Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Harder Questions: Beyond The Litmus Test

I must confess, I am a bit embarrassed at airing my theological dirty laundry on this politically-focused blog; still, I figure it is only fair to let people know where I'm coming from. More importantly, though, I do think the religious Right and Left have both become victims of their own "success." That is, they've found issues that resonate with their "base", and have let those issues (effectively) determine their entire concept of God -- and what He wants!

If our goal is to provide a Unity platform, then I believe it is crucial to re-ask those foundational questions, to see if we can shift the debate onto areas which God (and probably the most people) see as even more important than the many squabbles of yesteryear. Of course I realize I don't have a complete understanding of God (can anyone?), but hopefully these insights can help "move the needle" a little bit closer to what God actually does want.

In this particular case, I've been wrestling with what God wants from "democracy." That's a difficult question, since God has never seemed partial to majority rule (though He does work through randomness, which our democracy often feels like!). However, after reading through I Timothy 3 yesterday, I realized:
God is glorified by a leadership selection process that rewards godly character.
Now, that may seem obvious to even the most casual observer, but I found it deeply significant. In particular, it implies that God cares about the process, not just the result. Further, it emphasizes that God cares about a leader's character far more than his or her beliefs -- the exact opposite of litmus-test politics!

Given that, I've come up a few questions for Unity08's American Agenda that address the issue of character in terms of my so-called 'radical' virtues: humility, justice and love.

  1. We value both tenacity and flexibility in our leaders. When do you think it is appropriate -- perhaps even virtuous -- to "flip-flop" on a publicly held position? How and why?
  2. The President is supposed to serve all the people equally. What will you to do ensure you don't give preferential treatment -- even unconsciously -- to those who happen to share your background, beliefs, or biases?
  3. What obligation does the government have towards those on the margins of society (e.g., the disabled, homeless, illegal immigrants, criminals, etc.)?
Again, I don't presume to have all the answers -- or even all the questions. But at least I have a few more than I did yesterday. :-)

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