Is Despondency a Christian Value?

Because I spend a lot of time reading and editing online articles on religion, and because we Americans are particularly sensitive to issues of public expressions of faith, and because the campaigning season is upon us, I also get a healthy dose of politics.

The 2012 election is nearly 15 months away, and I’m already hanging my head in misery. Let me count the ways.

You can go to my Facebook account and see that my Political Views are “Unhappy Republican.” And the more I read and hear, the unhappier I’m becoming. Not just because I’m still hoping for some Republican dark horse presidential candidate to appear on the horizon within the next few months. Not just because I can’t muster enthusiasm for the way the Tea Party has handled the power it has garnered. Not just because I’m weary to tears with the machinations of Congress and the way it so carefully protects its own privileges while strapping us with impossible burdens.

Mostly I’m unhappy because of Comment boxes, this consequence-free, unfettered, verbal brawl that takes place after every political article, and most viciously after a political article that addresses a religious angle. The article can be either thoughtfully nuanced or blatantly partisan; well-written and coherent, or a babbling mess; persuasive or pushy or enlightening. But consistently the remarks that follow wallow in the depths of stereotyping, fear-mongering, vitriol, unwonted fury, scathing slander, blasphemy, and simple hatred. And an awful lot of those are written by self-declared Christians.

I despair of ever being able to find common ground where ideas can be talked about freely without the ideologies creeping in. I despair of the Church when it compromises itself by snuggling up to a party or a platform or a person, feeling righteously convicted that their success means the advancement of the Kingdom, and their failure means a divine impediment to God’s work. Seriously? Did the faith wither and threaten to die away in those first 300 years under legal discrimination and military persecution? No, rather it flourished, exploding with growth and vitality.

I despair of Christian interpretations on both the Right and the Left of deeply God-centered words, like “justice” and “compassion” and “generosity,” that use 21st-century political, economic, and cultural categories and contexts to define them.

I’m tired of Christian belligerence, which should really be an oxymoron, don’t you think?

I’m equally tired of Christian prevarication, Christian ignorance, Christian boorishness, Christian oversimplification, Christian arrogance, Christian smirking, and Christian stubbornness.

Yes, others are just as bad, but how can we say the Spirit is among us when we write these things?

It makes my blood boil. It makes me want to shriek. It actually makes me want to add a comment or two of my own, something along the lines of “What hole did you crawl out of? Can’t you see past the end of your own ideology? You clearly live in la-la land, and have no idea what’s really going on … Get a grip on reality, you bleepity-bleep.”

Um, you can see where this is going. It’s not pretty. In my heart, at least, I am the Commenter.

Maybe the Lord will return before November 2012. At any rate, I don’t think my Facebook Political Views are going to change any time soon.

About K. Mulhern

Kathleen Mulhern teaches courses in world history, European history, and history of Christianity. She has taught at Denver Seminary, Colorado School of Mines, and Regis University. She particularly focuses on the historical roots of the political, economic, religious, and cultural systems that have contributed to contemporary society.

  • Becca

    Kathy,
    I agree with you to a point. I stand at the opposite end of the political spectrum, but am still tired of the politics already!!
    Why do we have to start so early??? By the time the election comes in 11/12, we will say “enough already, just come Lord Jesus”. Looking forward to starting at Denver Seminary in the area of Chaplaincy (I’m getting a Chaplain certificate). Can’t wait!!
    Rebecca (Becca or Becky also)

  • http://Theabideproject.wordpress.com Michael

    There is never an account of the disciples fighting the Roman politics of the day. Their minds and hearts were pursuing a different kingdom. They were not worried or concerned about anything besides Christ and Him crucified. The name of Jesus is above ALL things, we must learn to walk in our authority of the Holy Spirit to establish the name of Jesus above ALL things, including the political process of this NON-spiritual realm. We walk by faith-a spiritual realm, not by sight-a physical natural realm. We must learn to speak and pray over situations with the power and authority of God with the result that the prayer will actualy bring change to the situation. The Abide Project is designed to help Christians learn how to walk in that spiritual place and truly impact this physical realm and establish His kingly rule and domain.