Fairly Spiritual: Frustrating fruit of American politics

About every four years I suffer from political seasonal affective disorder. This depression inducing affliction is caused by prolonged exposure to lightless political rhetoric. This year’s road to the White House has produced an acute reaction.

It is my sincere conviction that America’s current political climate stinks to high heaven. How can good fruit come from such a bitter environment? What do Carl Rove, Dick Morris poison patch politics have to do with righteousness, goodness and beauty?

The Pharisee is not marked by his platform, he is known by his spirit. The fruit of God’s spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). The fruit of our current political system is anything but Christ-like.

Sometimes I feel lost in this world. It seems as if I have no home. I simply cannot relate with the rhetoric in the room. The terrible tragedy of our politics is we often separate our ideas from our humanity.

People become ideologies and God becomes a platform. My God, my beautiful creator, becomes a ballot measure. My life transforming faith is reduced to an initiative or bullet points on a voter pamphlet. How can the breath of God be found in such a stale, oppressive air?

In this frustrating environment, it is easy to become reactionary. If I’m not careful, I get swept into the futile dialogue. Instead of elevating the discussion, I just become the other argumentative side of a worthless coin. However, when I try to find some sort of middle ground, I get shot from all sides. Against my better judgement, I am tempted to simply disengage and give up. This is clearly not a long term solution.

Thankfully, I serve a God who meets me in the midst of my confusion, brokenness and perpetual stubbornness. Just when I find myself sinking into a pit of poor me self pity, God reminds me I’m not the only one feeling left out of the system.

Sometimes I get so caught up with the politics of the room I forget to look in the hallway. Like me, there are others in the corridor who feel there’s no room for their voice.

One of the real problems with our current political climate is it sells a myth. The myth says there are only two sides or two clearly defined choices. The myth says you must choose sides, you must choose the right camp. Sometimes we make the mistake of buying into the myth. We choose a camp or live as nomads. We either embrace the madness or wander on the edges, in seemingly forgotten fields.

Even so, as I write these words, I still have hope. I believe we disenfranchised nomads are increasing in number. Consequently, I am praying for a change in the spirit of our politics and the tenor of our discussions. I’m hoping that someday we will hold our leaders and our electorate to a higher standard of civility.

As I tell my church frequently, reasonable people can disagree on all sorts of important issues. Regardless, there is absolutely no excuse for being a jerk about our differences. From my perspective, the Republican and Democrat parties have failed miserably in living up to this simple standard of decency.

Even so, we must continue to challenge our leaders to embrace campaigning standards that elevate the political discourse and mirror the best ideals of our great nation. The alternative is far too depressing.

Doug Bursch is the pastor of Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at the Riverside High School Theater. He can be reached at www.yesevergreen.org or evergreenlife@mac.com.