Thursday, April 24, 2008

Christian Homeschoolers for Obama

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!

In a much more erudite and fluent manner, Ched Myers addressed this same basic question years ago in Who Will Roll Away the Stone, when he wrote:

"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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April Witness

Sunday was the April witness at Lafayette Park. In the downpour a handful of hearty souls gathered to lift prayers for peace. The rain fell like a river of tears that cannot wash away the names of all those who have died. These Americans have fallen since our March gathering, and for each of them it is likely that 10 Iraqis died as well.

Michael D. Elledge, 41, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 17, 2008 Brownsburg, Indiana

Christopher C. Simpson, 23, Army Specialist, Mar 17, 2008 Hampton, Virginia

Gregory D. Unruh, 28, Army Sergeant, Mar 19, 2008 Dickinson, Texas

Keith M. Maupin, 20, Army Sergeant, Mar 21, 2008 Batavia, Ohio

Tyler J. Smith, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Mar 21, 2008 Bethel, Maine

Thomas C. Ray, 40, Army National Guard Sergeant, Mar 22, 2008 Weaverville, North Carolina

David S. Stelmat, 27, Army National Guard Specialist, Mar 22, 2008 Littleton, New Hampshire

David B. Williams, 26, Army National Guard Sergeant, Mar 22, 2008 Tarboro, North Carolina

George Delgado, 21, Army Private, Mar 23, 2008 Palmdale, California

Andrew J. Habsieger, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Mar 23, 2008 Festus, Missouri

Christopher M. Hake, 26, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 23, 2008 Enid, Oklahoma

Jose A. Rubio Hernandez, 24, Army Specialist, Mar 23, 2008 Mission, Texas

Joseph D. Gamboa, 34, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 25, 2008 Yigo, Guam

Steven I. Candelo, 26, Army Corporal, Mar 26, 2008 Houston, Texas

Gregory B. Rundell, 21, Army Specialist, Mar 26, 2008 St. Paul, Not reported yet

Joshua A. Molina, 20, Army Specialist, Mar 27, 2008 Houston, Texas

Charles A. Jankowski, 24, Army Not reported yet, Mar 28, 2008 Panama City, Florida

Durrell L. Bennett, 22, Army Specialist, Mar 29, 2008 Spanaway, Washington

Jevon K. Jordan, 32, Army Sergeant, Mar 29, 2008 Norfolk, Virginia

Patrick J. Miller, 23, Army Private 1st Class, Mar 29, 2008 New Port Richey, Florida

Terrell W. Gilmore, 38, Army National Guard Sergeant, Mar 30, 2008 Baton Rouge, Louisiana

William G. Hall, 38, Marine Major, Mar 30, 2008 Seattle, Washington

Dayne D. Dhanoolal, 26, Army Sergeant, Mar 31, 2008 Brooklyn, New York

Travis L. Griffin, 27, Air Force Staff Sergeant, Apr 03, 2008 Dover, Delaware

Jeremiah E. McNeal, 23, Air National Guard Staff Sergeant, Apr 06, 2008 Norfolk, Virginia

Ulises Burgos-Cruz, 29, Army Captain, Apr 06, 2008 Not reported yet, Puerto Rico

Matthew T. Morris, 23, Army Specialist, Apr 06, 2008 Cedar Park, Texas

Shane D. Penley, 19, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 06, 2008 Sauk Village, Illinois

Stephen K. Scott, 54, Army Colonel, Apr 06, 2008 New Market, Alabama

Stuart A. Wolfer, 36, Army Major, Apr 06, 2008 Coral Springs, Florida

Emanuel Pickett, 34, Army National Guard Staff Sergeant, Apr 06, 2008 Teachey, North Carolina

Jason C. Kazarick, 30, Army Specialist, Apr 07, 2008 Oakmont, Pennsylvania

Michael T. Lilly, 23, Army Sergeant, Apr 07, 2008 Boise, Idaho

Timothy M. Smith, 25, Army Sergeant, Apr 07, 2008 South Lake Tahoe, California

Richard A. Vaughn, 22, Army Sergeant, Apr 07, 2008 San Diego, California

Jeffery L. Hartley, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 08, 2008 Hempstead, Texas

Mark E. Rosenberg, 32, Army Major, Apr 08, 2008 Miami Lakes, Florida

Anthony L. Capra, 31, Air Force Technical Sergeant, Apr 09, 2008 Hanford, California

Jesse A. Ault, 28, Army Sergeant, Apr 09, 2008 Dublin, Virginia

Jacob J. Fairbanks, 22, Army Specialist, Apr 09, 2008 Saint Paul, Minnesota

Jeremiah C. Hughes, 26, Army Specialist, Apr 09, 2008 Jacksonville, Florida

Shaun P. Tousha, 30, Army Sergeant, Apr 09, 2008 Hull, Texas

William E. Allmon, 25, Army Specialist, Apr 12, 2008 Ardmore, Oklahoma

Arturo Huerta-Cruz, 23, Army Specialist, Apr 14, 2008 Clearwater, Florida

Joseph A. Richard III, 27, Army Sergeant, Apr 14, 2008 Lafayette, Louisiana

Richard J. Nelson, 23, Marine Reserve Corporal, Apr 14, 2008 Racine, Wisconsin

Dean D. Opicka, 29, Marine Reserve Lance Corporal, Apr 14, 2008 Waukesha, Wisconsin

Jason L. Brown, 29, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 17, 2008 Magnolia, Texas

Benjamin K. Brosh, 22, Army Specialist, Apr 18, 2008 Colorado Springs, Colorado

Lance O. Eakes, 25, Army Specialist, Apr 18, 2008 Apex, North Carolina

Cherie L. Morton, 40, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class, Apr 20, 2008 Bakersfield, California

Adrian M. Campos, 22, Navy Airman Apprentice, Apr 21, 2008 El Paso, Texas