Politics…… It seems that the common good, that is things that people who have different political views can come together and accomplish, is becoming a rarity in the U.S. the last decade or so. There are a lot of things out there that could be accomplished if only some would learn the art of compromise. Everything doesn’t have to have a political point or exactly mesh with your “principles”.
Religion…. The version of religion that we cling to causes much segregation in today’s world. For the most part Lutherans, Baptists and most other religious groups will not come together with others outside that group for a common purpose. The most striking personal example of that is when I was trying to put together a cross denominational benefit dinner for the homeless shelter/ soup kitchen where I have volunteered for several years. I contacted ten other area churches with a heartfelt appeal to attend a benefit dinner at my church. I spent hours on composing the message to make sure it would not raise conflict on the different beliefs of each group. Out of the ten churches not a single person crossed the line to attend the dinner.
Even my local church group had only a meager representation. I really don’t know if my message even made it past the filter of the leader of the church to the congregants or not. I guess I naively thought that helping the poor just seemed like something all Christians could get behind. That was my first and last time for me to try anything in a cross denominational area. Jesus made it clear that we are to be our brother’s keeper, that we are to take care of the “least of these”. This appeal seemed like a natural to me but I sadly found that too many barriers are in place in the church to see this common good issue. The fact that many churches, including the one I attended, actually forbid ministers to join in with other denominations in a common prayer should have pre-warned me of my upcoming failure.
Religion and Politics are two issues that everyone tells us should not be mixed but it seems they are inextricably mixed anyway among so many of us. Sometimes for the good but it seems often to the detriment of both. Too many of my conservative Christian friends allow their politics to shape their views of religion and not the other way around. Instead of seeing the Good Samaritan as an example to follow they see him as a naive person who doesn’t understand “the poor will always be with us” so why even bother. Too many let a single issue (abortion, gay marriage, other below the belt issues) get in the way of coming together for the greater good.
How sad is that?????