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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Last night Stanley Hauerwas was publically interviewed by an Anglican Priest/News Anchorman (weird combination, I know) in the divinity school. I had heard Dr Hauerwas speak in chapel a few weeks ago, which was a great experience as expected. The sermon was on a passage from 1 Corinthians and was fairly straightforward and not particularly controversial. His language was appropriate for a church service and his countenance was that of a minister, not a professor. Last night, however, we were able to get a glimpse of the Hauerwas that has become legendary in theological circles for certain slips of the tongue. Hauerwas the Texan was fully present last night as the interviewer asked him questions pertaining to “being a Christian in today’s world.” Aside from many  typically rich, challenging, profound, and elegant reflections on being a Christian in the modern world were the Hauerwasian one-liners that make Hauerwas the legend that he has come to be. Here are my favorites from last night (please excuse some of the language):

On Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens: “Dawkins and Hitchens simply represent the fact that Christians have become so stupid that they have ceased to give the world anything interesting to think about. It’s not atheism that’s killing the Church, but sentimentality.”

On Christian marriage: “The problem with most sex is that it’s not very intimate…Our spouses get to know us better than we know ourselves, and it just scares the shit out of us.”

On health care reform: “If you live a crappy life there is no reason that you shouldn’t die a crappy death.”

On the recent developments between the Vatican and Anglicans: “I think what Benedict did was absolute shit…They just can’t give up on England. Why they would want England beats the hell out of me”

On the south: “Southern civility is one of the most calculated forms of cruelty I can think of.”

Of course, all of these soundbites were part of much broader and deeply thought-out reflections on the particular issues, but the one-liners are always the fun part. Yet, despite such fun, I was reminded last night just what is at stake when I call myself a Christian and proclaim Jesus as Lord in a world that has no time for God. Here is a passage from Hauerwas that is perhaps more insightful than a mere soundbite:

“Do  I think the truthfulness of Christian witness is compromised when Christians accept the practices of the ‘culture of death’–abortion, suicide, capital punishment, and war? Yes! On every count, the answer is ‘Yes’…Christians betray the grammar of the Christian faith when we try to answer the charge of circularity by divorcing what we believe from the way our beliefs are embedded in the church. In short, I am suggesting that Christians in modernity have lost the ability to answer questions about the truthfulness of what we believe because we have accepted beliefs about the world that presuppose that God does not matter. The problem for Christians and non-Christians alike is the Christian inability to live in a way that enables us to articulate what difference it makes that we are or are not Christian.” -from With the Grain of the Universe

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Haiku.

Barack Obama

Winner of Nobel Peace Prize

Maybe we can change.

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Politics and insanity

I’m usually not one to actually get in the game of political opinion, but after observing the last few days of the health-care debate turn into mass protesting (and mass insanity) in Washington, I feel the urge to put down some thoughts into binary code. So, please bear with me as I indict  myself as another talking head in the incoherent world of internet-political-opinion-ranting.

First of all, the health care debate is a moral debate, not an economic one. Certainly the economic questions that inevitably stem from this issue and what is proposed around it are unavoidable and should be carefully and responsibly approached, and I realize that these are real issues that cannot be ignored. However, it seems that the debate in the mainstream media has been anything but a moral one. The issue, simply, is whether or not it is even morally tolerable to live in a community that allows anyone to go without access to health care. If this is the real issue, then health care should not be part of the economic logic of politics. We should be doing whatever it takes to ensure that nobody is left in the dark. Maybe the Government option is not the answer,  but this is what we need to be talking about.

I find it interesting that there has not been much of a connection with the health care debate and war. Both the conservative and liberal side of the debate seem to agree that when we are at war, the American people ought to be willing to sacrifice. Most of the people marching on Washington the other day probably agree that in order to win the  the war on terror- or whatever it is now called- there needs to be some sort of  sacrifice. Whether it be giving up certain moral convictions or sending sons and daughters off to war, most Americans feel that “freedom” comes with a price. America is built on the idea that somebody has to be willing to sacrifice (or kill) something if we are going to be “free”. Yet this does not seem to be the case for the issue of everybody’s right to health care.

The conservative stance may very well be right. Socialized health care may end up being catastrophic for the economy, it may be that the quality of care will be diminished because the resources are spread too thin. But this is all argued on the idea that we should be able to continue living the way we do without having to give anything up. Almost everyone wants a change in the system,  yet nobody wants to sacrifice anything to achieve it. Or for the politicians, nobody wants to ask anyone to sacrifice anything because there are elections to be won and political bases to be appeased.  This seems to be the case on both partisan sides, and it is essentially why Obama’s plan will not work.

For Christians, though, this should never be an issue. The Church never looks after its own interest, but always the interests of the poor, out-casted, and needy. Therefore, it may be that the Church and those that make it up may need to vote or fight for whatever is against their better interest in this situation. Christians should be the first people willing to give up the consumer option and security that we think the current system provides if it means that more people can have the same access to care as we do. Furthermore, I think it should always be a major red flag for Christians when any political cause or movement is overwhelmingly white, male-powered, heterosexual, and middle class, such as the crowd in washington was the other day.

Anyway, whatever one’s opinion is on this issue, it is still absolute insanity to compare Obama with Hitler, or to call him a socialist.

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