Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

A Vision of Fear or of Hope?

Last night, as I listened to the speech of Barrack Obama acknowledging his clinching the nomination of the Democratic Party for the office of the President of the United States. As a preacher, I am always fascinated by his ability to gather an audience together, and bring them along with him on an emotional rollercoaster. As a former intelligence analyst, I keep my attention on the words that are said, and the implications behind them.

I also seek to gather from many sources, so I listened to the Rush Limbaugh and the Laura Ingram shows on the radio today. I was struck by how in disarray the conservative republicans seem to be. I was struck by how they feel betrayed by the current administration, as if it were not conservative enough, and that lack of conservatism is the cause of the parties current problems, and the reason for the nomination of John McCain. I was struck by how both commentators were not commenting on Obama all that much, but rather focusing their ire on the more moderate Republicans. I was struck by how the divisions over their candidate may be even deeper than divisions between supporters of Obama and Clinton.

I have said before on this blog that, as a military officer, I do not think I should publically say who I am going to vote for in this race… but anyone who knows me can probably guess. But what I have sensed in this election is that one side is finding a vision of hope, and the other has nothing to grasp onto but fear.

I was struck last night by one line above others in the speech, in which Barrack Obama promised that his campaign, and the Democratic Party would not use politics and tactics based in fear as a tool. If he keeps to that, it will be an even greater watershed in American political history than a Black man running for President.

The use of fear abounds in our culture today. We have almost come to worship fear. It is fear that I hear coming from media sources about what will happen to the Democratic party if Hillary does not become the VP (a really bad idea for Obama under the “Quayle Theory of Vice Presidential Selection”). It is fear that drives so much of the passion behind environmentalism, behind our opposition to war, behind many of our calls for “Justice”. For many, fear is the primary motivation behind the religious impulse. For both conservatives and for liberals, fear is often one of the first motivational tools that we reach for, it is what our politicians work with, and it is what we use to “keep people in line” at all levels of society.

Why? I believe it is because it has been decades since we, as a society, have tried to articulate a comprehensive vision of the future, a vision of the society we wish to live in, a vision of who we wish to be as a nation. We speak about the future, but we have not done a lot of thinking about the future beyond the next election cycle. This short-term vision is the single greatest weakness of federalist representative democracy.

We wonder why our hearts race when Barrack Obama says “This is the moment…” It is not because he is saying anything new, but rather our emotions jump because by saying that, he is implying that he does indeed have such a vision of the future. Not only is he implying that he has such a comprehensive vision of a world made whole, he is saying that he can share it with us… that we can become partners in that vision.

And we so desperately want, as a people, to become partners in a vision of an America that is just, an America that once again can lead through persuasion instead of force, an America that provides for its citizens, an America where equality includes opportunity, an America that operates from a culture of abundance, an America where justice is served equally… and so much more.

If there is a role for those of us of Liberal Faith in this election cycle, it is to become co-creators of a detailed, specific, and inspiring vision of the future of a world made whole… and to help share that vision with the world, and invite them to come along.

A vision of hope, and not of fear.

 Yours in Faith,


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