Maybe you're anxious for this election to be over (Let's just vote already!) Or maybe you're loving every minute of every campaign ad, debate, and editorial column.
But Shane Claiborne - founder of The Simple Way in Philadelphia - notes in this beautifully crafted book that a different kind of campaign is possible. He and Chris Haw are the co-authors of our discussion book: Jesus for President.
Some of us who love the church long for the church to be different. We call ourselves "Loyal Radicals" in that we choose to stay in the institutional church while seeking to change it. And some long for our nation to be different - longing for a day when waterboarding is not possible and Hummers are not parked in our driveways.
And still others see that our nation will not be different until the church is different. We have confused Biblical faithfulness with American patriotism, and our churches have long lost the reality that Jesus' message is a radical shift from the consumerism and flag-waving messages that our congregations regularly hear - even from the pulpit.
Shane and Haw re-tell familiar Bible stories with a radical twist and ask questions that make us squirm. So . . . what do you think?
1. In the section called "When the Empire Got Baptized" the authors write:
"Flags on altars, images of the gods on money...Caesar is colonizing our imaginations. What happened to the slaughtered lamb, the Prince of Peace? There seems to be another gospel spreading across the empire... Two kingdoms are colliding. What is a Jesus-follower to do when the empire gets baptized?"
Is there an American flag in your sanctuary and, if so, what would happen if somebody moved it? Has there ever been a theological discussion about what it means for the flag to be a presence in your place of worship?
2. The Hebrew Bible conveys that, although God was Israel's ruler, they wanted a king like all the other nations. God gave The Ten Commandments and sent prophets to set people straight. But it wasn't working:
"The construction of the set-apart people into a living temple of blessing is going so-so. The solution: God puts skin on to show the world what love looks like. But here is the catch: The Prince of Peace is born as a refugee in the middle of genocide and is rescued from the trash bin of imperial executions to stand at the pinnacle of this peculiar people. A strange way to start a revolution..."
How do you hear your congregational brothers and sisters discussion the pros and cons of Obama and McCain? Is it about self-interest (a tax cut for me!) or are the candidates' policies/experiences/characteristics admired or rejected based on an understanding of what is "biblical"?
3. The fourth section of Jesus for President is called "A Peculiar Party", and it's a description the world's enormous problems according to the ancient biblical stories of the Jewish people. The Israelites were meant to be a people "set apart."
Are we in the church today, in any way, peculiar/set apart/different from our neighbors as followers of Jesus? How do we embody what we believe? Are we "political" in a way that conveys our faith in Jesus and our intentionality in following him?
Enjoy and discuss!