commentary: Everything Is Politics

We Talk Politics Without Knowing It

Given 08-Aug-20; 9 minutes

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Virtually every topic one engages in has a political edge. Whatever a person says automatically places him on a point along a political spectrum, accruing a measure of judgment, scorn, or rejection from those who insist on practicing identity politics. Hence, those in the world who lean to the left term God's people "racially prejudiced" when they support law and order; conversely, those on the right term God's people environmental reactionaries when they advocate good stewardship of the environment. God's people do not take political stands, but on the Word of God. Though the world is becoming both politicized and polarized, demonstrating Thomas Mann's maxim that everything is political (even Jesus Christ's death was a political murder), God's people would be better served to let the dead bury the dead and instead focus on preparing for their role in God's Kingdom.

How many of you had a political conversation this week? Perhaps it was some back-and-forth on Facebook or some other social media, or a conversation with a coworker around the water cooler. Maybe you had an argument, and it got a little feisty!

I do not need a show of hands, obviously, because it is likely that you had one—or perhaps you had one, and did not realize you were talking politics! If you talked about . . .

  • Donald Trump or Joe Biden or any politicians or candidate for office on either side of the fence,
  • liberalism or conservatism or Democrats or Republicans,
  • Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter or All Lives Matter or Baby Lives Matter,
  • riots in Portland, Seattle, Oakland, New York, Minneapolis, or anywhere else—even Hong Kong!—
  • COVID-19, masks, PPE, social distancing, coronavirus testing, reports of new cases/deaths,
  • states reopening, restaurant/bar restrictions, retail store restrictions, gym restrictions,
  • live sports without fans or limited fans or kneeling for the National Anthem,
  • Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, cybersecurity, Huawei, 5G,
  • economic upturns/downturns, employment numbers, GDP, the dollar, oil, gold/silver,
  • Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, child-trafficking, Epstein Island, Bill Clinton, Hollywood pederasty,
  • anything environmental: air/water pollution, climate change, sea levels, land management, arctic ice, rising sea levels
  • public education/housing/transportation, infrastructure, ports, import-exports, taxes, fees, fines,
  • sex, gender, homosexuality, family values, homelessness,
  • immigration, deportation, the border wall, detention centers, street gangs, drugs, guns,
  • the armed forces, Veteran’s Affairs, troop reductions, military base names, statues coming up or going down (with more coming down than going up), the National Guard,
  • Supreme Court, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, the Founders of this nation, American exceptionalism,

. . . you talked politics! I do not need to go any further; that was quite a bit. I think you get my point. It need not be this way (And it used to not be this way), but this world reads politics into everything that we say and do in society today. You may be thinking that you are talking facts, true statistics, shared values, but others hearing you attach a political value or a “side” to everything you say, putting you in one identifying box or another. This is where we get our identity politics.

German novelist and social critic Thomas Mann gets the credit for the quotation, “Everything is politics.” And so it has become. The modern world has become hyper-political. All opinions—true or not—are political statements. Just by uttering them, we—inadvertently or not; intentionally or not— place ourselves on one side of a political issue or the other.

It does not have to be consistent, even. It does not matter if you believe one thing on this side and another thing on another side, people are going to judge you and put you in identifying boxes.

For instance, if you say, “I have heard the shutdown for coronavirus has helped reduce air and water pollution,” some on the Right will immediately brand you a lefty, pinko environmentalist! You were not advocating a political position by making that statement; you just like clean air and water like everybody else does. But now, you have been identified as a 'progressive' on environmental issues!

It works the other way too. If you say, “Every police officer I’ve ever met has been kind and helpful,” some on the Left will immediately call you a fascist, jackbooted stormtrooper who supports institutional racism, suppression of minorities, and you are a lover of Jim Crow. Now, you were not advocating for a political position; you were just relating your experience with law enforcement. But now, you have been marked as a shill for the right-wing.

The church is treated the same way. These Commentaries and the WorldWatch in the Forerunner take a lot of hits for being “political.” Although we aim to be apolitical, and we try very hard to be fair, we are targeted from both sides—admittedly, more from the Left because we tend to support more conservative approaches, but we do that because they tend to coincide with biblical teachings.

Our standard is not the platform of a political party or advocacy group of some kind; our standard is the Word of God. So, sometimes we will seem to be on the Right, and sometimes we will seem to be on the Left. We believe in the rule of law (which is generally a Rightist principle), but we also believe in racial reconciliation (which, in these days has been taken over by the Left). We believe in man’s dominion over the earth, but we also believe that God has commanded us to tend and keep the creation He has given us.

Jesus Himself became caught in the crosshairs of politics, and though He threaded the needle very expertly between the factions for a time, it ultimately led to His death. His was a political murder.

The church—and its members, down through history—are told to come out of this world, and that includes its politics. We are a [spiritual] nation that is different, and outside of what is happening in the world. God’s command that we do this is for our good. He wants us to steer clear of the world's engagements. Jesus said, "Let the dead bury their own dead." That is what we have to do in terms of politics. We have a far greater calling, and that is to prepare for the Kingdom of God, and if we are doing it right, it takes all our time. It is our life.

So let us focus on that. The other will take care of itself under God's sovereignty


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