Nolite Confidere in Principibus

Put not your trust in princes the psalmist wrote. Nor in the son of man, in whom there is no hope.

Perhaps the psalmist was trying to offer a cheerful face to his super-conservative grandparents after a close election. Just a guess.
I started writing this in reaction to the unhinged wailing on the part of self-identified Christian supporters of Oh-Please-God-Anybody-But-Barack-Obama.  I understand that there is some disappointment when the candidate for whom one votes is defeated. It should feel like when one’s favorite sports team loses. Just as in sports there is always next season,  election losses are not the End. Besides, there is no hope in Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

But then I read this, a post by an Episcopal priest in Delaware, and I thought the religious left needs to hear Psalm 145 too. Perhaps more so even, since their guy won. This particular post, at least, perfectly encapsulated Ross Douthat’s poignant critique that many liberal churches offer nothing that can’t be found in purely secular liberal thinking. [Full disclosure: I consider myself rather liberal, theologically speaking, and am very happy to be part of a diverse body called the Anglican Communion and to worship at a progressively-minded church like Christ Church Cathedral.] How can the Church bring a prophetic message when it’s members idolize the political class? We’re becoming Sadducees, tripping over ourselves to heap praise on our political leaders,  shouting with our actions (if not our words) that we have no king but Caesar.

For all the good Barack Obama may do, the fact remains that he has presided and will continue to preside over military operations of his own discretion, raining death from the sky, resulting in the blood of innocent people on his hands. Inasmuch as we offer our feigning praise and support (to say nothing of our tax dollars) for these princes, we share in this shedding of innocent blood. So why should any follower of Jesus be so overwhelmed with joy at the result of an election that they fall to the ground shaking and weeping?

When election day arrived, I made my decisions and cast my votes.  My thoughts on voting largely follow Richard Beck’s. (Beck is the brightest light shining from the Restoration Movement churches today.) The real challenge, it seems to me, lies in maintaining our prophetic voice as the Church while participating in this country’s democratic institutions.


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