this & that

My life has consisted mostly of organizing the apartment and making some halfhearted efforts at studying for exams lately. As Andy reported, we had an exceptionally fun weekend last weekend though. We had a surprise wedding shower with lots of good food and talk with friends at Brian and Rachel’s beautiful new house. We had lots of fun with friends and Moby the dog, and we even have some Polaroids of the event to enjoy for years to come. Jay’s home-brewed beer was quite good in my opinion, though my beer-drinking experience is quite limited.
We also saw the Matrix on Friday (the first time I’ve seen it), which was good, but some of the elements were just too predictable, and we saw a few of the new special effects a few too many times. Also, it was confusing–the philosophical background to the story was explained in a handful of long speeches which I didn’t really grasp. The first hour of the movie didn’t do anything for me at all, but it improved a lot toward the end, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in the next movie.
This weekend we are headed to Nebraska for my good friend Jen’s wedding. I talked to her a couple of days ago, and she’s a lot calmer and more organized than I was the week before our wedding.
I was listening to some conservative radio guy this morning (I can’t remember his name), and he maintained that if Jesus were here today he would be a conservative Republican. Of course claiming God for any political movement sounds a little silly, but this got me to thinking. One would obviously want to belong to God’s party, if there was one; but I think that if Jesus were here today, he wouldn’t be aligned with any political party or group–he would say and do things that would irk and trouble just about everyone. (That’s a problem I have with the whole “WWJD” movement–it relies on one’s ability to know what Jesus would do, which isn’t always clear). Jesus and the apostles don’t strike me as very political. They reached out to individual people and didn’t expend much energy on reforming the political power structure of the time. In fact, in some cases their approach to Rome was apathetic to the point that modern sensibilities are offended: Jesus’ judgement to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s,” Paul’s apparent condoning of slavery, or the command to obey whatever monarch is in power because his (pronoun appropriate for the time period) power is derived from God. This has sometimes made me wonder about political activism on both sides of the fence: there are no clear Biblical precepts for how to participate in a government such as ours.
It’s my belief that how individuals conduct their own lives is more important than what type of political system we have. As long as humans are imperfect, any political system will be corrupt and some people will suffer under it. If people were kind, compassionate, and uncorruptable by power or wealth; it wouldn’t matter what kind of government we had–communism, democracy, or monarchy. Since people aren’t, I believe that our system is better than any other at preventing such abuses, but no system of human government will ever be able to solve all human problems–which is why I don’t identify myself as a liberal, because I think that liberals expect government to do things that government can’t do. On the other hand, though most people would probably consider me to be pretty conservative; I hesitate to label myself as a conservative either, since I think the government definitely has a role in protecting the environment and regulating business practices, since history has pretty much proven that there are plenty of people who would abuse their freedom from regulation in these areas.
I think that we really like to see God as being like ourselves. The radio guy saw Jesus as being like him; and equally I am making him out to be like me–a registered independent who believes that the key to positive change is in the way individuals conduct their lives rather than through the actions of government. It’s interesting to see the way we construct God in our own image; and leads one to take anybody’s claim that God is on his/her side–even one’s own–with a grain of salt.

4 Responses to “this & that”

  1. kim says:

    Michele, thanks for your thoughtful, excellent post! I came across an article today from Sojourners magazine by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, that I thought intersected nicely with your argument. Here is a quote (the article in full is at

  2. bill says:

    Great post.
    I cringe every time I hear someone say something like Jesus would be a Republican. How absurd. Jesus was clearly a Democrat because he was friendly with tax collectors. Just kidding (I better be sure to go to church twice on Sunday just to make up for that comment).
    But seriously, the Bible gives us a pretty good picture of what perfect government is like, it is not Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, but God’s will being done on earth as it is done in heaven. Perfect government is an absolute monarchy from a just and benevolent sovereign, Jesus Christ.
    Long live the King!

  3. Jon says:

    There is an unspoken, and very telling, assumption being made by this guy… namely, that if Jesus came back today, he’d be an American. Myopia, anyone?

  4. michele says:

    Kim-Loi: I liked this article. The challenge seems to be to have confidence that God is leading one, without ever having the slightest idea what’s going on. At least I have the latter part down.
    Bill: Hee hee. That explains one reason for the Bible’s ambivalent attitude toward Israel’s monarchy, which I was reading about the other day.
    Jon: Yeah, after all, everyone knows that God is English. (Okay, I just spent at least 20 minutes looking for the origin of that quote. Bishop John Aylmer) “God for Harry! England and St. George!” (Shakespeare, Henry V. I just like that one.)

Leave a Reply