I Once Took a Shower …

John C. Rankin (April 3, 2014)

In May, 1982, I was taking a shower — which is not to say I have not done so in the meantime. I was having a shadow-box debate with then Massachusetts Governor Edward J. King, and the once and twice future Governor Michael S. Dukakis. They were competing in the Democratic Party primary.

Though not politically wired, the issues mattered, and while a student in seminary, I was paying attention. After a lull in this debate, I said to them: “Gentlemen. Don’t you realize that for everything you say you care about, the answers are in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Silence.

So I prayed: “Lord, don’t these gentlemen realize that everything they say they care about is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” As if the Lord had any other opinion — I was just ratifying it in classic rabbinic dialogic prayer.

So I continued, in a life changing surprise turn: “Lord, you need some theologically educated people in politics.” His answer came to the depth of my soul at one of those moments of utter clarity: “John — good idea. Any suggestions?”

I threw my hands in the air and said, “Lord, you know I would never go anywhere where I would have to compromise my faith.” I had some deep assumptions that politics continually swallow up the integrity of people who join its world. But the Lord answered with the same clarity: “Maybe your faith is not big enough.”

So, in the 32 years since, I have sought to grow my faith enough to make it “first the Gospel, then politics …” And the word “politics,” from the Greek polis, refers to the walled city in which culture and social order is maintained against external disorder. Far more than just government, but fully inclusive of it.

What is the ratio of order versus disorder in the United States and the rest of the world today? And where is the Gospel being lived and taught in such a way to make a difference? “For lack of guidance a nation fails, but many advisers make victory sure” (Proverbs 11:14). What biblically literate advisers are in the loop in today’s political world?

I have now reached a point where I have sufficiently wrapped my mind theologically around politics and its idolatries. Thus, the TEI is initiating the Sacred Assemblies for the Unborn with its specific power to love hard questions, and to set the stage for the Pre-Partisan Caucus.

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