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Identifying Your Values and Voting with Your Conscience

November 9, 2007 1 comment

Some men on the radio were discussing faith and politics, paying specific attention to the issue of how evangelicals are viewing Mitt Romney as a Presidential candidate due to his Mormon beliefs, when one of them said something I thought was profound. To heavily paraphrase,

The absence of a strong Christian candidate whose beliefs line up as perfectly as possibly with the ‘conservative evangelical right’ has forced many evangelicals into the difficult position of actually having to identify their own core beliefs and voting for a candidate who they believe will most closely act in a way that satisfies their religious moral conscience.

I hope you catch the significance and weight of that quote. What the pundit is saying is that evangelicals can no longer simply vote for the person James Dobson or some other national Christian spokesperson endorses. There is no strong Christian republican candidate who represents ALL of the major evangelical issues and this makes many people uncomfortable. It forces people to pick and choice what issues matter most to them and then to vote for the person who might possibly be able to make the greatest impact. And that is a tough thing to do.

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Categories: Faith, Politics

The Perspective of a Nexter

February 15, 2007 Leave a comment

My brother at Bethel University asked me to answer a few questions for a paper he is working on for an Organizational Behavioral class. Apparently I represent the ‘Nexter’ generation (1980-2000). Here are the questions and my responses; kind of interesting stuff to think about (especially question #2).

Q: What do you or people your age think about the older generation of people, like our parents and why? (for example- old, slow, smart, wise, patient, lazy/ hardworking, stubborn, crazy, fun etc.)

Let me preface by saying that these reflections from my own mental collage of stories, research, documentaries and conversations. They are in no way authoritative, and they make no claim to be 100% accuracy or inerrancy.

I think that my parents grew up during a time of societal transition (late 50’s and early 60’s). The people of my grandparents generation were hard-working folks influenced by the lasting effects of the Great Depression and ongoing global conflicts (WWII). They were people who put in 100% effort everyday, saved money, lived at a slower pace and enjoyed life’s small luxuries like iced tea on the front step of a home. They were deeply patriot with conservative values and modest lifestyles.

My parents’ came along right at the end of my grandparents era, just before the next major wave of societal life. In short, they came at a time when social attitudes about how life should be lived were shifting. The focus was moving away from society as a whole and more towards individualism. The hard-working entrepreneurial spirit that had long characterized American citizens, morphed into a self-centered, do whatever feels good attitude. People began to glamorize lazy, carefree hippies who only thought about doing things to please themselves.

I look at back the 40’s and 50’s and imagine it as a time when people worked hard and enjoyed life. People cared for their country and they cared for one another. There was a priority on values like determination, loyalty, courage, community and discipline.

I look at the 60’s and 70’s as a time when people worked only if they had to and they searched for whatever pleasures they could find. People cared about themselves and their own feelings. They placed a premium on individual experience and rebelled against many of the values held by previous generations.

Q: What historical or cultural events have helped to shape your life today?

A few of the historical events that have shaped my life have been the falling of the Berlin Wall, the events of Tienanmen Square and the current Iraq War. Not that I remember the first two well, but they are events that re-shaped the world I was growing up in. I think these events were heralds of the expanding globalization in our world and the collapse of many previous held notions about how the world should work and who should be involved in deciding it. Currently I think the ongoing war in Iraq is having a profound effect on the political and relational landscape of America. It is dividing people and causing all kinds of strife.

Some of the other events that have influenced my life are the present advancements of technology (specifically the Internet) and medicine, the increasing worldwide AIDS pandemic, the ‘emerging’ movement with evangelicalism, the ideological rise of post-modern thought, and the mounting conversation about and fear of terrorism.

Q: Has, and if so, technology influenced your life? Do you believe your generation is more adapt to technology than previous (I.e- Baby Boomers or Veterans).

Technology has had a major influence on my life. The invention and continued expansion of the personal computer and the Internet has made global collaboration in business, creativity, thought sharing and relationships possible in ways that weren’t even imaginable 20 years ago. My generation is increasingly dependent on technology for all aspects of our lives.

The explosion of text messaging, blogging and online social networking (Facebook/MySpace) proves that young people’s lives are more and more tethered to technology. With more children than middle age men using computers (I would guess this is true anyway) I think that we are at a point as a culture where technology, and the general publics expectations for its development and use, will continue to grow at a pace that it never has before. Previous generations were amazed and fascinated by technological advances; today’s young people are much less in awe and much more in expectation of what can be made and how they can use it to better their lives.

Categories: Life, Politics

Jim Wallis and Greg Boyd

November 7, 2006 1 comment

Bethel has the Jim Wallis and Greg Boyd conversation available online. You can click here to access both the video and audio files.

Too bad more people can’t watch this before the election ends tonight. I’d love to watch this with a group of people and have a conversation. Anybody interested should leave me a comment.

Jim Wallis and Greg Boyd audio and video link

Categories: Faith, Politics

urgent voting message!

November 7, 2006 Leave a comment

Stephanie and I have both voted. You seriously need to do it.

