Politics Won’t Save Me

This morning I received a sweet and encouraging note from my mom. In the aftermath of the election results, she had been thinking about me. Specifically, about me and the Phoenix Suns.

I’ve been a Phoenix Suns fan for as long as I can remember. Unlike most Phoenicians, my family has a long history in the state. My great-grandfather opened the first nursery in Phoenix. My grandmother was born there, as was my dad, as was I. We left when I was a baby after my dad joined the Army JAG Corps. We moved frequently, including five years in Holland and Germany while I was in elementary school. One of my few touchstones to “the States” was sports, especially basketball. At the time the Suns were really good.

The ’93 Suns featured Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley, Danny Ainge, Kevin “KJ” Johnson, and my favorite player: “Thunder Dan” Majerle. My grandparents used to send newspaper clippings from the The Arizona Republic and VHS tapes of games. The one military TV channel (AFN) carried The George Michael Sports Machine every evening, which I watched devotedly, in addition to studiously reviewing box scores in The Stars & Stripes sports section.

The Suns won 62 games that season, best in the NBA and a franchise record. (Steve Nash would later lead the 2004-2005 team to tie that mark.) Eventually, we met Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the finals. Due to the time difference between Germany and Phoenix, I would wake up at 2:00 A.M. to watch each game. My dad would join me in the living room by the fourth quarter, watching as he strapped on his boots for work. In game six, in Phoenix, John Paxson hit a 3-point shot with just a few seconds to play to give Chicago the lead. When Horace Grant blocked Kevin Johnson’s last-second jumper, it was over. Bulls win 99-98.

In her email, my mom recalled how devastated I was that morning. She suggested that this early taste of defeat may have been a necessary bit of life training. Life is full of disappointment, loss, pain, almost all of which is more significant than sports. But the pain heals, and God’s purposes – which transcend our temporal experiences – move forward uninterrupted. She is right. I awoke this morning with a sense of peace. It surprised me. After all, yesterday was a crummy day to be a conservative. We lost the presidency, numerous opportunities in the Senate, and all four ballot initiatives on traditional marriage. The results could not have been much worse. But I went to sleep beside a wife who loves me, both of us firmly in the hands of a God who is still sovereign, still working.

The election matters. I am not sanguine about the future of our nation. The combination of unsustainable public spending and a disintegrating moral core among a mature citizenry will undo us. And though my life’s work may be devoted to “the reformation of manners” to borrow a term from Wilberforce, the state of my soul is not determined by the American electorate. That would be no different if Mitt Romney were president-elect. My home is elsewhere, a place with streets of gold, where the Suns never lose.


  • Al Veillette III

    Great article Eric! On the heels of WA voting in SSM and Weed…needed that!
    I was the Chaplain for the Seattle Stolen Sonics while Paul Westphal was our coach. He told me an interesting story about that 6th game I’ll have to tell you some time.

    Take care bro & God bless! Please say hello to Marie/Dev :-)!

    Al V. 3

    • http://patheos jo

      But Al,
      what about the rest of us??? Id like to hear the story too…about the 6th game….man…dont leave us hangin there Brother!!!

  • Jack and Jan

    You painted a wonderful picture & eloquently presented the right perspective on this difficult day for conservative Americans. Thank you for your work & love for our nation & Christ.

  • James Krog

    Nil Desperandum Auspice Deo.

    I believe we need a new course of action rather than trusting in politicians. I recommend we act on our faith and demonstrate it by stating directly to the federal government and its employees in terms they will notice that we do not accept as legitimate obama;s health care mandate and attack on religion.

    We should take to actions to start. Stop your income tax withholding for just under 3 months, which you can legally do. Flood the offices of the government with letters stating this is in protest of the health care bill mandates.

    At your place of business post signage stating supporters of the abortion and contraceptive mandates are not welcome and that NO FEDERAL EMPLOYEE IS ALLOWED.

    I would suggest that any businesses that can be persuaded to do so should stop doing business with the federal government whether it is the pizza delivery gas station or local power company.

    This is non violent and legal. A similar tactic was used by the bar and restaurant association in Illinois over the smoking ban. Politicians and government employees are not a protected class and as such this tactic is not legally discrimination.

    Money and personal impact are I think the only language the people in Washington will recognize and respond to. I feel as long as evil is allowed to operate unhindered they will continue on the track they have embarked upon.

    If we do not act to demonstrate our faith and protest evil we tacitly condone it. By funding it we support it. I have struggled to find peaceful Christian actions that would say to this unjust government that they no longer have our support in these evils and I believe these suggestions implemented on a large scale are a start that will garner attention and convey the seriousness of our conviction.

    I would truly appreciate commentary, advice or constructive critique of these ideas as well as any other suggestions on additional courses of action.

