Posted by: minnow | February 14, 2008

Out of the Mold

Conservative evangelicals seem to be taking it on the chin these days. Whether we talk religion or politics their influence is waning. From an announcement by a talk radio personality that she would rather vote for Hillary to the declaration by long time family friendly James Dobson that he will never vote for John McCain the attempts by the far right to pressure their followers into keeping step have for the most part failed. Why? What is happening? How can everything seem to be so out of control?

Jim Wallis, who over the years has taken his share of criticism from the right, sees a growing change to stir our excitement rather than a looming problem to cause despair. He points to a new generation of non-traditional Christians who are changing the face of politics and with it global perceptions of Christianity. The issues of life and morality have shifted for these “new” Christians from using anti-abortion and anti gay marriage as the litmus test to asking tougher questions such as: What will we do about poverty? And HIV/Aids? And global warming? Their political agendas no longer focus on what we are against. And their faith focuses less on looking like everyone else and more on looking like Jesus. In a recent post of his own Wallis explains:

“Theologically, these 20-somethings are abandoning a worldview that reduces the gospel of Jesus Christ to an afterlife-oriented, fire-insurance, salvation pitch…They really believe that the kingdom of God represents God’s best hopes and dreams for this present age…From coffee-infused, late-night seminary conversations to missions trips (bringing them into relationship with single mothers living in the crumbling remains of America’s inner cities, with children living on garbage dumps in Mexico, with teenage girls rescued out of Southeast Asia’s sex industry, and with the boy soldiers of sub-Saharan Africa) the 20-something evangelical worldview is being disciplined by a new global context…This new generation…[is] summoning the confidence to articulate a new vision for Christianity for the 21st century, rooted in the timeless orthodoxy of a first-century rabbi. And once it emerges, it could change everything.”

If what Wallis says is true what we see happening in the quicken force behind the hopeful message of Barack Obama could be an indicator that this generation has emerged. Surly the Republican choice of John McCain most closely echos for the right the concerns expressed by this new kind of Christian.  Senator Obama has repeatedly told his audiences that they must be willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work, that leaving the work to politicians will only guarantee more of the same–nothing.  Several times at his televised town meetings John McCain has spotted and pointed out the group ONE, praised their work to combat hunger, etc. and encouraged our support of them.

Truly this election is not about old conservative and liberal ideals.  Those boxes are much too tight and exclusive.  The time has come and it is here for a new generation–not determined by age or the color of their hair but rather by the strength of their message–to step up and challenge the powers that be on both the right and wrong sides of the problems, and skewed perceptions we face.

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