Curiouser and Curiouser

While it is tempting to discuss Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco, I find the present political climate the most curious at present.

First, there is a lot of discussion of Christian values, but very little discussion of Jesus’ values or those of the prophets. It seems to me that if one  had anything like biblical values, one would be discussing what one was going to do for the poor. I hear little of that, just which programs might be cut. However, the scriptures are chock full of how the “king” had the job of caring for the poor. What is more, Jesus, especially in Luke, shows the same concern.

Second, there is a certain amount of discussion about the military, but none of scripture’s concern from at least Joshua to Revelation that military strength is something indifferent. God can save with many or with few. God can deliver a strong army into the hands of a weak force. In fact, military buildup (i.e. horses) was prohibited to the “king” in Deuteronomy 17. In Revelation is the martyrs who win, not the military. But somehow in the name of Jesus the military drum is beat and military spending is sacrosanct. How curious.

Third, there is talk of Christian values, but no care in how one is talking about one’s brother. In the name of politics Barak Obama, a brother in Christ (and, yes, I do know people who have talked personally with him about his faith and who affirm that it is very real), may be demonized. But within one’s own party one does not criticize the ethics or orthodoxy of other contenders. Given how much the New Testament talks about love of one’s brother and speech-ethics (which it talks about more than, say, sex), it seems curious that those who loudly proclaim their Christian values would behave in such a way.

The Bible also has a lot to say about how one treats the immigrant and the foreigner, and the biblical language is absent from this campaign so far.

There is talk about abortion, which, of course, the Bible never addresses directly, and homosexuality, about which the Bible rarely mentions. These are ethical issues, about both of which more heat than light has been generated lately, but in the context of the Bible, they are hardly the central issues. Would Jesus say something like, “These other things you should have discussed, and not left these hot button issues undiscussed”?

No, this is a curious campaign. And the longer it goes on, the more curious it becomes if one is immersed in biblical ethics. The name of “Christian values” is batted around, but the substance seems to be lacking, or, better put, I am not sure that any of the participants know what values Jesus actually stood for.

But, then, they also would not want to know the rate at which God actually taxed people in the Old Testament, when God “ran the government” (10% was actually just the beginning) . . .

It is so curious how his name can be involved without his actual teaching.

And it is sad.

Is there a box on the ballot that says, “None of the above”?

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About Peter H. Davids

I am Director of Clergy Formation for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, a professor at Houston Graduate School of Theology, and a Catholic priest (and former Episcopal priest for 34 years). I am also a husband, father, and grandfather.
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