Tuesday, October 7, 2008

ForeFront Alert: Welcomeing Community Network

Welcoming Community Network (WCN) is an international grassroots organization that exists to enable full participation of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life and ministry of Community of Christ both in policy and practice.

An excellent group, with excellent leadership. Provide your support!

Gracelanders for Obama--almost 100?

Gracelanders for Obama now has 80 members in counting and will certainly hit 100 by homecoming. What is next?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gracelanders for Obama Launched on Facebook!

Gracelanders for Obama is a new Facebook group, just launched and we currently have 25 members in counting.

Are you an alumni of that great school located in Lamoni, Independence (and globally!)? Or a friend or a family? If you ever root for the Blue & Gold and you know that the true Blue is Yellowjacket blue. Join the Facebook group, Gracelanders for Obama and show your blue pride!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Voter Supression Tactics in Michigan?

Ok, I went walking today for Obama and had the chance to register two first-time voters. Wow, what a rush, eh? A chance to help two young men exercise their rights as citizens of this great country.

The Michigan Forms are a little hard to navigate, and so I helped the guys the best I could. I mean, I do have a master's degree and did voting rights work in the last election, I should be a good guy to help, right?

Sigh. Well, Michigan requires two signatures on their form and they only signed it once. Why does Michigan require 2 signatures? Right on top of each other? I can only assume it is a voter suppression tactic, unless someone can tell me a better explanation.

Cross-posted @ Toddelkins.net

Verse and Voice - 10.01.2008

If you don't subscribe to Verse and Voice, you really should. It is a great place to get a daily reading.

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

- Galatians 3:28

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

- Martin Luther King Jr.

+ See more of what's new on the God's Politics Blog

All scripture passages are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted. Words or phrases in [brackets] may be paraphrased for contextual clarity or inclusivity.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Obama? McCain?: My Faith in Party Politics

by Matt Frizzell, cross-posted from his blog, with his permission (of course being the polite church guys that we are.)

It’s a forced choice. There can be only one. (Anyone thinking Highlander?)

The bane of party politics.

Honestly, I generally don’t vote for the candidate. It’s like picking your birthday or wedding cake based on the figurine that tops the cake decorations. Hello, Kitty? Batman? Elmo? A cute little bride & groom?

(The cake for my sister-in-law’s baby shower was a very pregnant woman: tall, slender, long hair, both fists on her waist…and a purple cape.)

In many ways, both Obama and McCain (or Palin?!) are cake-toppers, the face on the cake.

A cake-topper can say a lot about a cake. With the color scheme, hand-made frosting flowers and sprinkles, the topper can make or break a cake’s appearance. It’s the same with politics. A lot of people vote based on the party-topper and the way s/he puts a face on that party’s politics. But, like buying a cake, the outcome of our vote goes well beyond appearances. What about the cake of the cake? Is it moist? Dry? Vanilla, chocolate, or marble? Was organic flour used? What about the trans-fats in the frosting?

I say, go for cream cheese frosting.

My point is, when you cast your vote in November, you are voting for a whole lot more than the cake-topper candidate. No matter how much a maverick or inspiring orator, the candidate you elect, in many important ways, will be but just the face of a party. Of course, we cannot underestimate the power of that face. Elections are often decided on the mixture of sound-bytes and appearances we hear and see on in the internet and TV. (Think, here, about many of the comments about John Kerry & Richard Nixon.)

Don’t get me wrong. Who Barack Obama or John McCain is, come January, will be important. One of them, assuming there are no surprises, will wield tremendous influence over American-politics-to-be. They will be our nation’s newest political symbol. They will be the face of American principles, and their personality, reflected back to us as well as projected out to the rest of the world. One of them will be the commander-in-chief of an enormous military complex, and the CEO of the executive branch of our government. Who we choose in November will make a huge influence on life together over the next 4 years. But, this person does not not run government alone. They do not stand independently, as a messiah, dictator, or king. Neither Obama nor McCain can act completely outside the rhetoric and relationships that got them in the oval office. They come as the face of a party, the face of a system of party politics.

Just as the last eight years of George W. Bush has shown, and most presidents before, in November we will vote for a lot more than just a candidate. We will be getting more than a speech or pretty face. The candidate we vote for will bring a list of interested parties. They will bring an ideology, a set of ideas and political views that shape their party’s platform. They will come to the Presidency with a perspective that shapes their commitments to certain social, economic, and foreign policies, the kind that can make or break a nation, an economy, and a presidency.

