Tag Archives: Constitution

Pre-Election Insights and Prayers

Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election, our national experiment in virtue-based liberty is in a fragile and fraying state, with unprecedented private and public anger. Thoughtful women and men are distressed that the major parties offer two such deeply flawed candidates. Journalistic bias and agitation propaganda have replaced careful research and measured writing. Lost in all of the presidential chaos are the important local and state elections that immediately affect citizens where they live.

I offer these prayers and reflections as a cri de coeur – a cry of the heart – for divine mercy and decisive repentance and renewal in all of us. Underneath the public scandals focused on money, sex and power are deep moral and spiritual ambivalence, with various elites perverting ethical values for their own ideological agendas.

There are three insights and three prayers I invite all to consider and confess as we prepare the election and the aftermath.

Insight One: We are dehumanizing and disintegrating human identity and wholeness. When we ignore biological gender, separate sexual intimacy from marriage and fostering the next generation and reduce identity to current erotic impulses, we are not progressing past religious restrictions. We are actually regressing into primordial impulses that ruin health, oppress non-conforming people and hinder productive life. When we separate “personal morality” from “public policy”, arguing that one can be messed up in private and still lead effectively, we are destroying the foundations of the common good and true liberty. Everyone should bring their whole self to their work, and allow their values to inform their actions and policies. I am not advocating religious tests or totalitarian uniformity of adult relationships. I am asserting that healthy people make better leaders.

Our prayer: “O God, Creator of heaven and earth and fashioner of humankind, forgive our pride and rebellion. Forgive our attempts to improve on your design and destiny. Help us rediscover the dignity, equality and uniqueness of each person and desire for all others the responsibilities and rights we affirm for ourselves. By your grace, empower us for work that expresses neighborly love, creates value and helps generations yet unborn to flourish. Help us to realize that your moral precepts are for our good and any restrictions of our behaviors are for our protection and ultimate fulfillment. Amen.”

Insight Two: We are so ideologically polarized that we are often missing creative solutions for seemingly intractable problems. Economic growth and opportunity include private investments and wise public policies. Rapprochement with Islam and the West must engage both the historic mistakes of colonialism and the rapacious history of Islamic empires and jihadist movements. Peace in the Middle East will never come until Muslim leaders can say the words, “Israel in the national state of the Jewish people.” We can balance the budget and pay off our national debt in a generation, if we will stop seeing wise stewardship as “starving children” and insist on best practices for all that manage the public trust. Urban transformation requires mobilizing servant-leaders from all fields and includes personal transformation and systemic change. Will we roll up our sleeves and serve, or merely keep accusing others?

Our prayer: “O Lord, forgive our arrogance, thinking we could solve every problem with human engineering. You invite us to cry out for wisdom and you promise to bestow it generously, if we come with humility. The signs of divine wisdom include peace, justice, courage and love, fostering harmony and generating hope. Lord, we need the ‘wisdom to do justice’ that Solomon requested as we navigate so many difficult issues, most of which we have generated though our varied intentions and actions. Help us seek you, listen deeply to one another and discover new ways to help people and communities flourish. Amen.”

Insight Three: We need a fresh vision of what personal, local, and national flourishing look like, especially in a global world where we are blessed and informed by so many cultures. This is not wholesale abandonment of the first principles of America’s Declaration and Constitution. In fact, a reaffirmation of the deepest values that informed our founders will help us define citizenship, national identity and liberty in a rapidly changing world. We must reaffirm the virtues of personal responsibility, healthy families, hard work, civil and religious affiliation and local civic engagement. We will not always agree on every definition and policy, but shared vision helps us forge a preferred future.

Our prayer: “Gracious and loving God, you remind us that without vision we will lose restraint and without a sense of purpose, we often compromise our principles. Forgive us, merciful Lord, for all the competing fantasies, the dystopian and utopian visions that do not align with your kind and loving desires for us. Forgive our focus on momentary pleasures at the expense of the coming generations. Transform our shortsighted lusts into loving service. Help us strive for excellence without perfectionism, and principled living with true toleration for other perspectives. How we need your help as we find new common ground for the common good. Amen.”

Our presidents, governors and majors are not messiahs. The finest laws fail without personal and community virtue. The best of our human nature is often corrupted by the worst of our fallen state. All of these insights and prayers are mere words without a thorough spiritual awakening rooted in the good news of Jesus Christ. When confessing Christians repent of compromise and begin compassionate service for their neighbors, such integrity overflows and blesses those that do not have the same religious commitment. When the common good is understood, alliances are formed and people of conscience find ways to work together. Even while we (with civility) argue about our differences (and they do make a difference!), we can act sacrificially for our neighborhood and nation.

May God grant us courage, love and wisdom in these days. Today’s discipline is tomorrow’s destiny, for by divine design, our decisions matter.

