Ruminations on Recent Political Debates
The old Simon & Garfunkel song Mrs. Robinson includes some lines which are particularly apropos just now:
Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon.
Going to the candidates’ debate.
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you’ve got to choose
Every way you look at it you lose.
If you’re like me, you may be a little jaundiced about the political choices that we’ll soon be making. Cynicism about our American democracy sits side by side with participation in an uneasy way–a bit like sitting next to a stranger in the movie theater in those narrow, uncomfortable seats. I’m no advocate for a theocracy or a dictatorship, but I am rather glad that the position of God is not an elected office.
But what if it were? (You start thinking of things like this when you have too much time on your hands.) Well, let’s see. I’m sure I would vote for myself, because if I were God I could pretty much do anything I wanted. I could give myself a plasma TV, soundproof my walls so I can’t hear the neighbors, be sure I get a good night’s sleep all the time, maybe even throw in a little time travel. It would be pretty cool to be able to see Marie Antoinette or Julius Caesar “in the flesh.” I suppose it’s true that if I were God, I’d have a lot of responsibilities that I’d rather not deal with. But come to think of it, I could write my own job description anyway. The real problem would be that everyone else would probably vote for themselves, too, leaving no clear winner. You can?t have a few billion gods all ruling the world at once.
And then, what about debates? I don’t really relish the idea of having to debate some five or six billion other candidates for God. But maybe everyone wouldn’t want to run. Maybe it would only be a dozen or so. That would make for a manageable debate. And there’s also the question of the second term. I guess I would vote for myself a second time, but would I be allowed to run for a third term as God?
And there’s another problem, too. If I were God I wouldn’t just be all-powerful. I’d have to be perfect. You know–without sin, without problems, sort of “way up there” and “holy.” Not like those gods in Greek mythology, who are always arguing and getting mad at people and hurtling other gods down from Mount Olympus or otherwise making life unpleasant. I don’t honestly think I’d be so good at being without sin and hangups and all that, but the “holy” part sounds interesting. I guess it means something like sitting up in outer space and not having much to do with all the people down here. Maybe wearing white all the time and shining with some kind of glow that says to the world, “I’m up here and you’re down there, so deal with it!”
Truth be told, I’m glad I’m not God and I’m glad we don’t have to hold elections. The real God thinks of others, not just himself. The real God is holy, but he didn’t keep himself aloof from the rest of us. He actually became one of us, because he cared about us. I don’t think any of us could hold a candle to the real God when it comes to concern, care, love, and self-sacrifice.
And that includes the current crop of presidential candidates. America will make out OK in the next election, like we always do. But I’m glad there’s someone who cares more about us than any president ever could.
Scholar in Residence, Missionary
Rich Robinson is a veteran missionary and senior researcher at the San Francisco headquarters of Jews for Jesus. Rich has written several books on Jewishness and Jesus, and he received his Ph.D. in biblical studies and hermeneutics from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1993.