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Colbert at the National Portrait Gallery

Image by kalyan3 via Flickr

Again, Colbert Report hits it out of the park…

“He’s praying in private!…Folks I’m angry and confused. By closing the door on his prayers, Obama is letting us down almost as much as Jesus did when he said in the gospel of Matthew, ‘Whenever you pray go into your room, and close the door’. I just don’t get that guy sometimes, where you have to die to live?”

Watch this clip!

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I know, I know… He’s not to talk of these matters. He’s running for President of the U.S. Separate church and state, the government shouldn’t get involved in faith (or it’s already too involved). I get the arguments from both left and right, but damn it sure is refreshing to hear somebody talk about doing kingdom work and knowing they have actually participated in such activities. And, the fact that he’s running for President is a bonus. Yes, Bush said some of the same things, and we know that didn’t turn out so well. But, I just hope there is something different about this Obama…


Now, I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious household. But my experience in Chicago showed me how faith and values could be an anchor in my life. And in time, I came to see my faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I went out and did the Lord’s work.

There are millions of Americans who share a similar view of their faith, who feel they have an obligation to help others. And they’re making a difference in communities all across this country – through initiatives like Ready4Work, which is helping ensure that ex-offenders don’t return to a life of crime; or Catholic Charities, which is feeding the hungry and making sure we don’t have homeless veterans sleeping on the streets of Chicago; or the good work that’s being done by a coalition of religious groups to rebuild New Orleans. 

You see, while these groups are often made up of folks who’ve come together around a common faith, they’re usually working to help people of all faiths or of no faith at all. And they’re particularly well-placed to offer help. As I’ve said many times, I believe that change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up, and few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. 

That’s why Washington needs to draw on them. The fact is, the challenges we face today – from saving our planet to ending poverty – are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need all hands on deck. —Barack Obama July 1 2008 “Faith and Community”

I had a nice conversation with my friend Shelton today about his experience a couple of weeks ago at a Sojourner’s event in D.C. The question I had for him and for others is what does this “third way” of thinking about political involvement as a disciple of Christ look like? I can’t follow the right-wing view of personal salvation at the expense of my community, and I can’t follow the left-wing view of social justice without Jesus as risen lord. I still believe it is at the intersection of the cross from which we must begin our political involvement. We talked about Shane Claiborne and his new book “Jesus for President”. I think he gets it, that it is not really about public policy, but instead is about doing small things with great love as Jesus showed us time and time again.

Lane found this short article on Shane at CNN Politics today. My favorite part of the article follows…

“This is not about going left or right, this is about going deeper and trying to understand together. Rather than endorse candidates, we ask them to endorse what is at the heart of Jesus and that is the poor or the peacemakers and when we see that then we’ll get behind them.”

Claiborne says the movement of younger evangelicals is growing and looking at the Bible in more holistic terms. He is quick to say the call of Christ has more to do with how people live their lives on November 3 and 5 than how they vote on November 4.

“It’s certainly easy to walk into a voting booth every four years and feel like you’re going to change the world but that’s not going to do it.”

Went for a ride yesterday with my friend Dean to explore life in a neighborhood very much unlike mine. The “pizza slice” area of Austin bounded by IH35 to the east, Rundberg to the north, and Hwy 183 to the south is teetering on the brink. Pockets of working class homes surrounded by older, rundown apartment buildings, warehouses, and miles of retail strip centers provide witness to lives in various states of existence. What looks like it was once a community of middle-class hope now looks closer to a disjointed mixture of immigrants, the marginalized, the elderly, and the poor seeking only to survive. Yes, there are still areas that are well-kept and inviting, but for the most part the area is in serious need of revitalization. 

 I teeter on the see-saw between hope and despair on most days, and as I drove around I kept thinking, “What if…?” but would soon think, “It’s hopeless…!” I can only rely on what I understand Larry James preaches, that it is in the empowering of those within the community to resolve their own issues that success will be achieved. And, as I looked around at the many adults I saw no hope in them, or at least hope that has been slowly seeping away. But, when I would see children I would see hope, the glimmer of what is yet to be. I think it is in fueling these sparks of hope that success will be found.

I am enough of a realist to know that we will always have neighborhoods like this, but I am enough of an idealist to know that we can rally round our children and the hope they give us all. So, when I found the following article from the Dallas Morning News on Larry’s blog today, I had a renewed since of hope.

Together, we can decide to join God where He is already at work, if only we are willing to have hope. In this Advent season we are called to Hope and to Wait for what is yet to come, but in the New Year I would propose that we get off our couches and get busy.

Watch the last 2:50 of this video, especially the last 1:30 or so to hear Bono preach. He’s a pretty good preacher for a rock star…