The Publisher’s Notebook: The political wasteland

By Dr. Paul Collins

When I preached what was supposed to be my first sermon, I was in my home church in Moberly, Missouri. West Park Methodist (before the denomination acquired its new name of United Methodist) was (and still is) located next door to West Park Elementary School. The school closed several years ago, but the church is open for worship.

There were three influences on me as I delivered a message with the challenging title, “Who Is God?” The first very obvious influence was the privilege of being behind the sacred desk of a real pulpit! The second very challenging influence facing this young “wannabe” preacher was the congregation with many of my classmates from high school and junior college looking at me from the pews. Third, and certainly not least, I was somewhat aware that the room was filled with Democrats! Yes, in those days, practically everyone I knew was a Democrat. Moberly was in Randolph County, which was “solid” Democrat. Republicans did not run for office in Randolph County. At county political “speakings,” all I ever heard was a message telling the farmers how the Democratic Party would take care of them. I often wondered who was interested in taking care of my working class family.

As I have grown older (and, hopefully, matured somewhat), I am an avowed nonpartisan person when it comes to political parties. It just seems right to this country preacher to be non-aligned. My job is the Kingdom of God. Now, I hastily admit that there was a season in my life when I was very politically engaged, but that period passed when I recognized that the politicians of the two major parties were (in my opinion) really not interested in the things I find interesting. They seem to be actively in pursuit of another term in office while great issues receive a mere minimum of their time and effort. Also, I wonder how a “public servant” can really relate to those who are currently in dire straits, financially speaking. I have yet to meet a genuinely poor or deprived politician. I could write more on this, but that effort needs to be saved until another time.

Part two of this session concerns “prophets” and their place (if any) in the current debates, discussions, and dialogues taking place in America. I am among the brave souls who dare to watch what is supposed to be Christian television. There are many programs that air daily and as many more that air weekly. In both cases, they are usually on multiple broadcast outlets. Some of them overtly say they are a prophet; others choose occasionally to speak “prophetically.” At any rate, a lot of people must be active “believers” because the perpetrators of the “prophetic messages” never look starved, dressed poorly, or in any way doing without the essentials of life. To the contrary, they seem to be well-fed, prosperous, and lacking nothing. The sale of their books, CDs, and DVDs supplies them with a large email list, expanded mailing list, many telephone numbers, and just about every kind of reservoir of contacts for follow-up opportunities to increase their market. Once you get on their list, it is difficult to get off. You just have to “wait them out” by not ordering more products or sending more money. By the way, their theology is so thin it provides a very weak foundation for your life.

It is very evident that politicians and modern television-driven prophets are coming at life from two divergent perspectives. Mostly, they are diametrically opposed to one another. However, there is one point where they meet: money. When I was teaching college students in a philosophy class or an ethics class, I would stress that to get the bottom of why a politician, preacher, or celebrity does some of the things they do, just “Follow The Money.” It has a way of leading you to the real facts.

Real people are those who live life on “Reality Plain,” attend the “School of Hard Knocks,” work for a living, sweat for the extra wages, rear their children in normal circumstances, and know that retirement may not happen. Contrary to congressional retirement packages, real people depend on very meager resources. The phony prophets can stash away funds from their followers, real people hope the government leaves their 401 (K) alone.

Those who are benefiting most by entitlements are those in government (on most levels), celebrities in entertainment and sports, and the successful televangelists (as well as some other clergy who seem to have missed their calling and settled for affluence).

This commentary (of course) represents my personal views and not that of Acts Ministry or any of its entities even though I enjoy the title of “Publisher.” It is possible that I will receive many disagreeable emails, but I invite you to write me. I am a “Real People.”

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