Monday, February 11, 2008

Who Is This For?

A little while ago I was watching a podcast in which Senator Obama had dinner with four people who had contributed to his campaign. One of the cool things about it, though, was that it was obvious that the four contributors were not chosen because they were the larges contributors. It must have been a raffle or something because none of them was rich.
It was kind of cool to watch Obama sit and listen to them. One of the main questions he asked each of them was, "What are the issues that you would like to see raised?" Each person got a chance to voice the things on his or her mind. It made me think, "If I was one of those people, what issues would I raise?"
Election time is interesting because it reveals that issues that are important to us. Some of us are fired up about immigration or tax cuts. Some of us are passionate about the war in Iraq or education. I certainly have issues about which I get riled up. Something occurred to me, though, as I thought about how I would respond to the opportunity to tell a politician, or a potential president, what issues I wanted to see raised. What occurred to me was this:

Government has existed for me for a very long time. Maybe it is time that it benefited someone other than me.

What I mean is this: I am about as mainstream as a person can be in American culture. I am a white, middle-class male. Our country is geared for me because I am in the majority. And when it comes down to us, most of us tend to vote for the things that will benefit us, and against the things that will cost us money, time, or freedom. It was a bit revolutionary for me to consider that it might be better for me to vote and involve myself in the political process in such a way that I, and people like me, are not the direct beneficiaries. I probably have enough going for me in this life. I don't have a lot of complain about. I don't have a lot of needs that are not already taken care of. Maybe government should exist to even the score so that those in the minority could have the opportunity to catch up with some of the opportunities that I have had access to simply because of the color of my skin, my gender, and the fact that I had the opportunity to go to college (which I owe to my parents; I didn't pay a dime for my college education).
That said, my attention, as usual was turned then to the church. How am I interacting in the church. I have a lot of things that I want to see happen. I have a lot of preferences and values. Still, I need to ask myself, "Do I believe that the church should gear itself to people like me?"
Well, maybe not.
Maybe it would be appropriate for me to have to be the one to work hard to fit in, find a place, feel comfortable. After all, people of different races and socio-economic standings than me find themselves in a perpetual state of being the ones who need to work hard to fit in, find a place, and feel comfortable. It made me realize that I need to get over myself and be thankful for how much God has given me. I can thankfully step aside and let the focus be on someone else. In fact, I can be a voice for someone else.
Who is all this for? How does this question impact my politics, both in my country and in my church?

A while ago, I posted about this book called "Consuming Jesus." It is a great, great book calling those of us in the church to work toward breaking down barriers related to race and class. It was written by one of my professors at Multnomah, Dr. Metzger. This Wednesday, February 13, Dr. Metzger will be speaking about this book at Powell's in Portland. It will be at 7:30. I really encourage anyone and everyone to go. It will be well worth it!


At 1:49 PM, Blogger David Knepprath said...

Ah I wish I could go! It's even in my neck of the woods! But, I have my social change class every other Wednesday night, and it happens to be this week. Bummer.

At 1:27 AM, Blogger Rich Jr said...

Sorry I missed it. I would have like it too.


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