When I was 38 years old I walked away from my political life, resigning as a local committeeman, to follow Jesus.  I re-examined my career and distanced myself from work that would, in my opinion at the time, hinder my spiritual development.  I knew my weaknesses and my desire to please people and did not want to constantly be fighting those weaknesses while trying to reprogram my life into a WWJD lifestyle. 

This course of action came at great cost financially and eventually led to some family relationship problems as well.  However, I grew to really like myself better.  One of the primary things I liked about the road I chose was I became more compassionate.  Compassion is not something that is necessarily related to Church going, which can be very judgmental.  I love Pentecostal worship, but not the judgment of who's saved and who's not.  To me the perfect community would be a compassionate charismatic one.  However, I chose to be a Quaker because the way I understood it there was no creed and everyone was allowed to follow their own spiritual path.  Having a very big God I believe anyone who truly seeks spiritual fulfillment will end up where God wants him to.  However, I find that what passes for compassion among some morphs into partisan politics.  I pray about who I vote for.  I go over the pros and cons and when I believe I should vote for someone in a party I don't approve of I vote for him or her on an alternate party line.  But I don't want to belong to a political movement.  I've been there, done that.  When I spent my time handing out flyers for a cause, I felt obligated to support that cause even when there might have been an alternate cause that was just as, if not more, deserving.  I have walked away from that life once and am seriously praying that it might be time to do that again.  I am seeking to follow Jesus not a belief system whether it is called a creed or core values.  I respect those who choose otherwise but as for me and my house I must serve the Lord and I decided a long time ago that I can't have two masters.

Compassion without politics must be possible, at least I pray it is.

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Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 31, 2016 at 9:47am

Someone did a good summary of John Yoder's _The Politics of Jesus_, which dealt with various common misunderstandings of Jesus' mission vs the way Yoder interpreted it (fairly close to the way I do.

Since Yoder's book takes a long time raising & tearing down positions I would have simply dismissed, I found it a bit long, hence I suggest the summary first. (You might want to find the full book, of course!)

The summary: https://perthanabaptists.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/politics-of-je...

Comment by James C Schultz on 12th mo. 31, 2016 at 3:59pm

Thanks Forest.  Seems pretty long for a summary.  Is there a kindle version?


Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 31, 2016 at 4:32pm

Well, you can read enough to see whether or not to look for it in your library, or search for a used copy. (Probably would be cheap.)

What kind of political involvement we might conclude we're called to? At my age, with my negative charisma, maybe not much. But I don't think Jesus was in any sense indifferent to how people were governed, to whether or not that was consistent with God's love of us all. That was, after all, what put him on a collision course with the rulers of his time, and would have him likewise at odds with all earthly rulers and systems since.

Comment by Howard Brod on 1st mo. 3, 2017 at 11:40pm

After a number of years involved with political parties, thinking such a course of action was spiritual action, I finally arrived at a spiritual place where confusing politics for compassion became distasteful to me.  And it seems like such folly to me now.  Politics is an attempt to implement an illusion of compassion from our base ego level - not what Jesus was espousing in my humble opinion.

I suppose the Religious Society of Friends is like so many other religions, in that there are people involved with it at all levels of spiritual development and realization.  Some meetings are lucky because they have a large number of Friends who don't confuse political involvement with compassion, and the culture of their meetings is one of compassion - not politics.  Other meetings are not so lucky, and the Friends in these meetings are missing a very wonderful experience and unity with the Spirit that Jesus (and other mystics from several spiritual traditions) highly recommended for a fully satisfying life.

James, I just keep living my truth, engaging in conversation that explains the spiritual life, and recognizing that most people are not at the place I am - and that's OK.  And who knows, in humility I must admit that myself have quite a long ways to go in the spiritual path in many areas of my own life.  We are all a work in progress.

Hang in there.  You are attracting listening ears, even if you are not aware of the seeds you are planting.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 1st mo. 4, 2017 at 12:59am

You don't owe yourself any points for doing or for not-doing politics. There are good reasons, and bad reasons for either stance, with laziness & fear being obvious motives for avoiding, glory-seeking an obvious reasons for even good actions.

The only 'spiritual' reason for a political act is being 'led' to do so; but you can also be led to stay out of a battle which simply hasn't been assigned to you.

