Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Don't Bother to Vote: God Will Take Care of it All. Not new, but still weird news

There is probably no other single statement about God that perplexes me more than the entitled statement. It suggests that we are nothing more than God-puppets, not stewards, devoid of free will, not responsible for personal decisions and worse that our political destiny is somehow religiously preordained. Taken to the extreme, I suppose this means that charitable works are not needed either because, after all, poor people are "supposed" to starve to death. Born to starve to death?

Ridiculous? Apparently not.

In the summer of 1990, and for the fist time ever, three soviet ships carrying approximately 800 Soviet navel personnel were welcomed into US waters in San Diego, CA. I was there, specifically, to help educate and leaflet on getting nuclear weapons off the seas. I had no idea, when going, how incredibly remarkable, in so very many ways, this event would be.

On the drive down to San Diego, days ahead of the event, it was clear something was afoot as the area around Camp Pendleton, which lies east and west of the I-5, was busied with military training. Having made the drive hundreds of times on this stretch of road as I commuted to (then) San Diego State University (SDSU), I was familiar with the normal goings-on on this section of the base.

Indeed, Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990 and by August 7, US troops were on the ground in Saudi Arabia. I'm sure many were there earlier, but this is the official date recorded.

An absolutely incredible thing happened while I was there leafleting prior to August 2. I was leafleting in a coastal park area, and a large group of people was picnicking in the park with a wee little habachi sort of BBQ. I approached them, and they invited me to have a bite. There were several generations of family in the party, all in middle eastern dress. I asked where they were from. They replied they were from Kuwait. The only real reason that this is memorable, today, is because this family was obviously here to avoid what was going on there; meaning I was probably amidst either diplomatic or royal family members without even knowing it.

As an aside, I knew a little about Kuwait as I had been introduced to their culture when living in an apartment in Whittier. I was 17, and it was my first apartment as I had graduated high school early. Most of the apartment building was occupied by Kuwati or other middle eastern families. They were wonderful people, their children just precious. A little one named Amina lived a couple of doors down. She was probably one of the most gorgeous little ones I have ever seen and I still remember he chewing on the leather frame of one of my photos. I suppose she was teething at the time. It probably wasn't healthy for her, but her mom didn't stop her, and neither did I. I kept that frame, teeth marks and all, for many years. It reminded me of her.

I modeled in one of their Middle Eastern fashion shows to benefit a club at Whittier College and had a great time. A friend of my mom's was a professor there in, I believe, middle eastern dance. I was introduced to a heaven of incredible foods (and ways of eating them). I was surrounded by middle eastern music, and middle eastern hospitality.

But back to the story...

While leafleting, I came across one naval man who told me that it didn't matter what we did (making me wonder why he was in the service to begin with!) that God made the decisions, not us, and that God would make everything okay. Well then. I suppose we could all stop voting, just let a dictator take over and allow this given God would set it right?

It was, and is, beyond my comprehension.

Taken to the extreme, I suppose I can just never work, never buy food, never make a house or car payment and voilà, God kicks in and takes over either protecting the refrigerator box I am living in in the Mission District or allowing me to scrounge food for me and the dogs by making it somehow available? THAT is my responsibility in this world? THAT is why I was created? Gads, what a disappointment!

Predestination doesn't figure at all into my theology. Further, I simply cannot explain my life at all in terms of predestination. It makes no sense to me.

The article's one-line conclusion about the relationship between what one believes God's role is in the world and voting is interesting, to say the least:

So while the belief in God in general is not a predictor of voter participation, the researchers say, whether this God is involved in worldly affairs does impact voting patterns.

I wonder how this will figure in the next election given this from the article:

The researchers found that a person who views God as more inactive and less involved in the world is more likely to engage in political activities. Jewish respondents and mainline Protestants, who commonly take this inactive-God view, scored higher on political participation than evangelical and black Protestants. Catholics also scored higher than Protestants.

I can only hope that most in the US don't believe God is active in the world, as strange as that may sound, until at least after the November election.