On Friday, Sally posted this over at RevGals...but I was far too busy drifting around in a state of sleep-deprived emotional exhaustion after a long night watching disappointing results trickling in...Now, however, with my dormant political enthusiasm well and truly awake (whatever the state of the vicar) it feels like a good moment to play...
So what do you think about the mix of faith and politics:
1. Jesus a political figure: discuss...
What is there to discuss? From the moment when Mary celebrated the child in her womb by launching into the Magnificat ("he has put down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly...He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty"), through the presentation of Jesus's own ministry manifesto
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, - to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind....to give to those who mourn a garland instead of ashes......" Jesus is not just political, he is revolutionary.
Speaking truth to power has always been part of the gospel imperative - because the brokenness of this world demands change and challenge as we co-operate with God in its transformation.
2. Politics in the pulpit, yes or no and why?
Social politics, - absolutely. Party politics, - pretty much never. There are exceptions to this, of course...If I found myself serving in an area with a tangible BNP presence I would have no hesitation in speaking against that party from the pulpit but generally I think it can be actively unhelpful. When elections are over and done, when a particular issue has been laid to rest, it's really important that priest and people can continue to respect one another, that they can converse without restraint or embarrassment....Party politics tend to disrupt those relationships.
For example, this morning I had a thoroughly amicable conversation with a member of my congregation who, like me, had been up all of Thursday night...He had spent election day working tirelessly for the party of his choice, had attended the vote count and celebrated as the seat was won by his candidate. We both agreed that elections were uniquely exhausting and exhilarating and hoped devoutly that, despite the hung Parliament, we would be glad of more than a few months off before the next one. The thing is, our party political views are diametrically opposed...but though we both knew this, the fact that we had not actually said so enabled us to continue our conversation happily. If I had nailed my party colours to the mast, we would have had to tiptoe round one another cautiously...This felt better.
3.What are your thoughts on the place of prayer in public life...
Hmn. There's a bit drama running here at the moment as the tradition of including prayer at the start of local council meetings has been challenged by the National Secular Society. I'm inclined to feel that "token" prayers, included for the sake of tradition, are probably best discarded...and that the chances of collecting a body of people who want to pray with sincerity, truth and focus in public life are probably limited...so I'd be prepared to let the formulaic prayers slide, I think - but I also think we have a duty to pray for the government. Does that cancel things out?
4.Is there a political figure, Christian or otherwise that you admire for their integrity?
"What is your view of western civilisation, Mahatma?" "I think it would be a really good thing".
5.What are your thoughts on tactical voting, e.g. would you vote for one individual/party just to keep another individual/ party form gaining power?
This caused me no end of angst this past week. We had an excellent sitting M.P., for whom I have nothing but admiration...We also had a very distasteful candidate from another party, who seemed certain to win this seat. And we had the party I have long supported, the party whose policies I wholeheartedly approve, but who had precisely no chance of winning here.
After much agonising, considering, researching, I decided against tactical voting, just to keep out the distasteful party....But as a result the excellent sitting MP was ejected, my favoured party having eaten into his support without meaningful gain for themselves.
I don't regret voting according to policy - but, had I known the outcome, I think a spot of tactical voting might have been the answer.
Given the current state of UK government, I may have another opportunity to agonise soon.