The sheer number of intractable human-made disasters -- makes it obvious that we, our reason, our compassion, any amount of human determination & courage -- aren't up to the job of repairing them. Even the desire "to do good" can cause vast evils people don't come close to recognizing, far around the world, while we miss people we might be helping directly, a few miles away. And even that isn't necessarily simple. But as that Letter of James makes clear, if all you do for a cold or hungry person is send them away with a prayer, that's a pretty useless sort of piety.

If you care about the people of the world -- if you even care about yourself -- pray. But then there's sometimes a little mitzvah you might do, whether 'political' or just plain human, with your name on it. That's what "spirituality" looks like.

Comment by James C Schultz on 1st mo. 4, 2017 at 11:25am

Political causes can be a way of avoiding laying down your life for those closest to you.  If you can't love family members who get under your skin, what makes you think you can love your neighbor, near or far?  If there's someone in your family you are not talking to get over it, even if they voted for the "wrong" side.  Learning to love those more likely to have been put in your life by God is the foundation on which everything else you build will stand.  Luke 6:48 & 49

Comment by Forrest Curo on 1st mo. 4, 2017 at 11:56am

"Laying down your life for" someone may not really be your Assignment at the moment. Political activity might not be either. Following somebody's interpretation or notion of what God wants of you might not either. Sometimes you're just supposed to rest; remember that that's one of the Commandments --

and yes, Jesus interpreted that commandment loosely, and the way he did that is significant: "People weren't made for the sake of [following this commandment of] The Sabbath; the Sabbath was made for us."

Your life isn't yours to lay down.

Comment by Kirby Urner on 1st mo. 4, 2017 at 5:15pm

The terms "politics" and "political" are not clearly defined. Does it just mean "interacting with other people" versus being a hermit?  By "political" do we mean "outgoing"?  Is "religious" or "following Jesus" supposed to mean "more introspective"?

In my lexicon, politicians can't hold a candle to engineers, when it comes to making a difference. Facebook has changed the world, for better or worse, far more than any political party, in the past decade. The invention of the Internet is huge and has proved transforming. I don't think of that as "politics" though.  Indeed, I think of "politicians" mostly as "people too clueless to make a real difference" (but that's just snobbery).

Is running a business closer to politics or engineering or is it neither?  I'm recruiting engineers to join me in running businesses according to Quaker principles, using Quaker designs.  Maybe we can work on more trusted voting machine technology.  That'd be political I suppose.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 1st mo. 4, 2017 at 6:37pm

How the internet is administered and made available for use is "politics".

The technology makes for constraints on how well various political designs will work, who will benefit, who won't. But it's the politics that puts us into the system currently in place:

Service providers hire people to design and maintain vast systems of data-transmission hardware & software; companies like Google & the Facebook monster (& a host of lesser-known less-busy organizations like quakerquaker & the various free software orgs) pay for access & charge for advertising (and/or take donations), the larger public gets a lot of 'free' service but all of it gets somewhat impeded by the demand that the whole system generates payments to 'investors'.

It works, so far; but the choice of designs was not dictated by the technology. Different political policies might work better for some purposes, might not.

The fact that we take this for granted and can't really imagine other ways of organizing matters is an example of politics. It isn't a political 'conspiracy'; but the various organizations that go into this economic-ecosystem probably would start throwing their weights around if a serious challenge to any of their niches developed.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 1st mo. 5, 2017 at 12:27am

By the way, since a 'trustworthy voting machine' is an oxymoron, the only reason to design 'a more trusted voting machine' would be to perpetuate smoother frauds.

Voting machines will, in fact, vote. They can be trusted to vote right, ie as the designers and builders of the machines & their software intend. Until we have trustworthy people, we can't possibly trust their machines to count our votes.

The only honest way to count votes is by hand, with open public scrutiny and oversight at every step from box to adding up to final totals. And then, given honest exit polls, you could expect to find their results matching the counts.

Computer security (and insecurity) is a matter of how much in resources people are prepared to throw at maintaining or subverting the systems involved.

The potential financial expectation from gaming a major political election is far too great to keep contestants from doing so; the expense of preventing that -- would theoretically be close to the amount of loot a successful looter could hope for.

Consider the $1,000,000 prize once offered for the first human-level computer go program. Efforts to cheat proved so simple to devise, so skillfully executed, so difficult to rule out -- that the prize money vanished into paying for security precautions.


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