Posted by: Mark Nielsen | February 15, 2008

Democracy Is…

Quoting and recommending a few others today, to confirm that I don’t know much myself, but I’m willing to learn (and to teach, once I’ve learnt…)

First up, a classic:

“Democracy is buying a big house you can’t afford with money you don’t have to impress people you wish were dead. And, unlike communism, democracy does not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two ineffective political parties. … Democracy is welcoming people from other lands, and giving them something to hold onto — usually a mop or a leaf blower. It means that with proper timing and scrupulous bookkeeping, anyone can die owing the government a huge amount of money. … Democracy means free television, not good television, but free. … And finally, democracy is the eagle on the back of a dollar bill, with 13 arrows in one claw, 13 leaves on a branch, 13 tail feathers, and 13 stars over its head — this signifies that when the white man came to this country, it was bad luck for the Indians, bad luck for the trees, bad luck for the wildlife, and lights out for the American eagle. I thank you.”

-Johnny Carson, in 1991, on the occasion of the new nations emerging from the former Soviet Union.

Next up, one of the leading pastors of the new millenium, Greg Boyd of Minneapolis, blogging on Bono and the Product (RED) campaign:

Of course it would be much more Christ-like if people sacrificially gave money to help people in need without getting anything in return. But most western people aren’t going to do that. And besides, there’s already plenty of venues available for people who are willing to do this. What most western people are going to do is continue to buy lots of stuff. At the same time, most western people on some level would like to help out people in misery. Bono ingeniously thought of a way to combine these motives, cash in on his celebrity status, and relieve a lot of suffering in the world. He didn’t rely on government to address these issues. He just did it.

Boyd’s book The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church ,  made quite a splash in 2006 and 2007. I liked it alot… one of the few nonfiction works I’ve actually gotten into in the past five years. His personal blog also features a recent two-part discussion of why, for ethical reasons, he has chosen to be a vegetarian.

Lastly, a recommendation: Check out, a webzine coming from the “emergent church” perspective. This zine also originates in the Twin Cities, and is the brainchild of some folks from Missio Dei in St. Paul, especially Mark Van Steenwyk. For other progressive Christians with both brains and soul, the emergent churches (from various denominations) across North America are becoming both a destination and a starting point for some terrific work. I’ll probably do a separate blog on the movement in the near future, but for now I’m just doing my homework, and pointing you toward others who know what’s what even more than I do.



  1. […]    Over on the MySpace side of this blog, my nephew Caleb made a useful comment on my “Democracy Is…” blog entry from a few days ago. In writing back to him, I realized I wanted to elevate the […]

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