October 2020 Letter to the Congregation

My Dear Friends,                                                                                   October 2020

Autumn is arrived with all its welcome ingredients – football, pumpkin soup, foliage – but this year it’s the political season that  has our attention.  I’m writing this on the night of the first debate between the two presidential nominees.  I’ve decided not to watch it, not that I’m not interested, but I’m afraid My Main Man won’t come off too well, unfortunately a real possibility.  

I’m in my mid-40s and more than ever it seems to me that politics can be really confusing, perhaps especially for a Christian.  Dip your toes into politics and there’s a lot you’ll have to keep in mind, a lot of opportunities to lose perspective, especially to GET MAD!!!!

But if we can keep our wits about us, retain some lightness of being, we’ll remember that politics has also afforded us a lot of humor, including ways to harmlessly poke fun:


When Albert Einstein passed away, he was greeted at the gates of heaven by St. Peter.

“We get a lot of impostors up here,” said St. Peter. “So I’ll need you to prove who you really are,”

Einstein said, “Of course. May I have a pencil and paper?” He then proceeded to diagram the complicated formula for General Relativity.

St. Peter said, “Thank you sir. You’re obviously the real Einstein.”

Not long after that, Pablo Picasso showed up. St. Peter gave him the same speech, and

Picasso asked for a pencil and paper. He then proceeded to draw a beautiful scene of heaven that only the real Picasso could do. 

St. Peter said, “You’re obviously Pablo Picasso. Thank you and welcome.”

Awhile later George W. Bush arrived. St. Peter greeted him with the same request, and explained that both Picasso and Einstein had just proved their identity.

George W. got a confused expression, then said, “Don’t misunderestimate me, but who are Picasso and Einstein?”

St. Peter sighed and said, “Welcome to heaven, George.”


Misunderestimate – classic George W stuff there!  

But seriously, there are two opposite political ditches that historically Christians fall into.  One fault is to jump into political involvement in the hopes of accomplishing great things for God, but then once in that heady environment taking a turn to the secular: gradually losing sight of the ultimate hope of the Lord Jesus’ re-appearance and the Age to come (1 Peter 1:13).

A favorite political quote from old Cardinal Newman refers to this danger: …Many pursuits, in themselves honest and right, are nevertheless to be engaged in with caution, lest they seduce us; and those perhaps with special caution, which tend to the well-being of men in this life.  The sciences, for instance, of good government, acquiring wealth, of preventing and relieving want, and the like, are for this reason especially dangerous; for fixing, as they do, our exertions on this world as an end, they go far to persuade us that they have no other end.

I don’t know if you got all that, but basically the warning is: in trying to improve the world via politics we can become utterly worldly.  Yes, that would be a problem!  

The opposite fault is to take an exalted stance above politics, disdaining having to sift through the details of policies and come down on any decisions.  And all in the name of piety.  Of the two opposing ditches, this is currently the one that evangelicals tend toward.  

Opting out of political involvement while looking virtuous is easy to do.  There are a lot of great slogans at hand when you’re floating above politics in the name of Christ.  No political party can solve the world’s problems, only the Gospel can. (Can I get an Amen?)  Or, The New Testament doesn’t come anywhere close to recommending political action.  Here’s a slippery quote of recent reading: “No political ideology can replace the kingdom, nor does the kingdom of God rely on our political plans and priorities.”  And when a Christian shows himself to be anything close to an ardent patriot, the suspicion is that he’s veering into Christian nationalism i.e., he must think that America is God’s favorite country!  

Brothers and sisters, the kind of hyper-spirituality that looks down on political involvement ain’t any good either!  A government won’t ultimately save us, but there’s a lot more to reality than the “ultimate.”  (And, in fact, the immediate, historical conditions shape the final outcome.)   

In the will of God leaders in governments have a lot of power for good and evil.  Governmental policies shape the world in momentous ways, even directly or indirectly supporting or hindering the spread of the gospel.  And in a democracy, we the Joe Schmos aren’t mere curious bystanders to what happens within government, but participants. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men,” the Apostle tells Christians.  Political involvement should be considered a principal way of doing good.  

Listen again to an excerpt from a John Wesley sermon as the old Methodist speaks of money’s potential for good, but then think of how his words could also be applied to government:   In the present state of mankind, [money {or government!}] is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked: It gives to the traveller and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of an husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We maybe a defence for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain; it may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!

So, friends, don’t put your ultimate hope in government, but do wish for and work for and vote for good leaders and policies.  And into your voting install at least three uncomplex non-negotiables: vote for life and against infanticide.  Vote against the onslaught of the LGBTQ movement, not because you’re filled with hatred, but because you’re humanitarian, and realize that re-defining the family will cause untold suffering.  Finally, take your cue from the Apostle Paul and vote for policies that do not compel charity… if only because we want charity to continue on the earth.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Landry

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