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Punk Political Philosophy (as interpreted by a partisan atheist)

May 22, 2009

Our little town of Merced was thrust into the national spotlight last week when First Lady Michelle Obama gave the commencement speech for the first graduating class from UC Merced.

I don’t think a more polarizing figure has ever visited Merced.

I myself am a partisan atheist.  I honestly think that the government is corrupt and that no one in the political process has mine or my family’s best interest in heart.  Republican or Democrat – they are all crooks just trying to steal my money in taxes!

I find myself in the middle of a firestorm of ideologies.  On one side I have good Christian friends who think Obama is the worst thing to ever happen to this country and can not see him doing anything good.  On the other side I have good Christian friends who think Obama sits at the right hand of Jesus and can nothing wrong for our country.  I personally think both sides have lost perspective.

This post isn’t a political rant.  As I wondered through my extensive iTunes music library, I chanced upon a band I haven’t listened to in quite a long time.

Crashdog is (was?) a Christian punk band (iTunes link: Crashdog or here is the Amazon.com link. 25 songs for $6.99!)) from the 90’s and they recorded a song called “G.O.P. (God’s Own Party)” and I think it encapsulates some of my own political ideas (or lack thereof).

Listen below.  I couldn’t understand some of the lyrics, so I placed a ? where I could not translate!  If you can understand, please fill in the blanks!

I am ready…are you ready?

Welcome to the halls of Congress
our nation’s blood flows out from here

All our values shall be back
now that we dumped the Democrats

We’ll go soaring on the right way
a godly tune this bird will sing

Watch me run the White House now
think of all the things we’ll do

Knock Knock (who’s there) GOP
oh won’t you please let us in
we’re pro-life and squeaky clean
just don’t look beneath our skin

Vote vote vote the underclass
kindly gently down the drain
Christians and Republicans
Aren’t they the same?

How much of Jesus do you find
in their lovely party line?

No federal funding for the unwed
Mary’s back in the manger of death

Forget the alien and the stranger
proposition one eight seven

Welfare can’t afford these kids
resurrect the ?

Knock Knock (who’s there) GOP
oh won’t you Christians let us in
we’re pro-life and squeaky clean
just don’t look beneath our skin

Vote vote vote the underclass
kindly gently down the drain
Jesus a Republican
have you gone insane?

2000 years and every ?
been tied to every joker card

From Inquisition to the crime?
?

Go ahead take a look
read between the lines
pull from the pack and from the race
what is left online?

Knock Knock (who’s there) GOP
oh won’t you Christians let us in
we’re pro-life and squeaky clean
just don’t look beneath our skin

Vote vote vote the underclass
kindly gently down the drain
Christians and Republicans

they are not the same
they are not they are not
they are not
they are not the same
Jesus and Republicans
have you gone insane?
have you gone insane?

Again, I just want to stress that I’m neither for the Democrats nor for the Republicans. Crashdog has some good points in their song.  To assume that Jesus was a Republican IS insane.  To assume He was a Democrat IS just as insane.  I think Christians should be outside the party lines and serve the less fortunate with no strings attached.

IMHO every Christian should read Greg Boyd‘s fantastic book entitled “The Myth of a Christian Nation”.  I’ve come to align my political views with the ones presented in this book.

One reviewer sums up the book this way: “the book really focuses more on what it means for any Christian anywhere to identify the eternal kingdom of God with the temporal kingdom under which he or she lives. Although Boyd has a very different understanding of the Christian’s relationship with the political, he almost could have borrowed St. Augustine’s title THE CITY OF GOD (AND THE CITY OF MAN), the latter half the implied title of Augustine’s classic. Or the great French lay theologian Jacques Ellul work THE POLITICS OF GOD AND THE POLITICS OF MAN. Like Ellul, Boyd insists that it is impossible to Christianize any temporal political regime. To confuse the two is to make what Gilbert Ryle would have called a category mistake, to confuse one kind of entity for another.

Boyd from the outset makes the distinction between worldly governments, which he refers to either as the kingdom of the sword or the kingdom of the world with the kingdom of the cross or the kingdom of God. The former is characterized in all cases by a self-interested “power over” others. This is true even in the most just and fair governments as well as in the most tyrannical. The kingdom of God, however, is characterized by disinterested, loving “power under.” Boyd shows that Jesus repeatedly in the New Testament refused any “power over” role, despite being the son of God, instead continually acting out in his life a “power under” self-sacrificial love, a way of living he demanded of his followers. Over and over the NT emphasizes that Christians are to live out the life of Christ in love and service to others. Moreover, this love is to be indiscriminate, and not given only to those who are like us and share our views. In fact, Jesus emphasizes that it is those on the furthermost edges that we are most to show our love to, not by judging them and legislating against them, but by serving them. There is little doubt that if Jesus were walking the streets of America today, he would be spending all his time with gays and people with AIDS and drug addicts and the poorest of the poor.

Boyd sees a large number of failings in the Religious Right today. He hints that people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are, in fact, heretics. Boyd asks why we so often identify people as heretics based on some religious belief, when in fact Jesus emphasizes over and over how crucial it is to love others. He asks, when has anyone ever been identified as a heretic because they failed to love as Jesus commanded them to do. And that is much of his complaint with the Religious Right: their patent failure to love. Boyd stresses that if we are actually expanding the kingdom of God, it will look like Jesus, it will look like love in action. It will not look like people who fanatically attack gays, who ferociously delight in the killing of terrorists or Arabs, who are obsessed in condemning others as sinners.

One of the reasons that James Madison pushed through constitutional clauses that divided church in state both in Virginia and later in the United States was that he felt that a close alignment of any religious body with a government did great harm to the the church. Madison pointed out that if the church closely aligned itself with a particular political party, then when that party went out of favor, the church would be rejected along with the sectarian political party. Boyd explains in great detail the many dangers to the kingdom of God whenever it is confused with kingdom of the world. Therefore, the greatest dangers to the church are those who want to Christianize America, for they not only trivialize religion, they profanize the holy.

This is one of the most devout books I have read in quite a while. Rev. Boyd is clearly a deeply religious, careful, humble, intelligent reader of the Scriptures. He also is an advocate for a truly radical reading of the Bible, one that calls for radical discipleship. What has disturbed me about the Religious Right has all too often been its incredible worldliness, the way its leaders have supported a culture of grasping after worldly wealth, of elevating greed and political power to the level of the theological virtues faith, hope, and love. I remember vividly a number of years ago sitting in First Baptist Church of Dallas and hearing W. A. Criswell speak of “the only economic system ordained by God, the American free enterprise system.” I have heard countless preachers proclaim that America is a country uniquely blessed by God. Boyd, on the other hand, emphasizes a Gospel where if you have two coats you are told to give one of them away; where if you are struck on the face, you are to offer the other cheek; and where there is no difference between Jew or Greek or (by implication) American. Boyd’s vision of the kingdom is a nonnationalistic, self-sacrificing, unselfish, nonmaterialistic striving to imitate Christ. It is a corrective that has never been as needed as much as it is today.”

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One Comment
  1. matthewdavis permalink
    May 24, 2009 8:03 am

    Bill. AWESOME post. You and I need to hang out and talk more…

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