Thursday, September 8, 2016

Religion and Politics

Cover photo by Corbis

Continuing last month's focus on politics and religion, here are two more titles, both recommended over the summer by my brother, The Rev. Bruce L. Carriker.

Beginning with Religion:

The Preaching Life
Barbara Brown Taylor
~ (b. September 21, 1951)

53: "Ours is an historic faith. We believe in a God who acts in time, who began acting long before we came upon the scene and who will continue acting long after we are gone from it, which means that our present trust is sustained by memory on the one hand and hope on the other."

56: "The disparity between the vision and the reality was wrenching, like looking at a wasteland through a window painted with flowers . . . the reality had not yet caught up with God's vision, but it would." [As in "Science does have all the answers . . . we [just] don't have all the science."]

57 - 58: "I did not have to settle for memorizing . . . or reciting . . . I could take the text apart and put it back together again without harming it, ask questions and challenge the answers without being struck by lightning. The word of God turned out to be plenty strong enough to withstand my curiosity. Every time I poked it, it poked me back. Every time I wrenched it around so I could see inside, it sprang back into shape the moment I was through. In short, the Bible turned out not to be a fossil under glass but a thousand different things — a mirror, a scythe, a hammock, a lantern, a pair of binoculars, a high diving board, a bridge, a goad — all of them offering themselves to me to be touched and handled and used."

62: "Like a lifeline strung from the beginning of time to the end, [the Bible shows] us a way through all the storms of culture, nature, and history . . . the way to the Word beyond all our words, in whose presence we shall be made eloquent at last."

67 - 68: "There are no solo sacraments. We need one another. . . . If, in touching or being touched by these ordinary things, we believe that we are being touched by God, then we can no longer draw a clear line between the secular and the sacred in our lives. Every created thing is a potential messenger, sent to teach us more about our relationship with God. . . . Sacraments are our road maps home. God may not need them, but we do."

69 - 70: ". . . the word of God calls for a response with some human daring in it."

71: "When I say "We believe . . . " I count on that to cover what I cannot believe on my own right now. When my faith limps, I lean on the faith of the church, letting "our" faith suffice until "mine" returns. Later, when I am able to say, "We believe . . . " with renewed confidence, I know that I am filling in for others who are indisposed for the time being, as they filled in for me. My decision to say the creed at all is a decision to trust those who have gone before me, embracing the faith they have commended to me."

74: "At first it looks like the door out of the church, but as we walk through it we discover that it is the door into the world, where Christ may yet be found and followed."

53: "That is the God who walks toward me in the Bible -- not only the God of the past but also the God of the present and the future."


Moving on to Politics (and Religion):

Not forgetting that in fact, way back in 2012,
my brother suggested that we all read this one!

Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction
David Kuo ~ (June 26, 1968 – April 5, 2013)

David Kuo started working with George Bush (the Second) in 1998, as deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. But not until 2003 does Kuo draw the conclusion that "The president had made great promises but they hadn't been delivered on. Worse than that, the White House hadn't tried. Worse than that, we had used people of faith to further our political agenda and hadn't given them anything in return" (243). Kuo is dismayed by the various so called "compassionate measures" that had hardly any effect, positive or negative, on anyone but somehow made it seem to the religious right that the George W. Bush Administration had just done something generous for his followers.
As for Bush himself, Kuo writes, "I was surprised by the brazen deception and I was crushed by it, too. That same passion for the poor I first heard in Austin was in his voice and in his eyes. But the passion was a passion for talking about compassion, not fighting for compassion" (249).

Kuo's narrative is revealing, but why does it take him so long to realize these truths? How could he remain deluded for so long? If only I could reach back over the years, and share with David Kuo this excellent advice from Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey: "When people show you who they are, believe them." He could have saved himself a lot time.

Last Month's Post:
Harry Leslie Smith (Politics) & Barbara Walker (Religion)