Sunday, November 02, 2008

on the eve of the eve

we're only a couple days away from election day (thank goodness!), and I've been reading a fascinating book called "Crazy for God" that has some interesting things to say about politics and leadership in general.
"Crazy for God" is the autobiography of a man whose parents have been in vocational ministry since he was a child. Sadly it all but ruined his opinion of Christianity.
His comments about politics and the selection of leaders is excellent food for thought. Keep in mind, I'm not endorsing what he says, just putting it out there for people to mull over.

"Roe v. Wade has given us more than thirty years of culture war. The results have been tragic. For one thing, Roe has given us some terrible leadership. This works both ways. The Democratic [and Republican] Party [have], until recently, also limited itself to candidates who are rigidly correct 'theologically' on abortion and other social issues.

It seems to me that by demanding ideological purity on abortion (and other single issues as well), both parties have worked to eliminate the sorts of serious smart pragmatic people who make competent leaders. What we are left with are those willing to toe the party theological line, who are talented at kissing the asses of their party's ideologies, raising money and looking good on TV, but not much else.

But what if absolute consistency on any issue from the left or the right, religious or secular, is an indication of mediocre intelligence and a lack of intellectual honesty? What if the world is a complex place? What if leadership requires flexibility? What if ideology is a bad substitute for common sense? What it ideological consistency, let alone 'purity', is a sign of small-mindedness, maybe even stupidity?"

"I think there is a difference between killing in cold blood, where there are other alternatives, and killing out of necessity. And I don't think the difference is always clear... executing a criminal who is no longer a threat to anyone is different (practically and symbolically) from shooting a hostage-taker who is about to kill innocent people. Fighting Japan after it attacked us was different from attacking an Iraq that was no threat to us.

I want to live in a society that is willing to struggle with these balancing acts. I want to be in a society that values human life, because I am human, and far from perfect, and I want to be valued.

What I don't want to live in is a culture that makes sweeping and dismissive secular or religious 'theological' one-size-fits-all decisions that oversimplify complex issues. And ideas of the good life based on perfection are a trap, a trap that prophetic books like Brave New World gave us fair warning about, and that films like Blade Runner explored...

What kind of insanely individualistic culture do we become when the words 'I want' trump all other considerations? What happens to all our rights in such a world?"


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