How quickly things can change. Back in 2000, my politics were as conservative as my religion--I am a Christian Fundamentalist and a Calvinist and I voted for George Bush. But then came 2004 and 2008. The only Presidential candidate I could vote for with a clear conscience then was Ralph Nader. And this year, I am deciding between Stewart Alexander, who is a Socialist, and Jill Stein from the Green Party. What changed?
My change began while I was still a political conservative, before I voted for Bush. It came after meeting a person who is now my best friend. She was outside my narrow circle of faith and yet she did the most Christ-like things for people. Her compassion was deep and wide. Because it was deeper and wider than most, if not all, of the people I knew at church, I realized that perhaps we, those in my circle of faith, need to listen to others.
My listening to others came in the form of reading. During the summer of 2001, I decided to read a couple of books from what most people would consider the Left. One of the books contained some of the writings and speeches made by Martin Luther King. The other book was about the Middle East and was written by Noam Chomsky. What I noticed about King's writings was that he had a passion for winning people over. What I noticed about Chomsky's book was that he had a passion for fairness. These two passions seemed very Biblical to me as well as most of what I read. This left me with the questions. Why hadn't I been reading King, Chomsky, and other likeminded writers before and why didn't my church direct me to writers like them?
Though the first question was unanswerable, the second was not. The reason why my church had not told me about King and Chomsky was because it was, and still is, enslaved by the chains of authoritarianism. This affected our reading lists by guiding us to read from people with the proper credentials while we are to avoid being contaminated by those with the wrong credentials. This is because to the authoritarian mind, truth is determined more by the credentials of the source than by the facts and logic in question. This way of determining truth holds minds captive as there is a push to filter statements according to the source. Thus, many of my fellow fundamentalist tend to burn books from those with bad credentials less what reasonable things they have to say leads to a greater hearing.
As I continued to read, I learned that Socialism is about sharing power and wealth as well as expanding one's circle of compassion to include others regardless of nationality or ethnicity. Here, everything seemed Biblically kosher except for sharing power. That was questionable because we Fundamentalists are an authoritarian lot. We just love to either exercise or follow authority. It is our safety net when thinking. And we have Biblical reasons for being that way. In Romans 13, Paul tells us that since all authority comes from God, to resist any authority is to resist God. Unfortunately, we have reduced how we are to relate to those in authority to just that part of the Bible. We forget about those parts in the Old Testament prophets challenged the authority figures of their day to repent.
So what is shared power? It simply means that we all share in the decision making of our communities, our places of employment, and country. This means that we demand from those above us to share decision making with us and we share decision making with those below us. This means that we follow Jesus' prohibition against "lording over" others. So, rather than relying on authority figures with impeccable credentials to lead us, we lead ourselves by extending democracy. That means that we should have a more democratic voice besides voting every x number of years. Of course, some things would have to change to give people more opportunities to participate. For example, we cannot keep the current economic system that demands so much time and effort from people so that they are too spent to be more involved in their democracy.
Shared wealth is often deridingly called redistribution. But it is called that by people who are unaware that our wealth is already suffering from a redistribution to the top. The idea of shared wealth comes from Biblical values. Values that say that we both care about those who have less and we place a high enough unconditional value on human life that we want to ensure that everybody has what is necessary to live. Of course how wealth is shared is to be determined by shared power.
Finally, we have the emphasis on the international over the national or local. At this point, some of my American fellow fundamentalists would worry about my support here. They would be scared that I am supporting the coming AntiChrist's one world government. At the same time, such people promote a double standard for while they assert America's right to do what it wants because it is a sovereign nation, they deny the right of all other nations to do the same--that is unless they agree with the American government. But such Christians also neglect some basic Biblical facts such as that all people are made in the image of God. They also overlook the fact that God gives no preferential treatment. Finally, they shield themselves from the fact that when America acts against another country, the Christians in those countries will be targeted.
Please note that not one aspect that has drawn me to the Left was the raised fist. Though I understand that it is a symbol for resistance, it goes against what my initial teachers taught me whether it was my best friend with her compassion, Martin Luther King with his seeking to win people over, and Noam Chomsky with his wanting everyone to play by the same set of rules. And as one of my fellow activist friends notes, it threatens and thus squelches the curiosity of those on the outside which limits the number of those who would join. The raised fist plays into the hands of our critics.
I am a Christian Fundamentalist who is also a socialist because the 3 above mentioned values of sharing power, sharing wealth, and support for others regardless of nationality or ethnicity are Biblical values. They are also human values. These values demand that we treat each other as equals regardless of our differences. These values require that we treat others the way we want to be treated ourselves. So how more Biblical can we get?
|This Month's Scripture Verse:|
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil -- I Timothy 6:9-10a