    • Rick Middleton

      All of us should act according to our convictions. I act on mine by refusing to shop at Wal-Mart, and through a vegetarian lifestyle, to name just two. You are going to erect signs around your workplace that you hate pro-choicers and will not serve federal employees (does that include postal workers who are trying to deliver letters to you?). Different strokes, I guess.

      • James Krog

        Rick, I did not use the term hate nor do I intend to. I am looking for peaceable unmistakable means to convey the depth of our conviction that the actions of our government are wrong. By refusing to do business with Wal-Mart you are already using part of this tactic. Wal-mart just doesn’t know it and you have avoided confrontation. I had not considered the post office which has its own unique role, but I would not wish to abandon my morals for the sake of junk mail. Almost all my real correspondence is by internet or phone.

    • John

      Mr. Krog,
      For all that I understand your angst, I think this would be a VERY POOR approach.
      I do not believe that we can genuinely bring about justice and social change by refusing to do business with those who support the contraceptive mandate or receive income from the federal government. We may succeed in killing business, we most likely will NOT succeed in changing anyone’s minds.

      If we wish to see the nation turn, we must pray, we must give peaceful, but stubborn, public witness to our beliefs, we must give the other side reason to question their intentions.

      Behaving like the world has reached its end will accomplish little, if anything, positive.

      • James Krog

        Having faith in the Lord, I would not be concerned with worldly troubles if the world had ended. Its problems would have concluded. What actions do you recommend to carry out public witness to our beliefs. I am quite willing to give the other side reason to question their intentions. That is why I am looking for something to make them realize there is a problem. I feel if they see signs and have people tell them, “I you behave as you do, you are not welcome here.” they might actually have cause to consider how they live. If no one ever confronts them to get their attention why should they ever doubt their assumptions, that they are living as they should. Again I am not suggesting hateful behavior or violence, merely calmly stating ones beliefs and saying we will not participate in and facilitate actions we believe are evil. If you condone evil you participate in it.

  • Rick Middleton

    “Undo us” how? All of these blogs by conservatives insist the country, either figuratively or literally, will cease to exist real soon, but of course (like fear-mongering direct mail letters from Jim Dobson) they don’t give any specifics. When conservatives wake up on Wednesday and realize that most of America voted for the blue party, they don’t learn from it, at all. They ease their pain with stories of apocalypse and ruin, just as they did when Roosevelt and Truman and Johnson and Carter and Clinton won elections. It’s immature, and sad. As a nation, we are asked to vote for one of two parties in most of our elections. If people are choosing Brand Y instead of Brand X, maybe learn why that is. Referring to more than half of the country as immoral dupes who voted wrong won’t exactly help you learn how to win in 2016.

  • Josh

    Unfortunately, for too long, Christians have invested in politics like it will save us…if OUR party wins.

  • Elizabeth

    We are called to pray for our President and leaders and that is exactly what I am going to do. I realized last week that my despair is sin and we do not “put our hope in princes.” Our nation has voted and we must accept the outcome and continue to serve the Risen Christ as people of the Resurrection.
    We must also standup with the poor–as well as stand for the moral causes outlined in the declaration. There are far more passages that deal with the foreigner, widow and orphan than against those with whom we disagree.
    It is time for some soul searching. We are to embrace the world as Jesus did.

  • Murl Green

    My anger and contempt is not with a party or elected officials, but with an electorate that voted wholeheartedly for the killing of babies, and for gay “marriage” as their platform. Unlike my counterpart above who points to history where a party has lost an election and some felt all hope was lost, this election is completely different, as the party that won the election is promoting an anti-God agenda that is so in your face as to essentially spit in the face of God and laugh about it. Sadly, this didn’t seem to be enough for most liberals, as not only are they relishing in their victory, but they are not satisfied in victory, but in hoping for the very destruction of contrasting points of view. Nazi Germany went down a similar path in the 1930′s. I wonder how long it will be until vocal dissension from party doctrine becomes a criminal offense here in America? And if you argue that the Constitution forbids it, I’ve got some ocean front property to sell you in the New Mexico dessert to placate your ignorance of reality.

  • Ritagsher

    I spent many years in Phoenix myself and when Obama took the presidency again, I also recalled the Suns. Their loss to the Celtics in triple overtime. I was so disappointed but recovered shortly after. This time recovery may never come as there will be a continuing flow of bad news BUT my trust is in The Lord. He is my strength and my song.

  • lydia pietz

    The PM the results of the election were in, and the next day I felt really depressed and sure that our country was on a downhill slide esp. financially from here on…but then I had to remind myself of some other facts. First of all, I had prayed for a conservative form of gov. to win, but then I added, “thy will be done.” I recalled that Jesus warned his apostles that “in this world you will have trouble.” The apostle Paul refers to the force of evil alive and well now as then, as a “prowling lion seeking whom he may devour.” I then reminded myself that I cannot see the future and God IS still in control.

