I’ve mentioned in this blog that I’m a Christian. Sarah Palin being, without a doubt, a very sincere believer, I should be ecstatic and ready to vote for McCain/Palin, right?
The reality is that by choosing her, McCain has guaranteed I won’t vote for his ticket.
In order to explain that, I should tell you some life history. (You can skip to the last three paragraphs if you just want the conclusion.)
Palin comes from a stream of Christianity called Pentecostal or Charismatic. Basically, in the early 1900’s a group of people began seeking God and the Holy Spirit showed up. People began to speak in tongues, to get healed, to speak forth what they sensed God wanting to say (‘prophesying’) and to be freed to do expressive worship, among many other ‘signs and wonders’. As has happened since the Roman branch split from the Eastern, out of one larger stream, factions divided. Today there are many different groups around the world that have different comfort levels with the power and ‘manifest presence’ of God. I’ve experienced much of the breadth of that stream.
My parents were charismatic Lutherans. They were people of deep intellect and curiosity, unthreatened by opposing viewpoints. They sent their kids to public schools and were comfortable answering tough questions. I was taught to be comfortable with people of all colors, classes and beliefs.
In college, both Jrex and I attended a church that was comfortable with the Gifts of the Spirit. I became comfortable hearing and voicing nudges of thoughts that were bigger than me. I can pray in tongues and have encountered some ‘interesting’ things spiritually (when you pray for someone and their stomach starts to ripple, it certainly ain’t expected).
Jrex moved to Rochester ahead of me. He found a church that wanted to reach out to people in one of the tougher neighborhoods in the city. When he joined, there were a number of core members of the church that also lived in the neighborhood. Within a few years, most had moved out to the suburbs. When I joined him in Rochester, I began attending that church with him.
It was a church full of very kind, generous people. I did notice that if I really expressed my emotions or was too vulnerable, people drew back and seemed uncomfortable. Most of the sermons had to do with our victory in Christ. If we had problems, we were likely being disobedient. For schooling, the children of the church either had a private Christian school, or a private Mom-run school. The front doors of the church were always locked. The back door had a buzzer that you had to ring to get in during the service.
When we got married, we moved into a house across the street from the church. Jrex was taken aside by men from the church and berated for exposing me to such a place. He explained that I grew up in a worse neighborhood than that one. Perhaps placated, they just assumed we both were weird.
Jrex and I went through some horrible years early in our marriage. Rather than dealing with any of it directly, my pastor just told me to ‘duck and let God get him’. I had a couple of good friends in the church, but their advice usually was to pray and trust God. I met weekly with an older woman in the church (I’d asked her if we could meet, it wasn’t required). In many ways she and I were very similar: strong-willed, bossy, natural leaders. She was wonderful on many, many levels. She called me out on my attempts to control Jrex, challenged me to trust the Lord, and prayed faithfully for me. Over time though, I noticed that she got a lot of migraines. I noticed that as I followed her advice, Jrex and I had more and more distance between us and I was more and more angry with him. I’ve never been a passive aggressive person, and I began to have those patterns. It took a while, but I realized that she was spiritualizing things that were emotional and pragmatic. Submitting to my husband didn’t mean never telling him what was bothering me. It meant talking things through and trusting him to make the final call. I tried to tell her my observations, but she thought I was in rebellion.
In the midst of all that, I was introduced to another group of Christians in the area. Their pastor passionately embraced my design/artistic gifts; he wept after reading a book I’d made expressing my heart for the city. My other pastor had looked at it and said, “What do you want me to do with this?” With the second church, I went to healing retreats in which the emotional garbage could get untangled while still dealing with the spiritual elements. It was a church where God could still speak, but the world was a place to be embraced not feared.
[It should be noted: after the death of the pastor of the first church, a new pastor came who has truly led the church out of fear and into social justice and revitalizing the city. So, the people were willing, God answered our prayers for the church, it just took longer than we expected…]
When I watched some clips of Sarah Palin speaking in her church, heard some of her childhood pastor’s words, I was strongly reminded of that first church in Rochester. My concern about her is that in the strength of her ‘righteous’ beliefs, she truly believes in a religious dictatorship. I do believe that Jesus is The way, The truth and The life, but I also deeply believe that God made our minds, that he doesn’t rape us into belief. He woos us, loves us, convicts us at times, but it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. I don’t want a government that blares Christian music and thinks that American Christianity should be forced onto every person.
Mostly, I’m tired of fear mongering in the name of Jesus. I’m tired of a world full of enemies from which only the Big Powerful Republicans can save me. I’m really freaked out by Mr. Rove in the background. He doesn’t even believe in the law, much less in God. The great manipulator is NOT someone I want around another four years.
When Jesus came with skin on, he didn’t rise to power or take over the government. Instead, he lived among the poor, without fear. He met enemy soldiers and treated them as human beings, even healing their servants. His biggest condemnations were for the religious powers of his day and he was killed for it. I know that He loves Sarah Palin (and Karl Rove—God being able to do the impossible), but that’s not reason enough to vote for any single faith to take over our country, even if it’s supposed to be ‘mine’.