Sunday, February 18, 2007

Republicans, Democrats, and Christians

I've not been inspired to write for quite a while now. Not that it matters. I doubt anyone really reads this blog, so it is mostly just an outlet for my opinions, and the very occasional creativity burst.

But with Congress recently giving Bush a vote of no-confidence on his surge of troops in Iraq, I thought it was time to jot down some thoughts that have been growing in me ever since the beginning of the war. But my opinions on this subject are not popular in the crowd I run with, and some may find them downright unpatriotic, if not downright un-Christian. The ironic thing is, of course, that many believe those two to be the same thing.

See, I've been against this war since the very beginning. The reasons are many, the least of which I think we made a huge mistake by invading a country that had not attacked us to fight a war against a clandestine organization that doesn't play by the rules. Not only is it a recipe for failure, but it removed focus and resources from Afghanistan, where our job still isn't finished. We’ve spent billions and billions of dollars at the expense of our budget, our poor, and our economy. And we’ve squandered a lifetime of goodwill directed toward our country after 9/11.

I really like what David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union said on the subject. “Sure, the average voter is glad Hussein is gone and would be delighted if the Iraqi people opted for democracy, but the man on the street can’t see any reason why Americans should suffer to make Iraq safe for Iraqis. They’re far more interested in hearing how the sacrifices Americans are making there are making the world safer for Americans. And that’s something they haven’t been hearing.” They haven’t been hearing it because it’s not true. We’re not safer, and we won’t be when this thing is done, if that ever happens.

But I think what bothers me the most is that Christians are so quick to support Bush without critically thinking through all the issues. Almost as if we don't we’re automatically supporting the Democrats, or worse, not being very good Christians. It's part of the thought process that so closely links Christianity with Republicans, and the assumption that we were a "Christian" nation, and we need to become one once again. (My thoughts on that are a topic for a different blog).

I’m beginning to think there’s not really that much of a difference between Democrats and Republicans. We want to believe there is, we want to believe we have a real choice, but do we? It’s more like they are two sides of the same coin. Are Republicans more moral? (Can you say, “Foley?”). Are they less greedy? Less unaffected by lobbyists? Do the parties truly have different and distinct plans that are laid clearly laid out, and actually workable?

Take the 2004 elections. Both candidates were white, pro-immigration, pro-war, millionaires, who both went to Yale, and were both members of the same secrete society. Hmm. We are more and more becoming an oligarchy. I’m not sure who I’m going to vote for next election, but I am now certain it won’t be based on party lines.

5 comments:

Jim said...

First I'd like to encourage you to continue to write your thoughts online. Do not be discouraged by a lack of feedback, such is the nature of the web. It is a world of "Lurkers" like me. We watch, read, ponder and learn, but seldom take the chance of speaking out.

You are my brother in Christ, that alone makes your opinion worthy of my interest. I appreciate your courage as the stance you have taken is in fact bound to be unpopular in today's "Christian" circles.

Myself, I am retired Air Force, spent 5 deployments in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iraq as active duty. I am currently in Iraq as a contractor, trying to keep our guys alive and the bad guys less so. I hope to come home this summer for good an leave this conflict to others. I have never really considered if I agree with the decision to go to war or not. It doesn't really matter. I did decide to follow the orders of my leaders. I won't quote the bible to you, no doubt your knowledge far surpasses mine, but I do recall an instruction from God to obey those put into authority over us. This president has in fact been put into authority over us as citizens of the USA. I don't question his decisions, I merely obey. I am very glad that I had a part in his being placed over me, rather than this being like cuba, china or some other system that I had no voice in. I'd like to think that even if I were in such a country I'd still obey God and do the bidding of those placed in authority over me, difficult though it may be.

When voting time comes I reckon I'll pray a lot, read a lot and make my decision as best as I can. But even if it is *gasp* Hillary, I'll do my best to abide by the person placed in authority over me :)

Enough politics.. the REAL reason your site caught my eye.. AWESOME BIKE!!! How do you like it? I'm planning on buying a bike when I get home (Abilene Texas) this summer and have been doing research on which one I should get. Any insight into the 900LT?

Your Brother in Christ,
Jim

Jerry said...

Jim,

Your comment made my day. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. Your servant spirit and graciousness was humbling to me.

You are right on the money concerning our responsibilities to the authorities we find ourselves under. You didn't want to quote the Bible, so I'll do it for you. :)

Titus 3:1 says, "Remind the people to be subject to the rules and authorities..." While 1 Peter 2:13 tells us, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men..." Doesn't sound like there's much wiggle room in there, does it! Yet we do our best. I had a discussion a while back with some friends who felt they didn’t need to pay taxes since some of that money was used for ungodly purposes. How convenient! Not to mention at odds with the direction we’ve received on the subject.

