Loving politics

Sam Portaro writes on the uneasy relationship between politics and religion on the CREDO Spiritual Blog, but also points out that the relationship should not be ignored.

Our forebears understood well the political nature of religion and spirituality, and the spirituality inherent in the practice of politics, at least in the American experiment in democracy. Owen Thomas writes of ”… something which is rarely, if ever, included in Christian formation, namely, instruction in our responsibility to and means of access to the political process. By this I mean the whole political process from running for public office, seeking good candidates, campaigning, keeping in touch with elected officials, and if necessary, using legal means to redress injustice. … If the primary axiom of Christian ethics is love of neighbor, and if our neighbor is anyone whose life we can affect by our actions, including our political actions, then for U. S. citizens our neighbors today include everyone in the world.” (Anglican Theological Review, vol. XXXII, No. 2, p. 279)

Portaro cites apathy and disgust with the political process, but is quick to bring us back to our responsibility:

For all our belly-aching, we remain one of the few peoples on earth who can, on a regular basis, take into our own hands the reformation and remediation of our own government. And, as Thomas rightly notes, these are the same means by which we exercise a faithful spirituality and a profound influence over the welfare of our immediate and our global neighbors. We cannot abdicate or absent our place in the voting booth and remain responsible citizens, credible critics or committed believers.

Study of the nominees, parties, platforms and possibilities is a spiritual practice. Participation in the process is inherently holy; casting one’s ballot is the sacrament of American political life, a deeply incarnational participation in communion. Pray the ballot, if you will. And by all means, cast it.

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