Thursday, September 06, 2012

Divine gifts

Nobody pays attention to party platforms except the opposition. So you can imagine the delight of the Republican operative who did a search for "God" in the 32-page Democratic Party Platform and came up with nothing. (There's a discussion of the contributions of communities of faith, but no mention of God by name, unlike the name-dropping Republican platform.) I'm not sure it's big news, since there was only one use in 2008 - which has since been restored.

We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their [God-given] potential.

Why bother, you might think. I thought so. And then I was describing it to one of my first year students (none of whom has been following the conventions) and suddenly it seemed that, although it will win no points with anyone at this point, there is a difference between "potential" and "God-given potential" as political terms. My potential is mine, and my concern. My God-given potential is something else, something of broader concern. We have a duty to God to allow those potentials God has given people to develop, all people's, not just our own. And perhaps we have a duty to God to develop our potentials for the sake of all - though that might seem a stretch to some, I grant, a flashback to the day when there were thought to be duties to God, to others, and to self, all interconnected.

There are plenty of reasons to support democracy, and to pursue the common good. God-given potential in all is a Christian one. It's actually quite a radical idea. That talent of yours? You didn't build it.

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