This blog post will be more ramble than fine tuned essay.
I recently engaged with someone on the topic of religion and politics. They were holding the position that politics doesn't belong in the pulpit. My response was "it depends." I continued by pointing out that it's pretty close to impossible to read the Bible, both Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospels of Jesus and not see tribe engaging with forces of empire, poverty, war & peace as well as a whole range of economic manipulations of people.
Yet, I also tried to acknowledge the power dynamic of the pulpit. Let's be honest. Preaching in such a way that allows the preacher to light up the room with a whole lot of right wing or left wing rhetoric is both irresponsible and unfair. It's unfair cause your in a one way conversation, i.e. you have all the power. What's the person in the pew supposed to do? Break all norms, stand up and scream "I disagree with you.." It's irresponsible because the preacher is not deeply engaging the scripture and the cultural/political/social context. They are simply ranting.
Now, having stated the above, I also want to maintain strongly that the Bible is very much a political library. Most of it it written by and for a people that were living under oppression. In the Prophets time, that might have been under the Greek, Persian or Assyrian empires. IN Jesus day, it was under the Roman system, and one could argue a High Priest run system in the religion of his birth. The scriptures were the poetry of imaginative response to the situation of the day, to roughly quote Walter Brueggeman.
Today, politics is all around us. No, I'm not talking about Donald Trump, though his public persona is clearly dominating. I'm referring to everything from our current consumer culture to how the local school board prioritizes for next years curriculum. I'm referring to the paving of roads to the treatment of people who don't look like you. I'm referring to an opioid drug crisis, the rapid increase of unhealthy foods and the rampant obsession with our social media narcissism. Does the Bible speak to that? Does religion have a voice in any of this? Of course it does.
The challenge is to help people see the scriptures as having a voice, a critical voice, in our current cultural, social and political context. To deny that, is to render religion impotent.
More to come...