Not too long ago, I was in New York City enjoying time with friends--and it was a good time, indeed. Need more of these escapes--good for the soul.
Anyway, before I left home, I prayed that God would open up an opportunity for me to talk about my faith. Two important parts of me are that I am a "born again" Christian and a strong, opinionated democrat. For many people, that is a contradiction. This is really sad as I am not such an anomaly, there are many, many of us; however, the "liberal" element, which ironically I in many ways am a part of, has chosen to paint all evangelical Christians with the same broad brush. Additionally they narrowly define what a "born again" believer believes-abortion, gay rights, sanctity of marriage--as if there are not hundreds of other issues of importance and which create opinions and commitments and which differentiate people.
On the flip side of this is the Christian-right which believes, if not so stating at least by implication, that one can not be a true Christian and be a democrat. I can not count the number of times I have been with friends or in church groups where there have been negative references to Obama, Obamacare and other democratic foci in which I believe. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon, it has always been. These same people were anti-Clinton (before the scandal), anti-Carter, who has been the most outspoken evangelical ever in the White House, and all other non-right wing republicans. My usual MO is to remind people that there are some present who feel differently--partially to keep myself from getting angry and partially to cause people to reflect a little.
To be truly fair here, it is important to clarify that I have believing friends who fall in the same political spectrum as I and I have many friends who tolerate my wayward ways. We have other things to focus on and share--common beliefs in Jesus as the Messiah and biblical truths. And, then, there are some whom I just avoid--which is also true of some rabid democrats who pop up from time to time.
So back to the beginning, the last night in NYC my friend, who is Jewish, said to me: Jane, I have been wanting to ask this, I hope it's OK. (of course.) I know you are a born again Christian and I know that you are a strong democrat (or some such words) why are you so different from the right-wing Christians I know and work with?
This opened the door to explaining how and why I am, who I am, despite growing up in a very republican conservative home. I believe the words of Jesus and writers of the Old Testament, too, who command us to care for the needy, the poor, the children, the widows in our midst. I believed in the words of the Sunday School song I sang at 4 years of age Jesus loves the little children of the world--red and yellow, black and white--all are precious in his sight, which is why I was active in the civil rights movement of the 60's and 70's. I believe in the equality of all people which is why we adopted both white and black babies while living in radically conservative Orange County.
I am formed by these simple understandings which to me are the bedrock of the democratic goals and philosophies. I do not see this in the republican party which, to me, does not acknowledge the government's responsibility to address needs; while many of my Christian friends (not all) will most certainly strenuously disavow what I say, I don't see compassion, sense of Christ-like brotherhood and accountability. Yes, there are huge amounts of money given to missions and the poorer peoples of poor nations, there are meals and rides for members of a congregation, there are church efforts (limited by their nature) for local concerns but where is the large scale commitment or sense of responsibility to the people of our nation--the United States of America, those without adequate health care, the homeless of San Diego, the mentally ill of California? I see a party whose goal is to have lower taxes which by default means inadequate government services--not taking care of the needy, the widow, the children, the hungry, the ill, the poor--those that Jesus singled out and loved.
Beyond my experience, I look and cringe at the behaviors of some who profess Christian faith and who are most media prominent. The lack of civility in discourse, the "no" mentality rather than the "let's see what we can do" mentality. Gross name calling and insults for the sake of insults. The USA Today two weeks ago had an opinion article about this which expresses my feeble thoughts much more succinctly and coherently--In God Fearing USA, Where is the Decency? This is what scares me about what is happening in our country.
It scares me that we have people in leadership roles stating that their focus for the next two years will be on destroying the presidency rather than working together to solve problems of great magnitude. It scares me that republicans want to dismantle the rather incomplete health plan that finally passed last spring. That the focus of those who are coming to Washington from the Republican party and its sidekick the Tea Party is to gut social security, medicare, the health plan, the efforts for economic recovery, educational goals, several foundational amendments is beyond scary. That many people idolize a woman who promotes hate and insurrection and yet wants to become the leader of the free world boggles my mind.
So I am a person who believes in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, who believes in heaven and hell, who believes that without accepting Christ there is no heaven, who believes that the Bible is the Holy Word of God Almighty from Genesis through Revelation. As I told my friend, I believe that our Jesus is her Messiah. I believe that there will be end times. I do not believe in hate, fear mongering, hierarchical sin.
I am also a person who believes that the democratic party, despite all its inefficiencies and deficiencies, its at times misdirected ways, and its human failures, most pursues the spirit and commands of Jesus. I do not believe that they do so out of the same spiritual beliefs and foundations or commitment to Jesus that drive me but I do believe that they want some of the same things. I do not see this in the republican party; I do see it in some of my republican friends.
So, my friend, this is how I can be and why I am both. I think that my party affiliated friends understand this better than many of my spiritually affiliated friends. This makes me sad.
This is the link to a recent NPR program which I wish more people would hear. It speaks to the fallacy of our health care system and the wrongful fear so many people have regarding a national health care plan--Changing Health Care The link to the audio is at the top of the article. This is long so you may want to start at minute 5. TR Reid, who has traveled the world investigating health care in the large democracies, shares his learnings. His most telling statement is that the other countries have health care for all citizens because they believe it is the moral thing to do. He says we are not to that place yet. Sadly, he seems to be correct.
The Healing of America by T. R. Reid
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.