Sunday, 4 May 2008

This Week's Poll 04/05/08

If you want to do more than just click, comment on this post.

Last Week's poll: Should this country's blasphemy laws be repealed? 11 votes yes =10, no =1. One more vote: I vote yes - God's big enough to take care of things without any help from the government.


tim f said...

Aren't all politics local? :p

I was waiting for others to comment before I gave it a go but no-one has bitten. I'll keep this as short as possible.

Nicely phrased question - allowed me to answer yes. We should encourage each other to be political animals, but I don't think we should organise politically as Churches. To qualify that further - after all, a soup kitchen is a political intervention - I don't think that churches should be an organised bloc in formal power structures. The command to be in the world but not of it suggests that when we present ourselves as Christians (ie if we organise as churches or as groups of Christians) we shouldn't be lobbying or hobnobbing with political elites, we should be intervening, ie direct action.

However, that doesn't mean Christians shouldn't be involved in formal politics at all (it would be fairly hypocritical of me to suggest that!) - just that we shouldn't be doing it "as Christians", simply as people whose values happen to be influenced by God's.

A practical objection to many church-based campaigns is that they tend to be middle-class led, because so are most churches. I think our political interventions should be less about organising campaigns based on principles and more about siding with self-organised communities of oppressed/disadvantaged peoples. (Perhaps I'll dig out a Gutteriez quote on this later.) This, combined with the lobbying approach rather than one of strategic intervention, leads a lot of church-based campaigns into danger and some even become counter-productive (eg the Strangers into Citizens campaign, or [perhaps more controversially within Christian communities, though this would be taken for granted by most left-wing activists] the Geldoffian "protests" at Gleneagles).

I have a lot more to say, but this comment is already pretty long, and I need to get back to work!

Phil B said...

Can we have a yes...but option.

Participation in local politics should come out of the desire to serve our neighbour which is a response to the Gospel.

However, I'd be wary of getting on my soapbox and encouraging people to get behind a particular local issue.

There's probably some Two Kingdoms thinking in there somewhere but I'm not clever enough to express it. So I'm abstaining.

Kez said...

'God's big enough to take care of things without any help from the government.'

Wow that's an interseting statement. If that's the case God's big enough to take care of things - period. Do we need any government structure? Not sure God's size or ability is the question here?!

Glen Marshall said...

Re politics, here's a thought (not original of course but one that is rarely addressed in most discussions of this issue) isn't the church itself meant to BE a local politics, it's own way of communal being, organising and relating?

Glen Marshall said...

Blasphemy Kez - "things" here being looking after his own sense of being hurt or offended which is what many who seek to defend the existing laws profess to be concerned about.

tim f said...

On the blasphemy point, I voted the same way as Glen. But God is hurt and offended by many of the things we do believe we have a responsibility to deal with - war, famine, etc. Is there necessarily a difference? I'm presuming the problem with blasphemy is not that it actually affects God in itself but that it is a denial of Truth that has an affect on human perceptions of and interactions with God, thus damaging ourselves.

I am against blasphemy laws because I don't think Christianity should get special privileges from or be tied to the state, a kind of follow-on from what I've commented in this thread.

On Glen's anarchist point, I agree but I'm wary of this line - when I see it lived out it often results in disengagement. New ways of organising and being community tend to be discovered in struggle rather than in isolation.