Every single time I have voted, I have felt the weight of the cost for my right to vote. In my shadow walks the women who petitioned and protested and went to jail in order for me to vote. (I also cannot leave that statement there without acknowledging that did not clear the path for all black women.) It’s an honor to participate in the workings of our nation. I call and email my representatives gladly because they cannot represent me if they don’t know how I feel. At some point, perhaps the next time there is an election and not a pandemic, I would like to assist with voter registration or even the election day process. I’m sure my ability to participate will shift over the years.
I am grateful to live in America; my goal is to work for the common good of all people. Although I participate in our country, my intention is to put my effort into the kingdom of God. My ethics are to be kingdom ethics, not party ethics. I may, at times, agree with one party or another, but I am also free to critique either. My allegiance is to Jesus and His kingdom. My desire to stay current on politics or the news is to engage well with the world. To care for my neighbors, to vote responsibly, to discuss how our theology weaves throughout our tangible lives requires an awareness of the world I inhabit. To speak credibly to the world about Jesus means I must speak from the reality of what the world is.
Much of what I’ve seen from the conservative church for years, and possibly decades, is the desire to keep power. Gaining or keeping cultural power is not part of our calling as believers. A drive for power will, at some point, demand a compromise of our values. It will not be worth the cost. We are called to goodness, not power. To do good, not to be little gods.
The events of the last year also broadened my desire to stay informed, to speak with peace and wisdom within my spheres of influence. I’ve spent time learning how social media shapes what you see to get you to stay longer. I’ve read about media bias. Check out these two charts to help you understand media bias. I learned about the Fairness Doctrine and how we now have infotainment. In response, I’ve started to shape my news consumption on purpose instead of just happening across what someone else put in front of me.
These are only beginning steps. You may be ready for much more or you may not be ready for some of this. I share ideas, not so you can do like I do, but to spark ideas that work for your own life.
I get two daily emails recapping major American news. I get the New York Times briefing and The Dispatch. NYT has some of the highest journalistic standards and excellent writing. It leans slightly left (opinion is further left). The Dispatch, slightly right-leaning, describes itself as “fact-based reporting and commentary on politics, policy, and culture–informed by conservative principles.” (They didn’t put in the oxford comma, but since this is my blog, I added it. Oxford comma for the win.) I like this combination because they are factual but lean opposite directions. Everyone has a bias and I want to be sure that I’m not simply supporting my bias with the things that I read. I won’t grow in understanding that way.
And Campaign wrote a fabulous book last year titled Compassion (&) Conviction. My fall discipleship group walked through the book last October. One of the women was contemplating not bothering to vote and after reading the book she said she felt equipped to move forward in voting. It’s practical and, honestly, a good primer for working with people who do not agree with you.
Friends, if you are on Instagram and you’re not following @sharonsaysso, run over there and give her a follow. She walks through current events, gives news recaps in the morning, and answers question about the Constitution. She also started holding Government for Grown-Ups classes this year.
She’s the one who introduced me to The Annenberg Classroom, which is an interactive guide to the U.S. Constitution. I’m hoping to work through the whole thing this spring.
I’m not making it through a lot of podcasts right now. Life is loud and my schedule is full of good things. But at the top of my list is the Church Politics podcasts. I also love Pantsuit Politics; I’ve listened to them for years. If I were to add another it would be NPR’s Politics or Up First.
You’ll notice I don’t have a category for watching news. New channels have to fill programming for 24 hours and that’s way too long to talk about facts. It’s also not good for my brain to rehearse the events of the world over and over. Occasionally I learn new things on Twitter that I check out other places but twitter also runs top-speed and non-stop. The brief character limit squashes nuance and the comments can get heated. Twitter is only a starting point if I learn something new there.
I live in this world and I care about what happens here. I am a steward and therefore hold responsibility. I also don’t have the power to change most of it. My news consumption has to walk that line with me.