Sick Societies Need Politics

One of the loveliest things about blogs today is that bloggers have the ability to make their writing visible in a way unparalleled before the advent of the personal computer. This also happens to be one of the worst things about blogs today. I tell you this not because I want you to stop visiting my blog, but because I want to make sure you know on the front end that the observation about politics that I hope to make is very, very basic.

Along with a number of my generation (Millennials, I’m told), I have described the American political situation with frustration, disappointment, or- depending on the time of year- complete apathy. We’ve developed differing responses to these emotions, but some have suggested leaving the game entirely.

In the last major election I decided to get involved. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the American government so I could have an informed vote. Turns out, (who would have thought?) I didn’t find candidates in my party who perfectly represented my sophomoric aspirations. I also found that it would take more than Google and a copy of the Constitution to understand our modern social economic situation. Things looked so much more straightforward in my high school textbooks. To top it off,  mounting social evils that regularly appear in the news don’t exactly invite political optimism.

politics-religionSo, as I transitioned from an enthusiastic to a disillusioned millennial, the idea that Christians didn’t really need a place in the civics of ‘this passing world’ became more appealing. My enthusiasm decayed to apathy. What good can politics do? What I failed to see in this process was that I was already making a political decision. When I decided to opt out of certain conversations and activities, I made a political contribution inconsistent with my own worldview.

However, I’m not saying that there are not well-developed Christian thinking that maintains that our involvement with the State should be minimized. I am saying that the attitude, grounded in frustration or apathy, which insists that our modern political system is too broken to fix (or even use) seems historically naïve. From the ancients to the present, political life has tended to be messy. Messy, but not useless. That said, I think that Lewis -by no means a political enthusiast, captures perfectly, as he is wont, the fact that there is a healthy balance to the weight with which Christians can devote attention to politics:

A sick society must think much about politics, as a sick man must think much about his digestion; to ignore the subject may be fatal cowardice for one as for the other. But if either comes to regard it as the natural food of the mind—if either forgets that we think of such things only in order to be able to think of something else—then what was undertaken for the sake of health has become itself a new and deadly disease. — C.S. Lewis

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