I have a soft spot in my heart for anabaptist theology. I don't think I buy into everything about it, but I really understand where they're coming from and the reasons they decide to do what they do, specifically their pacifism and non-involvement in government, etc.
With all the extremes we saw during this last presidential election (Obama will save us! Obama is the anti-christ!) it was tempting to just throw it all out as a meaningless, idolatrous game: everyone pinning all their hopes on this man or that man.
I still don't have my own convictions on the matter resolved (I do think the rhetoric of politics at that level cannot help but be idolatrous, America setting itself up as the "light of the world," etc.), but a recent post from Julie Clawson helped me (at least for now) get out of an "all or nothing" mode and appreciate the good of what is going on right now. I quote her in full:
awesome. Watching the inauguration was moving – and doing so in virtual
community was inspiring. And I’m loving the pervasive feeling of hope
being celebrated literally around the world today.
But that hope received some push back today. From the cynics who
disliked Obama from the get go to the anabaptists who reject all
government involvement for good or for ill. While these critiques have
some merit, I believe they often miss the point. Most of us have no
delusions that Obama the man represents that hope. Our trust is not in
him, he has no power to save us. Yes, we like him (with good reason), but what we are celebrating is much bigger than a man.
It is a hope inspired by the winds of change. Change like no longer
having the rhetoric coming from our country’s leaders be that of power,
oppression, and domination but instead that of mercy, love, and
justice. Of course we don’t trust in rhetoric, but it is what forms the
zeigeist of the nation. Language does shape us and leads us in paths of
action. If we immerse ourselves in the language of hatred and fear then
that will become who we are. So to find ourselves in the midst of
language encouraging service, justice, peace, love, and mercy, then yes
I think there is cause for celebration. Cause for rejoicing in a
vision of being that does represent the values of the Kingdom. It isn’t
the kingdom itself nor is Obama in any sense a savior, but anything
that encourages the values of the kingdom is yes, in fact, good.
And that inspires hope.
Erin Kutnow says
That’s good stuff, Ben. I, too, have felt conflicted. Am I allowed to be really excited at the rhetoric? I have those people in my life that are only thinking of the anti-christ possibility (yikes.) So it makes it difficult to rejoice with abandon. But I’m okay with that ongoing tension. Claiborne’s Jesus for President was helpful in that regard. …To not be at ease with empire, but fully onboard with Kingdom values(wherever they may be found), and the King behind them. Thanks for the post.
Abbey S says
Yeah! That’s really good. I was trying to come to terms with the tension as well, where I feel really good about the attitude of the nation and my environment (I watched the inauguration in the Auer auditorium at IPFW) surrounding the inauguration, while at the same time retaining the stance of not placing my hope in a person, and not embracing idolatrous or messianic mindsets, despite really liking President Obama. I think there is something really powerful and uplifting about the language being used. At one point someone said on the inauguration broadcast, “all those who do justice and love mercy, say Amen” and I couldn’t help myself! I can’t say much more to elaborate on the passage quoted. Just wanted to add my “yeah!”