Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Great Moral Issues of Our Time...?

In a recent entry in the section of the Sojourner's daily email entitled "Heart and Mind" leader Jim Wallis (author of widely popular book God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and The Left Doesn't Get It) writes about his proposed "debate" (he later changes his language and calls it a "conversation") which he has challenged Dr. James Dobson (the leader of the conservative evangelical organization Focus on the Family) to on the topic of "What are the great moral issues of our time for evangelical Christians?". This is in response to Dr. Dobson's recent critique in a letter to the board of the National Association of Evangelicals regarding NAE's Vice President Dr. Richard Cizik's stance on global warming, calling his efforts to bring the evangelicals into discussions on this topic "dividing and demoralizing" because Dobson believes that they shift "the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time." Sidenote: Dr. Richard Cizik, though we surely disagree in some theological areas, is my conservative evangelical hero for this very reason. A spokesperson for Focus on the Family stated that their organization's vice president would be happy to debate or discuss this question with Wallis in a public forum but that Dr. Dobson was too busy writing a book on child rearing to be bothered with this event. Wallis respectfully declined, citing that he too was writing a book and that he wanted to dialogue with Dr. Dobson himself, b/c Dobson was the signed author of the letter. All this sparks my attention b/c I would really like to see this thing go down between these two guys. I can see the Pay-Per-View commercials already, complete with explosions and AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" playing in the background. The fundamental question of the debate/conversation sparks my attention b/c the media is already selling us on the idea that it is nearing election time again (in 2008) and the agenda items on the hearts and minds of candidates and voters alike will be some of the "great moral issues" like poverty, climate change, the threat of pandemic, human trafficking, and the reality of genocide in places like Darfur (all identified by Dr. Dobson in his letter). The inclusion of these issues by a conservative evangelical like Dr. Dobson under the banner "great moral issues" gives me hope. Why? Because in the last election, conservative Republican evangelicals sold voters on the idea that the only "great moral issues" out there were same sex marriage and abortion. For me, the line item "great moral issues" has always included bullet points from the aforementioned lists but also extends to issues like nuclear proliferation, the use of military power and force to address global issues, the funding of faith-based organizations by our government, a truly balanced and equitable living wage for all workers, the identity of USAmerica around the world, and the leadership potential USAmerica has in spearheading the relief or cancellation of the overwhelming debt of developing countries. All of these issues, as Dr. Dobson and Wallis have already pointed out, are faith issues for Christians in that we must address them as issues that are informed by our faith in Jesus Christ. In your opinion, what is the greatest moral issue of our time?

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