|Richard Nixon was elected as President|
in the 1968 election in part because he
told the American people that he had
"a secret plan to end the war."
|"Right. Your poll numbers are lower than|
a sheep's bollocks. Hand over your
microphone and leave Hell's Stage."
My point is not to examine the particulars of these or other criticisms made by the moderator during the debate, or by other candidates for the Democrat nomination, or by Republican candidates, or by pundits in the media. Obviously, I have been giving this a good deal of thought, trying to decide, first of all, whether to even say anything at all. Now, having decided that I want to make a statement that the issue is one of character, more than of content, I have to say that my thought process took a most unexpected turn this past Sunday morning. Quite often, I will wake up before my alarm goes off to start the day, rising to get dressed and do the preparation prayers for Holy Communion - the "yellow book" and the "blue book," for those familiar with the Jordanville booklets containing the "Canons for Holy Communion" with its yellow cover, and the "Order of Preparation for Holy Communion," with its pale blue cover. Usually, I will use the time to reflect on the theme of the sermon that will be delivered after the Gospel has been read during the Divine Liturgy. This past Sunday ran pretty much true to form, until, all of a sudden - and with no discernible connection to the sermon that I could ascertain - I realized that my focus on the character of candidate Clinton was entirely misplaced. Has she done things that were foolish? I have done worse. Has she done things that were dangerous, if only potentially? I have done worse. Has she been wicked, a servant of evil? There is no way I can answer that question for her or about her; but for myself, the answer, I am ashamed to say, has to be, "yes." How, then, can I presume to question or challenge her character, when my sins are undoubtedly greater, more wicked, more vile?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a political junkie. However, they also know - at least, they should know - that I do not endorse candidates, or parties, or ballot propositions. It is not my place to use the pulpit, or the teaching authority entrusted to me, to tell you what to do in such situations. The Church is not, and should not be, a political agent. Certainly, we have a duty and a responsibility to proclaim what is moral and acceptable and pleasing to God, and to warn of what is immoral, and therefore not pleasing to God. The Church should be active in shaping your conscience; and, as Jiminy Cricket famously advised Pinocchio, "Let your conscience be your guide." That's good advice, as long as you are doing your best to bring your heart and mind and soul closer to knowing and doing the will of God; and if you are regular in your attendance in the worship services of the Church, are attentive to your prayers both in the worship services and in your home, if you are giving from the bounty God has entrusted to you for the needs of others, and laboring to turn away from the sins that always seem to trip you up, your conscience will not fail to give you the advice you need when it comes to knowing how to vote on any particular issue, or how to choose between the candidates for the office for which you are about to cast your vote. Does the person support or oppose the positions you hold on matters which are of the greatest importance, or not? Can the person be trusted to keep their word, or not? Find out all you can, pray all the while, and then make the best decision you can make. I will be doing my best to do the same. We may not always arrive at the same conclusions! But we can't go wrong if we do it that way, if we fulfill our duties as citizens in this way. It's complicated at times: are we citizens of this world, or of the world to come? Sometimes, the answer to that question is simply, "yes"; and in holding dual citizenship, if only for a brief while, we are called upon to carry out our duties in both realms, rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's. May the God Who calls us and gives us grace to respond to His love with love grant to each of us, as the time for the crucial decisions to choose our leaders for the years ahead, and especially for the President of our nation, the remembrance that those who are seeking our support are also sinners, just like us - and that we are called to be merciful, as we hope to receive mercy. May no harsh words pass our lips, may no anger, dismay, fear or despair trouble us in heart, mind or spirit, and may God raise up a person worthy of His blessing and our support when the time comes for us to cast our votes.
Oh, and, don't worry. I'm sure this isn't the last time I'll have something to say before Election Day arrives in November, 2016!