That being said, I don’t believe obeying our authorities and being critical of certain decisions (especially major ones like going to war) are mutually exclusive. It is possible to be agreeable in disagreement, and have strong convictions while still showing respect and honor for the office and its authority. I so appreciate the work and sacrifice of yourself and others like you. I hope you understand my post was not intended in any way to disparage our troops and their heroic efforts. I simply wanted to make the point that my Christian brothers and sisters so often equate being Republican with being Christian, or vice-versa that the two words are almost used interchangeably. And we can’t have that. We must learn how to be God-centric in our thinking, and realize that the moral problems facing this country are spiritual in nature. Therefore they require spiritual solutions, not laws and ordinances. We will only change this country by changing ourselves to act and behave more like the people of God.

Thank you for the compliment on my bike. I love it. I’ve only had it a summer and I’m having a blast. The whole family loves riding on it, though it gives Mom ulcers whenever the kids go out with me (except my oldest – she’s mentally handicapped and I don’t yet trust her to stay on the bike). I chose the Vulcan after tons of research. It’s a great bike for the price. I ruled out the Harley’s right off the bat simply because of their expense. And of the remaining Japanese bikes, the Kawasaki and Suzuki seemed to have the best road bikes for the money. It came down to the Kawasaki Vulcan and the Suzuki Boulevard. I choose the Vulcan due mainly to its more retro styling and the inclusion of a gas gauge.

After having the bike a whole summer now the only negative I can really level at it is its a bit weak in the power department. Don’t get me wrong, it can really get up and go. But it doesn’t have the same “oomph” as other bikes I’ve had. Plus, once you get up to about 75 or so it really begs for a sixth gear, which it doesn’t have. The price I paid new was a real sweet spot though, and about 1/3 – 1/2 the price of an equivalent Harley. And I have no doubt it will last just as long, or longer. That being said, if I had it to do over again I would probably consider the next step up, the Vulcan 1500. I plan on purchasing some aftermarket pipes this summer that can boost performance by 10-15%.

Thanks again, Jim. I’ve added you to my prayer list. Let me know when God brings you back home safe. BTW, I must say, your line, “trying to keep our guys alive and the bad guys less so” is a classic. It was so subtle I missed it the first time around. :)

God bless.

Jim C. said...

Jerry,

You are so right. Being a Christian obliges us to OBEY the authority of man, but does not oblige us to agree with our leaders. Being an American allows us to disagree vocally and publicly without legal repercussion or fear of punishment. The time I spent in other countries has served to make me more thankful to be an American. In the mid-1980’s in Russia if you were caught with a bible, even a few pages torn out of one, it was a 2-year prison sentence. Many did not survive the sentence because the facilities are not quite up to the country club standards of American prisons.. In the mid 1990’s I was in South Korea and witnessed the atrocities against the women there. We were forbidden to interfere as this was part of their culture, their customs. It broke my heart to see the faces of the women there and know that “but for the Grace of God” they could have been my wife, my daughters. I was honestly brought to tears of thankfulness more than once. I am thankful and consider myself blessed to be an American. In my experiences and limited number of countries I’ve visited, we have by far the best deal on the planet.. I’m not sure why, but God has blessed our country more than most who live there will ever realize.

That being said, I do disagree with the decisions that are made occasionally. I practice the fine art of disagreeing while also doing what I’m told… probably a skill we all learned while rebellious teens 

I too have noticed a movement in the last several years that loudly (and wrongly) proclaims that if you are Republican, you must be a Christian and vice versa..

A few years ago I was an instructor in Biloxi, Mississippi. One class make up consisted of our class leader, a high ranking person from Saudi Arabia, 4-5 experienced Sergeants and about 10 brand new, straight out of basic training youngsters. (The Air Force would occasionally have someone from Saudi, Jordan or Egypt attend our classes.) Well, the class leader was Muslim, quite a student of the Koran. Several good ol’ bible thumpin’ Baptists, a couple of Catholics, one full of hate Satanist, a couple of young people experimenting with “wicken” and a some that didn’t know or care to know anything about religion… Well, as you can imagine any discussion of religion quickly consumed our 8-hour class day and left no time for me to cover the TCPIP curriculum I was supposed to be teaching…. So in an effort to make some kind of progress, I had to institute a “Leave your religion at the door” policy.. I know, it sounds horrible, but we had to agree that we were not going to agree on religion nor were we going to convert each other. And it worked.. We were able to press on with class and get on with the business of learning how the OSI model related to our internet protocol of choice. Perhaps the best way to deal with the republican/Christian dilemma is as you stated, we must become/remain “God-centric”. The only thing that we truly have the power to change is ourselves.. So maybe it’s time to “Leave the politics at the door” and focus on what is truly important. Becoming more Godly men..

