Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Some thoughts on Democracy, before the flag-waving holidays:

I'll get back to the thoughts on prejudice.  I have already decided.  :)
But, first, here is a package that needs to be delivered before the season is gone.
A slew--well maybe not that many, but several, anyhow--of patriotic holidays are in America's near future.  Of course this fall there is, also, a national election.  One of the goals of political campaigns is to maximize the distinctions (real or imaginary) between their candidate or cause and the opposing side.  Often patriotism and politics takes on troubling, almost, if not completely, idolatrous overtones.  On the other hand among many Christians there seems to exist a cynicism, often reflected in complete non-participation in the electoral process, that has set in.  "They're all the same." or, "A pox on both their houses." becomes the watchword.  As is often the case the truth lies in a position of tension between those two poles.
Here is an article written when the "cold war" was still hot, that articulates some much needed balance and points to some anchor points.

As I say the article was written at a time when the world could much more easily be divided into two sides--ours and theirs, Democracy and Communism, dare I say, "light and dark."  Some of the trends in the world since then, in particular the rise of militant Islam, highlight the wisdom contained in this article.  The article warns of a system that seeks to achieve monolithic control by either eliminating the religious institutions of a culture, or bringing them under the control of the state.  The Islamic "Theocracies" achieve the same ends by conflating the religious and the secular under one head who holds absolute power.  The trouble they have caused, serve to amplify the argument the article makes
I find the thoughts of the article as applicable today as they were thirty-one years ago.

A couple of credits are due.  Steve Cornell pointed me to the article here.  In his posting Steve gives a twelve point application-focused, summary of the article.  For those not ambitious enough to tackle the longer article I recommend the summary.  For those who read the First Things Article I still recommend it.  My friend Bart Gingerich writes for the Institute on Religion and Democracy.  IRD published the article in First Things when it was still in its infancy.  Anyhow, had it not been for the "Oh, this is Bart's outfit," connection I probably wouldn't have taken time to read the article, so, in a soft sense, he referred me to it as well.

I encourage your conversation around these thoughts.

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