Can’t we all just get along?

This week, across this marvelous country of ours that is eternally stuck in the world as it actually is, many Christian schools were surprised by a tension they should have been prepared for. The reactionary and apocalyptic nature of much Christian education and culture has so convinced Christian kids that the Obama election was a disaster that they are praying publicly that God will have mercy on us and protect us from this great danger.

It reminds me of an earlier November 4, 1980, when Ronald Reagan won the election rather handily and Bruce Springsteen got up at a concert he was putting on that night and said something like, “This is a very dark day in American history.”

It’s the nature of politics for people to go to extremes over elections. But evangelicals, we must remember, withdrew from politics from around 1930 to around 1980. When they came back they had forgotten what politics are for. They are not a means of producing a pure society. That’s what totalitarian dictatorshops do.

They are a way of making decisions without shooting each other.  I’m proud to know that we have gone through what we are repeatedly told is a revolution that will “remake” America and not a shot was fired. Our political system rarely gives us what we want, but we are mature enough to accept that the people of this country have the legal right to vote for the person whom they believe will best represent their convictions.

Barack Obama might not be good for our economy. We’ll learn that as the years go by. But while some people might end up unemployed as a result of his policies, I am confident that they will not riot or kill people over it. I’m confident that they will try to make changes through the legitimate means of political debate.

So we’ve gone through an unknown change and elected an unknown president and we’re all holding our breath to see what’s going to happen.

But that’s not entirely true. Because the tension I mentioned above has to be reckoned with. What tension? That between the African-American children who are dancing in the hallways of the predominantly white Christian schools  because they really have overcome in a way we white folk can’t begin to understand, though we can imagine and even feel it if we’re willing, and the white kids who have been told for a long time now that Obama will burn the flag, outlaw religion, bring in a socialist regime, and crown it all with either a Muslim takeover or a one world government that will usher in the anti-Christ and then the second coming.

Why should we demonstrate such an extreme gullibility at such a time as this. Common decency would allow for a little rejoicing with those who rejoice. But of course we Christians know everything and see things from this interesting little thing called a Christian worldview, so we know the real truth about Obama.

Christians, let us stop embarrassing ourselves by such mindless expressions of our narrow minded anxieties. God is not a Republican and He has not forgotten America. If we want to matter and if you expect to be respected for being wise and thoughtful, then we need to be wise and thoughtful; not knee-jerk and reactionary.

And we white folks must certainly respect and embrace the joy of our black friends and brothers who feel a justifiable sense of hope many of them have never felt before.

Maybe this article by Eugene Robinson will help some of us begin to understand.

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3 Responses

  1. I have to respond to Brian’s first question. No, it’s not racism to celebrate the election of America’s first non-white president. We are not celebrating because we believe that a black man will make a better president than a white man. Very few people — including African Americans — voted for Obama because he is black.

    What IS a cause for rejoicing is that somehow, miraculously, the fundamental belief inherent in the constitution, that all men are created equal and have equal rights and potential seems to have somehow sunk in deep enough for a man to be — at least in this instance — judged not by the color of his skin but by his perceived ability to perform the job of the presidency.

    Whether we agree with Obama’s policies or not, I believe we can rejoice that America has come so far, so unbelievably far, from forty five years ago, when many black people were not even allowed to VOTE.

    In terms of your second and third question, I would say that we should rejoice and weep at the same time, as there are plenty of reasons for both, and, while rejoicing and weeping, not only recognize the policies we disagree with, but DO something about them. One vote every four years is neither our only recourse nor our only responsibility.

    And could someone, please, once and for all just tell me whether it is “an historic” occasion or “a historic?” Please? =)

  2. Andrew,
    Hey. Thanks for the post. I think you bring up some interesting issues, but it will be more interesting if I pose some questions.

    1) Isn’t rejoicing over Obama’s win, as the first black president, actually racism? Are we not evaluating the worth of his win by his skin color?
    2) Aren’t we also responsible to “weep with those who weep?” (i.e., those who grieve that someone with such policies is our President)
    3) At what point does the rejoicing stop (if there is to be rejoicing) and a recognition of his policies begin? Am I to be happy because he’s black despite his pro-abortion stances?

    My contention is that, while I hope that Obama’s election may serve to heal racial wounds, are we not setting ourselves up for even further problems with Sophism?

    If we rejoice simply because of the race of the winner, are we not missing that which is more important (i.e., his policies)?

    In other words, part of me wants to agree with what you are saying, but another part is screaming that we’re missing the point.

  3. […] First, my dad comments at his blog, quiddity, on some of the distressing responses to Obama’s election among the Christian community, especially in the predominantly white Christian private schools. […]

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