Saturday, May 28, 2005

Where was my head?

Last week, most of my blogging was about soap opera taking place in Ottawa. Most of the blogs I’ve been reading were about Belinda crossing the floor and the non-confidence vote on May 19th.

Upon refection, I wonder why I spent so much time and energy worrying about Canadian politics when there is so much happening at my church. Usually, I’m pretty focused on my work. There’s much about my job that I love. Preaching, visitation, visioning, dreaming, looking for signs of God in peoples’ lives then showing them to the world; it’s a great way to spend one’s life.

Then why wasn’t I doing that?

I’m wondering if the Liberal party woes were a good distraction from the battle raging in my denomination over Same Sex Blessings. A battle that has the potential to filter into my little church family. I grieve that.

My natural instinct is to gear up for the fight. My breastplate of righteousness and helmet of salvation was getting pretty dusty laying around in the closet. It would have felt great jumping into the fray and getting blood on my hands, just like the good ole days when I was involved with partisan politics.

I joined the NDP when I was 15. I left the party when they screwed Bob Rae in the 1995 Ontario election, making way for the most reactionary, mean-spirited government Ontario had ever seen.

The issue was the deficit. Bob Rae wanted to bring it under control. Good for him. He called it the “Social Contract.

The unions went hysterical. I guess many union leaders don’t mind carrying a balance on their credit cards because during the election, Rae had to fight against the Conservative “Common Sense Revolution” and the battles in his own party, over this issue. Which is bizarre. Tommy Douglas always balanced the budget.

We tried to tell the unions that if they didn’t like the Social Contract, they’d hate the Common Sense Revolution. But we were told that the unions were prepared to fight us until Rae was removed from office.

Rae was creamed. When he quite the party, so did I.

I joined the Liberals. The NDP has idealism. The Liberals have better food on election night.

The NDP taught me social compassion. The Liberals taught me the thrill of winning. Even if winning meant doing so pretty unsavoury stuff. But it felt great. Winning is a powerful narcotic.

When I heard the call to ordained ministry, I left partisan politics behind and became an activist. But activism felt shallow. The theology spoke only in grand themes such as structural injustice and economic oppression and failed to touch the real hurts of people: failed relationships, loneliness, grief, disease, mortality.

Yes, hunger, poverty, the environment are important issues. But I’m wondering if activism is often a shield against the truly human. Why worry about messing human stuff when we can fight a big faceless corporation or rightwing government? Activism defines “us” against “them” the same way partisan politics does. It creates a negative identity. Activism does not create.

Activism and partisan politics bring out the worst in me. That’s why I don’t want to gear up for the fight. I want to create unity among my people. I want them to concentrate on the vast horizons that unite us, not on the smaller issues that divide us.

But the temptation is very real. I love politics because I love the game. But I’m not called to play games. I’m called to shepherd God’s people into the kingdom of God.

Shepherding means praying for and loving the flock to which I am charged. I have no enemies, no great foe to battle, except the disunity that has the potential to divide a wonderfully caring, committed, and faithful people, wondering how to live together in the midst of great controversy.

May God grant me the compassion, strength, and desire minister to my people, building up the body of Christ, as a witness to the glory of God, the kingdom of life that is springing up around us.


Psychols said...

I'm no theologan but it strikes me that your posts also "build up the body of Christ" by promoting His teachings in a socially and politically relevant context. You do so without seeking to define every political issue as a struggle between Christians and non-Christians.

Kevin said...


I appreciate that. But I also show a clear bias toward a specfic political orientation.

The fight I'm leary of "gearing up for" is the one in my denomination. I don't want to use political tools against my sisters and brothers in Christ. No matter how much I disagree with them.


Aaron said...

That was a fine post, Kevin. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.