Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

The alternative to politics: take hold of that for which Jesus took hold of me

This election is killing me. I want to stay away from it, but I am fascinated. I may even watch the final debate tomorrow. Like the proverb says: As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”

trump-salks-hillary

On the one hand I am fascinated by Hillary Clinton, the first woman president. What fire it takes to do what she is doing! She was criticized by the pundits after the last debate for not “taking Trump out.” She was criticized for somehow not bullying Donald Trump! Just that one criticism kills me, among the thirty years of investigation she has been under. She was the most admired woman in the world before she decided to run for president, now she gets journalistically groped every day. It takes courage and passion for us all to stand up and do what we need to do. She’s got it.

On the other hand, I am appalled that we are paying so much attention to two bonafide members of the one percent duking it out to be king or queen of the elite. Hillary Clinton is so cozy with the world’s domination system it would be surprising if she manages to see outside the bubble. The people at the top really think they own the world and need to take care of it. At least Donald Trump is generally despised among the elite as a brash idiot who can’t help opening the curtain and exposing all the secrets. We all tune in and suck up the illusion that we are not their slaves. Many people believe that one of them is somehow going to represent their interests.

So I am getting killed. But I am also rising from the dead as a result. The whole spectacle gets me fired up for Jesus, since it is making it so obvious that we need some alternativity around here. We need a Savior and we have one. The whole mess inspires me to burn like Hillary and to take seriously all the opposition a burning person gets. We Jesus followers, we alternative makers need to burn with passion, burn with the Holy Spirit, and burn with industry as the people of God. People who follow Jesus in the next five years have a Hillary-like task ahead of us, complete with bullies stalking us and trying to make us afraid enough to dominate.

fire-in-handIt is time to burn. We need to be our true selves and the world needs us to be. If we are fearful in the face of our opposition so be it. We’ll still need to follow Jesus, and see what happens. We need to give what we have been given.

Humble but ambitious

We need to be humble but ambitious like Paul taught the Philippians to be — Not that I have already obtained all this [fullness I am talking about], or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. All the ways to picture our empowering relationship with God are inspiring!

  • I lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of.
  • I embrace it just as I have been embraced.
  • I apprehend that for which also I am apprehended.
  • I win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me.
  • I make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

I want to receive what I have been given. I want to give what I been given. That is burning in the new-life-in-Christ sense.

At some point we just have to do something. We need to give what we have been given. Let ourselves burn with the fire of the Spirit, go with it. We have the capacity to do that built in. We are not just what we’ve derived from the chemicals fermenting inside. We are also what our fiery relationships with God ignite. It has always been time to do something. But now it is just painfully obvious. The candidates are doing us a favor but making it all plain. The disconnected, vain elites are wounding the system they dominate so badly it will be limping for years. As Jesus followers, we embody the alternative as we trust Jesus and one another.

If someone puts the Geiger counter on you, stand in grace

I admit that Donald Trump made me pull my hair out last night — interrupting, bullying, talking about 400 pound people and other tabloid interests. It was kind of embarrassing.

debate vs hillary donald

But I also learned a bit about what people like about him. Here’s what I think: Everyone is becoming a bit sick of what I call “Geiger counter” accountability. What I mean is the feeling that some kind of powerful person or entity is holding a tester over you to pick up some tiny particle of being out of line. We’re always setting off the no-go alarm. We’re always getting the red notice that we have not filled out the inexplicable form properly (like I just experienced with a City of Philadelphia form). The Donald is just so splendidly incorrect, he gives us hope that a real person might be acceptable in reality. Hillary Clinton has somehow mastered so much material that she can actually function well in political unreality. She stood up very well under 100 million skeptical, critical, mean-spirited eyes — so well people have started criticizing her for being robotic. That is a completely unfair assessment of her brilliance, but we are afraid of needing to be robotic ourselves. So maybe we like Donald bumbling and sputtering around like we do, or at least like people do to us.

finger-pointUnfortunately, we have a bit of Stockholm syndrome and have bonded with our captors. What I mean is: We do not like it when the testing instruments find some particle of something unacceptable in us (like elementary students dreading the sound of seals being broken on their tests). It is no fun being radioactive, but we turn around and test each other all the time. After the debate, the news commentators were immediately looking for some gaffe Trump or Clinton made and downplayed every plausible or substantive thing they said. The only thing that matters is that they should never make a mistake. Hillary can’t even faint without thousands of screens replaying the “Aha!” moment! We would hate to have someone do that to us and put us on the cover of some checkout-line magazine, but we do it to others all the time. I am sure you have been in a conversation lately in which the person did not pay attention to the substance of what you were saying and stayed fixated on some side comment you made that was not factual. Husbands and wives spend a lot of time talking about how “I did not say that last Thursday” or “No, you certainly did do that in the spring of 2003.”

