This is an overview of my thoughts through the past few days. God help you all :)!
I often connect dots between things that may or may not seem connected. Like dominoes, one area at times (at least as I consider it) intersects with another area. And then there is the overview. Sort of like a bag which to be closed at the top has a string that threads through all the holes. The punchline comes after the connections are made, thus the associated issues together close out the discussion, at least for the moment. Or not, depending on your opinions.
Certainly the issues linked together must be substantiated -how we “know” or certainly believe what we think we know about things. How true, historical, cross-referenced, literal, solid our understanding and so we have a more solid sense of what seems truly true.
Even then, knowledge is one thing, wisdom (how to best apply knowledge) is another.
BROAD THOUGHTS ON “THE OTHER”
As a singer, songwriter, guitarist and longtime fan of “little people”, small nations, alternative views, customs, food, etc., [and I write this on one of the smallest Linux computer operating systems (Puppy Tahr) on what used to be a Windows 10 laptop] you will often find my views quite different to average Americans. In a word, eclectic.
A massive inspiration though my years as a rocker (along with deep love for Wales which I have done shows in several times) was/is the 3 piece classic rock band Budgie and their main man Burke Shelley. I expect to see him in heaven (if not before:).
Now understand, I rarely listen to music without thoroughly considering and most often looking up and reading the lyrics. I care a LOT about words. But somehow I can’t recall looking over the lyrics to this Welsh band’s tune “Crime Against the World” until a few days ago. Hmmm.
Then came a Smithsonian (love it!) article in my inbox all about Lenin’s trip from Zurich back into Russia to lead the Bolshevik Revolution that brought the plague of communism into the world. Long read but very worth it. Two sections fully leapt out at me, the second of the two includes the last four paragraphs of the article:
TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION?
Have we ever paid taxes where they weren’t used against our will? Ever? Don’t get excited militia peeps and anarchists… I’m not your guy either.
I posit EVERY U.S government Left -or- Right forces citizens to pay taxes for at least several things a huge minority or clear majority DO NOT AGREE WITH. So… I frankly see a call to scripture (boil it down to love because THAT’S WHAT’S MISSING IN THE WORLD) not as a “clear-cut” matter when it comes to civil laws, taxation and a nation which is not nor ever shall be a theocracy. Period.
You can spiritualize this all you like, in the end taxes are a fact and they ain’t goin’ away. Does IRS mean anything to ya?!
Then we have people -when it suits their interests- reminding us to “obey the laws of the land”, citing Romans 13 re. the governing authorities while in other moments calling for strong resistance… wait for it… when what THEY don’t have political control over is “unscriptural”, which sometimes in all honesty is they just don’t like it, or indeed their interpretation and understanding of The Bible is not the civil law of the land.
Well in a civil society made up of believers, unbelievers, pre-believers and full-on atheists… linked with separation of church and state (which I fully applaud by the way) you just don’t get what you want regardless. In point of fact God Himself didn’t in Israel’s theocracy when you look at His relationship to His people right through the Old Testament!! He LOVED and LOVES His people. So do I! He LOVES Sinners… good thing because we all are whether we follow Jesus Christ or not.
Anyhow, to ignore this issue of taxation and simply quote The Bible ignores Jesus’ very command re. Matthew 25 with regard to food, water, clothing, shelter, medical care and care (yes… “care”) for those behind bars.
IF this sounds politically “liberal” or like “social gospel”, I really don’t care. The issue is love, the commands of Jesus Christ and in fact, action as opposed to mere words on the Web, theory, rhetoric or even trumping someone in winning an argument. Agape Love calls for more than talk. In fact it regularly calls us to lose, and that’s a Bible truth many professing believers (this one included at times) seeks an escape clause from.
The Gospel of Jesus may seem apolitical, but consider Jesus working a miracle for He and Peter to pay a tax to some genuine BUMS in power at the time. Really take your time with that text and consider what’s going on there.
As for the “politics” of the time simply consider religious/political party vs. party amongst the Jews, Israel vs. Roman occupiers, Jews vs. gentiles -and a whole lot of poor folks in deep need, many just for survival re. the first four things I’ve just listed above which Jesus talked about in Mt. 25.
“I don’t want to talk about politics”! I get that. I don’t want to talk about reality either… but it ain’t going away and the pols are making choices that affect millions of lives daily. If you only genuinely care when it directly affects you and yours, don’t pretend you live a mature, biblical Christian life.
This is where the plot truly thickens -because it’s always about power. Who is in control. Who gets to run the show as it were. At very least “pecking order”. There you have “politics” be it in marriage, family, business, local or denominational congregations regardless of form or formlessness of “church government”, you-name-it.
