"George Bush has played a big role in my spiritual life" _Brian McLaren (at the NPC 2009)
George Bush, perhaps more than any other president in history, brought evangelical Christianity to the forefront of the political conversation in the United States with his openness about his faith as an evangelical Christian. Because of this, the church became ironically more polarized than ever before. Political litmus tests were solidified in the minds of Christ followers throughout the nation. Not only did the questions of gay marriage, stem-cell research, and abortion become distinguishing factors in Christian circles but the question of how the church and the state are truly supposed to interact has become a conversation of renewed critical importance even to the lay person in the church. The George Bush presidency has started a wildfire in the church, one that perhaps we cannot control. As we sat and watched America invade another country and we saw the institutional church support that agenda all along the way we were forced to ask and to answer questions, many times very personal questions, about what Christianity is and what America is. Many of us began to become less and less comfortable with how the Bush administration seemed to be answering those questions in its actions. Many of us began to become less and less comfortable with the church's complicity with the United States' systems and imagination. Many of us began to see the reflection of Rome, the empire on whose Cross Jesus was tortured and killed, shimmering in the waters of the "American Dream."
When I stop and think back over the past eight years or so, I can't help but notice that, as McLaren puts it, "George Bush has played a big role in my spiritual life." His administration, for better or for worse, has showed us a glimpse of what it looks like when the church and the state are mingled into the same "we" and thus it has raised the questions that cannot help but be raised in midst of that reality. I hope that we, the church, will continue to ask and to answer those questions and become more and more a kingdom which is "not of this world," does not "conform to the patterns of this world," and imagines more and more how the church can respond to the situations we find ourselves in when it is free from complicity with the empire.
Perhaps the post-Bush administration church will be all the better for it.