To Vote or Not to Vote

That is the question.

There are some candidates in this election that I feel I could get behind ideologically. But this year more than ever before, I am struggling to find candidates I can support. In the past, it seemed alright to vote “the lesser of two evils.” Not this year.

The stakes are higher this election. The tension is greater. The need to elect public servants who will be a thorn in the paw of our overbearing government has been nagging me like the tick-tocking of a clock in the dead of night.

But who will do the dirty work? Who will be who they say they are and stand for what they say they stand for? It’s hard to tell.

My personal peeve this election season has been the money spent on attack ads. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe politics really is “a dirty business.” Maybe television and radio commercials (and billboards and fliers in the mail every day for the last four weeks) are absolutely necessary in order to one-up an opponent. But it has left me dissatisfied with almost all of the names I will be seeing on the ballot today.

Can we really accept this? In the age of instant (and free) internet publicity, with the wildfires that are (or can be) twitter and facebook and blogging, can we honestly justify spending millions (or billions) of dollars on advertisements?

In this economy, I would have gladly thrown my support fully behind a candidate who utilized the great curse of the internet. I would have gladly cheered for those who not only preached what I thought we needed to hear, but also ran campaigns that reflected those ideas. I would have gladly–and wholeheartedly–cast my vote today for anyone whose values trumped their need to disparage an opponent.

That’s what I thought this election was about: breaking the political mold that we’ve cast in America; running on principles and ideas rather than “look at how filthy my opponent is.” And there may be one or two names on my ballot that fit this bill. But by and large, I am just as dissatisfied with this election as I was the last…

And the one before that…

And…

Yet, in honor of my freedom–and those who have spilled their lives and blood to secure and protect that freedom–I will decidedly cast my vote today. It is my duty…my responsibility…and my great honor as an American.

What about you? Are you off to the polls today?

Pray for Restoring Honor

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that I cannot attend Glenn Beck’s 8/28 Restoring Honor rally. In fact, the inability to go has had me in a bit of a funk. There are very few events I’ve really wanted to participate in during my life thus far–I’m not a people person, you know? I like smaller gigs–coffee houses, local artists, remnants of something cultural. But I wanted to go to the Restoring Honor rally–the big, far away, buses overflowing Restoring Honor rally. And I can’t.

So I’ve been crying and feeling pitiful.

Until two days ago, when the revelation knocked me off my feet. Maybe I’m not supposed to be there. Maybe I’m supposed to be here, praying.

Let’s not get overly emotional or spiritual about this, okay?  There are those who don’t want this assembly to take place. There are those who would see it disrupted. There are those who would try to infiltrate and stir trouble. There are forces against this peaceful gathering–both physical and spiritual–and they would see this rally shut down. Can we see the incredible need for people who will be praying for the safety and protection of those in attendance?

Is that you? Can you join with me in keeping vigil for all those who’ll be joining Beck in D.C. this weekend? Or have you got something better to do?

Give me a holler on facebook, twitter, or comment on this blog if you can commit to praying with me this weekend. I’m beginning at 6pm tonight, and will pray through 6am Sunday. Give an hour…a day…or the entire weekend. But shout out. Let us know that you’re praying, too. And I sure would appreciate it if you’d spread the word. Let’s find as many folks as we can who’ll keep vigil for the safety of all who’ll be in D.C. this weekend.

God bless you and keep you!

Collective Salvation, part II

So what is collective salvation?

If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last two weeks scouring the internet trying to find a clear definition of this elusive doctrine. And, if you’re like me, you’ve been largely unsuccessful. It seems obvious, though, right? If individual salvation simply means that my salvation is dependent upon my individual faith in Christ, then collective salvation must mean that my salvation is dependent upon the collective faith of the community, right?

I don’t think this is what it means, though. I don’t think it really has anything to do with a doctrine about salvation or faith or (dare I say it?) Christ. It denies the very foundations of the Christian faith: that core idea that we all have sinned, and the penalty for that sin is spiritual (and, might I add, eternal) death; that Christ took the punishment of our sin and conquered death so that we might live; that being one of the community (of Jews, of God’s chosen) is insufficient to save our spiritual selves; that salvation is by grace and through faith–a free gift of God Himself.

See, collective salvation isn’t really about salvation at all. It isn’t about faith.  Oh, they may say it is. But look at what Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger said about Liberation Theology (the parent of the collective salvation doctrine) :

Many liberation theologians continue to use a great deal of the Church’s classical ascetical and dogmatic language while changing its signification.

So don’t be confused when they tell you it’s about salvation. It’s not. It’s not about faith or hope or Christ or salvation. It’s not even about the community that makes it “collective.” It’s about social, economic, and political power. It’s the stripping of individual rights and responsibilities, sins and redemptions, choices, opinions, desires.

