Monday, February 29, 2016

Faithfulness In Politics (or some better title?)

Daily(ish) Blogging in Lent 2016 - Day Eleven

In his commentary on Romans, Giorgio Agamben wonders about the word we translate into english as faith. In Biblical Greek, pistis is that word. What could the ancients have meant when they used it? 

Agamben suspects when St. Paul used it, that he meant something that has to do with making an “oath.” A pledge. Perhaps similar to “covenant,” (Berit in Hebrew) like the one God and Abraham made. (Giorgio Agamben, The Time Time That Remains, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005, 117). 

If he is right, to be faithful is to live into the oath—an agreement that involves both expectations and promises, perhaps similar to marriage vows, “I promise to be faithful in sickness and in health, and so on.” We sometimes call this the covenant of marriage. 

What feeling do you have when you are bound in love to someone? I will love you forever? I will follow you? I pledge allegiance and support to this cause, this company, this candidate?

I think the ancients must have had a strong feeling. One that shot through their whole body. In more than one way, they were possessed by the Spirit, under its influence (Ephesians 5:18, Acts 2:14, 13-18). 

Under the influence, She gave each fruits, fruits which nourished the whole body of people. 

And they needed those fruits. They needed the Spirit within. Because some of them, who pledged allegiance to The Kingdom of God alone, and Christ as Lord, were killed by Caesar and his law enforcement

Their hope for a better world, the vision the Spirit placed in their hearts and in the heart of the community allowed them to struggle, and to endure persecutions, even death (2 Corinthians 2:8-11). This was some hope. This was some vision. 


I definitely want certain political candidates to win this season. Some, really badly. 

I think that concern for the poor, the outcast, and the elderly, those in prison and those most at risk is the Christian concern in regard to politics and society, if by Christian we mean “what Christ preached about.” Catholic social teaching calls this the “preferential option for the poor.” We care for those most in need. Christians do. If we want to reflect the values preached by Christ. 

Much of the Church in recent decades has forgotten this. We are a forgetful people. 


I definitely get a fuzzy feeling when I think of my candidates, the ones I am sure of, and the ones I will, without a doubt, vote for. 

But, if I am taking my faith seriously, I know that my ultimate “oath” is sworn not to a politician or to a party. My allegiance is not ultimately to a flag. It is to God’s Reign. To God. In the Kingdom Christ proclaimed, the first are last and the last are first. My pledge is to a world where everyone is able to live, and to live fully. A world where racism and classism and hate are destroyed. And every other form of death. A world where death is “swallowed up (1 Corinthians 15:54).” This world is not yet. 

But we are its citizens. It is nearby. "Thy Kingdom come..." 

So what do you do with these emotions? Do you get over-taken? By which Spirit? Is it the Spirit of Life and Love? What are its fruits when it possesses you? How do you know?   


When voting is through and ballots are tallied, and someone-or-another is sitting in that leather chair, behind an engraved pen,  no matter who we voted for, our allegiance ultimately is to a world and a Reign where death is swallowed up. 

Allegiance sworn to Christ’s vision of a world where the lowly are lifted and the powerful brought down, means continually pushing that vision before every elected official, whether we voted for that official or not, perhaps especially if we voted for him or her. Politicians are never as faithful as God to their promises. Never. 


Out of love, we challenge everyone who has power and resources to use that power and those resources for the good of all people, especially for the good of the marginalized and the poor. 

"Faith." "Oath." "Covenant." 

I think. 

Is that faith to you? How do you feel about God's Reign? Is it burning within? 

Prayer: God, Reign in me. May the longing for you Reign on earth as it is in heaven fill my heart. 

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