Wednesday, October 18, 2006

About politicians in church and praying 

It is outside my custom to talk religion on this blog. I am called to witness for Christ, but I do not think blogs are the mechanism through which I work best as a witness. Teaching from a blog, that's different. But I'm not a pastor (though this Sunday I am leading a worship, for the third time in my life. Maybe I'll write about this, too.)

But the story of the pastor in the Cities who apparently broke the law by announcing his support of Michele Bachmann's candidacy carries some darker aspects that have troubled me today. (I already spoke to the pastor's role today.) This film of the pastor is serendipitous to the filming of Bachmann herself by Dump Bachmann blogger Avidor, who then chose to post the video on YouTube under the title "I'm a Fool for Christ." This is how Bachmann chooses to describe herself, choosing to become a Congressional candidate and spending 22 months in pursuit of that goal after prayer with her family.

The video's title is meant to be snarky, I believe. It suggests, I think, that Bachmann is foolish, or maybe that evangelicals are foolish, or maybe all Christians are foolish, in the view of the photographer. I don't know what he meant, but given what else he's done in caricature of Bachmann it's unlikely he meant anything flattering.

And that got me to wondering: Why do you think people pray?

My pastor tells me he goes once a week to a prayer group of evangelical pastors in the area (I attend a soon-to-be-defunct ELCA Lutheran church; note to locals: I will be church-shopping shortly.) He certainly has other Lutheran pastors to pray with, so I asked him why he does this? His politics don't really conform to those pastors. He answers, it's interesting to pray with people who actually think their prayers are answered.

And it is. I've acted in Passion Play (I'm now officially typecasted as the Jewish priest) and most people who act in these will be evangelicals. They pray before each performance and will pray in the most dynamic, earnest and expectant ways. They believe something will happen.

Is it really that damning to the Avidors of the world that someone would think their God acts in the world to make things happen? Is it really too much to think that someone could pray and, upon listening, hear the answer? Are people who believe prayers are answered unfit for public office?

Now do I really know that God answered Michele and Marcus Bachmann's prayers? No, of course not. Is it possible that they only thought they heard Him answer 'yes', when in fact it is their own egos that were screaming it? Yes, that's possible. Each of us carries the original sin of wanting to be God rather than listen to Him, and it's a sin we never escape, only something we can try to check. Only He and Michele can know the source of the answer she received to her prayer, not you or me -- and it's possible she doesn't know either. But I do know that He could answer.

If you think that makes me a fool too... then I ask, do you know Him?