My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Reflections On A Sermon

Dr. John preached on Sunday about Ephesians 1, and in particular the passage that deals with the inheritance of believers in the Kingdom. He dwelt in particular on the aspect of Hope that accompanies Faith, and related this story:

In his travels with his ministry, he had occasion to work in Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue University, which has an extremely high population of foreign students. He had the opportunity to ask many of the foreign members of his congregation what they thought of America and of Americans, having lived among them for some time, and he said that the most common response was along the lines of "You Americans seem to be born with a belief that you can change the world--that you can make it better. This is an unusual concept for us."

This story brought together in my mind several thoughts about America's role in the world, and the vision of the two candidates for President. I believe that it is true that the world looks down on Americans, in much the same way that jaded, "experienced" members of corporations look down on energetic young employees. There is, for some, a naive charm in the youthful idea that one person can change the world; for others, this is a point of great irritation and annoyance. It is as if the one person who tries to change the world is a reminder to the "veterans" how they sold out and gave up on their own dreams. I think much of Europe, France in particular, views America in much the same way--naive and slightly irritating.

And I also think that the reason Europe was so comfortable with Bill Clinton, and would be much more comfortable with John Kerry, is that these people do not have the hopeful vision that the world can be changed--the best they hope for is to "manage" the world. That is why the U.N. plays such a prominent role in Democratic foreign policy--it is a body that "manages" world events, but has no power or willingness to shape them.

I think most Americans have a fairly optimistic picture of what America can accomplish when it puts its mind to a task, but that number gets smaller and quieter every day. Just like in the corporation the young punks learn to curb their brashness and even learn to sell out, Americans often are not comfortable with the power that they hold if they would embrace it.

This is a striking difference between these two candidates--one who offers a vision of America's future based on boldness and Hope, and one who offers a vision of regret and supplication. Those of us who believe in the first vision need to continue articulating it in every forum possible--Hope is powerful, and people will come to it.

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