Just standing in the gym and thinking about all the people who have died in Iraq fighting for the right to vote freely made me extremely aware of how lucky I am. So please vote; even if you think your vote doesn’t matter. It does to our soldiers and to the people around the world who risk death for the chance to do what we take so lightly.

Also, Stephanie and I both voted for me as a write-in candidate for the City Council. Please consider doing this as well. I would love to be the first successful blog candidate.

So, please VOTE FOR ME for Monticello City Council.

This blod ad was created by Brenton Balvin. I am him and I approve this post.

Categories: Politics

critical timing and God’ sovereignty

November 7, 2006 5 comments

Undoubtedly the timing of Ted Haggard’s sin being made public has people debating. Some say it is terrible timing because Colorado is set to vote on a same-sex marriage ban. They may even want to chalk it up to the Devil trying to make America gay.

Others hold to the belief that God is ultimately soverign and that this was his timing, acknowledging that all things are under His strong hand. My bet is that this statement makes many evangenlical Chistians very nervous about God’s role in the upcoming elections, bans and proposed amendmements. They may even think, “Why didn’t God wait until we could protect the instiution of marriage for him through our voting and elected officials.

Larry Stockstill (a member of the Overseer Board that dismissed Ted Haggard) likewise emphasized God’s sovereignty, and dismissed questions of how the scandal could influence Tuesday’s election.

God chose to reveal Pastor Ted’s sin,” he said. “In this case, God chose at this particular moment to allow this sin to be exposed. Now we can be mad at God. We can say that’s not fair. The timing is terrible. Or we can say Blessed be the name of the Lord. One of the things I’ve learned about God is that he is wiser than me. … What’s going to happen in the nation? You know what? I don’t think that’s your concern or mine. God is a holy God and he chose this incredibly important timing for this sin to be revealed, and I actually think it’s a good thing. I believe America needs a shaking, spiritually.”

my two cents of political advice

November 7, 2006 2 comments

Today is the big day to vote. I wonder if every voting year is going to continuing getting crazier and crazier. No doubt it is. I heard that $10.6 billion dollars have been spent on ads this year. Wow!

  • Think about how many starving, dying children that would feed.
  • Think about how many people could get AIDS awareness and treatment.
  • Think about how many people that could send through vocational and collegiate programs.

That America spent $10.6 billion running negative ads should at least bother those of us who claim to follow Jesus.

When I went and heard Jim Wallis and Greg Boyd talk at Bethel a couple weeks ago I left feeling provoked and encouraged. These men are thinking abut things outside of traditional evangelical boxes and it was refreshing.

One thing Wallis said was, “Be political. Don’t be partisan. Be prophetic.” That is good advice. As Christ-followers we should engage the politics of our time, but we should do so with a Biblical attitude of love and compassion and we need to speak out against sin in mind of the totality of God’s heart, not just the one or two issues our generations ‘religious’ leaders have selected as major problems.

Wallis also used a good analogy to challenge the idea that ‘Christians should always vote against abortion’ (or any other single issue) as if that was the source of God’s greatest wrath – although it may be, I don’t know, last I checked God hated all sin equally. Anyway, Wallis said that we can try and keep rescuing people who roll down the mountain but eventually we need to figure out why they keep falling. It is an interesting perspective. I think another Christian leader compares this to the difference between mercy and justice. Rescuing people falling down the mountain (having abortions) is kindness, but figuring out why they keep falling (poverty, lack of fathers, no education, religious fundamentalism without love and compassion) is justice. And we need political leaders who will do both. See Micah 6:8.

But mainly we need the church to be the church. Legislating morality will never work.

Greg Boyd made a plea for the church to lead the way for politics.

  • The church should be showing the country how to take of its widows and orphans and foster kids.
  • The church should be guiding government in how to teach kids moral values and raise them to be good citizens.
  • The church should be helping people get jobs, get off drugs and rebuild their lives.
  • The church should be leading the way by sending aid, medicine, food and assistance to the broken people of the world.

God has chosen his church to lead the way. To love all people. Even the sickest, most vile ones. That what Jesus did. And that’s what we are supposed to do. We don’t pull out of schools or politics or our cities. We engage them with radical self-sacrificial love. We die for them. And by doing so we bring change to them. So vote. That’s great. But get involved with a church, love some people in your neighborhood and change your schools from the inside out. That’s even better.

Categories: Churches, Politics

Boyd, CNN, evangelicals, politics, faith

October 23, 2006 Leave a comment

Can’t wait for the Greg Boyd/Jim Wallis dialogue tonight. Should be great. Rumor is that CNN will be there covering the conversation as part of a piece they are doing on young evangelicals and politics.

Boyd had an editorial published in a recent issue of the major local newspaper in our area. In it he wrote…

I believe everyone should vote their faith and values, whatever they happen to be. But as an evangelical pastor, I encourage Christians to get back to following Jesus’ beautiful example. Love and serve the world without judgment.

Good words. Contrary to rumor Boyd has never told people not to vote. I think this proves that.

Categories: news, Politics, Quotes