Huckabee’s Right, But He’s Confused

Mike Huckabee has come to represent how conservatism has come off the rails, and become reflexively (rather than thoughtfully) illiberal. This is unfortunate, because America needs a good dose of a thoughtful conservatism that is current. Huckabee’s reactionary agenda continues to include one-size-fits-all positions on abortion, immigration, and Israel, for example.

This is too bad, because what makes Huckabee worth the time to write about, and to think about, is his correct assessment that much of what bedevils American society is spiritual. Where he goes wrong, is to believe that this situation can be remedied by adopting policies– the ones he advocates– that are godly. This belief is worse than having the cart before the horse: “having the cart before the horse” is a simple confusion, clarified by reversing the order, whereas Huckabee’s mistake is confusing the kind of thing politics is, and the kind of thing religion is, in a 21st-century pluralistic democracy.

In the excerpt below, Huckabee trots out the tired memes of “government is bad” and “the Democratic party is godless.” While these memes play successfully to a certain audience and score points for his side, they do nothing to promote the healing of the social body, or to solve political problems. Huckabee’s deeper confusion is to think that politics is a suitable place for people of faith and parties of principle to express their faith and rectitude.

The authentic religious perspective for our time with regards to politics begins with a much larger dose of humility. Not timidity; not (moral) relativity– but a humility that recognizes the limits of any human– or group of humans– to possess the complete and final picture of what is good and true.

That’s the religion Huckabee ought to look toward, as his starting point.

Here is Huckabee in the immediate aftermath of the November election:

There is a lot to be disappointed by in the election results this evening and I am disappointed, but not despondent.

Tonight’s results only remind me that our country has slipped into a deeper state of dependence on government than I wanted to believe. Where the Goliath of government has grown so too has our dependency.

It’s also increasingly apparent to me that our real problems are not political, but spiritual. Both parties have failed to acknowledge that. Democrats have not wanted to even acknowledge the need for God in our public institutions, but sadly, many of the Republican leadership will acknowledge God, but not because they believe we should be humble before Him, but to use God in our speeches and platforms. We wear our love of Israel like a badge of courage but on the issues of life and marriage too many of our leaders are more like lambs than Lions of Judah.

Well now maybe our Republican Party will look at itself in the mirror. I feel that we shouldn’t pack up and quit, but gear up and get ready for the next battle. That’s what we do as people of faith and a party of principle. We don’t stop believing what we believe. We do a better job of doing what we’re supposed to do. That’s how you attract voters and win elections. And that is how you save America from herself.


via Statement On The Election – Mike Huckabee News – News – Mike Huckabee.

Who Needs Church?

A recent Christian Science Monitor editorial asks, “Who needs church?” My answer: without a radical revision of purpose and practice, no one needs church, in the way that church is currently formed and expressed.

The usual caveats apply. I understand that vibrant churches exist– churches that are alive in the Holy Spirit, churches that are changing people’s lives and transforming communities. These are churches that have died to the old ways, and have risen to new life for a new day. They have embraced “not-knowing”– realizing that the church in North America can no longer rely on the old package of tired answers that perhaps one day in the past was sufficient, but which no longer serves. We live in troubled times, and the church has been slower than slow in responding.

While these vibrant churches do exist, and while the deep warming glow of the gospel of Jesus is as relevant to human flourishing as it has ever been, what we have received as the function and practice of “church” is not adequate to that gospel. Too often the church acts like a club, and while it may be a community, it is a community that must be committed to giving itself away. Many people love their church too much, and the gospel not enough. In that instance, you end up with a church that a few people want to preserve in the name of nostalgia, but that no one else needs.

People need the good news, not the church. Or, more positively: people need the church to the extent– and only to the extent– that the church is the direct and immediate expression of the good news. People need the church no more than that, and no less.

An excerpt and the link follow:

Who needs church? The purpose of church may not be apparent in everyday life. But there comes a moment when we all wonder if everyday life is all there is. Church is waiting to help answer that question.

via Who needs church? –

So You Still Believe in Life?

“So you still believe in life; thank God, thank God!” says Dunya to her brother Raskolnikov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

That belief, that affirmation of life, is not a given– not in Dostoevsky’s novel, not in our world today, not in the lives of people we know, not even in our own lives. The catalog of outrageous suffering is long, and believing in life will always will be something of a leap, a jumping out over a deep, dark chasm. Time is a mercy: temporal distance softens the stabs of shame, grief, regret and loss that accompany our days. Compassion is an even deeper balm, the salve (salvation) of shared burdens and pains.

Raskolnikov’s answer to his sister is equivocal: “I did not believe in it, but just now, as I stood with my mother’s arms around me, we both wept; I do not believe, but I have asked her to pray for me. God knows how that comes about, Dunechka; even I don’t understand any of it.”

He can’t affirm life intellectually (“I don’t understand it”), but he has believed in life through his body– with his mother’s arms around him, and in tears. Sometimes that’s all we can do, and it’s the best we can do: to hold and be held, and weep.