Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Where do we draw the lines?

It's politics season, of course, and that always makes me think about where we draw the lines between different parts of our lives: personal, marriage, family, work, church, faith, friends, etc.

Here some examples:
  • Eighteen months ago, I started working for a Catholic health care company and my faith-life and work-life suddenly collided. It's worked out well for me, in general. I like praying at work... it comes in handy when the IS systems I manage have technical problems.
  • When I was in college, I had a friend who said something along the lines of "I don't let my faith interfere with my personal life." She had a strong and fairly conservative faith system, but was also notably promiscuous.
  • Four years ago, I had a friend who decided that she couldn't vote in the Presidential election. The religious leader in her church had effectively told her who she needed to vote for, but she disagreed with that candidate's position on some ethical issues.
  • My wife belongs to a book club in which a number of other women identify as progressive, and their husbands are conservative. It isn't an issue for these couples because they don't discuss politics with each other.
  • Just days ago a number of ministers pushed the envelope on laws against religious leaders openly telling their parishioners for whom to vote.
  • When I was growing up, my parents also told me that how we vote is a private thing. We don't have to tell anyone how we vote. I've decided that, while I agree that voting is a private issue, I disagree that we should encourage that -- our culture should encourage us to talk about how we're going to vote and what we believe is important.

How does it all fit together?
Where do you draw the lines?
Are there are any lines?
What's appropriate to discuss in what venue?

In my (sometimes overly) logical brain I strive for reconciliation between the different parts of my life: personal, marriage, family, faith, work, politics. Sure, there are dichotomies and paradoxes that I struggle with. But I struggle and strive for reconciliation.


Stushie said...

Archbishop Desmond Tutu had this to say:

"You say that politics and religion should never mix. I ask you, "What Bible have you been reading?"

Reyes-Chow said...

Stushie and I disagree on positions of politics, I think we do share in the agreement that our life, faith and politics are intertwined and interdependent.

It is one thing to not discuss politics as a coping mechanism or to avoid other communication issues, quite another to abdicate what I think is our duty and privilege to engage the politics system in the work for justice, compassion, etc.

Stushie said...

Amen, Bruce. When the Church is silent about politics, then wicked things like genocide and apartheid can occur. However, when the Church becomes too political, inquisitions and witch trials appear.

Douglas Underhill said...

I look at politics as a grim necessity. It is an ongoing wrestling match over who will have power, dressed up in polite words. I think that people of faith are responsible for doing what they can to see that power is used justly, with compassion, and for the common good - mostly because it so rarely is.