About a month ago I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to vote in the upcoming election. It was too much. There was just so much hatred and disgust and fear surrounding it that I no longer wanted to be a part of it. Tired of logging onto Facebook and reading yet another hastily written post blustering about one thing or another, so much of it rooted in fear. I was ashamed for this nation. For how we have chosen to represent ourselves to the world and one another.
I have yet to reconcile my thoughts about it all. We've mucked it all up so grandly.
I've been thinking and praying a lot about what it means to follow Jesus and be engaged. Every time I think I've finally sorted it out, something or someone comes to mind that adds another layer.
God. There must be a better way.
I read this essay recently that has helped me in my angst and apathy. In it, the author* talks about the role of theology in political thought:
All political regimes are utopian. Communist, socialist, fascist, monarchic, and democratic. All of them. They all make promises to be the ones who will deliver the goods. They all promise that, without them, you are lost. They all claim to have "arrived," to represent the culmination of the human drama, to be the true light, a city on a hill, that which bring you and all humanity true peace and security.
That is what eschatology means.
Eschatology means: "We have brought you to where things are as they should be. You are at the place where you can now - finally - have reason to hope. Trust in us. Fear not." Eschatology means the pinnacle of true humanity, where wrongs are righted, all is at peace, and the human drama comes to its fullest expression.
They all say that.
When we fear, or rage, or are depressed about politics, it means we have invested something of our deep selves into an "eschatology" - into a promise that all will be well, provided you come with us.
[We] should not adopt the rival eschatology that this or any political system or politician is of such fundamental importance that the thought of an election turning sour or the wrong laws being passed mean that all hope is lost.
...Regardless of where things play out politically, we know that no political system can actually deliver the goods, try as they might... Our "citizenship is in heaven" - not "up there somewhere" but the kingdom of God come to earth in the crucified and risen messiah, which is never caught up in political systems, but stands ready to work with them or deeply critique them depending on what is happening at the moment.
This entire line of thought goes back to the Old Testament prophets. They preached, harassed, and annoyed Israel's leaders not to fear the nations around them, nor to trust that any of them will make things right and give Israel lasting peace... The prophets said, "hope is elsewhere."
All of this raging and sounding off and moaning is rooted in deep fear. And it is this fear that our political authorities feed off of. Do you remember what is more powerful than fear? Hope.
There are a few thoughts that I surround myself with in these moments:
First, love always wins.
Second, from the poet Frank O'Hara: "We fight for what we love, not are."
And thirdly, a gem from C.S. Lewis: "If I discovered within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
*Big thanks to Peter Enns for these thoughtful words. Read his complete essay here: Dear Christian: If the thought of either Romney or Obama getting elected makes you fearful, angry, or depressed, you have what we call a theological problem. On a personal note, I believe these things to be applicable and true for all of us, not just Christians.