Conventional Wisdom

I was asked if I was going to blog about the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.   I can only say that I write about the things which make me think, but conventions and campaigns do not seemed designed to make me think, rather they try to control my thinking and to hijack my emotions.   I also admit that I will watch virtually none of it on television, not because I am avoiding the Conventions, but because I never watch much television.  The conventions are staged performances – true theater – definitely geared to excite the Party believers.

As I have confessed before, I am a bit of cynic when it comes to politicians, so I don’t give them very much of my attention.  I wish for statesmen more than politicians.  I think President Bush’s speech after the 9/11 attacks was that of a statesmen and I think a high point of his presidency, but then there have been an awful lot of dismally disappointing days for his administration, which in my estimation got lost in ideological politics.  I do share NEWSWEEK’s Fareed Zararia’s sense that this year things have improved in the administration’s policy making.    

As I see things as a Christian and a pastor, these presidential campaigns really become very stressful to many people – way too negatively stressful.   As the campaign wears on so also wears out the faith and hope of the people.   Some of this is due to the heavy negative campaign ads which take their toll on the souls of all.   I resent those ads totally.   My solution:  all Christians should turn their commercial TV and radio stations off during the last month of the campaign.   And I think that America would do well to adopt what I understand France does – all campaign advertising is forbidden in the week before the election.  Campaign advertizing does nothing to uplift anyone, rather it is a heavy burden on the soul of individuals and the nation itself.   And those ads shed no light but create a lot of heat.

Why anyone listens to the negative campaign ads is beyond me.  They are soul deadening.  Their goal is to stimulate your worst passions – your fears, anger, paranoia, prejudices,  hatred, and disgust to manipulate you into voting against the other candidate.  Unfortunately, the campaign machines know that negative ads work – people are willing to let themselves be manipulated and emotionally hijacked, and they are willing to let their reason flee as their passions rise.

Better then listening to all the campaign ads – as the election nears, come to church more frequently and pray for our country and our country’s leaders and for the armed forces and for peace for the world.   That would at least do some good for all of us.   Fretting over the election will not contribute anything to your life or to the life of the world.   Take time for silence in your life as the campaign heats up.    You do not need any advertisement or talk show host to tell you what to think about any candidate.     Turn your radios and TVs off, and read the Scriptures, or listen to music that uplifts or calms the soul.    Don’t let the negative campaign ads fill your heart and mind with gloom and doom and fear.  Seek peace. 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”   (Philippians 4:7-9)

I think if you have prayed well during the weeks before the election, your vote will come from a thankful heart, rather than from the heavy hellish darkness created by campaign ads.   And I think if anything Americans should be the most thankful people on earth, not those feeling most oppressed.     If you really can’t stay away from the politics, I would say instead of watching any TV ads whatsoever, go back and watch the Saddleback Civil Forum with Rick Warren as the host.  There you will get a much more calm view of the candidates and you can hear them speak for themselves rather than listening to the negative ads telling you what the other candidate is really saying.    Campaign ads and political pundits create a hurricane that spawns tornadoes.  There are far better ways to learn what both candidates offer America.   Anytime a campaign ad come on, turn it off and sing, “God bless America.”  That will do more for you and our nation than the billions spent on negative campaign ads.

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