Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Model for Community Change through Local Nonpartisan Politics

by Jo Ann Goodson, Deep Thought Pub guest blogger

“If you don’t vote Republican or for this candidate, hell will break loose. If we pass Obama’s health care bill, the government will take over your life and God will judge us for funding abortion and disobeying the Ten Commandments.”

This statement represents one of the things I think is so very wrong in our politics today and makes me want to run and hide instead of fighting back. For one thing I really do not like getting involved in politics but I do not have a choice if I really want changes to be made in the way we live in community. There are good things happening but there appears to be so much more that is wrong. I am involved in a group in my city that is trying to make a difference in how we live in community and how we can best help each other. We want a much better place in which to live and have our being. Our group is made up of Christians, Jews, Muslims and folks with no faith. The name of our group is called CHANGE, Community Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment.

We are not trying to make our city Christian. We are trying to organize to bring about social justice, equal opportunities for everyone, good education for our children and promote an environment in which they can better learn, health issues, what can be done about suspensions, dropouts and bullying in our school system. These are only a few things that we are currently working on. Some of the things we want to accomplish can only be done if our city government and CHANGE can work together. Thus I must be involved in politics if I want my wishes and prayers for my city/county to be accomplished.

I think we can be an example of how good politics can be performed. Working together for the greater good of all. Respecting each other and our differences by putting aside our own agenda, whether Christian or other, and working for the good of everyone. We do not threaten anyone with what will happen if they do not do as we say. We compromise and come to a good working plan together. In the end we can celebrate together on a job well done as we look at the results of our efforts. Our national government could take a lesson or two from us. We have accomplished some really good stuff together so far.


Michael Camp said...

Jo Ann,
I really like what you're saying. Your community group is almost identical to what I envision believers doing to gather together under a common theme or vision and inviting nonbelievers in who have that same vision. It's not about converting people, making a city or a community or a nation Christian, but about working together for common good.

In addition to CHANGE being a good model for national politics, it could also be an excellent model for a smaller "gathering" size, with those who initiate it (not control it) being open about it being done (for them) with a motivation to following Christ, then it could be but one creative model for a "church."

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity are organized this way. Why not have a smaller, organic version of this? Thanks for your thoughtful contribution.

John said...

Dear Jo Ann (and Michael),
At first glance your approach to community health appears sound- even magnanimous (incorporating those of different faiths).But I'm wondering in which direction does the conversation go when you're actually rubbing shoulders with your atheist friend in your work and she asks about your Christian faith. How much will you affirm or deny Christ as this will be the greater question in a future court date before the Judge of all-rather than how much social justice did you accomplish? William Wilberforce put Christ first and accomplished the seemingly impossible at that time-the ending of one of the greatest social injustices of history. The Bible clearly commands the Christian not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

Michael Camp said...

Why do you say affirming or denying Christ at a future court date will be the greater question? Jesus made social justice primary in his "Sheep and the Goats" message. He defined people "knowing" him, by how they helped the poor, sick, and downcast. Some didn't realize they were doing it for him, but he honored them. Reading that 2 Corinthians verse literally and legalistically will cause one to never associate with "unbelievers" at all. You'd have to only work for Christians, for example. Yoked together implies captive to the other's inclinations. I think one can work with others without compromising their faith.

Michael Camp said...

Comment by Jo Ann Goodson posted by me because she's having trouble with her blog account:

I would love to have those who do not have a path to God to take a long hard look at a path that includes following Jesus. I say this because I love Jesus and want everyone to grow to love Jesus. However, we are a diverse world as well as a diverse city and country and that is the way I think that God wants it. It is a matter of relationships and following the two commandments that Jesus gave us. John, just for the record I worked for 30 years and all of my co-workers knew that I was a Christian. Many who were atheists. We had wonderful conversations but I did not try to force things upon them like "if you do not believe in God/Jesus" you will go to hell. For me this type of conversation is un-Christ like. I never deny Jesus but allow anyone to make up their own mind, just as Jesus did. Many went away from Jesus and did not accept his teachings. It is not my place to "make" anyone be a Christian and I could not if I tried, it’s up to them. I love to tell the story and my story and live my life so others will see some difference in me and wonder and ask what it is that makes me different. I traveled a great deal all over the US while working and loved having conversations on a plane, bus, taxi, car, just any place. Like also to swap stories with fellow Christians that are conservative. We both have a lot to share and learn from each other even though we do not agree on a number of things. Wilberforce accomplished a great and wonderful thing. I have never read his biography but did see the movie "Amazing Grace."