|LIA sticker from Left in Alabama|
This year, however, that satirical blog has been silent since January. Real life politics has seemed so much like satire that it seemed almost a sacrilege to try to make it funny. Instead, I began a project on this blogsite that I refer to as Journalistic Poetry. I stated at the time that “The best thing that poets can do is to bear witness to the times – articulate what is happening in the moment; speak to the real life experiences of your people ... My thinking was that if I could write one poem a week there would be some chronicle of our sacred/tested/doubtful union.”
High Stakes and Low Ebbs
Today I am stepping more into the realm of political commentary because of the increasingly high stakes at the local and national level. On the national stage we are seeing a dangerous dismantling of of our grand experiment in democracy as corporations strengthen their oligarchy while using the nation's “culture wars” to further ensconce themselves into the political fabric.
Commentator David Brooks has been an astute observer of our national divisions. He recently pointed out that “The acceptability of Trump must also have something to do with millions of religious voters being willing to abandon the practical wisdom of their faiths — that what exists inside a person is more important than what is external, that no bad tree yields good fruit, that you should never trade spiritual humility for worldly ferocity because in humility there is strength and in pride there is self-destruction.” (1)
That abandonment of basic tenets of faith while publicly proclaiming religious beliefs has been on national display in my home state of Alabama. In a special election to fill the senate seat vacated when Jeff Sessions became Attorney General in the Trump administration, we have a choice like we have seldom seen. We have Doug Jones, a true statesman running as a Democrat. The Republican nominee is Roy Moore, a twice-removed state supreme court judge whose claim to fame is promoting his own brand of religion while presiding in court.
|Roy Moore (NBC News photo)|
Religion professor Randall Balmer correctly states:
Moore claims to represent “family values” and, more broadly, evangelical Christian values. Aside from the disquieting specter of a 30-something Moore trolling shopping malls for teenage dates, Moore does not represent the evangelical movement he claims to herald. Historically, evangelicalism once stood for people on the margins, those Jesus called “the least of these.” Evangelicals in the 19th century advocated public education, so that children from less-affluent families could toe the first rungs of the ladder toward socioeconomic stability. They worked for prison reform and the abolition of slavery. They advocated equal rights, including voting rights, for women and the rights of workers to organize. The agenda of 19th- and early-20th-century evangelicals is a far cry from that of Moore and the religious right.(2)
|Doug Jones (Birmingham News photo by Joe Songer)|
Time to Repent and Vote
We Alabamians have tarnished the word “Christian” and have corrupted the concept of democratic government. I am sad that our corruption and ignorance have not only gained the national spotlight, but that same corruption is tarnishing the country at large. It is time for us evangelicals to repent and make restitution for our sins.
December 12 is election day in Alabama. Our choice has never been clearer. How we will choose is unfortunately still up for grabs. We could take the high road of justice and compassion, or we could choose hate, bigotry, and racism at the hands or a morally corrupt judge masquerading as a “religion and family values” man.
The sad part is, I cannot tell you today how my state will choose.
1. "The Essential John McCain," by David Brooks, October 19, 2017, The New York Times, retrieved at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/opinion/the-essential-john-mccain.html
2. "Religion Professor Says Roy Moore Is a Fraud," by Randall Balmer, The New American Journal, retrieved at https://www.newamericanjournal.net/2017/11/religion-professor-says-roy-moore-is-a-fraud/. (Originally published in The Washington Post, November 17, 2017, under the title, "I know Roy Moore. He’s always been a con artist."