Politics is a true American idol, and the 2012 election will dramatically demonstrate that reality.
People of faith should never worship at the altar of politics, because we worship God; the kingdom of God is never the same as the kingdoms of politics. Our worship of God should shape our engagement with politics. When politics shapes our religion, it distorts our true worship.
Rather than becoming the chaplains or enablers of political idolatry, the faith community should confront it. The idols of politics are many: the idol of money over democracy, the idol of celebrity over leadership, the idol of individualism over community, the idol of ideology over civility, and the idol of winning over governing. Both sides take a problem and do two things: make us afraid of it, and then blame it on the other side. What they don’t do is work together to solve our problems, finding solutions for the common good.
What caused me to rethink these questions of faith and politics was my encounter earlier this year with a lion in a monastic community overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the beginning of my sabbatical. Entering into solitude and silence with monks, punctuated only by Vigils, Lauds, Eucharist, and Vespers, can alter a person’s perspective. In the monastery’s guest kitchen library, I spotted the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, and decided to reread them. Aslan the lion is the creator and leader of Narnia, the true and good king, and the stories’ Christ figure. Because I was beginning to write a book about the common good, with Jesus as the inspiration for it, I was again drawn to Aslan.