Friday, November 7, 2008

A Petition for the (New) President

Dear Parish Faithful,

We now have a new president elect in Barak Obama. Millions of Americans (64,985,624) are quite happy; and millions of others (57,125,842) are quite unhappy - at least in this immediate post-election period. Personally, I am not politically-oriented enough to be struck with any post-election blues, whether I am elated or disappointed. But if you are, take a deep breath, look up into the heavens, and repeat with the Prophet Isaiah, "God is with us!" In any event, everyone must acknowledge that the election of Barak Obama is "historic." Because, in historic time this is a huge leap from the Civil Rights Movement of the mid 60's, to a new African-American president only forty odd years later. Yet, I see no good reason to interpret this historic event in either "millenarian" or "apocalyptic" terms. (Please look those terms up if need be). If our current president is a Democrat or a Republican, we will continue to offer up the following petition that you are all familiar with:

Again we pray for the President of our country, for all civil authorities, and for the armed forces.

This prayer is for wisdom, courage, patience, sound decision-making and every other virtue that is essential for good leadership and stewardship of our nation. In a profoundly troubled world with a complex of problems that are almost overwhelming, we realize the need for those virtues in our president. We therefore need to be "party blind" in our prayer as citizens of one and the same country.

I have some enormous problems with some of the interpretive aspects of our strictly observed "separation of Church and State" doctrine that characterizes the relationship between "religion" and the "public forum" in our country. But I am also convinced that a particular Church - and here my concern is with the Orthodox Church - does not, as an institution, back one or another candidate. The Church was greatly compromised by its close relationship with the monarchies of the past. Because of this, the so-called "golden age" of the nostalgically-remembered past, was actually a "golden cage" of spiritual submission on the part of the Church to a State that often betrayed its own Christian foundations. Each and every adult member of the Church will hopefully make a choice based upon a good assessment of the "issues" combined with the application of sound Christian principles. I submit that it would be impossible to find a candidate who would completely uphold all of the moral, ethical, and spiritual teachings of the Church in a totally satisfying manner. So reason and conscience are essential elements in the decision-making process of voting.

Life goes on with all of its joys and sorrows. We are all part of the greater drama of sin and redemption. The eternal questions about the meaning of life and of our relationship with God are the most essential ones. In no way does that mean that we ignore the "details" of life, including our role as social and political beings. I am just trying to add a greater perspective in the post-election atmosphere of either "victory" or "defeat."

Fr. Steven

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