Saturday, August 30, 2008

Eskimos and Promises

So I had a post all written about my immediate reaction to Barack Obama’s speech outside in Denver. And then John McCain defied all speculation and experts and in a frenzy that made some of the major political journalism stations look like imbeciles, he selects the little known Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as his running mate. And now I have a hundred other comments I want to make. I am excited and I don’t know why – I don’t know Sarah Palin from Eve. The reason I think I am excited, though, is that the main premise of my initial reaction at the close of the Democratic Convention was confirmed and defended by the selection of Mrs. Palin to run alongside Mr. McCain. Read this article PLEASE. And for the record, the more you read about her the more you discover she might just be a beautiful, virtuous, Alaskan bad ass. And those are not a dime a dozen. Time will tell.

The next several weeks will be very interesting. All the stereotypes about age, race, and gender that have swirled uncontrollably throughout this whole election process are now almost equally confused on both sides, and to me that is an awesome mess. Which ticket is older in total years? Who has more “experience”, Barack Obama or Sarah Palin? Who has the more foreign policy credibility, John McCain or Joe Biden? Which is worse (or better, or more historic), to have a woman or an African-American on the ticket? Who are the two running for President again, and who are the two extremely intriguing Vice President candidates? Wait, who's spouse is an actual Eskimo?

It’s all very exciting. I personally would rather see cage fights than debates. Biden vs. McCain and Obama vs. Palin, instead of the other logical combinations. Would Obama punch Palin square in the face, or fight her like a gentleman? What if she took her glasses off? Would Biden go for McCain’s disabled arm? But even if they settle for debates, what the heck is Biden going to say to Palin? How is that exchange going to look? Biden: "She has no experience and has ridiculously aggressive views on energy policy, but I don't really want to get into to all that because I'm attracted to her and scared to death of her at the same time, and that weirds me out a little." I digress.

Following is my response to the wonder of Barack Obama and those inspired by him, originally written immediately following his speech on August 28, and slightly edited to take away the emotion that fades away after a few nights' sleep:

I just finished listening to Barack Obama’s nomination speech and I am restless. I didn’t take in all of the Democratic Convention, but I did see part of Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday, the entirety of Bill Clinton’s on Wednesday, and then tonight’s finale. What I have to say immediately following is... wow. Agree with him or not, John McCain has his work cut out for him in this election. Time to prove youth (and energy) is a state of mind, and that at 72 you also have a little hope and change to speak of that can rally a base. If not, could be game over.

I could probably dissect the speech (including tell you what I liked about it) and write something that would be beneficial to you and glorifying to God, but I don’t think I have the stomach. I could repeat what Chris Matthews (MSNBC) said right after the speech, and interpret what it means that a political pundit, who rarely lets his personal opinions leak out, was inspired and excited almost to tears by a man who has, by his own admission, the least qualifications for President in this country’s history. I could comment on Oprah Winfrey and her lack of eyelashes after Obama's words and energy. I could try to explain what it means for the country and the world, and even the kingdom of God, that an African-American man is not only in this position, but is excelling in it, and how it is possible for that reason alone that it might be God’s will for him to be the leader of the free world.

Instead I am stuck, by the leading of the Spirit of the Living God, on one issue. I don’t want to be a one issue voter, and think it is an ignorant stance. But the Spirit is pleading with me to stay the course, and lift up His name above all talk, hope, change, and whatever the politicians might be saying. In other words, even if I embraced every promise, every exclamation, even if I agreed on every policy, every anecdote, every criticism of McCain and the Bush Administration, every philosophy about economics or health care or foreign policy, even if I agreed with all of this (which by now I’m sure you could guess I don’t), I still couldn’t vote for Barack Obama. The reason is because he would defend a mother with an unwanted pregnancy without exception, but would chop to pieces a defenseless, innocent, human being created in the image of the God of the universe. That might not matter to some people, and might be a “small” issue in comparison to “big issues” like the economy and the war on terror, but it matters to me. I truly believe that if you harbor the attitude that this type of monstrosity is acceptable, or even an option, then there is no telling the horrors that you are ultimately capable of; in policy domestic, foreign, or otherwise. You may think that is an exaggeration.

Let me put this into perspective a little bit to help my heart be better understood for your benefit and for God’s glory. I wrote a post in June that I titled, It’s the Theology, Stupid, which explained that some issues are about God, and not at the mercy of our political opinions. I know that this will never be the outspoken attitude of a politician running for President, but I don’t really care about politicians. I care about God, and I feel some obligation to use the forum He has given me (this blog) to proclaim His holiness, humbly address our sinfulness, defend the Bible’s preeminence, and boldly declare the cross’s centrality to everything in creation (I’m not going to stop repeating that phrase, by the way.) And the holiness of God is mocked, the sinfulness of man is glorified (when it should be humbly accepted and lead us to repentance), the authority of the Bible is undermined, and the centrality of the Cross is forgotten in the murder of the unborn. Outside of that, nothing else really matters. By the grace of God, I will die on that hill.

Though I would be remiss to not mention at least one other “issue” from my It’s the Theology, Stupid post that I believe to be about God more than politics. The reason I feel strong about mentioning this is many in my camp, so to speak, of political opinion, tend to neglect it to our own destruction: I am talking about care for the poor. It is clear that Mr. Obama desires and intends to center much of his policy and his presidency on caring for those who can’t care for themselves, as most Democrats would. Those who criticize him in general need to be careful that in criticizing his policies, his celebrity, or his campaign, we must never give the impression that caring for the poor is not our priority as well; not just politically but spiritually. That some (including me) disagree with Mr. Obama on the best economical, political, and social way to do this, should take nothing away from our selfless focus on challenging social injustice and racial inequality, and caring for “the least of these.” God is not glorified in people and a political system that “fails to recognize and deal with the historical inequalities that left blacks floating in storage bins after Hurricane Katrina.” (York Moore)

Someday, I pray, we will have politicians who agree on priorities while they may disagree on policy. That, to me, would be the fulfillment of the American promise and the realization of a far greater promise yet. I'll close with the entire context of the Scripture from Hebrews that Mr. Obama borrowed and took out of context at the end of his speech:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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