just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Color Purple: On finding the middle in a country divided into red states and blue states

John Danforth and Barack Obama are two political voices I highly respect. Two of my favorite leaders, in the political arena. They are men of integrity, character, and values. They are both bringing a message that is needed. If this country is not going to spin off its axis to the right or to the left (or implode in a toxic, uncivil partisan political quagmire)...I believe we need centrist voices like those of these men.

You can read an op-ed piece by the former senator John Danforth that appeared in the New York Times last year.

Barack Obama appeared on the Today Show last week. Here is that interview. I will also include links below to the keynote address that Senator Obama gave at the Call to Renewal conference sponsored by Sojourners.

Keynote address (part 1)
Keynote address (part 2)
Keynote address (part 3)
Keynote address (part 4)

While I am cautious as to how I talk about politics, I believe it is imposible to consider oneself a citizen of the Kingdom of God and a follower of Jesus and not address political issues. The question is how we do it and with what tone. The former Senator Danforth and Senator Obama both talk about how faith has influenced the political system and process in a detrimental way.

I saw an interview on 60 Minutes last week of David Kuo, who was high up in the Bush administration working on the Faith-Based Initiative. He also expresses some keen observations and goes as far as to say that "the Church (Christians) should take a 5-year fast from political engagement. A call I have heard before from John Roth, Charlotte 2005.

"God and politics had become very much fused together into a sort of a single entity. Where, in a way, politics was the fourth part of the trinity. God the father, God the son, God the holy spirit, God the politician."
David Kuo

Jesus is reduced to a precinct organizer and special interest lobbyist for Kingdom values. Not the Jesus I see in Scripture.


  • At 12:29 PM , Anonymous Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

    Senator Obama has increasingly impressed me. I would love to hear your take on him.

  • At 4:41 PM , Blogger keith said...

    Hey Brian-
    Yeah, I've been really impressed with Obama too, for several years now. I've heard some of his "opponents" talk as well as some of his biggest fans, and overall it seems exciting that we could have a political leader in the future who sees that moral issues extend to killing, war, poverty, and budget issues. And he gives an encouraging push to see faith openly discussed among democrats in thepolitical sphere....something that hasn't been done much!

  • At 11:42 PM , Anonymous Ted Gossard said...


    Thanks for sharing this. I share your respect for the two politicians you mention. I agree, we need more like them, who hopefully can bring some unity and sense needed in Washington right now.

    George Will recently visited Senator Obama, and seemed to come away singularly impressed. He may not be as charismatic as Kennedy was. But he seems to seek to engage very well and with respect, those who differ with him. I do hope those, like him, who are pro-choice on the abortion issue, will make it a point to work towards alleviating the poverty and contributing factors to abortions, as well as working at getting rid of them. But truly, we need leaders like this who see more of the bigger picture of things in a way that can get more to root causes, with the goal of peace (and hopefully towards shalom) and justice at home and on a global scale.

  • At 3:35 PM , Blogger Brian Miller said...

    I have only heard Senator Obama speak a few times. Each time I hear him, I am so impressed with both his message and the authenticity of who he is--not just rhetoric.

    His message is so needed. If you listen to his keynote address at the Call to Renewal conference you will not only hear his own story of coming to faith, but also his call to a different approach for Christians to bring a broad range of values that emerge out of Scripture into the public square.

    He talks about the need for Christians to articulate their faith positions in ways that also make room for others who do not share their faith perspective. This will take work, it will involve translating the particulars of our faith language into universal values that are accessible to others from other religious traditions and secular perspectives. He speaks of this as a reconciliation between faith and democratic pluralism. People are tired of seeing faith used as a tool of attack, as a divisive wedge.

    He represents something that we have not seen--a willingness for a progressive to articulate an authentic personal faith that applies the moral teachings of Scripture to a broad range of social issues. He is not just using religion as a political ploy. He is not seeking to bash those who are engaged in the political debate with other moral reference points.

    He is articulate. He is thoughtful. He rings true as a person. I look forward to seeing how he will be able to help change the political landscape and the toxicity of the national political debate.

  • At 7:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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