Zechariah and #GOTV 2018: Re-Electing Jerusalem, Our Elections, and Other Sacred Political Activity

As the midterm elections approach we’re into Zechariah – specifically I Zechariah. Rice Achtemeier sums up her understanding of chapters 1-8: “The Lord of Hosts, the ruler of the universe, has set out on a new course of action” (p. 104). In seminary I often heard the phrase, “God is doing a new thing,” and all manner of variants. It’s in the text – really, many texts! The biblical authors were often aware that God was up to something. Right away in chapter 1, verse 3, God’s word came to the prophet Zechariah, wanting him to let the people know that God would return to them if they returned to God. 

What I love about the Bible is that even though we read it today as a timeless witness to God’s work in the world, it was written in a variety of historical contexts, speaking to many different actual historical-theological settings and situations. And so when we explore the contexts in which I Zechariah was written, we see it is yet another text that came to being during the “destruction of a nation[.] Who sees a plan in the midst of poverty, crop failure, runaway inflation, and civic strife? Who believes in a goodly purpose when freedom has been lost and one’s country has become a puppet province in the empire of a distant ruler?” (p. 108). There may be more similarities between Judah’s and our current situation than we would like to admit.

I tend to see humanity as partners or co-laborers with God, and I Zechariah, like many other texts, speaks to this relationship in some way. God may be doing a new thing, but how will humanity respond? That is a perennial choice for us. I can’t help but think about it in relation to our upcoming election. There are those who would completely separate God from government and politics – and while I agree that it is wrong to enshrine God into governmental and public institutions, as dual citizen of God’s realm and the US, I bring my values from that realm into the choices I make as an actively engaged citizen and voter. My faith prompts me to use the privilege I have to envision and work toward building a world more like Jesus envisioned in which God, as Patterson put it: “offers everyone the means to life, unbrokered, freely given as a gift” (p. 87). While to me this doesn’t exempt people from personal responsibility of working together and doing their part for the good of this realm, it does mean to me that in some real sense we do all belong to each other and have a responsibility to take seriously our mutuality toward each other.

As you vote on Tuesday, how do your values inform your vote, and how do you see our mutual responsibilities toward one another informing your ballot decisions?

Think

Here we are, the week of midterm elections. What is your plan for voting? It doesn’t need to be particularly detailed; the best voting plan is the one that gets you to vote. There are a few sites that help you make a voting plan; two I’ve seen are here: AFL-CIO and Gun-Sense Voter, But you don’t even need to go through a site if you don’t want to – just answer these questions and you’re done!:

  • Are you planning on voting early?
  • What day will you vote?
  • How are you getting to the polling place?
  • Do you need a ride to the polls?
  • What time of day are you going to vote?

The website Vote411.org is also an amazing tool that helps you sort through all the different races and ballot initiatives – if you’re voting in-person on Election Day, you can study, select, and print your ballot choices ahead of time to take with you into the voting booth and remind you which way you would like to vote on Election Day.

Are you encouraging others to vote? There are many different ways to GOTV (“get out the vote,” for those new to this acronym) – canvassing and phone banking are popular and effective, but if those don’t work, texting – particularly within your friends – is emerging as another effective way to GOTV. Download the VoteWithMe, Vote.org, or OutVote app to try it! Democracy is not a spectator sport. It takes all of us participating in it for it to work.

Pray

This week we’re in Part I, Chapter 13, “Why Are Activists Poor?” of The Lifelong Activist in which Rettig talks about the many dysfunctional beliefs that many people, including activists, may have about money. This chapter, as with many very good books about money, discusses the personal responsibility side of money without necessarily discussing the bigger picture around money and taxes (such as who pays how many taxes and who has so much money that they have access to all manner of tax havens, and how inflation-adjusted wages of most workers continue to lose ground when compared with CEO and other executive salaries). These things are important, too, when discussing money, and yet most books simply don’t go there, instead painting money woes as something entirely dependent upon oneself. While I agree that there are a great many things individuals can do to help their personal financial situations, I also think that not engaging this discussion in any kind of meaningful way is shortsighted.

I also think it’s helpful when talking about money to frame it not just as a money discussion, but as a life goals discussion – because really, money is a means to an end – a tool that helps people do what we want to. We can think of what our life goals are, and how much money we need to accomplish those goals, rather than saving for some sort of abstract and nonsensical number. Rettig talks about this in the last paragraph of the chapter, and we would do well to make a Money Goals List and refer back to it periodically to make sure it aligns with our life goals, values, and budgets.

What are your beliefs and feelings about money? What do you think about God and money?  Join the discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/peopleofthebooks/

Act

Here’s MCU’s to-do list:

1. Check your voter registration here: https://s1.sos.mo.gov/elections/voterlookup/ and VOTE on NOVEMBER 6!

2. Join the Amendment 1 and Prop B campaigns to knock on doors (canvass) and call people to get out to vote. Email Dietra Baker at [email protected] for more information. MCU will be doing phone banking next Saturday, November 3 (https://www.facebook.com/events/2447976798548373/) and Sunday, November 4 at the MCU office. Come on by and call with us to get out the vote!

3. Attend the Break the Pipeline Orientation on Tuesday, November 27, 6:30pm at the MCU Office. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/180245889534904/

4. Attend the MCU Annual Membership Assembly on Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 5:30pm. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/169844147259502/

5. Join MCU’s e-mail list by e-mailing [email protected] (or your local FBCO organization; find yours on the map below)

6. Follow MCU (or your local FBCO)  here: https://www.facebook.com/MCUStLouis/ and Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MCUStLouis

Thanks for being a part of living democracy! We don’t have to do this alone – and when we organize, we can create long-lasting people-powered community change!

Check out the Find Your FBCO Map to find your local faith-based community organizing affiliate and connect with the people who are working together to live out their dreams of a more just world! What’s going on in your living of the Gospel? Let us know in the comments, in our e-mail discussion group, or on social media.

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