Monday, July 10, 2017

The Politics of Jesus: the alt-world?

What do you make of Stanley Hauerwas in this article?

Not hard to agree with him that Trump is a challenge for America and an opportunity for the church.

And he is very perceptive in his insight that "Trump wants you to be in his reality show."

But is our task as Christians to witness to an alternative reality?

Yes and no, I reckon.

Yes, we witness to the way of love in a world of hate, to the ambition to put others first in a world of avarice and greed. Yes, we witness to the kingdom that is not of this world, which is both in this world and is coming to this world.

No, while we witness to an alternative reality, which, as far as it is in our power, we live out, we yet live in the world. In that world we might have to fight a war (whereas Hauerwas is a pacifist) or even lead a country. On the latter Hauerwas says,

"Can you be a faithful Christian and a president? Hauerwas said no, though he said some can come close.
'Good Christians get to run for office once. If they do the right thing they won't be re-elected.'"

I wonder if  Bush, Obama, Thatcher, Blair, and more locally, Lange, Bolger and now English got that memo?

This matter relates to discussion of my post below, about our cathedral in Christchurch, in which some have argued that the Diocese should eschew all government/council support, while I am arguing back that there is a case for thinking that the Diocese of Christchurch in the "world" of Christchurch (peculiar though it may be, given its peculiar Anglican history) may properly work with government/council on reinstating the cathedral (that is, it would not be theologically heretical for the Synod in September to make that decision, if it so chooses).

Back to Hauerwas and Trump. American Christians are in a huge dilemma. If a Christian supports Trump in all his Trumpiness (i.e. not just on the occasional occasion when he is actually correct), are they truly Christian? If  a Christian does not support Trump in all his Trumpiness, how do they support Trump as their duly elected President?. Romans 13 and all that

Back to our NZ election. Thankfully we have no Trumpian equivalent. Not even Winston Peters is in the same league as Trump in respect of his sheer maniacal goofiness (demonstrated at the recent G20 meeting). But we still have choices to make in terms of what our parties propose to shape the world in which we live.

Not all proposals in a country toying with euthanasia, beating a drum for marijuana law reform, hesitant about solving searing social problems and keen on intensifying cows per millilitre of river and spring water are equally Christian!

Good grief, in this morning's Press a reader may contemplate the possibility that "salvation" lies for regional economies in growing marijuana, a Green Party which calls NZ First racist yet is willing to be in government with this racist party, and courtesy of Jane Bowron's regular column, the latest moral dilemma in sexuality ... robotic sex dolls.

This pot pouri which makes up Western civilization in our Down Under corner of the world almost makes me consider what I ruled out in comments to last Monday's post ... not bothering to vote at all!!

Grounds for non-voting could be:
(a) It's just too hard to make a decision
(b) It won't make a difference to the largest issue facing the electorate: we are going to the dogs and no government is stopping our descent into corporate madness.


Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; option (b) is tempting but probably an unjustified and precious response for a Christian.


Anonymous said...

As I remember, Lange launched an attack on the 'born again' label during his tenure; I don't think he made much of his Methodist roots as time went on.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick: indeed!

Hi Rhys: horns of a dilemma, really, re each named politician: were they "fully and wholly" Christian in each moment of their exercise of political power? Say, "Yes" and there is explaining to do about (e.g.) invasion of Iraq; say "No" and one stands in judgment over a fellow Christian!

Jean said...

I can relate to the bit in Stanley's article that the church or the 'alternative' world will become more visible as perhaps the regular world is becoming unstuck in a multitude of areas. So long as we the church actively seek the Kingdom we represent.

Can a politician be a Christian, well yes, yet no single Christian is ever an example of all that may be and each Christian's journey will be at a different point, politician or not. That notwithstanding you would hope that being a Christian would have some bearing on their integrity and carrying out of duties in public office. On judging another Christian, it was recently reading Corinthians when I struck the example of a church being hauled over the coals so to speak for allowing such behaviour to occur in their midst insinuating the instigators should have been long since sent packing. So is judging, a personal judgement as to where that person is with Christ? And is it alright to hold people accountable to certain behaviours and to take measures when they act in a way that is obviously in opposition to gospel values? Those last two are questions.

As for Trump well he sends a few mixed messages about how he relates personally to Christianity. What he does is not demonstrable of an underlying faith. It reminds be of the verses in James, "17So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds." Personally I think it is a travesty that there was a desperate part of society in the US for whom Trump appeared attractive simply as you say Peter because he acknowledged them; even when at the time it was hard to conceive given Trumps persona that he would ever deliver what these people actually believed he would.

Anonymous said...

"...some have argued that the Diocese should eschew all government/council support..."


"...while I am arguing back that there is a case for thinking that the Diocese of Christchurch in the "world" of Christchurch..."

What is it?


Peter Carrell said...

HI Bowman
The arguments against appear to be out of concern that the government/council would come to have control of the use of the cathedral in the future. (What such arguments have not elucidated here is that pre-earthquakes the cathedral received an annual grant from the cathedral for upkeep, a grant given on the basis of the cathedral's contribution to tourism etc in the city; but no worship control was imposed).

Christchurch was, in 1850, an Anglican settlement, and thus it has a cathedral as the centrepiece of its central city Square. The cathedral is thus both history, architecture (linked to four other striking sets of neoGothic buildings in the inner city), spirituality (even atheists like to pop into it for a quiet moment) and, somehow, icon and maker of our identity as a city and a province. In this "world" state/church distinctions can be blurred in ways unknown to other cities; in this world passions for/against cathedral proposals are easily aroused (e.g. in the past when an external cafe/meeting space was added!); in this world private donors are willing to contribute millions to the continuation via reinstatement of the historic building.