I googled the phrase “Christian homeschoolers for Obama” today. No hits. There are “homeschoolers for Obam” and there are “Christians for Obama.” Indeed, there are “families for Obama,” and “Republicans for Obama,” even “Swedes for Obam,” but no “Christian homeschoolers for Obama.”
As a Christian family who homeschools one of our children (and who have cast occasional votes for Republicans and, perhaps, even for Swedes) and who now feel quite drawn to Obama’s vision, I’m struck by the disconnect. Oh, for sure, it’s not the lack of any organized group that strikes me, although when there are “Irish Americans for Obama” and Presbyterians for Obama,” and most any other group you can imagine, it does seem that perhaps some self-identifying Christians who homeschool kids might put out the idea. (On the other hand, there are not, as yet, any “Christian homeschoolers for McCain … or Clinton” either at this point.)
So, what’s the point of this silly exercise? Just that the slicing and dicing that we do to one another in the attempt to pin people down or put them in the correct box almost always fails to grasp the entirety of anyone’s faith or politics or life choices and decisions. It does violence to the wholeness and integrity of one's life.
To reduce all homeschoolers to the image of them as conservative Christians trying to protect their children from a debased culture suggests misses all the other families who may be trying to protect their children from the culture for decidedly nonconservative, non-Christian reasons, or who may simply be better suited to educate particular kids. To reduce all Christians to the media image of conservative evangelical similarly misses folks whose faith is just as dynamic and important but is expressed quite differently and may arise from different human responses to the experience of God. To reduce all Obama supporters to elite, latte liberals misses folks like the trucker I heard on the radio this morning. To reduce McCain and Clinton supporters to the caricatures the media broadcasts does the same violence to them, and, in the end we are all the poorer for it.
So, Christian homeschoolers for Obama take heart; it’s a big country with a big politics and there’s space for all of us!
"The highly polarized public struggle over multiculturalism -- trivialized by the ideological right and by the popular press as 'political correctness' -- has ironically made it both easier and more difficult to be self-conscious about social location. It is easier because class, racial/ethnic, and gender identification is rightly expected as it becomes more widely accepted that such matters necessarily shape one's perspective. The presumption, for example, that a professional discursive community made up of predominantly white male theologians could speak for everyone in the church has, gratefully, been thoroughly discredited. It is more difficult, however, because identifying social location necessarily entails certain cultural, economic, and political generalizations that can easily degenerate into one-dimensional stereotypes of, worse, caricatures of one's own group or others. Nevertheless the task is a necessary one; theology, like other forms of public discourse, must come to terms with multicultural realities and the promise and problems of genuine social pluralism."
Obama's "bitter" remarks fell prey to the tendency to caricature groups; unfortunately, his critics on this score have tended also to fall prey to the tendency to caricature, as well. Thus, what might have been an opening to an important conversation has been erased.