Thursday, May 26, 2005

via SojoMail: "Bush's Calvin College Surprise"

Via SojoMail, I read this short article today, which talks about some perhaps surprising reactions to President Bush speaking at Calvin College's commencement.

An excerpt:
"The day the president was to speak, an ad featuring a letter signed by one-third of Calvin's faculty and staff ran in The Grand Rapids Press. Noting that "we seek open and honest dialogue about the Christian faith and how it is best expressed in the political sphere," the letter said that "we see conflicts between our understanding of what Christians are called to do and many of the policies of your administration."

The letter asserted that administration policies have "launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq," "taken actions that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor, " "harmed creation and have not promoted long-term stewardship of our natural environment," and "fostered intolerance and divisiveness and has often failed to listen to those with whom it disagrees." It concluded: "Our passion for these matters arises out of the Christian faith that we share with you. We ask you, Mr. President, to re-examine your policies in light of our God-given duty to pursue justice with mercy...." One faculty member told a reporter, "We are not Lynchburg. We are not right wing; we're not left wing. We think our faith trumps political ideology."

On commencement day, according to news reports, about a quarter of the 900 graduates wore "God is not a Republican or a Democrat" buttons pinned to their gowns."

I definitely support the ideas expressed by the dissenting faculty as a whole, but more than that, I appreciate the notion that reminds us taht we can't just put Christians (or others) into categories. If I tell you I consider myself progressive, my label doesn't tell you everything about who I am - I have some beliefs and practices that might not fit into your idea of "progressive." And the same holds true if you tell me you are conservative or evangelical - I might get ideas about you, but I don't really know you because of that. It's hard, though, isn't it, not to group each other and ourselves this way. Sometimes it is useful - sometimes it is valuable to be surrounded and supported by like-minded people. But I guess we always have to keep our expectations and assumptions in check!
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