Thursday, May 10, 2007

What I'm About

This blog is meant to be many things. Of course, it's a place for me to put my thoughts, although I think I write better with a pen and Moleskine paper. This blog is also a successor to HokiePundit, the blog I kept up during college and grad school, starting in 2002. Going to law school and moving from Blacksburg to Williamsburg, I wanted to be able to start somewhat freshly. The focus of the two blogs will be somewhat similar, but different in ways that I'm sure I don't even yet realize.

One thing that has been on my mind for a while, and is a passion of mine, is the question of how the people of God are to live in the world. How and what are we to do? We are told repeatedly to love God and to love our neighbors, and that is what we must do, but how do we actually put that into practice? How do we love the repairman fixing our water heater, how do we lovingly manage our finances, how do we properly devote ourselves to God in a world where there are so many ideas and we aren't told specifics? It's not even so easy as listening to others who have a relationship with Jesus Christ: we often sincerely disagree on all sorts of matters, and trying to find the "most holy" person or institution and relying on them is a fool's errand if we're looking to them for political answers.

Saying that, it isn't the case that things are so confusing that we may as well give up and hope for the best. Matthew 10:16 indicates that not only are we to want to do the right thing, but we are to use our heads to find out what's right and what only seems right. We have an obligation not always shared by those of other belief systems. We cannot merit our salvation, and our actions are meaningless (and even counterproductive) if they are not done in concert with God. We are not merely charged with finding our own way to salvation, but with loving and serving and helping those around us. Check out Ezekiel 3:16-25 for a passage not often shared in homilies. Also look at Matthew 7:24-27. It is good to want to build a house to shelter people from the troubles of the world. At the same time, building without wisdom not only wastes your efforts but may make things worse for those you wanted to help.

So here's the problem: we want to do the right thing but don't know how or even have much of an idea of where to start. This is in terms of policy and government; even if you're not an elected official you are a participant in the political process and you have an obligation to participate in a way that reflects the light and love of Christ (assuming you're a Christian).

How do we do this, though? Do we refuse to participate, form our own subculture, and sit on our hands (politically speaking)? We'd be about as relevant to the average American as American Indians; they may not seek to be relevant, but if we're called to be then withdrawal isn't an option on the table. We must participate. Should we seek to install a theocracy? I believe the idea is unwise. Several countries tried to implement Communism through force last century and it caused untold misery and ultimately failed because it was coerced. Faith can't be coerced, although behavior can. What of that, then? Should we use force for certain limited goals, such as preventing abortion, redistributing wealth, or whatever other idea catches our eye?

Most of us have no idea where to even start on this. As Christians in America, we may not even be sure whether it's right for us to follow the government. If not, then what's the alternative? If so, how do we act as agents of God to bring love to the political process and not just impose our values? What role do (and should), to name two examples, federalism and common law play in policymaking and voting?

I want to help the average person better understand his/her role. I don't want to tell people what jobs they should take, how they should vote, or anything like that, but I want to equip them with the tools to better know God and His will for them. Just as the printing press allowed ordinary people to read the Bible for themselves and cars allow us to travel far and wide, I think a framework for decision-making could be helpful and allow people to maximize their talents.

Of course, I'm just a law student ( be), and not the wisest person in the world. I can still see a few things, and I'd like to comment on them little by little as I can. Hopefully others can take these pieces and see how they fit with their own lives, or perhaps they have the glue to make something useful out of the pieces. What you the reader see and what I see may not be the same, and so I hope very much that if you see something that I write which interests, annoys, or blesses you that you'll comment on it and help me learn. That said, I'll probably have several months of posts about buying a laptop computer or talking up Chateau Morrisette wines, but don't be shocked if something useful gets put here from time to time.

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