(Say the Jesus Creed daily during Lent.)
The last chp in Randy Balmer’s God in the White House is called “Cheap Grace.” I’m a fan of Balmer’s angles on political agendas as well as of his prose. I don’t always agree, but Balmer’s attentiveness to the foibles we have with respect to the role faith plays in the political process leads me to deeper pondering about what we are doing today. So, I finish off this series with eight questions I find in the points he makes in his last chp:
1. Does a candidate’s faith or even his moral character make any substantive difference in how he governs? (I’d like to know if you have thought about this some; if so, what do you think?) He concludes: “There is, in short, no direct correlation between probity [integrity, goodness] and policy” (167) — if one goes by the claims made and the record.
2. Does probity [again, integrity, goodness] translate into policy? Balmer calls attention to Bush’s dodgy, however mistaken, justifications for invading Iraq, to his neglect of the just way theory elements in the process, and to the use of torture.
3. Do we expect our President to embody the myths of our people?
4. Does the faith connection to a President damage the faith by politicization?
5. Does faith — and this is one of his main themes for a few years — function best from the margins or in the councils of power?
6. Do we trust the faith claims of the candidates too much?
7. Do we as a populace need to take more responsibility for the relationship of faith and policies?
8. Do we need, perhaps, to hold our candidates more accountable to unfold their faith claims with concrete policies?
Anything less is cheap grace — by both politicians and populace.