Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Presidential Power

I've been worried for a while now about the trend in this administration toward strengthening the power of the executive. Now, while it's true that I'm not generally a fan of the Bush administration, that's not the reason that I'm opposed to increased executive power. It doesn't matter who is the White House, there still need to be appropriate checks and balances, even if that means that a future president that I love is blocked by Congress. I think that this kind of shift in power is a danger to the democracy. I think that it marks a turn away from republic toward empire, just as that that occurred in the Roman Empire.

Right at this moment I'm watching an old episode of Frontline that seems pretty good. I definitely recommend watching it. It not so much about the war or terrorism or any of that. That was just the vehicle used to expand presidential authority. That's the part that concerns me most.
I haven't written in this blog for quite some time. I think it mostly has to do with changing from a seminarian to a pastor. As a seminarian, I could write just about whatever I wanted, without worrying about there being repercussions. As a pastor, things are a bit different. It not that I'm somehow censored as a pastor. It's not that I'm silenced. But if parishioners are reading the blog, then I have to think about what reactions they might have to my thoughts and what effects that might have in the congregation.

For some pastors, that wouldn't be a problem at all. Some pastors have a very prophetic voice and are very clear and open about their personal views -- there is no separation between the inner thoughts and the public voice.

For me, though, that's not the way it works. I feel that as pastor, I want to be a bit more neutral. I want people to know that I understand and respect a wide variety of theological and political views. Certainly I have my own views. But that doesn't mean that I think everyone has to agree with me. If I am too open with my personal opinions, that could damage my credibility as a servant-leader of all the people.

Furthermore, I come from a very different context than most of the people in the congregation, with age being the most notable difference. If I'm going to be an effective pastor, then I need to be able to understand as best I can the other viewpoints in the congregation. To at least some degree, that mean suppressing my own feelings, because they simply don't make sense in this context.

Now, with almost two years under my belt at Coos Bay First UMC, I feel like I've gained some trust and credibility. Our relationship is a bit more durable. And it may be time now to be a bit less guarded.

Now, I know that I've tried to be more diligent about writing before, and haven't followed through. That may happen again. But we'll see.