Can anything good come out of Washington?

Added about 8 years ago by Graham Turner

GUEST BLOG: Graham Turner, priest and author of God's People and the Seduction of Empire: Hearing God's call in the modern age, offers his perspective on current global events, and reflects upon the importance of faith in response to the demands of empire. 

Hopefully we are all appalled by the rhetoric that is belting out from the presidential campaigns in the USA. On the one hand, we are intrigued by what the candidates are saying while also being embarrassed by the depths to which they are prepared to plummet. Our greatest feeling, though, could well be fear: fear about who may get elected and what this may lead to. It is not my place to promote one of the possible presidents over the other; both are very worrying.

It seems to me that we face the age old problem of one person trying to beat down another and overcome them by any means possible. It is the battle of the Trump Empire against the Clinton Empire. We probably wish a curse on both of their houses. But this is not the way of Jesus.

God's People and the Seduction of Empire (front cover) Recently the Marmitegate story was pumped to us through our news feeds. The massive corporations of Unilever and Tesco were locked in their own battle over how much one should pay the other for their products. I guess that many of us sat on the side-lines watching it unfold, hoping that we as the consumers would be the winners. But this is not the way of Jesus either.

The politics of battle and the economics of consumer sovereignty leave us with an impoverished world. This is a world where the people of Aleppo become the victims of other people’s fights for dominance and where Haitians are never allowed to become wealthy enough to enable them to become resilient to nature’s storms. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is appalled by this.

We are called to a different economy, which Jesus called the kingdom of God. In this the meek are congratulated, the mighty are brought down from their thrones, and the enemy is loved. This is too revolutionary for many of us to get our head round; we’re too busy trying to keep our churches going.

At the end of July this year, the Times ran a review of Andrew Brown and Linda Woodhead’s book, That Was The Church That Was. It started by saying; “The collapse in the size and influence of the Church of England in the past three decades has been spectacular”. It is not just politicians and leaders of industry who are continually striving to keep their market share. Christians strive for this too because they fear having to be poor in spirit. The gospel of Jesus is so radical that we fear it. We’d rather be pragmatic people who find out what works and then follow that.

Niels Bohr, the Nobel winning physicist who debated with Einstein about atomic structure and quantum theory, is reputed to have said, “Anybody who is not shocked by quantum mechanics has not understood it”. I think we can easily adapt this saying for Christians and the church today; “Anybody who is not shocked by the gospel of Jesus has not understood it”.

In the face of Clinton, Trump, Tesco, Unilever, the Haitian crisis, the destruction of Aleppo and the decline of the church, we have a great calling. The church’s task is not just to get our voice heard in the busy market place of people, groups and companies getting their message out, but also to be a living example of how to live life differently – which is God’s desire for all humanity. We are called to be “light to the Gentiles” as God’s people were in the Old Testament. This other way of living does not need kings, dominant leaders, or strong market positions. The prophet Samuel warned us long ago that this way of arranging life leads to the sexual exploitation of women, the best of our young being sent to war, and the accumulation of wealth for the privileged few.

We are called to incarnate courageous love in whatever way we can. In doing this, we need to learn the age old lesson of St Paul; the lesson of contentment with “enough” in whatever situation we find ourselves in. And we must not lose the hope that the way of Jesus is the answer to the world, not just spiritually, but holistically.

Graham Turner's book God's People and the Seduction of Empire is available from our online shop

Please note: Sacristy Press does not necessarily share or endorse the views of the guest contributors to this blog.

Never miss a beat.

Be the first to know when we publish new books! Join our mailing list for exclusive discounts, author interviews, and more...