As you may know, my family turned-off our television set a couple of years ago. It was a personal decision; we found ourselves wasting way too much time watching it and too little time talking together as a family. I wouldn’t presume to suggest that you do the same, or feel guilty if you don’t. All I can tell you is that it has done wonders for the cohesiveness of the Daly family.
Perhaps this decision is why I so quickly connected with a recent column from Chuck Colson. As you’ll read below, our dear friend and founder of Prison Fellowship is inclined to take the long view of things. And given his background and experience, I tend think of Chuck Colson’s wisdom much like people used to say of the late stock trader E.F. Hutton’s insight: When he speaks, I listen!
Chuck’s writings neither need nor deserve amplification, but I would like to make clear one very important and key point:
As a Christian, I care passionately about sharing Christ’s love and truth with every single encounter. There are times when I do this with words but there are plenty of other occasions when it’s done through action: maybe a smile, a handshake, a volunteer opportunity or a wave across the yard. I feel strongly about my obligation to engage the culture (with friend and foe alike) and to do so by working within the political system.
So please let me be clear: Neither Chuck nor I are calling for Christians to disengage from the Democratic process. Hardly!
In fact, I would strongly contend that Christians are in the best possible position to bring about cultural change given the freedoms of our representative republic system. As noted in his piece, even a casual observer would have to admit that a circus-like atmosphere has invaded and now pervades both mainstream and cable news. Frankly, it’s insane, isn’t it? But I can think of no better representative to counter this growing crisis and mayhem than a responsible and thoughtful Christian. Why?
By definition, a wise Christian is a beautiful witness; temperamentally, they are neither too high nor too low. There is a balance and a measure and mixture of peace and passion in their words and action. A biblical Christian is also humble and seeks neither headlines nor acclaim. History tells me that the culture ebbs between the extremes. Yet biblical wisdom is so balanced and void of this type of excess. As a believer, I am taught that the louder the opposition talks the softer I am to respond.
This topic is rich for discussion. I’m interested in your thoughts and perspective. For now though, here’s Chuck Colson’s May 6th Breakpoint commentary entitled, “National Derangement: The Political Illusion“:
Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your TV, there it was again—another mind-numbing story about politics.
You might have thought we’d catch a breath after President Obama’s historic election. But no, we’ve been treated to daily doses of political news ever since—the “historic” election of Republican Senator Scott Brown, Tea Party events, and weekly political scandals. Now, we’re looking ahead to November and the next “most historic election ever”—the one that will finally save America.
Are we all losing our minds, spending half our lives watching politics on the tube? I’m reminded of the words of Soren Kierkegaard, the 19th-century Danish philosopher. Almost 100 years before the invention of television, Kierkegaard predicted what would happen if such a thing were invented. “Suppose,” Kierkegaard wrote, “someone invented…a convenient little talking tube which could be heard over the whole land. I wonder if the police would not forbid it, fearing that the whole country would become mentally deranged.”
He was right: We are becoming deranged. We are succumbing to what French philosopher Jacques Ellul prophesied in the 1960s—the politicization of all aspects of life. Ellul foresaw the Information Age and the media’s need for a steady flow of information to feed the populace. Media therefore would gravitate to covering centers of power. Politicians would be willing accomplices, because they’d gain fame and clout.
We’ve succumbed to what Ellul predicted—the idea that every problem has a political solution. This, he warned, leads to increasing dependence on the state and decreasing citizen control of government.
The result: The structure of government becomes so unwieldy that it can hardly function. For example, we’ve spent billions fighting terrorism—but we couldn’t stop “the underwear bomber” from boarding a U.S.-bound plane, even though his name was on a terrorist watch list.
Ellul also foresaw that when government becomes all-intrusive, the intermediate structures that keep societies vibrant—families, churches, and voluntary associations—collapse and tyranny follows.
What’s the answer? First, we better recognize that politics is not the be-all and end-all. Politics is merely the expression of culture. Clean up culture—that’s our job—and politics will follow.
This happened when God’s people were awakened in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. England then was in worse straits than we are today, with slavery, child labor, and rampant political corruption. But along came William Wilberforce, the Oxford movement, and the Salvation Army. What followed was a great, century-long revival of Christian faith. England was not only saved in the Wesley revivals, it was stronger than ever.
So we as 21st-century Christians must do the same thing. And there is no time to lose. If, as I believe, the political illusion has America by the throat, there are only two likely outcomes—revolution, which is what the Tea Party people suggest (albeit peacefully), or tyranny.
God has acted again and again through His people to change history’s course. But for that to happen, the Church had better sober up, summon its spiritual resources, expose the political illusion, and begin to defend and live the Christian faith in our culture.