How long will it be before someone who is ungreen will be seen as a threat to our collective survival? Does it not become the job of the government-savior to convert me to green for the sake of the community, of the state, of the country, of the world? It has to. It has to become someone’s job, or it would still depend upon my individual conscience.

But that’s just it. Suddenly, I can’t trust my own gut to move me to charity or compassion. Suddenly, I can’t trust my own gut to tell me it’s wrong to lie, cheat, or steal. Suddenly, I can’t trust my own gut to decide whether I should stop and help the man whose car just went off the road in front of me.

No, collective salvation requires a conscience on behalf of the community. And believe you me, the collective conscience will trump your individual conscience every time. Our government will make sure of it.

Folks, don’t buy into this. Don’t be enticed by the pretty idea of saving everyone. Salvation is not my job, not your job, not the community’s job, and certainly not the government’s job. It is the work of Jesus the Messiah. Any other “salvation” will fall short in the end.

Is it our responsibility as Christians to love our neighbor? To show compassion? To help the poor and needy? Absolutely. It is a matter of our faith, though, and we answer to God for those choices–not to the government.

Wow. It just hit me: If there is no individual conscience, no individual salvation, then there can also be no individual worth or need. Everything will become a matter of community. Everything will be weighed on its health pertaining to the community (or to the perception thereof). Isn’t this the end game, after all?

If you’re still looking for answers, begin with Ratzinger’s notes on Liberation Theology. Let me know what else you find, folks. I’m trying really hard to understand these issues, myself, and I welcome the dialogue and–where necessary–correction.

Pax Domini.

Semmie.

Collective Salvation

There’s been a lot of buzz around the internet about the idea of Collective Salvation–whether or not our President believes in it, whether it is a spiritual or political idea (or somehow both, perhaps), whether it is taught in Scripture, etc.

Can we set aside the current politics of the discussion for just one moment?

Israel was not expecting the Messiah that came. They were looking for a king, a political leader who would “save” Israel as a whole, as a nation, not as individuals.  Many today are still waiting for that Messiah.

But when Christ came, he made salvation specific to each man and woman. Suddenly, it wasn’t enough to be a Jew. Suddenly, it had never been enough. Suddenly, everything depended upon grace and mercy and forgiveness and love.  And nobody could give or receive those things on your behalf, you had to choose them alone, with no one else to blame if you chose poorly. Here was a man, who spoke truth–who was Truth–who broke down the barriers between races and genders and the classes of society, and offered freely to all. Those who would, could become Children of God.

So is there room in Scripture for the idea of collective salvation? It seems that Jesus himself came to dispel that doctrine. Aside from pre-Christ ideas of national salvation and a ruler who would establish peace for the Jewish people, I don’t see any foundation for it. And again–this was the idea that Christ himself countered.

That is not to say that our faith has no relationship to others. It certainly does. But our salvation is not dependent upon another person; it depends solely upon Jesus the Messiah.

What do you think? Have I missed some crucial piece of Scripture? Do you see Collective Salvation in your Bible? If so, please share.

Pax Domini!

Semmie.

Lessons from the June Lyrids

I was disappointed by the weather early this week. Oh, I don’t say it lightly–Lord knows I love thunderstorms!–but I knew that the storm clouds would prevent me from seeing the June Lyrids, which I’ve been looking forward to for some time now. Last night, however, the sky was cloudless, so I spread a blanket onto the back deck, laid upon it, and enjoyed the show. I have to say, it was a great experience!

I’ve read that showers can produce a variety of meteors, but until last night, I had only ever seen the kind of meteors that shoot across the sky (a classic shooting star, I suppose), and the slow, dim fellows that just mosey through the sky. Last night, I saw one that left a trail of dust, and one that fit the “flaming” description. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with trying to describe any more of the shower, but when I finally came inside at about 3a.m., I sat down and wrote the following in my journal. I thought I would share it with you all.

Life Lessons from the June Lyrids

  1. You don’t always have to know where to look; you just have to open your eyes.
  2. Even someone who is unconcerned and undesiring may, once in awhile, catch a glimpse of a shooting star.
  3. If you stare at one spot for too long, you’ll miss the show.
  4. Sometimes the best choice is to lay your head upon the grass and just wait.
  5. Enjoy the view, even if it blows your mind.
  6. If you really want to see the show, you’re gonna have to turn off the distracting lights.
  7. Give your eyes time to adjust before you give up.
  8. Wear bug dope.
  9. Don’t compare the shooting stars; appreciate each one for what it is.
  10. Forget the meteor shower for just one moment. Take in the beauty of the night sky. She is something fierce to behold.
  11. The show is worth the wait. Don’t be so disappointed with what you’ve missed that you can’t enjoy what’s before you.
  12. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

That’s it. What do you think? Did you catch any of the shower this week? What goes through your mind when you see a shooting star?

Pax Domini!

Semmie