Moving forward as believers in the public square

David Brooks throwing in the towel on predicting the national election may be the best thing to happen in his illustrious career. I am a huge David Brooks fan and have only grown in my admiration for him because as a New York elite he admits he is a New York elite. He didn’t get out much.

Donald Trump’s rise has pushed him into action, so he has determined to get out more and find out what is really happening around the country.

This column brings out what I think is really the way forward for us as believers. We have needed to give up on national politics as our “hope” for some time, but we have not done a good job doing it. For decades the “evangelical” vote was solidly Republican and wrapped up in “pro-life” and “pro-family” ideals. That didn’t work. A new generation is now going solidly Democrat, even socialist. And it is as bad an idea as going Republican.

What we NEED as believers is a deep faith and then an actual engagement in our culture at the local level. No matter who is in office, find a way to bless what they are doing. Rally around common causes and find positive solutions.

Unfortunately, there has been a loss of local community pride in many ways.

Maybe with the rise of TV and the Internet people are happier staying in the private world of home. Maybe it’s the loss of community leaders. Every town used to have its small-business owners and bankers. But now those businesses and banks are owned by investment funds far away.

Either way, social isolation produces rising suicide rates, rising drug addiction, widening inequality, political polarization, depression and alienation.

Brooks brings up the example of Lost Hills, CA and how a couple are engaging the community with a broad approach to solutions. They are a wealthy business couple doing something to get back into the community. They don’t give up.

We can’t give up. As a matter of fact, we need to engage more. 

This week in my community I got attend one of my favorite nights of the year: Scholarship night at the high school. The service club I belong to gives away scholarships to two seniors, so I get to present the awards. Even if I didn’t present the awards, and even though my sons are long graduated from the school, I would still go to this night. It is incredible.

  1. The community gives back to this school. Many of the scholarship are funded by local residents and businesses who have roots in the high school. They got something out of the school, they have done well, so they are giving back.
  2. The scholarships given total over $200,000. It has been over $200,000 for the past six years. $1.2 million in scholarships have been given in the last six years!
  3. It is an incredibly diverse student population and it is near the bottom in the metro area for income level. Yet this community gives far more in scholarships to its students than ANY district in the metro area.

It doesn’t matter who is president of the United States, or what political agenda is being pushed in Washington. I love my city and I can easily get behind a city that does so much for kids.

We need a fresh approach as believers. We need Daniels and Josephs and Esthers rising up in this new day we face culturally. We need believers so anchored in faith that the culture isn’t a “threat” any more. This is a time to engage and bless those around us. It is not a time for withdrawal. It is a time for engagement.

Find a need locally and bless it. See what God can do in opening doors in your community.

Do not withdraw from the public square. Get right in the middle of it and bring blessing.


Two worthwhile reads for your weekend

Stop and reflect a bit this week.

A column by David Brooks calls on us to reflect on BEAUTY. It is a marvelous piece.

This is the view that beauty is a big, transformational thing, the proper goal of art and maybe civilization itself. This humanistic worldview holds that beauty conquers the deadening aspects of routine; it educates the emotions and connects us to the eternal.

Then a post by Ben Witherington on a good “election guide” as we enter into Mudslinging 2016. He bases it on the Sermon on the Mount and Romans 12-13. Neither party is impressive held to that standard, but there are some things to AVOID.

I am beyond “over” when it comes to politics. It’s been almost 2 decades since I’ve quit voting categorically one party. Voting will still happen for me, but after that is what counts as well. I will pray for those in authority and I will press Kingdom issues and continue to bring Kingdom blessing to whoever is in office. I have worked hard to adopt what I call a “pro-life” ethic in my life.

  1. I use a word that is “loaded,” but I don’t care. I won’t allow bad politics to co-opt an ethic that is worth having.
  2. That ethic is womb to tomb. The only person more pro-life in this life ethic than me is the Pope.
  3. There isn’t any political party, or candidate, who matches that ethic, so I choose to live my ethic and bless those in leadership as I try to live out Kingdom goodness in this world.

Quite honestly, soak in Brooks’ column and reflect on the beauty around us. It is a wonderful tip for the weekend ahead!