Bill Murchison: Politics and religion

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama was saying of Hillary Clinton, "She seems to have a habit of saying whatever it is that folks want to hear." And Mrs. Clinton was saying of Mr. Obama, "He has sent out mailers, he has run ads, misrepresenting what I have proposed."

Meanwhile, in New York City, at Yankee Stadium, Pope Benedict XVI was saying things such as, "The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love."

In which attribute β€” love, I mean β€” the political profession can't exactly be said to abound. The nature of politics, after all, is the capture of power by one group of humans and the denial of that same power to other groups of humans. By force, by the ballot β€” it all comes ultimately to the same thing, which is that the last thing politics is about is love.

The same goes for a large number of other things you've heard about, such as peace, contentment, joy and fulfillment. Politics isn't about these commodities either. Politics is a wrestling match, with ample components of eye-gouging and head-butting. Whoever ends up sitting on top, by talent or trickery, is the winner.

The timing of the papal visit, coincidental as that timing certainly was, makes a little clearer the debased state of democratic government in the 21st century. As if the almost unendurable length of the presidential campaign, and the squalor of the dialogue, such as it is, hadn't made that plain enough already.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsUS Presidential Election 2008

Posted April 27, 2008 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Words Matter wrote:

It occurs to me that before the pope’s visit, the political impact of his visit was all the speculation. During and after, I’ve heard relatively little such chatter. Is it possible that something pastoral happened?

April 27, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
2. John Wilkins wrote:

I’m never sure what to do with the pastor-politician comparison.

Do we want politicians to express love?  Did people want Obama to still love his pastor?  Do we want a president who loves Hamas or the President of Iran? 

In our spiritual lives, we like love.  There’s no cost.

In our practical lives, we prefer the usual thing.  We like people to affirm our prejudices and condemn our enemies.  We like to vote for people who eat the same things we do and talk the same way we do.  Prophets challenge this.  Which is why we wouldn’t vote for them.

April 28, 8:52 am | [comment link]
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