Well Deserved Penance

Well Deserved Penance January 21, 2014

My name is John Hilton and I am delighted to be affiliated with Faithful Democrats. 

That sounds awfully cliché; of the AA variety in fact.  But it is true, and anyone who knows me well enough will understand the amateur attempt at humor.  For I am a walking contradiction to the old Winston Churchill axiom that a young man should have heart and be a liberal, and a mature man should have brains and thus be a conservative.  Confident that I still possess an operable supply of heart and brains, the difference between my youth worldview and the one I hold now is primarily a product of experience.

Life experiences and the wisdom one hopes to acquire from them have transformed my Christian Faith and worldview radically from whence I became aware of my political leanings and aspirations.  Not so long ago I was a politician and party operative in my native state of Virginia.  I was also a member of the United Methodist Church (my church from infant baptism until present day) and proudly labeled myself a Christian Conservative Republican.  For more than twenty years I drank enough right-wing Kool-Aid to float a battleship. During all of this political activity I was in Sales.  I sold Commercial Real Estate, Residential Real Estate, Telecommunications and many other necessities and niceties.

My modus operandi was get people to sign on the dotted line, and while you’re at it give me your vote or your contribution.  But I was also a Christian!  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that Sales can be an honorable career, and politicians who wish to live to fight another day must continually harangue the rest of us for votes and money.  On the religious side of things, although I knew deep down that my faith should inform and influence my politics, it was the other way around most of the time.  While I kept faithful to the far right on the policy agenda, my study of scripture, spiritual life and human experience took a toll on my previously held “evangelical” beliefs.  I remember as if it were yesterday reading two books written by Quakers extolling the prudence and compassion of universal salvation.  I took a course on Roman Catholic Theology and found that that church’s position on what constitutes a just war was nearly identical to that of my church.

Why is this significant?  Because in 2003 the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church asked to meet with President George W. Bush (himself a Methodist along with Dick Cheney) in order to persuade him not to launch an invasion of Iraq.  The president refused to even meet with them.  You know the rest of the hideous story.  I was in a bad place when that war reached its’ obvious theatre of cruelty and deception.  What had I worked for all my adult life-  greed and perpetual warfare?

In January 2010 I enrolled in Wesley Theological Seminary where I am currently finishing my Masters in Theology degree, and also have been blessed to be on staff there.  My running punch line to the Wesley Community has been “I was a political operative and sales guy in my previous life, now I am here doing a well-deserved penance.”

Nowadays my political views have caught up with my ever liberalizing theology.  I believe in a God of Love and Peace, taking seriously the teachings of Jesus to help build a more just and compassionate world beginning right here at home.  As far as current legislative issues go, the Affordable Health Care Act is foremost in my mind.  I have to admit that I never liked the bill- I am a public option guy!  We are the richest nation in all of human history.  It is sinful in the extreme not to guarantee a health care safety net to all of our people.  I wish the President well in this endeavor as I am confident his heart is in the right place.

Well, that being said: I do look forward to many enlightening and inspirational discussions this year.  I have so much more to say about many important things, and I am proud to be with Faithful Democrats!
Follow John Hilton on Twitter at @Hilton67John



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  • Bill Hicks offers some advice to marketing people here, but he never mentioned seminary. 😉

  • Fred Garvin

    Religion is shrinking away faster than a pizza in front of Michael Moore; you ‘d better hope there’s a church left for you to find a job in by the time you graduate.