- Being Christian During A Trump Presidency
When it comes to voting, I had always thought that there was never a way for Christians to vote with clean hands. Regardless of party or candidate, a Christian could not vote without being implicated in supporting principles that are counter to Christian faith. And that’s how it should be: Christian witness points to that which is more than the political. Put another way, the political is something but it is not everything.
If Christian witness is to point to what is more than the political, then Christian responsibility is not done after we vote; it only intensifies after an election. No matter who is elected, Christians must always exercise a prophetic voice.
If Hillary Clinton had been elected, Christians would have had to exercise this prophetic voice—some would have focused on her failure to promote a consistent ethic of life, while others might have targeted her collusion with special interests.
The reality is, however, that we have a Trump presidency: so what should the Christian prophetic voice look like now? Continue Reading…
- Healing the Body Politic: A Politics of Communion
Now that the American elections are over, it is time to assess the role of the Orthodox Churches in helping to shape our country. They could take a passive stand entirely apart from the political process, but then we would have to accept that everyone else would decide the conditions under which we live as Orthodox Christians. And we would then also have to admit that we don’t actively care about what happens to our country or about contributing to the common good. This would be entirely contrary to the history of the Orthodox Churches, which have almost all played central roles in shaping national cultures, even when they existed—as they did for most of history—under autocratic regimes. Continue Reading…
- Politics by Candlelight: Contemplating Political Catharsis and Illumination
“Democracy is coming to the USA.” (Leonard Cohen)
Americans don’t like talking openly about politics across party lines; they prefer to talk in their own silos and not to each other. American Christians – at least, this is my experience among Orthodox Christians in America – would almost identify political argumentation as somehow betraying the Christian Gospel; I’m not so sure, however, that this is based so much on Gospel principle as on some misconception of the right to privacy.
Critics, then, may be politically or religiously ostracized – sometimes both. So at risk of stepping into the unknown territory of political purgatory, as a dual citizen of America and Australia, as a layman as well as a theologian, let me briefly consider the topics of money in politics, immigration as inclusion, and climate change in light of the recent presidential election. Continue Reading…
- Repentance and Healing
by Samuel Bauer
Following the November 8 election of Donald Trump to the presidency, Fr. John Jillions, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, published an essay on this blog urging Orthodox Christians to work towards the healing of the many societal fractures exposed by the 2016 election. The work of healing, he argues, is a Christian imperative and can be promoted by the Churches through charitable projects, speaking truth to power and “standing up for decency,” and the promotion of our uniquely Orthodox asceticism that can offer inner peace in the face of outer turmoil.
While this program no doubt proceeds from the best of intentions and draws our gaze to important loci for ongoing work, it is inadequate since it fails to recognize the Church’s role in the creation of the current divisive political climate. Continue Reading…
- The Politics of Pascha
Since November 8th, 2016, contributors to Public Orthodoxy have advanced various responses to the unexpected victory of Donald J. Trump. Fr John Jillions proposes that the Church needs to practice a politics of communion, which includes charitable works, prophetic political witness, and renewed ascetical life. Aristotle Papanikolaou asserts that the Church needs to vigorously denounce racist, sexist, and xenophobic rhetoric. Samuel Bauer maintains that before the Church can effectively contribute to the healing of our country, she must “seek forgiveness from the marginalized of society, the very individuals whose dignity it has at times assailed.” Each proposal has merit, but each lacks that one needful thing, the proclamation of the gospel itself. The Church has one word that she, and she alone, can speak to the world–Jesus is risen! There are many penultimate words that the Church may and must speak; but if she does not proclaim Pascha, not just one Sunday a year but every Sunday, all other prophetic and pastoral words are emptied of significance.
Since my retirement I have heard numerous Orthodox homilies. With few exceptions, they have been horrid—poorly constructed, poorly delivered, and lacking in substance. But bad technique may be forgiven if the preacher is at least attempting to proclaim the good news. Alas that has not usually been the case. What I have heard is exhortation … to imitate Christ, obey the ten commandments, be nice to my neighbors, pray more often, confess my sins … even a lengthy harangue scolding the congregation for its failure to support the parish festival. Exhortation and more exhortation—dreary, impotent words that do not convert, do not heal, do not transform, do not deify. (more…)