Three Lessons From Election Day

Because I didn’t realize that my polling place operates on Central time, I had an hour to stand in line this morning and ponder the imponderables about the state of our nation, the state of Alabama, and the etiquette of pulling out a snack-sized coffee cake for breakfast when you didn’t bring enough for everyone. But while standing there, I was confronted with three small things that ex-fundamentalists can learn from the voting process. In no particular order they are…

We’re not doing it alone
Almost nothing in our lives happens in complete solitude. Fundamentalism presents the mythology that a little church or small school is out there serving God almost alone, standing against the rest of the country and the world. Yet much like an election, people and forces are involved that go far and wide beyond the simple scope of our one polling station, our one town, or our one state.

People will vote today whom we have never met and whom we would not like if we did meet them. Yet, they too have a place in this story, they too are doing the work of the political process. In much the same way there are people in the kingdom of heaven doing work in places you will never go doing work that you will never see. They matter too.

It isn’t over until it’s over

Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us that finishing is better than starting. At the end we can see what actually happened. The results are in. The count is finished. The score is final. For better or worse we know what happened.

Unfortunately, there are many who want to tell us what they think will happens and the dozen reason why their predictions are smarter than the myriad of others. Pundits on morning shows compete with pastors in the pulpit to tell us their best guesses about the future of our country, our churches, and our families if we don’t follow their personal game plan. Fear, manipulation, and half-truths are the order of the day.

But how often are they right? The anti-Christ has not yet taken over the earth. The Russians haven’t invaded. Things aren’t over no matter which way this election goes. The end of our stories has yet to be finished and the end may still yet be much, much better than the beginning.

A one-time decision isn’t enough.
Today we go out and choose leaders. Tomorrow half the country will be somewhere in the stages of grief between anger and depression. The good news is that this isn’t the last election this country will ever have. In one or two or four years we’ll get to come back and do this again. Don’t like the results? Wait a while. This too shall pass.

But the lesson here is that at no point can we say “this is finished. We’ve made a good decision and that will be the LAST time we have to choose.” Life is a process which requires adjustments, false starts, and second guesses. No single decision made in a voting booth or an old-fashioned altar can be expected to irrevocably change your life forever. Be still. Wait a while. This too shall pass.

62 thoughts on “Three Lessons From Election Day”

  1. I just moved to a new state, so I just finished filing out a sample ballot for all of the local elections. Fun time…sort of.

  2. Your last item reminds me of the two years I spent at Patrick Henry College, the purported would-be academic wing of the religious right which was in fact designed to funnel brainwashed homeschooled kids into the Republican machine. Many of the kids there truly believed that spiritual forces were at work in American elections.

    I left in 2006, right before the Democrats took back Congress in the election that year. A friend told me that in chapel that day, PHC had a day of weeping and mourning where 18 and 19 year old kids were literally in tears because the Republicans had been defeated and they thought it was because they hadn’t been good enough Christians so God was punishing them. PHC was a lot like your typical Bible college; it just replaced working to build an IFB megachurch with working to build the Republican party. But the workload and enormous spiritual and emotional pressure was about the same.

    1. The religious right forgets there are some 200 countries in the world. Why is only America and Israel somehow special? Does their god not care about the politics of the other 95% of the world’s population?
      Canada is far more liberal than the USA on issues like gay rights and abortion. And yet the wrath of their god had not rained down on Canada. Canada is in better financial shape than the United States, it cities safer and cleaner.

      1. It’s not so much that there are only two nations, but most fundamentalists consider that God has blessed America greatly, and America has turned its back on God. Israel wasn’t necessarily worse than its neighboring countries, but they had been God’s chosen people and then “dumped” God.

        I think the above may explain why they think America may be in worse judgement.

  3. Amen. ( pronounced ahhh men, not heymen). I actually had a boy at Bible school tell me I was saying the end of my prayer wrong. I said I would take it under advisement. To make him happy, I did pronounce it the way he wanted. Then I had other kids tell me I said it wrong.

  4. Daryl, I just read your post about your voting experience. Don’t worry too much – neither of the candidates care about Alabama anyway.

  5. Since this is my first election since leaving the IFB (I officially left in December 2010) I thought I’s compose a list of what I don’t miss about elections and the IBF.
    1. Political rants 6 months prior to the elections
    2. Hearing “vote good up and bad down” every service (3x per week)
    3. Hearing “I can’t tell you who to vote for, but he will” (he referring to an “influential” retired church staff member).
    4. Voter intimidation by the MOG & Co.
    5. Being “forced” to register to vote in Tennessee where Crown was.

