Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Startling Suggestion from a Sensible Fellow

Alasdair MacIntyre, who has had a singular influence on my thought since my undergraduate days, makes a startling suggestion in this essay about not voting. MacIntyre's thought is creative and challenging, and his suggestion that we should eshew voting reflects this. As so often with his ideas, he expresses with clarity and detail what I have only murkily intuited on my own. Although I have not (yet) intentionally refrained from voting, I have voted for third party candidates out of a frustration borne by the same observations that MacIntyre makes about the two-party system. I did vote in this year's presidential election, but am not fully satisfied with my choice. (By the way,I oppose Bush.)

I'm not yet fully persuaded that the way to vote against the system is to not vote, however. Not that voting itself is much more than being co-opted into the system. What I mean is that this year's election already seems destined to be decided by five guys from Sandusky, Ohio, and three little old ladies from the "I-4 Corridor" in Florida. Michigan was besieged by advertising, but Illinois and Indiana were comparatively neglected, and have so far returned quite predictable results. My point is that if Indiana and Illinois all simply failed to vote, the effect would be the same, fighting for the votes of Michigan. And if all of Michigan refrained from voting, except for my wife and me, and we both voted for, say, Nader, it would look like a landslide and a mandate. Not voting is inherently ambiguous, even if the choices are between arsenic and cyanide.

(Kudos to AKMA for the link to MacIntyre's essay.)

Wednesday morning update: and now, just in time for no one to give a darn, two similar essays from two more "sensible fellows". In Commonweal, Paul Griffiths argues against voting in the election, and Mark Noll does the same, from a different perspective, in the Christian Century. Both Griffiths and Noll are intelligent, careful scholars, and serious Christians (Griffiths, Roman Catholic; Noll, evangelical). Is this a move afoot? And more importantly, what should the church -- as rival polis -- do instead?

(A tip o' th' pin to Ekklesia Project for the links)

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Blogger PdB said...

This is in response to an issue which apparently made it difficult for some of these authors to choose one candidate over the other...

"what should the church -- as rival polis -- do instead?"

May I suggest adopting different perspectives on the role of government and the role of the individual (ie., Christian, in our case)?

When Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's", was he also asking us to hand over to Caesar our responsibility to care for the needy, that our money should be used by government for this purpose?

Clearly not; tradition laughs at the image of a compassionate Caesar who redistributes money to the poor.

Rather, God has made us the body of Christ, and we are his presence in a corrupt world. We are personally called to be the hands of Christ, reaching beyond our comfort zone and into the Great Commission of calling others into relationship with the holy God of grace.

Why outsource God's very call on our lives to the government? It is only obedience to this very call that can bring about the very change we so desire.

A culture of economic injustice must be transformed from within, CEO by CEO, law abuser by law abuser, layman by layman, through the redemptive gospel of Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

Working to this end is our joy and responsibility as Christians.

So what should the church do? Realize the need to compete with the government in this pursuit instead of relying on its social programs to do what only the love of Jesus can do.

Rise up to the call, then raise up other Christians to personally reach into their pocket book and date book on behalf of those in need.

Pray for the transformation of American culture, that the law of God will be written in love upon our hearts.

Monday, November 08, 2004 5:57:00 PM  

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