No matter how much we hype the individual - and we Americans are all card-carrying members of the cult of individuality - these perspectives and positions are the beauty and baggage of party politics…two-party politics.

And, those who want to be on the winning team invest deeply in both parties.

So, while cynicism convinces me that the above statement is true (sad, but true), there is a reason why I just can’t vote for McCain/Palin this year. And, I won’t. There are things the Republican party stands for and has aggressively promoted that I just can’t support, let slide, or get along with. And, the issues go deep into the heart of my faith.

In addition to my disagreement with them on many social justice issues, I condemn how America’s religious and political right have used religion in their politics: to exploit people’s fear and manipulate their religious roots, in ways that twist Christianity and “American values” together into an unholy union of self-serving nationalism, xenophobia, homophobia, and militarism.

Too many $6 words?

Think about it. Especially since 9-11 (but with roots that go well before), there’s been a careful attempt to reshape the American mindset. Nationalist rhetoric, apocalypticism, and religious self-righteousness has transformed grief into resolute paranoia. And, its captured the imaginations of many traditionally good-hearted, neighborly, and passionate Americans.

Right-wing politicians and activists have convinced a critical mass of American people that the most powerful nation and largest military in the world should do basic things that are against the most basic rules governing most of America’s play grounds. They’ve convinced us to fight for things which run contrary to the very principles of liberty taught in elementary schools: a) hit first, ask questions later (preemptive war) and b) use controversial religious doctrines to restrict civil liberties (abortion, same-sex marriage) and c) to determine what is taught in schools (sex education and creationism).

Each of these issues have become decisive and divisive issues that shape our elections only because they scare us and are religiously charged. They take attention off more concrete political issues that go to the heart of the gospel: economics, peace, global hunger, militarization….

After September 11th, something in me changed. September 11th didn’t make me more patriotic; it didn’t make me proud to be American, nor did it wake me up to the fact that there is evil in the world. I already had a sense of that and a sense of where my faith should continue to be.

Instead, after being manipulated by the sensationalist ploys of American media, unable to watch TV without seeing the Towers falling dozens of times; in the wake of our President’s rhetoric about retaliation, war, and American victimization; when I began seeing friends and neighbors become paranoid of Islam and racially profiling Muslims and persons who spoke or looked like Jesus (remember, he was a Middle Easterner) - I became frightened to be that version of America. I did not agree with its rhetoric, its racism, or reactionary retaliation.

Perhaps, I wasn’t and am still not truly American…or American enough?

At this point, I believe our nation has tremendous grief to work through, economic lessons to learn, and reconciliation to do. My hope is that, on these issues, we move forward. Faith in America and faith at all is not going to be found in religious or political nostalgia - in returning to Andy Griffith or the 1950’s, ostracizing dissidents and non-Christians, or building our self-righteousness on a rotating list of known and hated enemies.

I’m not sure there is any party that aligns perfectly with my religious/spiritual and political views. In fact, I don’t have all of them worked out. And, it’s for that exact reason that I keep a modicum of faith. Perhaps, about the size of a mustard seed.

I am a bit fatalistic about our politics and current political situation, no matter who gets elected. The cult of personality has tremendous power to distract us from real political questions and real politics. But, I have hope.

There are things certainly yet unseen (cf. Hebrews 11:1) - the outcome of the November election, the Iraq War, our economic condition, and how the winning candidate is going to lead in the oval office come January. And, in my hope, I have faith.

You should, too.

Hope…on faith.

Matthew is the Mission Center President for the Chicago Area Mission Center of the Community of Christ. He is also a PhD student at the Chicago Theological Seminary. Matthew was also once a Spec Brat and was perhaps the best contractual assignee that the Northern Colorado District of the RLDS Church ever had (details available upon request.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Beacon Communities: 2008 Peace Colloquy

What Is a Signal Community?

It is a voluntary group of people who in their life together witness of the kingdom of God on earth and commit to share Christ’s full peace in the world. This may be for a short time or for life. These groups may be house- or congregation- or village-sized. Together they are signal points to the future God desires for all of creation. Typically they are part of a larger social movement working for change in the world.

Visit the Peace Colloquy web site: http://www.cofchrist.org/peacecolloquy/