Sojourners Magazine: November 2012
ELECTIONS ARE A blessing and a temptation. It’s a blessing that ordinary citizens can pick candidates—and also get a hearing, in between elections, from officials who know that their two- or four-year citizen audit is coming again soon. But elections are also a temptation: a temptation to the mistaken belief that partisan, electoral politics is the only or best way to effect social change; a temptation to candidates’ campaign machinery to spew divisive, reality-challenged rhetoric; and a temptation to everyone to become cynical or passive, disillusioned not only by campaign vitriol but also by the broken campaign-finance system.
Followers of Jesus know that we are called to be as innocent as doves and as wise as the highest-paid political consultant. Disrupting the prepackaged narrative presented by both political parties, the gospel of Christ reminds us what it means to be human and tells us about the profligate generosity of God. This issue’s cover story and voter-guide foldout offer seeds to help you prayerfully consider your vote—and contribute to a national conversation about the values of human dignity, the warp and woof of our social fabric, and the most effective ways to advance a vision of democracy where the poor aren’t cast by the wayside.
We also invite you to counter cynicism by turning your mind to other parts of the real, big picture: the quiet Boston priest, Deborah Little, who helped start a worldwide movement of churches-without-walls where the homeless worship. The faith communities standing on street corners in Philadelphia and other cities, inviting gun shops to stop selling to “straw buyers” who pass weapons on to criminals. The wise church elder, Eugene Peterson, who doesn’t let a gift for storytelling get in the way of his charism for listening. The Good News cycle, unlike that of media talking heads, comes to us as an ever-new story.