My friend and contributor here, Mike Toth, sends a link to an opinion piece in the Washington Post that, within the current U.S. budget debate, discusses how two parties pray to the same God but listen to different economists. But can faith dictate specific policies? Or does it merely set priorities? But what does that even mean given the harsh jargon that guards the heavily mined frontier between a holier-than-thou secular religion of liberal-progressive class struggle v. the right’s idol worship of laissez faire individualism.
The author, Michael Gerson, writes about politics, religion, foreign policy and global health and development in a twice-a-week column and on the WaPo PostPartisan blog. Gerson also contributes to the Capitol Commentary published by the Center for Public Justice. In his op-ed, Gerson discusses two approaches. On the left, Christians can appeal to government-based protections for the poor and powerless as advanced by Anabaptist Jim Wallis and his group, the Circle of Protection. In comparison consider the free market approach to social salvation forwarded by Christians for a Sustainable Economy (CASE). CASE argues that compassion is “best fulfilled through Christian charity and spiritual counseling, not government programs.” So there we are.
It seems to me Gerson gives too much credit to both sides of a false debate. Both extremes worship the same gods of economic growth (freedom from want), complete security, and absolute freedom. Science, technology, and for what it’s worth these days, the U.S. Dollar, is our triune savior, not a Jewish carpenter from Galilee.
And herein lay the woof and warp of most postmodern U.S. political movements and argument, where, if you’re lucky, you only ever get two of the three, if that. The Left, in steerage, rallies for freedom and growth now, while the right tends to purchase security and growth managed by markets and war to protect interests. In this context, Christians of all stripes have a lot of repenting to do in allowing their witness in the world to get stuck in this particular Satan Sandwich.
See my What Does Jesus Do? posted in March, 2005.