It’s happened to me a couple of times recently. Like many other, I’ve woken up to politics. Tuning in to one imminent political announcement after another. First it was the change of Prime Minister. And now we’ve had the announcement of the August 21 Federal election date.
Whatever else I might want to make of either of these events, I’ve been shocked by how gripping I’ve found them. For me, this is largely personal — stemming from my long-cultivated studied disregard for politics. A studied disregard that was fuelled and given legitimacy by some reservations I’ve had about the church getting mixed up in politics (to promote ‘kingdom values’ or something).
Now I get that it’s not really possible to produce a universally tolerant regime — even the most progressive, most enlightened societies have shown themselves ruthlessly intolerant at points, excluding those people and groups that they feel threaten their very existence. I also get that if you believe (as I do) that the Christian good news points you to the best way to live, then that is actually true — true true, not just true for believers but not for anyone else.
I guess I’ve just tended to be wary of what some theological ethicists label ‘Constantinianism’, referring to the way the conversion of Emperor Constantine (and, nominally, the whole Roman Empire with him) opened the door for people to adopt Christian ‘values’ as a matter of political expediency rather than as a genuine response to what God’s done in Jesus. And I’m still wary of this.
All of which makes how gripping and interesting (and occasionally appalling) I’ve found recent developments in Australian Federal politics slightly puzzling to me: Why am I so fascinated? As a Christian, what should I make of these developments? And how should I respond? These are the sort of questions I hope to take up — and (tentatively) answer — in the coming weeks…