Today, Slate magazine mentioned my post on my belief--shared with Huffington Post blogger Steve Clemons--that Senator Barack Obama's consideration of a White House run is really a run at the 2008 Democratic vice presidential nomination. In doing this, Slate writer Sonia Smith referred to me as "liberal Mark Daniels."
Where Smith got the idea that I'm a liberal, I don't know. Any more than I know where one blogger a few years ago--I can't find the link right now--described me as "very right wing."
Theologically, I would describe myself as being a confessional Lutheran with a reverential attitude toward Scripture that some might say is conservative. (I would agree with them.) But I loathe the Pharisaic politics of people like Jerry Fallwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson. They don't represent my views theologically...or politically.
I'm generally opposed to the politicization of the Gospel which leads, almost inevitably, to an idolatry of ideology that subordinates Jesus Christ to a particular political agenda. This is as much a problem on the Christian Left as it is on the Right which is why, while acknowledging that Jim Wallis is a bright guy, I don't like his political ministry either.
With rare exceptions, I don't beleive it's possible to draw straight lines from Biblical faith to specific political ideas. That's why, unless I feel that the Bible leads to a clear perspective, I almost never comment on political issues. As a pastor, I don't want to risk conveying a "Thus saith the Lord" message about my personal politics. (Which is why I regret having run for political office two years ago.)
I do write about politics and about political history, two topics of absorbing interest to me since I was a little kid. (Yeah, I was a dork. Probably still am.)
So, am I a conservative, am I a liberal, am I a moderate, or am I a libertarian? My politics are of the more moderately conservative ilk, but I've never voted a straight ticket in my life.
I really don't get into that sort of thing here, though. I don't believe that God is a Republican or a Democrat. Or an American, for that matter.
One of the unfortunate characteristics of contemporary politics is its lack of nuance. Political operatives like stuffing those they deem as opponents into well-defined cubbyholes. Doing so is a lazy-eyed approach to debate that frees the labeler from actually thinking about things. In contemporary politics, there are black hats and white hats. Once you've identified a person as being one or the other from your perspective, they become forever after saints or thugs.
Politicians, radio hosts, and mainstream pundits are guilty of this political amblyopia, to be sure. Unfortunately, it appears even more prevalent among those of us in new media, often not as a way of tarring and feathering others, but as a way of foregoing thought. We have become so addicted to the speed of discourse which the Internet allows that we speak in label codes that convey stereotypes without information.
I don't accuse the Slate writer of anything sinister in calling me a liberal. She isn't sullying my reputation. I don't consider liberal to be a bad word, any more than I consider conservative, moderate, or mainstream to be bad ones. (In the interest of honest self-disclosure though, I must confess that I'm not keen on libertarianism, though some of what I've said about "gay marriage" may be interpreted as libertarian, I suppose.)
I just wonder on what slender thread of evidence a person who may not have read anything I've written ever before decided to append the adjective liberal to me?
And it makes me wonder on what slender threads of evidence I myself have inaccurately labeled people?
[This was cross-posted at RedBlueChristian.com.]
[THANKS TO: Brad Hightower for linking to this post.]
[There are interesting--and funny--comments on this piece over at RedBlueChristian.com. The link.]