    Jesus Himself wasn’t into “politics” but did say “render to Ceaser….” The New Testament writers talk in various terms about “the last days” on this earth as being “perilous times” and “men’s hearts failing them for fear for the things coming on the earth…(things like famines and quakes, disease, et al.)” Paul also refers to the moral decay (including homosexuality, family breakdown, etc.) Our only hope and assurance is that Christ’s resurrection gave us all a “second chance” at eternal life and eventual end to this chaotic earth.

    Nevertheless, He said “occupy until I come…” and be the “salt and light” here and now. And some other words of wisdom, “all it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing.” I agree with the preceeding comments in the major points discussed. The situation definitely calls for a great deal of wisdom
    that can only come from One Source–get on your knees America–talk, and then LISTEN and follow.

  • Warren

    I e-signed the Declaration shortly after it was released – but now regret doing so. Despite the title of this post, far too many American conservative evangelicals seem to believe, to the very core of their being, that politics WILL save them.

  • http://stowellbrown.blogspot.com/ Flyaway

    Pray for revival! There are so many who are lost. We need the Holy Spirit to come and convict, encourage, and comfort! They can kill the body but there is only One who can kill the soul.

  • erwin de vries

    No matter who won the presidency , remember that Christ is King . Keep your eyes on Him , and your trust in God . 2 Chron 7:14

  • Charles Reicht

    There will be (has been) real suffering resulting from this election. Real casualties. The assault on the family and marriage, the absolute evil of abortion, the creation of the dependent class, socialist economic policies. We tend to focus on the creators of this malevolence, humans acting out of malice or ignorance or both, but there are many, many innocents who are being injured. Real casualties. We see them every where, every day. I believe the greatest action we can take in this darkness is to be providers of God’s mercy. To be gentle. To be people of compassion. The love of God is the only thing that can change peoples hearts. It may get much worse. Think of the French revolution. Draw as close to God as you can. You can not give what he does not supply.

  • http://nocturna-lefilm.com/user/coennaliaisse/ Vanda Melius

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  • Rinda Wilson

    Maybe I misunderstood the intention of signing the Manhattan Declaration, but I believed it was signed by clergy and lay people who pledged to peacefully refuse to obey any law that involved them in supporting gay marriage, abortion, or the abrigement of religious freedom. I considered it a solemn and serious commitment, but now I am beginning to think it was just religious posturing. Just take abortion, as the most important of the three issues. Under Obamacare, each and every one of us will now be required to participate in the funding of abortion. There is no weaseling out of that fact. In addition to Obamacare, our taxes will now legally and openly be sent to fund Planned Parenthood and doubtless other agencies, both here and afar, that promote abortion. And where is Manhattan Declaration on this, a clear example of a situation that they outlined in the manifesto?
    Why isn’t the leadership outlining a plan for peaceful, public, prayerful, MEANINGFUL protest such as camping out at the Capitol INDEFINTELY until our religious objection to abortion exempts us for being forced to have the blood of those babies poured on our hands. What would happen if we pro-lifers refused to pay taxes – yes, even risking fines and jail time – what if thousands, millions of us did this? The millions who PROFESS to be pro-life? When did real social change ever get done without people making REAL sacrifices -with their lives, their honor, and their fortunes? The same week that President Obama gets inaugurated is the the 40th anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade. God has given us 40 years to make a dent in abortion and we haven’t done squat. No one’s in jail. Not one life has been sacrificed for the 50 million babies lost. I had hopes that the Manhattan Declaration was serious and legitimate. It looks like I was so wrong. Yes, my husband and I can go to jail and it might be a blip in the news for a day. But I had the impression there were millions of Americans who were horrified by ripping babies our of wombs, limb by limb, crushed skull by crushed skull. God help us.

  • Brian

    Just curious, seeing that your family was raised on a government salary (coming from what is far and away our largest federal expense), do you have any personal mixed feelings about your expressed fear of unsustainable public spending?

    • Eric Teetsel

      First, military spending is not “far and away our largest federal expense.” Take a look at a pie chart of federal spending and you will see that Medicare and Social Security are both larger than military spending (and growing).

      Second, I’m not anti-government. I believe government is a good, God-ordained institution necessary for the functioning of society and flourishing of its members. Furthermore, military spending is one of the few areas expressly mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Providing for the national defense is rightly a first priority of the government and something work investing heavily in. Finally, military spending has nothing to do with the long-term fiscal crisis. Eliminate it entirely and we still had a $400 billion deficit in 2011, and ever-increasing debt due largely to the rising cost of healthcare.