This week, across this marvelous country of ours that is eternally stuck in the world as it actually is, many Christian schools were surprised by a tension they should have been prepared for. The reactionary and apocalyptic nature of much Christian education and culture has so convinced Christian kids that the Obama election was a disaster that they are praying publicly that God will have mercy on us and protect us from this great danger.
It reminds me of an earlier November 4, 1980, when Ronald Reagan won the election rather handily and Bruce Springsteen got up at a concert he was putting on that night and said something like, “This is a very dark day in American history.”
It’s the nature of politics for people to go to extremes over elections. But evangelicals, we must remember, withdrew from politics from around 1930 to around 1980. When they came back they had forgotten what politics are for. They are not a means of producing a pure society. That’s what totalitarian dictatorshops do.
They are a way of making decisions without shooting each other. I’m proud to know that we have gone through what we are repeatedly told is a revolution that will “remake” America and not a shot was fired. Our political system rarely gives us what we want, but we are mature enough to accept that the people of this country have the legal right to vote for the person whom they believe will best represent their convictions.
Barack Obama might not be good for our economy. We’ll learn that as the years go by. But while some people might end up unemployed as a result of his policies, I am confident that they will not riot or kill people over it. I’m confident that they will try to make changes through the legitimate means of political debate.
So we’ve gone through an unknown change and elected an unknown president and we’re all holding our breath to see what’s going to happen.
But that’s not entirely true. Because the tension I mentioned above has to be reckoned with. What tension? That between the African-American children who are dancing in the hallways of the predominantly white Christian schools because they really have overcome in a way we white folk can’t begin to understand, though we can imagine and even feel it if we’re willing, and the white kids who have been told for a long time now that Obama will burn the flag, outlaw religion, bring in a socialist regime, and crown it all with either a Muslim takeover or a one world government that will usher in the anti-Christ and then the second coming.
Why should we demonstrate such an extreme gullibility at such a time as this. Common decency would allow for a little rejoicing with those who rejoice. But of course we Christians know everything and see things from this interesting little thing called a Christian worldview, so we know the real truth about Obama.
Christians, let us stop embarrassing ourselves by such mindless expressions of our narrow minded anxieties. God is not a Republican and He has not forgotten America. If we want to matter and if you expect to be respected for being wise and thoughtful, then we need to be wise and thoughtful; not knee-jerk and reactionary.
And we white folks must certainly respect and embrace the joy of our black friends and brothers who feel a justifiable sense of hope many of them have never felt before.
Maybe this article by Eugene Robinson will help some of us begin to understand.