This is a Donut

by Sam Melden

This is a picture of a donut. And petitions. And a sister of mine at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church signing my petition this morning to allow my name to appear on the ballot this fall.

But it is also a picture of oil and water. It's a picture of two things going together that, so often, we have been told belong apart. Faith and Politics.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about quite a bit over the past few years is about this unfortunate, I might even say tragic, divide between faith and politics.

Look, I know we can spend time talking about the bad connections and similarities. We can get into all of the awful misappropriations of personal theological conviction upon political direction and policy decisions. We can spend time talking about the way that money has often corrupted both spaces. We can talk about how hierarchy and bureaucracy have forged apathy and created a disengaged people in faith systems and democracies alike. Slick preachers and corrupt politicians are pretty common images that come to mind as their uninterested, disengaged and sometimes wounded consitituency considers why they gave up altogether. Indeed, we could spend quite a bit of time talking about many of the root causes of our shallow ability to allow both of these cultural properties overlaping space.

But you know what I want to spend time on first? I want to say what else I see in this picture.

When I think about the heart of the church and heart of democracy, I can’t help but see their positive connecting points. These are two groups of people who are fundamentally tasked with answering a very simple question… How do we move forward together? While they may start from different places, and those differences are vitally important to preserve, the questions are quite similar.

How do we organize our life together?

How do we take care of people?

How do we make sure all the people are represented and every voice is heard?

How do we order our life to pursue the common good?

This is what I love about the church and why being a part of a faith community has been so important in my life for so long.

One more thing I see in this photo... hope. Hope that no matter how difficult our past experiences have been or how deep our suspicions lay or how dominant our cynicism has become. I'm hopeful that we will see new pictures and hear new stories that remind us what we have always known to be true... that we are all in this together and our leaders should act like they know that to be true as well.