We end up wondering why we are so unhappy. It is hard to be happy when it is a beautiful day and you are looking for the flaws in it: “It was the best day of the year, but my hair did not come out that good and someone told me I had a chocolate stain on my shirtfront, which I did.” It is hard to be happy when you are with a friend and you are scrolling your Tinder for a better partner. It is hard to be happy when you are about the best you have ever been and you are obsessing over a few pounds or that sin you committed yesterday. We have hard masters and we are hard masters in return. We even make Jesus into a hard master, even when he tells us that his yoke is easy and tells us he did not come to condemn anyone.

I guess the sister of hyper-criticism is hyper-denial. Hillary finally had to tell Donald last night, “I know you live in your own reality…” A lot of us are so unhappy, we do live in our own reality. The actual one is too daunting; we desert it.  We are overwhelmed by the flaws in it. It is totally out of control. We are perfectly free, supposedly, to be our own saviors and we can’t do it.  That sends us into denial. Just as likely, we have discovered that the love of that perfect lover will not save us, either. Wait until you get one of those or you become one and the Geiger counter comes out! This song that Rachel played for us on Sunday might seem even more absurd.

I am in the habit of telling people that we’d all be dead if they were Jesus. What I mean is: There is an intrinsic accountability with being entrusted with eternal life, it is true. But we don’t get there by deserving it or achieving the perfection that we would require of others. (We even try to tell God it is not acceptable to receive flawed people into the kingdom!). Jesus does not put us to the test all day so we can prove our value. He thinks we are valuable enough to die for right now. For some horrible reason, we have a tough time living in that reality. We might not even enjoy seeing how people right in front of us are standing there showered with the grace of God. We have trouble appreciating the great grace in which we stand ourselves (Romans 5:2).

Appreciate the great grace in which you stand right now, and stand. If someone puts the Geiger counter on you, don’t worry if they find you to be radioactive. They apparently do not have a measure for grace.

About Hillary — we can do better

Well, THAT was a convention! I always think the balloons should fall faster, but that is just me – and perhaps a secret wish that it would all be over! The DNC was a well-choreographed spectacle of hopefulness, exceptionalism, saber-rattling and Trump bashing, with lots of faith thrown in. I’m old enough to remember that it seemed a lot like a page from the Ronald Reagan playbook. To be honest, Hillary reminds me a little of Richard Nixon — I kind of think she is a crook, but boy, can she do policy!

But a woman was nominated, people. She works for children. Does anything else matter? William Barber was allowed to give the best speech. Isn’t that great? Secret fat cat donors funded the thing (Johnson and Johnson was apparently the biggest donor with a face), but at least she threatened them. Bernie Sanders was the most gracious curmudgeon to endure Hillary’s moment – shouldn’t you be as nice?

I’m trying to go along a little. I truly admired the eloquence and organizing capacity of the Democrat crew (except for Katy Perry and her malfunctioning ear mics)! I do not believe in their view of America, but it would be great if I did. As Hillary proved, in her own way, “We can do better.” But we Christians are not running an election campaign for our brief moment in office to rule and change the world (are we?). We must do better than holding out America as God’s gift to the planet.

I have the blessing of traveling a lot. The United States is not God’s gift to the planet. I also pray a lot. The country has positive points, but I have not gotten the impression that it is central to the Lord’s redemption project. If anything, China has been better for that, in my lifetime.

But let’s be positive (as if anything could be more positive than the anti-RNC DNC!). The Democrats have a lot to offer

  • They unabashedly talk about love and building community.
  • They are on the side of “the least of these,” and quote the Bible about that conviction.
  • Both Hillary and Tim Kaine have public service resumes that looks like serving.
  • Even if they are obviously in the pockets of corporations, they talk back to their overlords.
  • They mentioned mass incarceration, generosity to immigrants and equal pay for equal work.
  • They are into protecting rights.
  • It cannot be underestimated how revolutionary it is to nominate a woman, and a qualified one!

I don’t think Hillary has a chance of getting most of her agenda passed through Congress, since it appears the Republicans have suppressed voting and gerrymandered the system so well it will be very difficult to dislodge them. So if she is elected, expect her to be a lot testier than Barack.

