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September 22, 2008

Chuck Norris and the Coming Revolution

Chuck Norris is promoting a revolution ... a revolution in the political arena that I think most of us agree needs to happen. He states that "good politicians are few and far between. The majority of them need to be replaced, and the rest of them need our help to do it." 

To that end, he is encouraging Americans to get involved in the upcoming election and beyond:

You know the words of British orator Edmund Burke, "Evil flourishes when good men do nothing." Well, evil has flourished for too long. It's time for the good people to rise up in another voter revolution. Don't be like the 90,000 people who ignored the evacuation orders as Hurricane Ike approached. Don't just sit back and hope it turns out OK. Get involved. Start in your community. Fight for your country and state. And together, we can reawaken our country.

To that, I can only say, "Amen!"

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Comments

Pat

I love to be encouraged by right thinking people who are tired of the same old, same old. Amen, Amen I say and God Bless America

Jason Taylor


Call it a prejudice, but I have a distaste for the word "revolution". It reminds me to much of to many nasty events.
Be that as it may, removing dishonest politicians and installing honest ones is all to the good other things being equal. Albeit it is hard to separate the one from the other as dishonest folk are dishonest about their dishonesty.

Mike Perry

Need yes, but do Evangelical churches actually prepare believers to do well in politics, particularly as leaders?

I suspect not. I suspect our churches prepare them to be a passive sort of follower, one who looks constantly for a leader to emerge who'll take the burden of acting off their shoulders. That explains the whining we hear about the Republicans we elect. It also explains the excitement over Sarah Palin.

I also suspect the roots of this problem lie in Evangelical history. For good and ill, we are the products of that history, and it limits what we do or even think we can do.

That's a conclusion I drew from reading William Hague's excellent biography of William Wilberforce. While ordinary believers had a minor role in eliminating the slave trade and slavery, I was left with the strong impression they were not the foot soldiers of the movement. They were more like spectators, called in from time to time to provide cheers for the few who were doing the real work.

A healthier anti-slavery movement would have had activists and leaders at all levels of society, with the more talented, whatever their origins, rising in the ranks to become national leaders.

Instead, you had a movement led by a few men, born into great wealth and trained from birth to lead, while the masses were little more than appreciative spectators or "do-fers," doing what they were told in the vast array of charitable organizations that were formed. Deprived of that small core of elite leadership, they would have wandered about, as helpless as sheep lost in the wilderness and as helpless as present day believers.

Rather than being a broad-based source of leadership, knowledge, experience, and strength, for reformers such as Wilberforce, the Wesley brothers, and others, the great mass of Evangelical believers were targets, as much in need of change as the slave traders. They were those that Wilberforce and others felt needed a "reformation of manners." They needed to be taught not to drink gin, swear, and indulge in genuinely violent sports. Given the precarious finances of the poor of that day, they also needed to be taught to be responsible fathers and faithful wives. Two centuries later, you still see precisely those emphasizes--and none other--in our churches.

The result was a woefully constrained, narrowed and domesticated view of the spiritual life. It meant church attendance, Bible study, tithing, and charitable works, all at the personal level--the 'methodical' view of the spiritual life that gave Methodists their name. Most believers were taught in such a way that they had no grasp of spiritual life outside the family, the local church and a small community surrounding that church. Outside that sphere everything was reserved for The Few.

In addition, leaders such as Wilberforce were quite aware of what had happened in France. The Revolution, the Great Terror that followed it (guillotining the rich) and the European-wide Napoleonic wars that followed were not something they wanted to see in England. As a result, they overly domesticated the rank-and-file English Evangelical, leaving them, through their narrow and unpolitical worldview, as incapable of joining any revolution as their Lutheran counterparts, taught to obey authority without question.

A further question lies in how all this might be changed. Two centuries of tradition is a dreadful burden from which to escape. Virtually everything in our churches has been built around this constrained view of the spiritual life, a view that those few out there in the broader culture and in politics are friendly and supportive of the sorts of lives we lead, so we need not trouble ourselves with the larger arena. You see that in the late 1990s when Promise Keepers plaintively whined that they couldn't understand feminists and others were attacking them. The answer is simple. The Few who disproportionately guide our culture are now hostile to them.

I commend Chuck Norris for seeing that there is a need for believers to adapt a more revolutionary stance. But I wonder if he really understands what that entails. He was a major supporter of Mike Huckabee in the Republican primaries and Huckabee, for all his good heart, is a near perfect illustration that the sort of ideas that prevail in today's local church can't be extrapolated into the political arena.

There's no reason to look askew on gifts being made to a departing pastor. He's about to leave and his ability to bestow favors on those who give is small. But as a society we severely restrict gifts to politicians because a well-disposed state governor about to leave office can steer tens of millions of dollars in contracts to his friends. Whether honest or not, Gov. Huckabee didn't understand that distinction. He was as clueless as a child, blinking in confusion on the stage at a political rally.

Similarly, preaching forgiveness around the church is a good thing. Husbands and wives need to forgive and get their marriage back on the right track. But Huckabee applied that same principle to a vicious criminal who should have never seen the outside of a prison again, resulting in a young woman being raped and killed. Someone that clueless has no business being a governor, much less our President.

Finally, keep in mind that it was not simply that an Evangelical politician having a shot, however small, at the White House, knew nothing about the principles anyone in politics should understand. It was that millions of Evangelicals, Chuck Norris included, thought he had the 'right stuff' to be President. That is disturbing.

We should not kid ourselves about the depths of our problem. In the 1920s, a prominent physicist was said to have remarked that there were kids playing in the streets who were closer to new discoveries in physics than he and his colleagues. He meant that all that he had been taught and believed had blinded him to seeing what was needed.

Evangelicals are in that same situation. What they think is true and absolute, what they think they must do or not do, is so out of skew that they're simply incapable of understanding what God expects of them. They're as much in need of a new birth as any non-believer. And even having grasped the changes that are needed, they're still years away from the level of experience that is needed to do well.

There is, however, some cause for hope. In any movement there are always those who don't get the message, who do what needs to be done and do it in the right way, even when everyone around them is telling them otherwise. Sarah Palin may be that sort of person. She could provide a good role model, hopefully for men as well as women.

Also, some of those in the military who're in positions of leadership in Iraq are Evangelicals. It is my hope and prayer that, when they come back after having helped govern large cities in turmoil, they won't be content to sit on a church committee to repave the parking lot. They'll get involved in politics and display the initiative, courage and good sense needed to turn our country around. Military life doesn't have the same failings as present-day Evangelicalism, so they can learn from it a bolder and more all-encompassing worldview. They can shake off their Evangelical shackles.

--Michael W. Perry, Seattle


labrialumn

Wilberforce was an English Subject. Here in America, it was the common farmers and laborers who were abolitionists, who participated in the Underground Railroad, who swelled the ranks of the Union Army.

American Evangelicals are encouraged to read the Bible for themselves, to learn how to study it, and to challenge anything that seems fishy or unsupported. That is quite different than your characterization of 'mind-numbed robots' as one leftist, Christophobic publication stated so infamously a few years back, and which Michael now echos

With the history of Lutheran pastors raising units for the Continental Army, I find Michael's statements about Lutherans to not only be false, but offensive. The Lutheran Confessions do not teach that we should obey self-proclaimed authorities without question. It is possible to question the legitimacy of a government acting outside its proper role in Lutheran thinking. The State Church in Germany, which is presumably what he is alluding to, had abandoned Christianity for the German-school Deism mixed with Nazi neo-paganism, it was not a Confessional Lutheran synod.

If what Evangelicals think is true is so terribly 'out of skew,' Michael, what are you proposing -is- truth?

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