Another Power

Politics: Week 2

Another Power
Sunday, July 15, 2018

Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims—laws that make misery for the poor, that rob my destitute people of dignity, exploiting defenseless widows, taking advantage of homeless children. —Isaiah 10:1-2, The Message

Beside the streams of Babylon, we sat and wept, trying to remember Mount Zion. —Psalm 137:1

As a follower of both Jesus and Francis of Assisi, my primary moral viewpoint is not based in the well-being of those who are on top but at the bottom. Parker Palmer describes the impact when this is not our priority: “When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us—our children, our elderly, our mentally ill, our poor, and our homeless. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy.” [1]

In light of this, I will be sharing parts of a document I helped compose with a group of twenty-three Christian leaders and elders of various denominations. We presented “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis” to the White House on May 24 in a pilgrimage of over 1,000 believers. [2] As a Franciscan Catholic, I proudly wore the habit of St. Francis. For the vulnerable who have been rendered more vulnerable by the current United States’ administration, we lament and pray and promise to stand with you. We acknowledge and affirm:

We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches. We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.

[As Christians,] it is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else—nationality, political party, race, ethnicity, gender, geography—our identity in Christ precedes every other identity. . . . “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). [3]

Parker Palmer broadens this shared responsibility to those of other faiths:

All three traditions [Christianity, Judaism, and Islam] are misunderstood because some of their alleged adherents engage in hateful and violent behavior that distorts and defies the values they claim to represent. At their core, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and all of the major world religions are committed to compassion and hospitality. . . . In this fact lies the hope that we might reclaim their power to help reweave our tattered civic fabric. [4]

The Hebrew prophets, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammed first appear to be “nothing,” outside the system, and really of no consequence. But like leaven and yeast, their much deeper power rises, again and again, in every age, while kings, tyrants, and empires change and pass away.

References:
[1] Parker J. Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy (Jossey-Bass: 2014, ©2011), dedication page.

[2] For videos and more reports on this event, see https://www.diocesemo.org/news/2018/05/29/media-links-after-reclaiming-jesus-service-and-vigil/.

[3] Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis, http://reclaimingjesus.org/.

[4] Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy, 40.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Rebuilding from the Bottom Up: A Reflection Following the Election,” https://cac.org/rebuilding-bottom-reflection-following-election/; and
Richard Rohr, “Introduction,” “Politics and Religion,” Oneing, vol. 5 no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017), 13.

Image credit:
Mexico–United States barrier at the border of Tijuana and San Diego (detail), Tomas Castelazo, 2006. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt—some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us—our children, our elderly, our mentally ill, our poor, and our homeless. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy. —Parker Palmer

The work of the Center for Action and Contemplation is possible only because of friends and supporters like you!

Learn more about making a donation to the CAC.

FacebookTwitterEmailPrint