In my heart, I was at the Rally to Restore Sanity over the weekend. Have you looked through pictures of the signs in the crowd on Flickr? Generally amazing, creative, hilarious stuff. There's something about a giant black magic marker and a sheet of posterboard that brings out the best (and worst) in us, isn't there?
Instead of attending the Rally, I was here in small town Oklahoma, bombarded as we all are at this moment by political ads. We've got us a hot gubernatorial race a-happenin' - Oklahoma will elect its first female governor tomorrow. (I got chill bumps as I typed that.) More locally, we've got a white hot District Attorney race that has been absolutely fascinating to watch play out. Dacey is very quite confused about all the races, wondering where they will be happening and if I am running in one of them and will she able to wait for me at the finish line?
Ten years ago this month, I cast my very first vote in an election (unless, perhaps, you count the mock elections of my elementary years; if so, I'll have you know I proudly voted Reagan over Mondale). I grew up in the Moral Majority era and it was exhilarating to cast my vote for a Brother in Christ - George W. Bush. I smile even now as I think about how I went to bed that night believing victory was on our side only to be awakened by a middle-of-the-night phone call from my sister, frantic that the outcome was anything but clear.
Two years ago this month, that same sister and I spoke warmly on the phone as results rolled in on our side once again. This time, however, the Other Side.
So, here's the thing. I've been deeply, deeply invested in political opinion at various times in my life. Not just in presidential election years, either. I think it would be accurate to say that beginning in about 8th grade Civics class, I began to form strong opinions on politics and growing up in the United States allowed me easy access to a posture of partisanship. Tutelage on unyielding stance and role models in win-at-all-costs dialogue abound.
But, um, I don't think I'm going to do that anymore. Get all invested in politics, I mean.
Oh, sure, if you press then I'll tell you I consider myself a moderate Independent with Libertarian leanings. (Yep, I registered as an Independent in a closed primary state which means I get to sit out every vote except for The Big Dance.) But the viewpoint of the moderate is the one I most easily identify with these days.
In her post Moderates: The Silent Majority?, Rachel Held Evans speaks eloquently and civilly on Christians as moderates, and I fully agree with her thoughts. I especially loved this:
But I am convinced that Christians in America can appreciate their country without worshipping it, be politically engaged without being politically consumed, and hold opinions about healthcare and the economy without insisting that God agrees.
I should steal that and fill in the "Political Views" portion of my Facebook profile with her words.
In the past few years, I've grown more and more interested in what it means to place priority on the Kingdom of God above anything else. Anything. I've come to a place of feeling like, for me, discussing politics is, at best, a waste of time, and at worst, it's a significant distraction from my real purpose here: going, telling, making disciples, all that Great Commission stuff.
I've mentioned before and I'll say again that it was reading Jesus for President that really turned my mind upside down on this whole issue. Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw do a fantastic job of emphasizing how staggering the differences are between the kingdoms of this earth and the Kingdom of God. Over and over they call us to allegiance to Christ and His radical call above any allegiance to Empire.
For me, there is a matter that cannot be ignored. It is tremendously difficult for me to discuss politics while maintaining the heart of a peace maker.
See, Jesus makes it clear that He loves peace. In fact, He Himself is our peace. Oh sure, He freaked out and flipped over some tables that one time, but that incident of righteous anger had nothing to do with national politics and everything to do with religious culture.
He loves peace. I love Him. I want to love peace making the way He does. I want to love peace more than I love politibooking, more than I love the satisfaction of driving a point home beyond rebuttal, more than I love comment box debates, and more than I love sounding smarter than I am.
So I'll walk down to my polling place tomorrow morning and take fifteen minutes to cast my vote. Then I'll walk back home and get back to the business of serving the Prince of Peace and the Kingdom that lasts.
photo by Stephen Cummings
You know, I don't often talk about politics here at SortaCrunchy. Honestly, it's usually just not worth the relationship strain. Like everyone else, I hold strong opinions, but the older I get, the less interested I am in convincing others of my rightness. Or leftness, I suppose, depending on the topic.
Honestly, in all things politics, I am decidedly moderate.
On the topic of abortion (oh yes, we're going there; click away now if you need to), I am unshakably pro-life. But in the past week, something has happened here in the state of Oklahoma that has sent my blood pressure soaring.
(I almost almost just politibooked this, but decided some good old-fashioned soap-boxing might be more appropriate.)
The Oklahoma Senate has overridden two bills vetoed by Governor Henry: House Bill 2780 requires women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound within an hour of the procedure and have the results explained to her, and House Bill 2656 that would prohibit lawsuits against doctors who withhold information about a fetus or pregnancy that could cause a woman to seek an abortion.
It is House Bill 2656 that has left me shaking my head and checking MapQuest to see how far I would have to drive to receive maternal care in Texas.
In her CNN Opinion piece "Oklahoma, what have you done?" Mary Alice Carr writes:
Under this new law, a doctor may withhold information, mislead or even blatantly lie to a pregnant woman and her partner about the health of their baby if the doctor so much as thinks that fetal test results would cause a woman to consider abortion.
All of us are who are mothers can surely relate to the point she makes:
When I found out I was pregnant with each of my children, like every woman who has ever undergone fetal testing, I held my breath at each doctor's appointment. I didn't let it go until the doctor or the tech said, "Everything looks great." I seized up when they took out the blood work results and I didn't relax until I heard, "It all came back negative."
But a woman in Oklahoma no longer gets to exhale. Because now, when a doctor says, "Everything looks fine," she has to wonder; does it really? Oklahoma politicians have now said that she can no longer count on the sacred trust that always existed between her and her doctor. A doctor may now lie to her face and, in doing so, deny a woman what is quite possibly the most important piece of information she will ever receive in her life.
And this is what I find to be so infuriating. In this broad stroke, the Oklahoma Senate has painted obsolete the rights of all mothers in this state.
If Kyle and I were to have another child, and if tests were to reveal that baby had some kind of medical issue that would indicate either that the baby wouldn't live past birth or that she would have a lifetime of special needs to be met, I can assure you (with all of the accuracy I can gather having not ever sat in that chair and hearing those results) that terminating the pregnancy would not be an option to us. Because of our religious faith and moral convictions, that would not be on the table as a possible response.
However, would you like to know what I would like to have the right to do? I would like to be able to prepare - mentally, physically, spiritually - for the arrival of that baby. I would like to have time to wrap my mind around the reality before her birthday arrived. I would like to connect with support groups and research resources and prepare her older sisters for what her new life would bring to our family.
But apparently that right has now been removed from my hands.
But here's what I find to be outrageously ironic: We pro-lifers are quite adept at being gate-keepers stationed in front of that slippery slope. We are careful to look at all possible outcomes of legislation, always mindful that "Well, if abortion is allowed in THIS case, then that sets us up on a slippery slope for abortion to be lawful in THIS case."
But the sanctioning of doctors choosing to lie to their patients? Is no one in the Oklahoma Senate concerned about the treacherously slippery slope that this bill creates? In that sense, the passage of this bill far supersedes the issue of abortion.
Only fourteen state senators stood up for the rights of mothers in this state in voting against the veto overrides. I'll be taking a few minutes this afternoon to email each of them my gratitude.
(We can talk more in the comments, but please take care to stay on topic. I don't want to talk about Roe v. Wade or even Oklahoma HB 2780. Let's limit the discussion to the passage of HB 2656 if you don't mind.)