Oct 3, 2016 By Norris Burkes
As I considered the upcoming presidential election, I started fantasizing about what it might be like if we humans could elect our own deity and pass the accompanying ballot measures.
Crazy, right? Certainly.
But humor me for a moment. Go with me into a make-believe world where we follow a fictitious fellow into an ecclesiastical voting booth. He’s there to choose what parts of his current faith he will keep or discard. Listen, as he self-narrates his private thoughts:
“Looks like the same old guys. Jehovah, Allah and God running against a slew of other candidates I can’t pronounce.
“Of course, I’m voting for the Christian deity again. After all, my parents and grandparents have always voted Christian.
“OK. Who they got on their ticket this year? Looks like the same ol’, same ol’: The Father, his boy and the Holy Spirit.
“I like the Father. He’s got a lot of experience and he’s not a micromanager. I’m not sure about the Son, though. After 2,000 years in the VP role, you’d think he’d be goin’ for his old man’s job. Still, I’ll give him one more term.
“The Holy Ghost is a different question. Or is he calling himself ‘Spirit’ now? Never sure of that one. He’s a meddler; always telling me what to do, like Pinocchio’s Jiminy Cricket.
“Toss the bum. I’m going with the write-in candidate, ‘Inner Child.’
“That was easy. Now, let’s take a look at the props and measures.
“Hmm. Ten Commandments. I’ve always wondered what the ‘shall not’ means in 7 and 9. I mean, what is adultery, really? And who can truly define what a lie is? Let’s cut them down to eight commandants this year. Maybe that’ll save some tithe money on the enforcement end.
“Oh, no. Don’t tell me they’re still pushing anti-gluttony. No way. We really need to push the anti-homosexuality and alcohol platform.
“Now, here’s one I like: ‘An eye for an eye.’
“Uh oh. Looks like Jesus is pushing that Matthew amendment again. ‘Don’t hit back at all. If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. . . . No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.’
“No. That’s out too. Honestly, does God expect carte blanche in my life?
“Oh boy. They just got harder. ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you.’
“Hmmm. . . . That needs a softening revision for sure. Maybe, ‘Do unto others only if they do unto you.’ Yes, let’s send this one back for a rewrite.
“There, that’ll do. Now I have my very own designer faith.
“What? You say this is voter fraud? What do you mean I have chads hanging everywhere? I can’t have my own religion? Then forget it!” says our little friend as he storms out of the polling place.
Fortunately, that’s not the way true faith works. We don’t get to vote on whether we accept the principles. Neither does our befuddled little voter. That’s because the great moralities of faith aren’t settled in opinion polls or popular elections. Neither are they multiple choice.
At the end of the day, living by faith means we live the full-package deal. We must live all the commandments and especially the one that says to love God and our neighbors like we love ourselves. It’s tempting to limit our faith to our own ideas and exclude our neighbor and our God from the equation. But that’s just not how it works. A meaningful faith will always include the whole shooting match.
So, this election year, and the years I have remaining in this life, I’ll stick with Christianity. All of it: the commandments, the Bible, the church, and, yes, even the Ghost Guy.
– Write Norris at [email protected] or P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759. Twitter @chaplain, or call 843-608-9715.