Politics and the English Major

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Where can I rest my head?

Today we watched Barack Obama deliver his second inaugural address.  On the day that we honor Martin Luther King Jr. we watched our first black president begin his second term as commander-in-chief.  Many are elated and it truly is an important moment in American history.  If you’re an American you should feel some sense of pride in your president on a day like this.  This is the next step in the hard struggle for freedom for all Americans.  And certainly, I appreciate the historical significance of it all.   So why do I feel the way I do?  Why am I not thrilled?

Let me bring you up to speed.  For a significant portion of 2012 I was heavily invested in the presidential election.  I followed every story as it broke and I looked into the candidates that interested me.  Through research and discussion I chiseled away at my political positions until they hardened into bronze beliefs.  Fox News and talk radio washed over my being as I prepared for the great battle of our age between big government tax and spend  liberals and small government fiscally responsible conservatives.  Obama was an enemy to “freedom” and somehow hated the very core of what America was, and no matter who replaced him that person would be an improvement.  When it came to Romney, I found a way to like and support him as the better alternative.  After the first debate I really got excited about the prospect of a conservative victory and increased my political presence on Facebook.  Post after post I passionately made a plea for conservative principles.  Right before the election I started to get feedback from friends that I had become too zealous and my words were losing their power.  Even those who agreed with my politics were becoming annoyed.  Admittedly, I was swept up in it. And then, after months of passionate reasoning and arguing, came the election.  Oh, the election.  I can sum it up in nicely in five words: Everyone…I…Voted…For…Lost.

After months of investing myself in politics I felt the awesome pain of total defeat.  Seriously, even the little people I voted for lost.  And to top it all off, I came down with a bad cold amidst the slaughter.  Right before falling asleep, I spoke on the phone with my friend Steve who bet me a dozen Cadbury eggs that Obama would win.  Though he assured me that everything would be ok, I went to bed physically ill, emotionally exhausted, mentally strained, and spiritually shaken.  It was the sleep of a lost soul floating aimlessly in a hostile political sea.

So these past months have been a time of humble self-reflection.  But they have also been a time of unease.  You see, I’m truly struggling with my political identity.  I’m in the midst of an identity crisis, you could say.  If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ve probably gathered that I have long wrestled with my conservative principles in an increasingly liberal culture.  For instance, today my president said, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”  Alright, so all that talk about gay marriage must be over.  Now I’m the bad guy if I don’t compromise my beliefs about marriage and morality.  And at the same time I recognize that gays have been treated with a special disdain within my Christian conservative community, and it’s hard not to view my side as the aggressors who are in the wrong.  Why is homosexuality uniquely wretched while divorce is basically accepted?  Where does evolving culture end and timeless truth begin?

So I’ve described to you my current political state.  My party has become a national joke and lost its ability to speak with authority to the greater culture.  There’s no Republican version of Obama.   My core political beliefs don’t have a champion in the arena and so I’m left to wander for a while in the wilderness.  Meanwhile, I’m wrestling with what it means to be a Christian in America today.  It’s all quite humbling, and I believe in my heart that I will come out of it a better man.  I just wish, in the meantime, I had somewhere to rest my head.

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Posted on January 22, 2013, in Life Lessons, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. We’re in this struggle together brother, as always. Can we truly call ourselves good if we’re not invested in ourselves and our world enough to wrestle with both? I don’t think so.

  2. As we had very opposing thoughts during the election, I won’t attack Romney or you for that matter. I understand completely that there is a struggle of what being “Christian” means in today’s world. I can’t say that I’m perfect, and I’ve actually left churches for making me feel like I wasn’t, but mostly I left them because I didn’t see them as very accepting. Last year, I went through a personal crisis with whether or not I even liked other Christians anymore. This church I tried to get involved with had actually told me that I wasn’t up to standard and wouldn’t let me participate in services. I usually get upset with Christians that I see on TV because I look at them how my non-religious friends might look at them, and perceive them as judgmental and isolating. One of my favorite quotes that really set the tone of reality for me after college is from Gandhi. He said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.” Sometimes I’ll see Christians (Conservative/Republicans Christians) on the news or in the paper and they’re protesting gay rights or saying some uneducated thing about “legitimate rape” and I think, “Are we praying to the same Jesus?” I have felt close to exiled from both groups of people, the Conservatives that have a fire for God in their hearts like I do but we don’t accept the same things from the world, and then my worldly friends that think all Christians are a bunch of kooks and they don’t get why I ever bother with church. I started to feel like Obama was the only guy I could relate to, with him praying to God in his speeches and then preaching equality. For a while I was pretty lonely, and felt like I had to hide God to myself because I was just an outlier for each side of the argument. Actually, I still pretty consistently feel that way. But I go to a church now that is UCC and there are gay and lesbian families there. I can’t say they love God any less than they love their partners.

    I just read a couple of books by Anne Rice, in the first person perspective of Jesus. I don’t know how true they are, but they do go along the course of events that led up to Jesus meeting His disciples. When people were coming from all over the place to be baptized in the river by John, they were all asking each other, “What does this mean to be baptized in water and forgiven for sins by a man? That is not the law.” It was the setup for the New Testament, when the rituals and sacrifices and all the other Old Testament rules would start to be redefined by Jesus. He said there would be no more “eye for an eye” but we would instead “turn the other cheek”. He forgave prostitutes, healed the sick, and said, “Hey! Stop stoning each other to death, if they’re sorry they’ll pray to God and be forgiven! I know their hearts, and if they love Me then it’s enough.” (Obviously that’s not a direct quote)

    I’m sure you have more than a few qualms with President Obama, and I can’t change your mind on how you feel about homosexuals. But my best friend is a Christian and he’s gay, and I can’t personally rationalize “turn the other cheek” in exchange for “eye for an eye” and then think my friend is going to hell for having a loving relationship with a man. Most homosexual people hate Christians because of how they were treated by them, and I’m honestly ashamed of some of those Christians (not you, you’re a nice guy, really I’m talking more about guys like Glenn Beck). We have this one book, the Bible, that’s interpreted by 17 sects of Christianity that say a lot of different things about whether you’re allowed to drink, dance, eat shellfish, or be gay. I’ve done a lot of research, and there are multiple interpretations from the bible about whether homosexuality is wrong (specifically homosexuality, as oppose to other sexual acts since “sodomy” is also considered to qualify as oral sex, which a lot of straight married couples do and they don’t think they’re going to hell) Anyway, with the world going the way that it is, all the preaching and fire and brimstone whatevers won’t stop people from being gay. Maybe the only way to show God’s love and share that with others, is to stop condemning them.

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