What an extraordinary exchange about my furious post on the Values Voter Summit “agenda”. Thanks to everyone for both posted comments and private emails. Here are just two:
We need to start with the vision. When you start with the issues, you end up with an incoherent vision or a complete lack thereof. (What we’ve got right now.) Lets figure out who we want to be in the world, then work back to how to get there. So show me the vision. Show me you can lead, that you can rise above the clamour to find the things that unite us. Show me you can see the way ahead through the tough, complicated, dangerous world we live in.
I think Eleanor is spot on and I think that is why Sen. Obama is so attractive to so many people. There is this sense with him that he is trying to move America towards a particular vision of what it can be. He may be the first politician with a viable chance of being president to talk about the ‘vision’ thing since Ronald Reagan and RFK. You might not have agreed with either man but both had a particular vision of the country they were trying to create. Their policies were downhill from their vision. Sen. Edwards also falls into this camp. Unfortunately none of the Republicans – perhaps save Mike Huckabee fall into this camp.
I’m not sure when making the rich richer became a gospel value in this country – not sure when the outsiders (whom Jesus embraced repeatedly) became monsters to be destroyed, not sure when being sick became somehow our own fault.
We have created a sort of pseudo-Christian thought that is about prosperity instead of a poverty of spirit, it is about being faithful to Rome/ Washington instead of to the beatitudes, it is about looking moral instead of being a moral thinker. It denies empathy as a value and rejects the outsiders in a way that simply does not match any part of God’s desire for the world.
I remember when I was recovering from brain surgery four-and-a-half years ago, Kim and I would go on long walks and talk about the world. It was a holy time because we were so detached from the demands and ordeals of the outside world, so cared for and insulated in this holy bubble of love (‘holy bubble of love’? did I just write that??? – this is the problem with blogging… stream of consciousness writing. egads i’ll never write another book again) that the world was remote. Anyway, on one of those walks we talked about this whole idea that “God has blessed American with riches.” I asked where the BIblical support for such an idea was given that the Satan, the prince of this world holds such power of money – able to offer Jesus, during the temptation, the riches of this world?
Where did we get the idea that our wealth directly correlated to God’s blessing? That wealth was, ipso facto, evidence of God’s hand? The BIble is replete with examples of God doing that – of God blessing with wealth and abundance – but it is also clear that God will do – or demand – the opposite. Simply put, it is dangerous to assume wealth means God is smiling.