As I pondered good, great and not so thoughtful/thorough (in my personal view) posts amongst some very good people, and in that I truly enjoyed the back-and-forth views of all involved in this thread, a poem as well as songs I’d written and published years ago came to mind. I quote these and a couple of my/our songs as example of what/how I have long thought about the four issues in the title of this post:
From “Interviewing Icons” (Glenn Kaiser)
“THE CZARS HAVE CHANGED THEIR NAMES”
The czars have changed their names
but their dachas remain the same
guilty masses, bloody purges
of course it’s all for the best
where there is no God and neither devil
neither demons either one has only men
the good, the bad.
Of course we have the rules
And someone had to make them
And they were good men good rules the Best!
Only someone had to interpret these flawless codes
and ensure purity
but what do men masquerading as God
know about such matters?
I wrote and sang the following lyrics/songs for many years including on a tour throughout South Africa:
And this follow-up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMPwKASUQUw
So you could rightly label me an -activist- and it indeed goes beyond words, lyrics or bluster. I am not writing this to tout all I and my friends do to care for others! Yet I beg you to ask yourself: how does one love without eventual action? What love is truly -passive- toward you or me -or toward those Jesus calls “the least of these”? The cost is not merely personal, church-wide, city, county, state, national. The cost involves ALL of them.
BOOK OF ACTS CHAPTERS 2, 4, 5
Have a most thorough read of those 3 chapters and you’ll begin to understand where I have lived, in terms of state of mind, civil/political activities, personal relationships and mission throughout the bulk of my lifetime.
As for socialism… (yes, I know the term doesn’t simply mean the following) would you prefer “anti-social” engagement with people? Or just some people? Ok, those you don’t like, or don’t understand, or don’t know… those you perhaps don’t wish to take the effort to GET to know? Remember, you can only trust the state when they do as you think best. Or not. Or not at all? Ok, as Christians we can only trust other Chri… well maybe not all of them either… well, particularly those you are afraid of, or those you think will ruin your ability to… have things -your- way?
Anyone for violation of conscience? WHOSE conscience? And who gets to define and determine that? See, things really aren’t as simple as we’d all like and of course we just want a peaceful life. So we pay taxes for others to suffer for our peace. Even when they/we/all of us pay the price. And just who is it that gets to decide these things?
As a student of wars and certainly including WWII, did you know there was/is quite a difference between socialists and communists? Plenty of Americans don’t know the differences nor care. Study this from several historical angles and you begin to learn things plenty of Americans (in my view) clearly do not understand -and in some cases plain don’t want to. Quite a few of us don’t know the difference between a democracy and a republic.
One’s head hurts having to sort through information, ‘eh? I’m trying to get at both head and heart, I really am.
Full-on anarchy in my understanding, is crazy. But it’s not something I cannot understand. “Might makes right” and “manifest destiny” are equally crazy. I’m convinced these doctrines are both unscriptural and ungodly but in the end, doesn’t it finally come down to who’s in control, who is willing or unwilling to share control and decision-making?
Both economics and politics EXIST among people groups including every/any/you-name-it-Christian-group. They deeply affect policy regardless who is in power at any given moment at every level of government as well as local or larger congregation. The sad fact is that power is often anything BUT social… except among those willing to share power with one another.
TRYING TO PULL THIS BAG SHUT, FOR NOW AT LEAST
Book of Proverbs: “Get knowledge”… “Seek wisdom”… then New Testament “Do ALL you do to the glory of God”… “LOVE your neighbor as yourself”… “LOVE your enemies”… -and we dare say we are a Christian nation?
Fear, anger, hatred, rage do not aid one’s ability to “study to show yourself approved a workman unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth” -and I think that is true of both scripture (THE Word of Truth) as well as human (or in-humane) history.
So what do we do in light of all (whew!) I’ve said here?
Love God supremely, love your neighbor as yourself, pray for the government.
Pay the price of love. That price throughout history has often been hatred, harsh judgment, misunderstanding, short-sighted, win-the-argument-and-to-hell-with-your-neighbor. “A person’s enemies shall be the members of their own household”.
In our day email blasts, mountains of propaganda, more-heat-than-light rhetoric and lobbyists for every issue under the sun, daily social media posts and shows and what I’ll call “reality politics” are the slime of the times.
Death is certain. So are taxes. Politicians are involved with both. Anyone for Love? Ready to be judged and blackballed if you hang out with “THOSE people”?
If you survived this epic read, congrats and I thank you for considering. May God help us have the courage to love in the face of a great deal of other stuff.
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn