Thursday, May 8, 2008
The Preacher’s Corner
When Hillary calls back, we’re going to discuss...
Have you received any phone calls from politicians this year? I received two “personal” phone calls from Hillary Clinton — no word yet from Senator Obama or Senator McCain. Mrs. Clinton was talking so fast — I am sure she was just excited to be speaking with me — that I could not get in a word edgewise. You would have thought it was a recording! I am sure when she phones again we can have a nice long chat. Isn’t it awful what modern technology does to fine old human institutions such as conversation?
I’ll confess I am having trouble finding time to write a column this week due to answering all the aforementioned “robo” calls from politicians that are coming over my telephone. I had threatened to vote against any candidate who would make unsolicited calls to my phone, but I have received so many calls that my “retaliatory” vote would have switched several times!
I refer especially to the two candidates for the seat currently up for grabs in Congress. I have not met either gentleman, and for all I know one or both of them may be men of sterling character and ability. But you would never know it from what they have said about each other. The whole campaign has been very depressing to me.
But then I have read that certain political experts recommend such “negative campaigning” to “arouse the base.” That is, the mud-slinging ads stir up the most highly partisan voters — and cause the independent-minded voters to stay home. That way, a candidate can count on his surest supporters and the margin of uncertainty (independent voters) is reduced.
If true, this method of campaigning is unbelievably cynical. But it has been around in American politics at least since the day of Thomas Jefferson. Thus, I have to shift into my own coping mode to get through this election.
My method of coping with ultra-negative campaigning, such as the sort we have been treated to is not to stay home. I would never do that because voting preserves my right to complain! Those who do not vote have absolutely no right to complain about what our elected officials do. And complaining about the ineptitude and inefficiency of elected officials, as we all know is, next to baseball, America’s greatest national pastime.
The negative ads leave you feeling that all you can do is vote for the lesser of two evils. That is not much incentive to get out to the polls, but at least you can “keep the worser of the worstest” out, and having done that you’ve helped spare the country from something. One of the less-appreciated virtues of religion is that it can retard the decline of society.
I preached last Sunday on a text from the book of Zechariah, “For who hath despised the day of small things?” The Lord was speaking through Zechariah to encourage the workers to complete the foundation of the temple. A foundation may not seem like a big thing, but you can’t have a building without one. So I said that the little things in life always add up, and I applied it to this election season.
We have been having a lot of elections lately, and when I went to one of them I remarked to a friend who was one of the wardens at the polls that it seemed that very few had turned out, and that I myself wondered if it really made any difference that I was casting a vote. One of the other workers spoke up and said, “I know what you mean, but suppose we didn’t do the little we could, what would happen then?”
We may not be able to do much by casting our little vote. But at least I am going to try. I just wish there was a way I could cast a vote against negative ads and robo-call commercials!
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (St. Paul, The Letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4, verse 8).
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