The Republicans have managed to get to their convention in Florida and nominate Mitt Romney as a candidate for the office of President of the United States of America.
If you watch TV in the evenings, you, can’t avoid the political ads for candidates for the House, and Senate as well as the Presidency. Even on Facebook your friends are posting posters with pitchy statements about this candidate or the other. They are sharing links of essays, op-ed pieces and photos that reflect their political point of view. Wouldn’t it be great if FB was at least ONE refuge in the universe where we were safe from politicking?
All the above is prelude … I get asked from time to time what my political views are, and it’s been difficult for me to clearly articulate this, because I lean toward the Democratic platform on some matters, and the Republican platform on others, and the Green Party has some attraction as well. My inclination has been to describe myself as an Independent Moderate or Centrist.
Then I came across this cool site called ISideWith.com (www.isidewith.com). Go to the site and take the quiz. It’s fun and easy. It asks you questions about domestic policy, environmental issues, foreign policy, social issues and so on. Then, when you’re done, you get the results which are supposed to tell you whether you’re an Obama or Romney person, a Democrat or a Republican.
When I got my results I laughed out loud. The percentage for Democrats and Republicans was exactly the same (71%). The difference in my preference for the two candidates was separated by only 11 percentage points. This validated my own sense of where I sit on the political spectrum. When people say I’m too conservative, I say, “Not so fast… does a conservative support such and so?” And when people say, “You’re too liberal?” I say, “Not so fast…does a liberal support such and so?”
As a preacher, I think I could devise a sermon around this. “I Side With…” The dichotomy could be "God…and Culture." A quiz could be drawn up a la this I Side With website. Do I side with God, or do I generally side with the culture?
Not that the two necessarily need such a separation, of course. After all, we live in the world. You could argue the importance of engaging with the culture,or living within the culture to transform the culture. But in many areas, the culture needs to be, must be, prophetically challenged and confronted. Unfortunately, many Christians are too often assimilated by the culture and are unrecognizable by word or deed as Christians at all.
Granted, this is not a new subject. H. Richard Neibuhr’s seminal work published 1951 Christ and Culture remains the place where this discussion begins. To begin, and to simplify greatly, Neibhur suggested five scenarios: Christ Against Culture (rejection), the Christ of Culture (assimilation), Christ Above Culture (synthesis), Christ and Culture in Paradox (dualism), and Christ the Transformer of Culture (conversion). In the past 60 years, Neibuhr has not been without his critics, including the Mennonite theologican and ethicist, John Howard Yoder, church historian George Marsden, and theologians Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon.
So it might be cool to create an “I Side With…” quiz, to see how strongly our loyalties are linked to the one side or the other. Perhaps the quiz could even suggest whether your view aligns with any of Neibuhr’s five positions. I am open to suggestions.