Your children have been hearing a lot about the election in their schools, in your family, among friends, online and on television. As a Christian parent, priest, or teacher, what can you say? Does God care about the election? Here are some thoughts to help shape your conversation.
The answer is yes, God cares about elections. Because elections are about people, and God cares about everything that happens to people. In an election, we choose leaders to govern and care for the people at every level of our country’s life. Jesus said that even a sparrow is not forgotten by God. If God cares for the tiniest bird, then think how he cares for every single human being. “Even the hairs of your head are numbered,” said Jesus (Matthew 10:30). That’s how extreme God’s love is for us.
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. Continue reading →
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…
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…