Compassion and conviction free for CAPC members | JordanOdonnellAuthor

Compassion (and) conviction, free for CAPC members

Christ and popular culture members receive a digital copy of Compassion (&) Conviction, until December 31, 2020, through our partnership with InterVarsity Press.

IIt’s an election year. The very words arouse deep terror in me. And, for reasons unexplained, let me think of touching my tongue to a 9-volt battery.

If you ask me to distill my perception of American politics into a summary image, I would choose the third temptation of Christ in the desert. Standing on a spire and overlooking the realms, listening: « All of this can be yours…if you’ll vote for us whenever we ask. » It’s like the temptation of Boromir in Fellowship of the Ring. « You could grab the power ring, but use it forever…why not? »

As a people undergoing transformation in the Beatitudes1, the country path can be a difficult place for the church. And, as some factions have gone head over heels for electoral power, the church’s public image has been torn apart left and right, with the cross of Christ split and splintered like a dry log between them.

ANDenter the And Campaign. In their handbook on civic engagement, Compassion (&) Conviction (InterVarsity Press, 2020), their leadership establishes the principles by which Christians can reflect on political issues and then act through any means of civic engagement at their disposal. Part social studies lecture, part scripture meditation and political disagreements, the book strikes a balance between the black-and-white workings of American politics and all the gray thinking (i.e., wisdom) needed to activate the machine. You can learn why it’s futile to picket your city council to bring recess back to public elementary schools while also thinking through a Biblical meditation on being « salt and light » in the context of protest.

This first statement is echoed everywhere: « It is better to lose than to sacrifice our virtue for … what is politically expedient. » This isn’t just another manifesto, all brazen and ruthless. It offers a political discourse marked by humility, never lacking in courage, with more room for generosity than for polarity. Personally I have doubts about participation in politics in the terms that the politicians themselves have chosen2— especially the farther from my house politics are made — so I appreciated the AND campaign’s continued efforts, chapter after chapter, to season their words with carefully selected scenarios and reminders of Bible passages to challenge both left and right.

It’s an election year, and it promises to be an even bigger doozie than it’s already been this year. I would like to see the kindness and generosity of Compassion (&) Conviction start sprouting here and there. Whatever happens at the polls and afterward, the principles in this book are the kind of thing that last.

And about that battery. Well, if you’ve ever licked a 9 volt, you know that touching both poles is bound to get some heat. But, you know, it’s the modern era and that’s literally how lights work now. Engaging both poles (&) resisting the power they throw at you can be positively glowing.

1. Poor, Sorrowful, Meek, Hungry, Pure, Merciful, Pure, Peacemakers and Persecuted
2. I have read too much Jacques Ellul to devote myself too much to technique.

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