  6. Thanks, Darrell, I needed that. I have very very very strong political opinions, and every now and then I realize that I’m taking the game a little too seriously, and as you say, “this too shall pass”.

    I managed, as a Florida voter, to vote early (and often!) and get mine in. Let’s see what kind of uproar starts around 9pm tonight and continues through the week over possible voter suppression in this state of mine.

    I love this place like you love an eccentric but very entertaining crazy-ass aunt that still lives with your grandma and provides non-stop drama for the entire family.

    1. So what is it about Florida that so attracts the weirdos? If I see in the paper (online) a story about someone’s crazy-ass aunt who got into the bath salts and ate Grandma- it’s always in Florida. What gives? Is it the water? Too much Disney?

  7. Good thoughts to keep things in perspective Darrell. I know one thing for sure, after this election I’ll be the most politically aware that I’ve ever been as a voter. 😉

  8. I voted but I didn’t vote for the top of the ticket. I voted for the local races and non-partisan races.

    I decided against voting for the rich, out of touch, Harvard-educated plutocrat who believes he has the right to extrajudicially assassinate people with flying death robots, start wars on a whim and spy on Americans. To be clear, he is the option presented by both the Democratic and Republican parties.

    1. Dear Apathetic or whatever:

      I voted the top of my ticket. Of course there on the top of my ticket were the names of my Socialist Party Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates … :mrgreen:

      Blessings!

      Christian Socialist

  9. “Tomorrow half the country will be somewhere in the stages of grief between anger and depression.”

    Well, we hope it’s tomorrow. History tells us it could be a while. 😛

  10. This election is the same as any other. Two cliches. Voters have a choice between:

    The lesser of the two evils OR the enemy of my enemy.

    Neither of them is anything but a politician and all that that implies. I voted last week, and it was for the lesser of the two evils IMHO. Should be a close one,and should be interesting to see what happens. 😮

  11. I don’t care who wins. The way I see it, God still reigns and in the end he calls the shots and has redeemed His church.

  12. Voted in memory of 56 million aborted American citizens, 1 murdered US ambassador, 2 dead Navy Seals and thousands who have died for my freedom ❗

    1. Toe-Jam (interesting name) Me too or should I say, Hey-men, Ahhmen or however you prefer it. My first concern is always the unborn because of sheer numbers not that I discount those killed in unjust wars. We Catholics like to call the slain unborn “holy innocents” referring to those Herod killed looking for Jesus but recently borrowed to reference this holocaust. 😥 I like whoever posted above that whatever happens God is still on the throne. That is comforting.

  13. Some months back, at the start of this campaign season, I really wrestled with the thought that “Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.” But I came to the conclusion that every time we vote for a candidate, we are voting for the lesser of two evils, since we are always voting for imperfect humans. Only Christ Himself would be a perfect candidate– and that ain’t gonna happen. –John 18:36–

  14. I live in Northeast Ohio, so we get a lot of wooing. Every four years the candidates come to our valley several times to make promises. Four years later they do it again. Don’t hear from them much inbetween. Been going on for years. (Just come back from voting, but forgot to get my “I Voted Today” sticker. 🙁

    1. Dear Ungodly Pamphlets:

      Do you really! I didn’t know that about you! Same here! I cast one of those ‘provisional ballots’ in Cuyahoga County. My vote actually made the news. LOL!

      Christian Socialist

  15. “Things aren’t over no matter which way this election goes. The end of our stories has yet to be finished and the end may still yet be much, much better than the beginning.”

    More than anything else, a lifetime of involvement in politics has taught me this. Much does depend on each election, but there is no election upon which everything depends. And winning consists of getting some of what you want, not of getting all you want.

  16. When we moved to Griffin almost 20 years ago, we had voting machines even older than the one in the picture above. I miss them. I like flipping all the small levers, then pulling the big lever to register my vote and open the curtain. The touch pad computer may not belong in a museum, and is easier for poll workers to move, but I guess my Fundy training makes it hard to move forward. We know all new technology is paving the way for the Anti-Christ, you know.

  17. Saw this on the internet:

    Voting for Obama is like backing up the Titanic and hitting the iceberg a second time. Voting for Romney is like hitting a different iceberg.

    1. That has it backwards. Most of Romney’s advisers and presumptive appointees are from the Bush administration. And his policy positions are Bush’s and Cheney’s. So we’d be hitting the 2001-2009 iceberg again, with the same pilots navigating by the same charts.

