Let’s not turn politicians into saviors

I was at a hair salon recently, when a stylist and her client grew visibly angry as they discussed the upcoming election.

Their voices rose, their words became tinged with obscenities — and a black cloud seemed to gather in the room.

Anger has become the emotion du jour, as some folks on social media are dramatically threatening to leave the country if so-and-so is elected— while others claim so-and-so is the Antichrist, who will usher in the end times.

Instead of succumbing to such desolate thoughts, maybe we should examine our expectations. Do we want the president to give us peace of mind, profound security — and a sense of hope?

If so, we are sadly barking up the wrong proverbial tree because no human being can do this.

This is a fallen world, which means sin, disease, violence — and death — are woven into the fabric of everyday life. No president can stop cancer, smooth over family rifts, remove emotional suffering — or make death obsolete.

No president can prevent folks from squabbling over politics; envying their neighbors; and cheating on their spouses.

Yes, of course, it matters who you vote for, but it’s a sad day when we turn politicians into gods.

In the Gospel story, when a crowd gathered to stone a woman accused of adultery, Jesus squelched their bloody intentions by saying, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

He took a big risk with those words, but he knew human nature well enough to predict everyone would slink away — because we’re all sinners.

It’s tempting to believe a politician can somehow erase our troubles, but God alone gives “the peace that surpasses understanding.” Which is why Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Walter Ciszek, a Polish-American Jesuit priest, certainly could say amen to that. He suffered in Russian concentration camps for decades, and despite starvation and torture, remained faithful to God — and secretly ministered to other prisoners.

In “The Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis presents fictional conversations between a demon, Screwtape, and his nephew, Wormwood, as they plot to lure a man into the devil’s clutches.

One plan they concoct is getting the fellow more enthusiastic about political matters than his faith.

“Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours,” says Screwtape.

The book was written in 1942, but the sentiment certainly rings true today. We must put our hope in God — who made heaven and earth — and stop expecting human beings to save us.

And even if the wrong so-and-so is elected, we must keep the faith, remain prayerful — and soldier on.

Lorraine Murray’s most recent church mystery is “Death Dons a Mask.” Her email is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com.

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