We must do better. We Christians must not get looped into the glittering promises of Hillary’s great compromise – the first George Bush meets Lyndon Johnson. Just because Johnson and Johnson let Christian speakers on the platform, doesn’t mean the United States is any more Christian. Most of these people are part of the Baby Boomers’ last stand of peace and love. But the legacy of those Boomers looks a lot like all the other promises of politicians. We always need to do better.

It is tempting to spend another four years hoping things will get better – and the government can and does makes things better, as it should. But we still don’t put our hope “in chariots and horses,” that is, in the capacity to threaten ISIS, the wealth to promise free education, or the exceptionalism of our supposed democracy. So let’s not fall into temptation. Someplace, Jesus needs a platform to speak the truth. Someplace, normal people need to struggle face to face in faith and do what they can do, not dependent on their corporate overlords to allow it. Someplace, the alternative to two years of vying to be the top dog has to be available. The church is the Lord’s people and we are, like it or not, the best hope of giving people real hope in a 46%-43% society. I think our witness has been drowned out by big money, big systems and our own complicity (in general). But Jesus is still making connections and is still using us. I’m with Him.

About Trump — we can do better

I watched the Trump acceptance speech – all of it. I also watched Ivanka. In Trumpspeech: Not that pleased with the first – Surprisingly pleased with the latter — Believe me.

I live among people who are not happy with Trump. But sometimes I think they are posturing, since they probably have a relative from the South or Middle Pennsylvania (or keeping quiet in Philly, at least) who thinks Trump is great. So they must have some sense of affinity with the guy. Don’t worry if you do or you don’t — It is crazy politics, people, but it is still just politics. And even if the election turns out to be a life and death matter for some people, we are still Jesus followers. Every election serves to remind us why we are glad to have a savior who triumphs over death. I don’t say that in a fatalistic way, just a realistic one. I know Americans think they can control everything so nothing bad will happen or happen again, but how many times does our control system need to be proven faulty until we give up on it?

In the spirit of charity I would like to try a third way to judge Trump – not work hard to take him seriously and gloss over his faults, and not just point out all the lies he told last night and despair over his angry, divisive approach, but a caring way. I want to try an understanding look at Trump from the bluest of cities. Why are people voting for him? And why might he win the presidency? Here are seven things that people  find positive about him:

  1. He understands how irritating the overreaching government is — all the way down to telling you how to speak.
  2. He understands how people are tired of the 1% getting away with everything. Hillary’s emails are another example. He at least admits he gets away with things. People admire how he hoodwinks the system for his own benefit because that is what they have to try to do to get by.
  3. He understands that people want Americans to be Americans. It is a nationalistic country. People don’t want it divided up and don’t want people to call them bigoted when they want a citizenship standard.
  4. He understands why people are mad and scared. It is hard to get by. Every time you turn around someone has their hand in your pocket, mostly the government and those who have the inside track with the government. It is hard to feel safe. People all watch TV all the time and don’t trust anyone to tell the truth, but bad things are happening all over and we know about them.
  5. He understands that people have finally gotten wind that the system is rigged against anyone who is not rich. People want the authorities to “do their job” and lock up people who sidestep the law.
  6. His children are good looking, well-spoken and loyal, even if they did come from three mothers.
  7. He has gotten things done and the government has been a gridlocked mess for sixteen years. Every major decision that is made seems half-baked (Obamacare) or wrong (Iraq).

Jesus followers can see the good in everyone, or at least we can have some empathy for why they think what they believe is good. We love people.

When I was watching the RNC reality show, I kept thinking of what Hillary tweeted during it, “We we are better than this.”

hillary tweet

I am not sure Hillary can do better (unless she can repent of skirting the law and the truth all the time). But I do think we Jesus-followers (at least the ones who are not trying to run the world) can do better. We ought to do better, too, rather than just reacting to politics as if they are the focus of all our hope or the end of the world.

I think we and many Jesus followers are doing a LOT better. If we speak the truth in love and build communities that look and act like we share the love of Jesus, then we can offer people an alternative that is better than whatever is already messing them up. Whoever gets elected is going to need a lot of prayer; they are winning a position that is nothing but trouble — what else is new? But Jesus told us not to let our hearts be troubled with the latest trouble. He still overcomes the world, no matter what the trouble in whatever country. Let’s overcome with Him. Why should people get stuck with Trump and Hillary as if nothing better is available to them?