Before we dig in, I need to apologize for a quick change of plans. I had hoped to use the pages as my primary posting spot, but that didn’t really work a couple weeks ago. So, I’m going to revert to the older and simpler design of uploading to the blog, and sorting materials through tags. And with that said….
I think I’ve mentioned this once or twice before, but I was a committed talker as a little boy. I could talk to anyone, and I would say exactly what was on my mind. In response to this, Mom gave me a very specific rule for when we took one of my older siblings to a piano lesson: avoid the topics of religion and politics; talk about the weather, or even your health. Now if memory serves, she told me this, and not five minutes later I began quizzing a somewhat puzzled college teacher about the weather.
But if I could defy my mother’s advice for a minute, I’d like to not just write about one of these two taboo topics, but combine them. I want to do this, but not because I’m particularly excited by the idea. Truth told, I’ve spent the last six to eight years trying to keep my digital presence divorced from almost all political discourse. I have deliberately tried to keep quiet, and I think it’d be helpful for me to parse out why.
One reason for my silence is that I really don’t know how my faith should affect my voting. When I step into a voting booth, I see flawed candidates who are more defined by their political parties than by any professed faith. For my own part, I believe that humans are created in the image of God, that they have intrinsic worth just because of how they’re designed. That belief leads to a dislike of abortion (traditionally a red position), but also to a more nuanced position on immigration (a blue argument). This frustrates me in a way Tim Keller brilliantly described in a New York Times article, writing, “political parties insist that you cannot work on one issue with them if you don’t embrace all of their approved positions.”
I also say nothing because of the volume of the current debate. I don’t think it’s a stretch to describe our current political discourse as cacophonous. The sheer volume of the debate, the tenor of people’s voices and the sharpness of their fingers smashing into keyboards— it leaves me uneasy. I doubt I can be heard, and so I say nothing. But I’m increasingly unhappy with this choice. I can’t tell if, in my silence, I am complicit in the way political debates have evolved.
Where does this leave me? I suppose in one sense, it has spurred me to reopen this blog. But I don’t want to simply serve as a bibliographer of every rhetorical failing, and I don’t want to sit here criticizing both sides because I belong to neither. To me, that last option sounds a lot like pouring my own venom into a swimming pool in protest of the toxins already there. I want to encourage, not criticize. I want to look for little ways I can help others, caring for what needs I can meet, and praying for those I can’t. And that leads me to tomorrow.
There’s a sign outside the front door of my house for a political candidate. Across the street, there are two houses with signs for the other party’s candidate. And while that might lead to (or imply) political enmity, I’d rather it not. I want to tell my neighbors that I care about them, and that I want to encourage them regardless of our political or philosophical differences. which leads to my plan for Tuesday.
I have ingredients for cookies at home, and I plan to share a batch with my neighbors. Maybe the political warfare won’t be solved by a plate full of sweets. But maybe, just maybe, my neighborhood doesn’t have to be defined by those I associate with and those I don’t. If nothing else, there will be something sweet to savor tomorrow night. It might just be cookies and milk, but it might be a little more than that.