by Al Mount
As we come to this “Communion” Sunday in the midst of this General Election Year here in the U.S., I feel compelled by what I feel is the Holy Spirit to share and to confess before you and God what I have been experiencing within my soul, for I have said and thought things that are less than Christ-like. I don’t believe I need to say more but I will be approaching communion seeking forgiveness and refreshing renewal from my (our) loving Lord for these and other sins.
So while the following writings I share with you are touchy subject matter, remember it is for me in my struggles that I present them. But as you are my brother and sister priesthood members in Christ, I pray you love me enough to share in my struggles as my community without judgment as per D&C 162:5c. As I have heard it said, “if you can’t help me please don’t hurt me.”
The other day, as I was doing some reflecting and struggling within myself concerning our national elections and my personal Christianity, my mind was drawn to look up Fr. Richard Rohr’s writings. I refer to Fr. Rohr because our church, Community of Christ, holds Fr. Rohr’s writings in high regard. Our President and Prophet Brother Steve Veazey has quoted Fr. Rohr on many occasions as he has addressed the church and groups within the church. And while I might not always agree with Fr. Rohr, I value his opinion as it causes me to go deeper into myself and what I believe and why and sometimes I even change my mind (there’s a miracle. Ha!).
Now as I was looking up thoughts by Fr. Rohr, I also came across writings by Brandon Andress. He and Fr. Rohr seem to be out of the same mold so I have included much of Brandon’s thoughts as well. I’m not asking you, my brothers and sisters, to agree or disagree; remember I sought out the following seeking answers to my personal struggles from a Christian perspective as I’m trying to be as open minded as my humanity allows (also called non-dual thinking which is the opposite of my way or the highway “dualistic” thinking).
From: Brandon Andress and Richard Rohr; here we go!
Brandon Andress: “ Every presidential election cycle in the United States is like a massive pendulum of ideas, perspectives and ideologies that swings back and forth powered by individuals, vested interest groups, politicians and political parties. And the means by which these individuals and groups power this pendulum is through political power, influence, money and propaganda.
But to be honest, this is the way politics have always operated and the exact same ingredients have been used throughout history. That is why politics and governments, as systems, can never be redeemed because they will always be built upon by the corrupting influences of power, influence and money … even when we have the best of intentions. [Tough for me how about you? – Al]
With that said, there has been increasing and bewildering confusion among Christians as to how we ought to engage with the political system, generally, and for whom we ought to vote, specifically.
Too many people try to make God or Jesus fit into their finite, limited, broken dualistic constructs, in which only “my political party” or “my ideology” is right because my side is backed by God and the other side is colluding with the powers of evil.
[Now this is important to me, Al] This kind of thinking is referred to as dualism, and it is a limited way of looking at the world and people. It is the kind of thinking that produces comments like “a Christian would never vote for a Hillary Clinton [Joe Biden, now- Al]” or “a Christian would never vote for Donald Trump.”
A dualistic mind sees the world only as black and white, as in my way is always right and your way is always wrong.
Richard Rohr said: “The lowest levels of consciousness is entirely dualistic (win/lose) — me versus the world and basic survival. Many, I am afraid, never move beyond this. The higher levels of consciousness are more and more able to deal with contradictions, paradoxes and all Mystery (win/win). This is spiritual maturity. At the higher levels, we can teach things like compassion, mercy, forgiveness, selflessness, even love of enemies.” [Here, I’m (Al) thinking “for everyone borne there is a place at the table”. For me (AL) this is more than a simple yes or no. Is everyone really lovingly invited and wanted; would they feel welcome or even accept after what I have said or, if they knew what I said? This hymn that I love has deep ramifications for me (Al)].
This is important because movements beyond the dualistic (win/lose) mind begin to erase divisions and dividing lines, affording us the opportunity to work within and between groups and individuals and then allowing us to bring to everyone that which is transcendent — compassion, mercy, forgiveness, selflessness and love. This movement, or shift in our heart’s position, is nothing less than the work of the Holy Spirit, who is moving us to see others as brothers and sisters and then working to unite us together in the love of the Father. [Here D&C 161:3c speaks to me-Al: “Be patient with one another, for creating sacred community is arduous and even painful.” I hear you God!-Al.]
That is why it is so disappointing that Christians, from any political and ideological persuasion, validate their politics, political affiliations and ideologies with the exclusive endorsement of God or Jesus because neither God nor Jesus endorses your politics or ideologies. [Here I’m (Al) reminded of Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”]
Neither God nor Jesus is a Democrat or Republican, a conservative or liberal, a Trump supporter or Clinton [or now a Biden-Al] supporter. God, as demonstrated through Jesus, is life, love, mercy, compassion and grace that transcends all divisions and dividing lines.
The logical next step in our thinking is that we, as the Body of Christ, ought to be in that place as well … in positions that transcend all divisions and dividing lines, that unconditionally love every person on every side of every issue, that move in ways of mercy and compassion for every single person in the world, that bring peace and reconciliation between individuals and groups and that extend the grace of God to all. [I, Al, am reminded of council given in D&C 162:5c]
That is why Jesus was able to easily move between groups and have voice with each of them because he wasn’t trying to pick sides in the man-made arena of politicking and governance. Jesus moved among the religious and irreligious, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the outcast, the chosen and the unchosen, with an invitation to all to join a movement in which dividing lines have been erased, social stratification has been obliterated and religious and political affiliations have been put to death. [Here I’m (Al) thinking of the Lord’s prayer being fulfilled.]
For this movement is an invitation for every man, woman and child into a new humanity that leaves polarization and division and then unites solely in the transcendent values of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, why do we continue to settle for so much less?
It begins with you.” [End Brandon’s writing. Please Read D&C 164:9e.-Al]
From Al: Please join me in a time of reflection as we prepare to share Communion this morning as members of God’s Holy Priesthood in Community of Christ. May I (we) not allow any dividing lines or polarization, political or otherwise to come between us as we seek to be united in the transcendent values of God in body, mind and spirit. This is my prayer, in the love and in the name of Jesus the Christ, I pray; Amen.
Brandon Andress of Columbus is a former local church leader and a contributor to the online Outside the Walls blog. He can be reached at his website, brandonandress.com. (You may want to check him out-Al)