C.S. Lewis Showed Me How to Vote

No one is surprised by that title.  Quite a lot of people are surprised that I would even consider venturing into politics.  Last summer I had coffee with a former student who worked up the courage near the end of the conversation to ask me what I thought about the coming election.  “You never post anything political,” she said, and she was right. I tend to have my head stuck in the Middle Ages.  I am an ostrich and the Middle Ages is my sand pile.  I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.  It’s easier; life is hard, and politics is anything but encouraging. So I wander through the Gothic cathedrals of my mind and let the sun filter through the stained glass windows. Heaven is coming.  That’s all I really need to know.

However, I do need to vote.  A lot of people sacrificed and a good many died so that I could exercise the sovereign franchise.  Not voting would be ungrateful  and what’s worse, unjust.  A decision had to be made.  The problem, for me, was not making a choice between the two main candidates.  I would never, ever, consider voting for one of them.  Not ever.  DNA is a powerful thing, and besides, I’m pro-life. Throughout the primary process I considered the field.  There were a couple I felt I could get somewhat excited about, but one just seemed like he had to be a joke, a caricature, a stereotypical plant by the other party.  I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that people were seriously behind his canidacy.  The joke, it turns out, was on me.

So…what to do?  That’s been the question in my mind throughout the late summer and fall.  I’ve prayed a lot.  I’ve talked to people I trust and respect.  I’ve gotten through the few articles that I felt were written with the head and the spirit engaged instead of just emotionally spewing fear and anger.  I believe with all of my heart that God’s got this.  He is in control.  His will WILL be done.  Still, I wondered very much what God wanted me to do.  Peace about that was slow in coming, but it started to come as I read this passage from Mere Christianity with my freshmen:

“Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I  possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here.  If anyone thinks that the Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong.  The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins.  All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred.  For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become.  They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self.  The Diabolical self is the worse of the two.  That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.  But, of course it is better to be neither.”

Of course the problem is that both candidates display, as do we all, problems with both the Animal and Diabolical selves.  A little later in the book Lewis writes an entire chapter on what he calls the “Great Sin,” pride.  Pride has to be a major struggle for all politicians, but these two…Woah!   Finally, it came down to the issues of which each of the canidates is accused, the “October Surprises” that, let’s face it, were not really surprises to anyone.  In the end I came to the conclusion that I’d rather have someone in the White House that struggles with sins of the Animal self.  Lewis says these sins are more easily curable, because they are more obvious.

No matter who wins on Tuesday, I will pray for the cure that can only come through Jesus.  I will go to the polls as an almost sixty year old and I will miss the excitement and enthusiasm I had in 1980 as a twenty-something. I will go and I will vote in peace thanks to Mr. Lewis, the one who first showed me Jesus by introducing me to a Lion.

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