Many churches, including mine, will mark All Saints Day this Sunday. Of course, politics will also be on everyone’s mind. At first it seemed to me that the two have little in common, but then several connections occurred to me.
To most American voters in 1972, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota was way too liberal on many issues—and he was beaten badly by incumbent Richard Nixon. But to many fellow Methodists he was also a churchgoing humanitarian who in the 1960s directed the new Food for Peace Program and a forward-looking politician informed by the Social Gospel.
Political leaders in the tiny Buddhist nation of Bhutan have announced a nearly six-month ban on all public religious activities ahead of the upcoming elections, citing the Himalayan nation’s constitution that says “religion shall remain above politics.”
Social media can reduce activism to a fad—something that we take part in because a particular Twitter hashtag is trending, a video has become viral or a Facebook cause has become popular. It can ignore the hard work that has been taking place over decades and discount a long-term strategy that a community might have.
I have found myself dreading Facebook lately. With the general election beginning to churn, the competing posts are out: “Evidence of Obama’s socialist conspiracy!” “Republicans plan to inspect every woman’s womb!” Some are rather scary while others I quietly cheer; still others simply draw me into grief over how little Jesus seems apparent in any of it.
We could avoid all sorts of nasty fights, Stephen Jay Gould argues, if we would stop expecting science to provide validating evidence for religious dogmas or biblical events. Nor ought we to turn to religion to resolve questions of a properly scientific nature. He wants no more natural theology, no more "anthropic principle," no more attempts to find scientific confirmation for religious beliefs, and no more fundamentalist "creation science." In short, "science gets the age of rocks, and religion the rock of ages; science studies how the heavens go, religion how to go to heaven."
What was remarkable about the overturning of Proposition 8—California’s
ban on same-sex marriage—was the weakness of the case mounted by the
defense. At times during the proceedings, Judge Vaughn Walker had to
ask the legal team in charge of defending the proposition, in effect:
“Haven’t you got something better than this?”
In a recent lecture on the exercise of political power, David R. Young claimed that although much attention is paid “to the physical and intellectual dimensions” of the exercise of political power, little or none is paid today to “the emotional, nonrational or spiritual dimension.” And yet, argued Young, “it is the spiritual character of the individual human being as a whole . . .