By the way, I broke my own rule in the class, it just so happened I was teaching this group on Sept 11, 2001. At the news of the attacks the class was devastated, two of my Sergeants had wives also in the Air Force, working in the pentagon that day.. no communication got through, they did not know if their wives were dead or alive for hours… (we later learned they both were fine). Shock turned to fear, fear quickly manifested itself into anger. A prevailing mob-like “all Arabs/Muslims must die” kind of hatred spread in our small group, especially among the younger crowd. The Saudi student was rightfully fidgeting and looking awful nervous.. and angry. I got the class quiet and told them I would lift the “no religion” rule for a moment and asked our class leader to come to the front of the class and explain to us that his religion was not all about hate. He did so, passionately explaining that the Koran says that any who kills themselves or others will not reach “paradise”. He went on to say how most Muslims are outraged at the actions of the extremists who hide their terrorism behind the Muslim religion.. He compared it to mass murderers in our country justifying what they do “because God told me to”. It had the desired effect, the sensible students recognized that they had over reacted. Some still hated for the joy of hating, but what can you do? It’s a day I’m sure we’ll all remember.

Thanks for the info on the bike, what kind of gas mileage do you get on it? I’m also considering the Vulcan 1600 nomad and the Yamaha Venture… I plan on using it as a daily commuter/weekend tourer. I’ve owned 6 bikes before this, mostly crotch rockets, and I’m looking to slow down and enjoy some of the comfort from a cruiser now. I also have ruled out a Harley due to the ridiculous cost, and the fact that it’s air cooled… I’m in west Texas and the heat rather demands a water cooled engine. It’s a blessing that I am forced to wait until I come home to buy one. I’m doing more research and learning more about several models than I would do otherwise.

Yikes, I didn’t intend to write a novel, sorry about that.. I appreciate the prayers, I’ll keep in touch and let you know when I ‘m home safe. Who knows, maybe there’s a road trip in our future?

Your Brother in Christ,
Jim

Jerry said...

Wow, Jim, that's a great story about your class in Biloxi. What an experience, thanks for sharing that.

I haven't exactly measured the mpg on my bike yet. It's supposed to be around 45, but I'll check that this summer. I would love to get the 1600, but I've heard good things about the Venture, too. You may want to drop by this URL, it's the definitive hanging out place for Vulcan owners. They have a very active newsgroup as well.

http://www.vroc.org/

Anonymous said...

Jerry,

I apologize for taking so long to read and respond to this blog. As you may or may now know, between the death of Penny's dad, Kirk's dad and various other issues lately, it has not been an easy year thus far.

My first read through left me thinking, why on earth had Jerry fallen into the media bastardization of religious and political affiliations in relation to the war in Iraq. Everywhere I turn, it seems to be "en vogue" for the post modern/neo Christian voice to denounce any sort of party affiliation and that any sort of support for the war is somehow an antithesis to authentic Christianity.

Now, having said that, I am not sure that was your intent so I will set that idea down by saying that I personally believe that the unfortunate truth is that the good ole US of A is a two party political time bomb that is so entirely corrupt that neither side is capable of doing anything other than status quo. Both sides look to manipulate by what ever means necessary any group that will allow themselves to be manipulated. Unfortunately, on the surface, it seems as though mainstream Protestantism has thrown her legs up in the air. I do not believe this is what actually has occurred nor do I think that the average Joe makes the correlation that Republican equals Christian.

As far as the war in Iraq goes, we have found ourselves in an unfortunate conundrum. There is no good answer to this dilemma. I personally believe that we had no choice but to go to war based on the world environment of the time. We live in a fallen world and outside of Christ; the only thing that will bring ungodly people together is the focus on a common enemy. Now, here we are, several billion dollars and many years later and is our life any better than it was before.

WRONG QUESTION!

Here in America, we have become exceptionally arrogant in our thirst for the consumption of world wide good. Yet, while we consume at a far greater rate than we produce, we have the audacity to take on an air of indignation at the thought of being the "world police". We want it all but do not want responsibility to any of it.

Here is a question to ask ourselves as Christians. If you’re next door neighbor stood outside his house and beat his wife and children with a stick for the entire world to see, do we have a moral, ethical, philosophical, and religious, love responsibility to be involved to the point that it may cost us our own lives? If your answer is no, I would challenge you to re-visit the Gospel message, if your answer is yes, then would your responsibility be any different on a global level?

Anyway, I humbly submit this response as the rantings and ravings of a lunatic.

Thanx

Don