  18. One thing I learned. I saw more “God is still sovereign” or “My God is still on the throne,” statuses on facebook today and last night than I have ever seen. But I will say that Americans are quite a stupid lot to re-elect Barack Obama. He hasn’t done anything but increase our debt for 4 years and we will see more of the same big government BS for the next 4. Yes, God is on the throne, but that does not absolve Americans of their guilt for being ignorant fools.

    1. Every drooling stooge that reminded me of those truths on Wednesday morning were subsequently reminded that God was “still on the throne” during the Holocaust too. And He was on His throne as Pol Pot gave us the killing fields.

  19. Dear Darrell:

    ‘Fundamentalism presents the mythology that a little church or small school is out there serving God almost alone, standing against the rest of the country and the world.’

    This is an excellent observation, and it deeply bears on the doctrine of assurance. Of course this is also related to independent church government.

    Christian Socialist

  20. Bob, I could not agree more. I was in shock after the election, deeply depressed the next day, and I’m still reeling. I fear for my kids’ future, to be perfectly blunt. However, I am trying really hard to trust God. “Jesus, I trust in YOU!”

    In the wake of the election, a number of companies have already announced layoffs. That’s just for starters. Obamacare will have far-reaching disastrous effects that will shake our clueless electorate to its foundations. God help us. Lord have mercy.

    1. As an employee of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle I can tell you Obamacare threatens to kill some of our ministries. Catholic Social Services doesnt qualify for the HHS exemption because to qualify they would have to serve ONLY Catholics and employ Only Catholics and that is against everything we believe. Hospitals the same. What is Mr O gonna do if all the Cathlic hospitals and ministries that treat all people for free no matter their religion are forced to close their doors rather than comply with the unjust requirement to pay for Abortafacients which are considered Birth Control and Medicine under Obamacare? They will have no recourse except government help, Mr O has no idea he is shooting himself in the foot. I administer health benefits and I can tell you even aside from the HHS mandate just putting everything required in place will cost millions. What about small orgs and companies? They will go under. ITs sad.

        1. My feeling is that no one has any idea the far reaching effects of Obamacare. It’s still going to be too expensive for most individuals. It has already been stated by the United States Council of Bishops that we will not comply with the HHS mandate. Yes the church gets out of it because most who work at the parish or go there are Catholic but not the hospitals, schools or social ministries. I know we wont close down and abandon people but I also know we wont comply and therefore will get hit with extremely steep fines. Its just a bunch of legal wrangling that will get hung up for years. They can exempt all religious org.s of all religions now and save themselves some trouble and money. That is how it will end up. Or drop the bit about the Morning After pills and IUDs which are Abortifacients (they bring on miscarrage of fertalized egg). I think the only ones who will be happy with this are the lawyers!

    2. My company cut 5 jobs in my department Thursday morning. 45 total in the organization. And it is one of the 50 largest companies in the country so they are not dummies.

  21. Oldest daughter and her husband moved to Seattle on Oct 1st- they were able to get ID and stuff in time to register to vote, which they did. And they reported that it was pretty cool to be sitting in a cafe with your new spouse, a voters’ pamphlet and a laptop… and vote. Mail-in is great. I filled out my Oregon ballot sitting here at my desk. My son and his girlfriend took their to the library and free wifi. Younger daughter and her husband had to juggle the twins, but they got their ballots in on time.

    Tuesday morning, I was a wreck. I’d been up much of the night juggling numbers on Nate Silver’s blog, looking at a bunch of historical bellwether stuff, studies some sheep entrails. By the time I got to the ladies’ group I was a wreck.

    Instead of the regular noonday prayer after our knitting/sewing group, we went into the sanctuary, the priest and deacon robed up and we went into the choir and had service there. Candles. Organ. A specific liturgy, with music.

    I got to chant part of the litany (trained voice, will travel), and it is really, REALLY hard to sing when there’s tears pouring down your face. And you know, except for the organist, it was just a bunch of women, asking God to guide us, to give us strength, and to teach us to do his will, not matter what happened. I went home feeling a bit better. Even napped for awhile. The my roommate turned on the radio in her room, and I opened about 8 different tabs, and we settled down to wait. Hefeweizen is good while waiting.

    The fly in my ointment was that my friend who was running for mayor didn’t just get beat. He got beat about 2 to 1. He’s let go of his state legislative seat to run for mayor. So now he’s at home with his wife and their adorable puggle, and waiting for a new wind.

    Nothing is permanent. There’s another election in two years. Go to the mat again. Nothing wrong with being beat down. What wrong is not getting back up.

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