible and plausible - for a better life for the whole of society?

That leaves a lot to think about.

It is likely that it makes some Christians uneasy about identifying with one political party, as though some guarantee exists that Party X has a monopoly on making a better future. There is no such guarantee. The guiding principle for Christian involvement - arguably - is not to align with one party but to work with any party which offers prospects for a better future.

UPDATE: an excellent essay re resurrection and politics, by Caleb Anderson is here.


Andrei said...

Mathew 16:26

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Our political class are leading us all to perdition and damnation.

There is only one logical option this election and that is not to vote

Janice said...

What's a "better future"?

If it's the kind of utopian material-focussed future that so many have in mind (where everyone earns the same no matter what they do or how well or industriously they do it and where, furthermore, everyone manages their income equally prudently) can you give me any reason why, given our fallen natures, we should expect that politicians can deliver that?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei and Janice
In some ways I give the same answer to your respective but differing concerns: I will vote for the politician/party I think will do a better job than the others, or who will lead me to perdition less quickly than the others.

In the end politics is about the possible not the ideal.

Father Ron Smith said...

"There is only one logical option this election and that is not to vote"

The classical opting out - from any responsibility for society's good!

In my book, adults not prepared to exercise their democratic freedom to vote may not deserve to enjoy the privilege of citizenship.

Caleb said...

I wrote an essay on the political significance of the resurrection last year at Laidlaw. You've inspired me to upload it in case anyone is interested in reading it! Here it is.

Janice, who are these "so many" who want everyone to "earn[] the same no matter what they do or how well or industriously they do it"? I've met communists, socialists, social democrats, anarchists, distributivists, agrarian communitarians and various other anti-capitalists, and I've literally never met anyone who strives for that.

Many want income and wealth distributions to be a more fair reflection of people's industry and innovation (or lack thereof), instead of being largely conditioned by other unearned privileges. It sounds like you think our current inequalities are fair, and entirely due to personal choices; which is ridiculous.

Re: "everyone manag[ing] their income equally prudently" - well that's obviously not a reality at the moment; not all of us had the benefit of being raised by parents with a strong Protestant work ethic (one of whom is a accountant/accounting teacher) like I did! I think people from all sides of the political spectrum should be able to agree that more people should have the benefit of basic financial management skills, so that if they don't manage their income prudently, it's because they chose not to, not because they've never learned how. It would also be nice if everyone had a living income to manage in the first place!

Anonymous said...

Ron,the classic Anabaptist tradition in North America often took the non-voting position - as it took the non-fighting, non-participation in the political process position. John Howard Yoder gave a strong defence of this in his many books. I'm not going to be able to summarize his views in a few lines (it's always hard to do that with Yoder!), but basically his position was that the Church, not the State, is the main instrument God is using to bring love and healing to the world. He abhorred the way American Christians became obsessed with the 'Who is God's man for the White House?' question ('Can you imagine Paul ever losing any sleep over the "Who is God's man for next Emperor?"'). He also felt that the decision not to participate in the political process was a political decision, but of a different kind.

Personally, I disagree with Yoder's view (and I think most modern Mennonites do too), but it is coherent and theologically consistent, and I think it doesn't deserve the charge of 'opting out from society's good'. His generation of Mennonites were disproportionally represented on hundreds of service projects contributing to society's good all over the world.


Peter Carrell said...

Excellent, Caleb.
I will include a link above in the post itself.

Janice said...


[W]ho are these "so many" who want everyone to "earn[] the same no matter what they do or how well or industriously they do it"?

The many who are complaining about "inequality". Those who want the levelling restricted to people who benefit from unearned privileges are very faint voices in the crowd. Apart from yourself I've come across only two other writers who mention it and it is precisely that rarity that makes those mentions memorable.

But what are "unearned privileges" anyway? Do they include the privilege of being born into an intact family (that stays intact) where learning, industriousness, and social, sexual and spending restraint are valued? What about the privilege of inheriting whatever wealth is left behind by parents who taught and lived those values? Should these "unearned privileges" be erased?

Or are you talking about privileges granted to some people because of, say, their political connections? Perhaps you're referring to something like the privileges that were granted to the Communist Party elite in the old USSR; the dachas, the access to shops selling imported luxuries cheaply, and so on. Perhaps you're referring to the huge salaries some companies award their CEOs or the lucrative positions awarded to failed or retired politicians by their mates in government. Or perhaps you're talking about the Eddie Obeids of the world.

You tell me what you think are "unearned privileges" and what you think are "current inequalities" and then I'll tell you whether your suspicion that I think those, "current inequalities are fair, and entirely due to personal choices," is correct or not.