Neither Left or Right But Someplace Alone

I get that people are worried and stressed.
I don’t get why we take that out on others.
I get that we are fearful of tomorrow.
I don’t get why we refuse to live today.
I do get how easy it is to burn the candle at both ends.
I don’t get how I tend to scorch the ones around me.
I get that it is important to work
I don’t get how unimportant rest seems to be.
I get how much we need our down time.
I don’t get why God is not part of that equation.
I get that we religious people think church is important.
I don’t get why we think the condition of our soul is of no consequence.

Now that both conventions are done, we’re moving toward November 6 at quite a clip.  As I’ve indicated in previous posts and comments, I’ve tried to move to a place closer to center in the conversation, intentionally putting aside my previous held convictions on politics and simply listen.  Listen to the politicians on all sides, listen to the voices of the people, and yes, trying to listen even to pundits. 

I hear from both Democrats and Republicans that they have a concern for the poor as well as the middle class. Both of our major parties want everyone to “make it” in our society.  The sides differ on how to get there. There are certainly differing moral and yes, theological perspectives for why each person has ended up on their “side.”  Coming to such differences does not make one inherently evil.  What they are is a reflection of our diversity as people within a free, democratic republic.

One voice I’ve listened to a great deal has been Fr. RichardRohr.  It seems many have found his wordshelpful.  I’ve read a number of hisdevotional pieces that have discussed the background behind “left” and “right.” He often refers to how the “right” has been made up of the elite and priest class and the “left,” reflects the voice of the disenfranchised and working class.  That would be fine if we had a feudal system.  We don’t.

I think, it would be far more accurate to place elected officials on the “right” and the electorate on the “left” for the elected officials of both parties seem more interested in their election to power than the issues and needs of “we the people” even as they say they care about the poor and middle class.  In their striving for power, all parties have succumbed to inconsistent positions and platforms.

As I listen to the voices around me, we clergy are being pulled.  I see us being pulled toward power and the creation of a priestly class (what Fr. Rohr warns us about) or toward the prophetic role, an association with the people.  The voice that I see absent however in all this is the Biblical place and role of the elders/deacons - the class of clergy that Paul describes - a class of those set apart to lead the Church.

You see I get the jokes about working one day a week, eating fried chicken and getting everyone out of church a few minutes early to “beat the Baptists” to the buffet.  I get that it is important to some people to make the remark.  What I don’t get is how we (the clergy) came to such a poor state of soul care?  Well, yeah, I do.  We want to be powerful too.

And to that point, if there are not elders and deacons caring for the soul condition, who is going to address the state of human beings?  Paul notes to Timothy that “…godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1 Timothy 6:6).”  This is an issue of soul care.  To envy others or to be puffed up by wealth?  Both are paths of destruction for the soul.  The poor and the rich can both stray “from the faith in their greediness (1 Tim. 6:10).”  No political party or candidate owns a monopoly on this pandering.  Sorry, but try not talking and listening for a while.

What we as clergy are called to address are more than issues of legislation, executive orders or judicial ruling.  Those who are called out to serve God must be diligent to take care of our own souls and those of God’s people.  Our allegiance is not first and foremost to any party, government or country but to the Kingdom of God.  To give Fr. Rohr his due,  "The Gospel position is much larger than either of these ideologies, and is often a lonely position."


nancy.johnson said...

Great thoughts, Ken. No matter the source of political pandering, we are only sold what we are willing to buy. In the end, our leaders will be what we are, so we have to look to ourselves. Taking that kind of responsibility can, indeed, be a lonely place.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Thanks Nancy. I like he idea of only being sold what we're willing to buy. I'll take your other thought a next step though. As clergy (I think we need to use this more than just being leaders too btw), I think we have to look to ourselves and more deeply, in ourselves. This I fear, we have been lax at not only doing but calling each other to do. This is part of our Wesleyan heritage we often call for in our people but we do very little of in practice.

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