November 3, 2010
To Change the World 4: Three Choices Both the Same
Often I have wondered in frustration, Why does everything seem so politicized? Why are the extremes the only apparent option? Where are the sober, even-handed, reasoned, moderate alternatives?
I have partially attributed it to the sound-bite world where a myriad of messages compete for our attention. Thus message makers want to be more extreme so what they say will better stand out amidst the cacophony.
In To Change the World, Hunter offers another explanation. The New Deal created the mindset that in government we find the solution to public problems—whether they be abortion, the economy, prayer in schools or health care.
The breakdown of general agreement in society means we can’t rely on commonly held values or honest persuasion. Only the state can confer validity on us whether we be gay or Christian or female or Latino.
Ironically, then, the Christian Right, the Christian Left or the Neo-Anabaptists all agree. The Christian Right (Dobson, Neuhaus, Colson and dozens of new organizations) has largely aligned itself with Republican politics. The Christian Left (once dominated by mainline Protestants but now including Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Randy Balmer and others) largely aligns itself with the Democrats.
The neo-Anabaptists (following John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, Craig Carter and others) call for an alternate community that lives out the gospel in dissent from the State and the larger political world. Obviously the Christian Right and the Christian Left define themselves in political terms. But, as Andy Crouch summarizes Hunter, so do the neo-Anabaptists who “in the very ferocity of their dissent from state power and Christian collusion with it … end up defining themselves in political terms just as much as the partisan movements they seem to oppose.”
What’s the alternative? Hunter urges us to read on.