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Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in At TMV, Politics, Religion, Society | 18 comments

A Conflicted Christian’s Response to the Election

I don’t enjoy conflict, even when it’s necessary, healthy or unavoidable. This might explain why I confront most political activity with low grade anxiety/depression. When I try to figure out if it’s anxiety or depression, I just end up feeling more depressed…or is it more anxious. Regardless, I don’t enjoy feeling conflicted when confronting conflict.

In light of my aversion to conflict, I usually anticipate election outcomes with a joyless resolve. No matter who wins, there is going to be a fair amount of anger, sadness, and mourning in the land. Sure, there will be joy for some or even many, but the joy will contrast the sadness. The heights of the rejoicing will highlight the depths of the mourning.

On the eve of this election, our nation was united by possibility. Although we desired different outcomes and answers, we shared the common purpose of trying to change the course of our existence. Certainly there were some who chose to watch from the bleachers, but many of us decided to get out on the field and influence the outcome. Millions moved from spectator to participant, cynic to idealist, individual to citizen by the casting of a ballot. In the casting of ballots, we once again fleshed out our constitutional framework and embodied our democratic ideals. For a brief moment, millions united in in the pursuit “to form a more perfect Union.”

It is not a question of whether we are a Republic or a Democracy; the reality is we are people who have united in our commitment to protect and strengthen our nation through the vote of our citizens. Regardless of the imperfections, flaws, and corruptions endemic in our implementation, we are still a nation that desires to be ruled by the people and for the people. The greatest miracle in our desire to self-govern is our commitment to accept the outcome of any election. Whether or not our individual interests are satisfied, we commit to live under the authority of election results. In almost every election in our nation’s history, we have chosen to embrace the ideal of a “United States” above the temptation of succession, anarchy, and permanent division.

Regardless of our overarching ideals and long term behavior, every election brings a fair amount of dissatisfaction and alienation. Consequently, I do not enjoy the days that follow an election. Whether or not my policy or politician triumphed, I take little joy in navigating the waters of an emotionally divided America. I don’t enjoy abiding in any room where half the room is sad, frustrated, and angry while the other half is happy, optimistic, and satisfied. This is the state of post election America; possibly inevitable, but never enjoyable to me.

On this day, I meditate on the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Paul writes, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:9-18).

Today I will pay special notice to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and to “mourn with those who mourn.” In other words, I will take time to genuinely value the heart of every single person. I will try my best to identify with their rejoicing and to understand their mourning. I will do my best to love them in the way I would want to be loved. I will seek peace and harmony with those who contrast my current state of being. I think this will help my conflicted heart and I think it will also help our conflicted nation.

Doug Bursch blogs at and tweets Fairlyspiritual

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • dduck

    I am not crazy about religious organizations, except when they do lots of good things to help people as with Sandy. But, like an ancient philosopher, Paul sounds cool to me, thanks Doug.

  • Thanks dduck….

  • Carl

    Clearly Paul wasn’t a Republican. Republicans like to, “compete, dominate, conquer, vanquish, lead by force”.

    Nonetheless; I forgive Mitt Romney for lying through his teeth, hating 47% of the people, and, trying to claim Jackson County Missouri for the Mormon empire. I forgive years of hate and vitriol against me from conservatives when trying to convince them that poor people need their political help so they can help themselves, not chump change tax deductible guilt donations and promises of jobs that cannot sustain their families in this overpriced nation, for the sake of some “dignity” in the eyes of the rich.

    I forgive, I forgive, I forgive.

    Please forgive me for not being strong enough to forget. Pray for me that I might one day do so.

  • Carl, I don’t really know if you are responding to my post or if you know who I am or what I stand for…It seems like you might be arguing against someone else. I’m talking about the spirit of our dialogue, not about the outcome…I’m sorry if I said something to anger you, but I think your post might be for someone else or something else than this post. Regardless, blessings.

  • slamfu

    Regarding Carl’s comment, its been a rough campaign season Doug. Some people aren’t going to slide into Paul’s recommendations as smoothly as you perhaps 🙂 But hopefully we’ll get there sooner rather than later.

  • Carl

    Oh my. Not angry at you. Not even angry in the moment, but very angry overall at the Republican party and conservatives in general.

    You are not offensive, you are uplifting. Please forgive my pugnacious comments directed at my political opposition. I am kind of winding down from a battle so-to-speak. You have helped me realize it’s time to stop looking for a fight and listen for awhile. I most certainly do fear God. Thank You.

  • Thanks for the explanations. I just exist in so many different circles….from liberal to conservative, Christian to Not so Christian that I sometimes catch fire from all sides. No biggie, and I very much appreciate it when you take the time to read and respond. Peace and thank you too.

  • zephyr

    Another great post Doug. I’m glad Obama won this race, not because I view him as knight in shining armor but because the idea of republicans (in their current bizarre incarnation) being rewarded for their recent horrible legacies, bad behavior, and unwillingness to put country before party is simply unacceptable. So yes, I’m glad, but I’m not celebrating because I am still concerned that nearly half of my fellow American voters have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the snake oil that’s been hawked by reactionary standard bearers. At least I’m not renting my garments and gnashing my teeth while contemplating the horror of a president Romney. So it could be worse.

  • I guess I was just giving what I really try to do as a pastor. I try to understand why people perceive things the way they perceive them. I also try to identify that I would most likely see the world their way if I came from their background and perspective. I don’t always or even frequently reach understanding, but I really do try to understand why people feel the way they feel. The better I understand someone, the better I can love them as God does……At least that’s the hope.

  • zephyr

    Well Doug, you’ve chosen the high road then. It sure isn’t the easy one.

  • Carl

    You are a Pastor Doug. I think you know exactly why people perceive things negatively. Where all things bad come from. Where love is lost and hate begins. Its nice to see you here. Just your presence has given some clarity to me.

  • Carl, this has been a real blessing, talking with you and some moderatevoice friends after an absurd election season. All the best and I genuinely appreciate your thoughtful and kind words.

  • dduck

    doug, I wish more commenters here and other places would at least read what that dude Paul said. Some folks are still angry even though they just had a big victory and Paul’s words whether you are religious or not could be calming. That goes for those that think they “lost” something too.

  • Carl

    God bless you pastor Bursch.

    I’m sorry if I’ve been obstinate and cross with you. Truth is I enjoy your comments immensely, though we are quite opposite politically.

  • dduck

    Carl, if you are for good compassionate government by the people and for the people, then we are not opposite except that the politicians make it so.

  • CStanley

    Great post, Doug, thanks from one of the mourners.

  • Thanks CStanley…..I did my radio show a little different today. I have listeners that are all over the political spectrum as we are not a partisan or even a political show. I realized that some people just needed a safe place to gather and hang out for a while. We talked about individual things we can do to make the world a better place. Peace.

  • zephyr

    Some folks are still angry even though they just had a big victory

    Less a “big victory” than a staving off. Not angry here though, more disappointed. My expectations for us to meet our potential as a species has always been too high. It’s a problem.

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