Telling the Truth: Political Realities, Part 1

Every Presidential election in the USA is important and 2016 is no exception. Economic uncertainly, global and local Islamic enemies, racial tensions, immigration debates and the values and visions of our future are all part of the mix. Conservatives feel more alienated every day, with uncontrollable federal (and some cases state and local) deficits, attacks on free speech and gun ownership and a militarized EPA declaring almost every private puddle a protected watershed. Progressives are frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm for global governance on climate change and the stubborn refusal of millions to see the light on abortion and alternative sexual identities and lifestyles.

The conservative and progressive lists above are, of course, generalizations – written to call attention to the hot button issues.

Telling the truth means that facile opining, straw man arguments and exaggeration must yield to critical thinking, examination of foundational values and principled compromise that produces proximate justice on the way to a preferred future. This will not be easy in a culture used to bumper sticker wisdom and sound bite debates.

Our “ADD” culture is not used to careful listening and critical thinking. In 2008 millions voted for “Hope and Change” and even said, “I pledge!” with little idea of the ramifications of President Obama’s radicalism and post-American global vision. Facile reflection is not the preserve of the Left. Conservatives salivate at the sound of military drums or pro-life slogans, but often turn a blind eye to cronyism and rapacious environmental policies.

How about “I pledge…to read the Constitution, study the local and national issues and demand accountability from elected officials.” That is a pledge worth making, regardless of party or positions.

Dear Candidates: An Open Letter to Democrats and Republicans Aspiring for the Presidency in 2016

The recent announcements that Senator Hillary Clinton, Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, along with Governor Scott Walker are all running for President in 2016 are the context for this special letter. Even though their particular positions vary widely – especially between Clinton and the rest, I address these thoughts to all of them as a concerned American and one who cares for the world. I welcome civil debate as we gear up for months of campaigning – with our nation’s future in the balance.

This letter is written in the manner of Socrates – a series of questions that imply particular concerns and positions, but compel clarity on the issues.

Dear Candidate(s),

Thank you for having the courage to run for this office. Others might cynically say that you are all supreme egoists for thinking you can do the job. Time will tell the proportions of altruism and ego, principle and pragmatism in your ideas and policies. The job of President of the USA is the most powerful and stressful job in the world. In 1839 Alexis de Tocqueville declared that the best persons do not run for President because of the compromises involved in getting elected! I hope such is not the case with any of you.

Here are my questions:

  • What is your vision of a healthy, prosperous nation? What key ideals are guiding your policy proposals? How can you inspire hope and sacrifice among a cynical and disengaged electorate suspicious of all politicians?
  • What is your sense of America’s uniqueness and her humble and wise partnerships with other nations?
  • What is your understanding of the “separation of powers” in the US Constitution and your interpretation of Amendments 9 and 10 that limit the federal government and place ultimate sovereignty in the hands of the people of our nation? What are your boundaries on Executive Orders? How will you be accountable to Congress? Recent history in both parties makes this a vital issue for our future.
  • Will you stand for Israel’s right to exist as a recognized Jewish State and freedom of conscience and religion around the world? Put another way, will you challenge Islamic states to open their societies and treat women and minorities with dignity?
  • Will you be completely pro-life and defend unborn children, the aged and the physically and mentally challenged?
  • How will you reform Social Security and Medicare so that they are protected for the needy and administrated justly?
  • Will you begin a new conversation on medical care and articulate what facets should be local, state and federal and what should be in the hands of the people? How will you assure compassionate delivery of quality medical services without an impersonal Leviathan of government bureaucracy?
  • How will you move us toward a balanced federal budget, a just tax system and reduction in the size of the federal government?
  • What is the government’s role in the economy and how will your policies helps millions find sustainable work?
  • How will you help our nation welcome millions of legal immigrants that desire hope and opportunity while screening for terrorist and welfare cheats?
  • How will you restore America’s global leadership role? How can we help lead the world away form the hegemonic agendas of China and Russia, as well as the threats of a nuclear Iran and her terrorist clients?
  • How will you position the USA at the United Nations? Are you comfortable with UN control over any territory in the USA and global courts attempting to trump our national ones?
  • What current federal structures will you decentralize or eliminate? How large a role should Washington, D.C. have in public education, the administration of welfare and food distribution and provision for other needs?
  • What is your transparent communications strategy? Will your Administration be open (apart from critical personnel or national security issues) or as opaque as the last 80 months? Can we find out about the influences in your upbringing and the educators and mentors that have shaped you into the woman or man you are today?
  • Will you stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, while allowing for other arrangements that afford partners legal recognition?

Candidates, I sincerely pray that you will humbly depend upon the Almighty, listen to all the people (not just the big donors) and articulate your values and vision well. Please help us reverse a half-century of moral decline, forty years of political polarization and a generation of economic mismanagement and deception.

A nation is listening.