Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Politics at St. Vladimir’s – our Party is Christ

People will know you are My disciples if you have love one for another. (John 13:35)

Yesterday Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States. Probably just about everyone is a little surprised about that. Be that as it may, if you are a Trump supporter you are happy today. If you are Clinton supporter (or a Trump opponent – these two stances are not necessarily equivalent), or a supporter of another candidate you are not happy today. This is how our system works: one person wins, everyone else loses.
In other words, follow the golden rule. As always...

Donald Trump gave a very magnanimous victory speech early this morning. He said many good words. Hilary Clinton gave a very magnanimous concession speech a bit later this morning. She said many good words. President Obama gave a very magnanimous transition speech this afternoon. He said many good words. Of course those who have lost are hurting. Of course those who won are rejoicing. But our leaders modeled for us the way our system works. Yes, the old adage may be true that you can tell if a politician is lying by whether or not his or her lips are moving. Still, perhaps even despite our basest instincts, we fight to the end, then we extend a hand of friendship and support to our opponents, and we stop the fight. The election is over. We support the winner and facilitate a smooth and peaceful transition of power.

The leaders are done fighting. We need to emulate them. The election is over. We need to stop. We decided at St. Vladimir’s some years ago not to do politics. This was in relation to the Ukrainian crisis. But I don’t remember ever rescinding that call to not do politics in our parish. We have Trump supporters, Clinton supporters, and supporters of other candidates in our parish. But our party is Christ. Elections have repercussions. This will be the case with this election, just as it was with every presidential election that has ever taken place. The President has great power. That is the system we have. But our party is Christ. We have a tradition in America of a vigorous democracy and a zealous press. And this is good. But our party is Christ. This post would have been exactly the same if Clinton would have won rather than Trump. Our party is Christ.

Our parish family is very diverse politically, ethnically, linguistically, and in just about every other way. Posting more about the evils of Trump or the evils of Clinton does nothing now except promote factions within our parish family. This does not advance the party of Christ. The election is over. The leaders are done fighting. We need to emulate them. Now our job is to pray. Just as it would have been if Hilary Clinton would have won, or any of the other candidates. Yes – today we are happy or sad, depending on our politics. But our party is Christ. We must be above the petty politics of the street and react in a Christian way – through prayer. Posting more now, writing more now, arguing more now – this provides heat to arguments, but does it shed light on anything?

This is not to say that we should not hold political feet to the fire. Our country’s ongoing political discourse is important for our republic to function. But if we will participate in this as we go forward: please consider your words in light of your parish family. Will you add heat, or will you shed light? And will you advance the party of Christ, or will you sully His name? The political discourse is not in and of itself sinful, but HOW we participate in it very well might be, if we hurt those we love most – at least those who we SHOULD love most – our parish family with whom we struggle together for our mutual salvation. Remember: we perish alone, we are saved together. If we isolate members of our parish family we make them “alone”, and we will have to answer for our unchristian acts.

To say we don’t do politics in our parish may not really be accurate, because of course most everyone has their political view. Better put, I think we can say: we don’t do politics that hurts our parish family. This is what it means when we say our party is Christ. If we want to say “we don’t do politics” as shorthand for that I think that is just fine. I am not asking you not to have an opinion. I am asking you not to use your opinion to hurt others. To think of others and the bonds within our parish family before you exercise political speech, if you decide to do so. I think that is the Christian way. I hope you will agree with me and act accordingly.

Fr. Gregory

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