October 22, 2014
Truthdig Podcast: ‘Jesus Rode a Donkey’ Author
Posted on Apr 10, 2007
Scheer: Quoting the Bible ... couldn’t that be just a good memory?
Seger: Oh yeah, yeah. There’s a lot of people with good memories. I think it also has to do with—there’s a lot in the Bible. You could prioritize your values in any number of ways, so one looks at voting records, one looks at what they do, and then you say, “Well, what kind of person is this and do their values and their priorities line up with my values?” as much as possible. We can go through all the candidates and say, well, I might line up on some things and not on others, and look at that. Yes. There’s definitely action because this is politics. Politics is action moving into society that comes through government.
Harris: Linda, I’m doing a lot of listening. I know Jesus. I have a relationship. As you do. As every Christian claims to have with Jesus. And the problem I think I’m having with the argument that Jesus is in line with the ideologies and the thinking of the Democratic Party—.
Seger: Wait, wait, wait. That’s not true. I think Jesus would’ve been an independent. ...
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Seger: Here’s what happened with this book. Originally, my publishers wanted the book to be called “Jesus Is a Democrat,” and I said, “I can’t do that book because I think Jesus is an independent.” I don’t think to put him with either party is really the point here. But I said, I think that what we’re talking about is, “Let’s look at the Democratic Party from a Christian perspective because the Republican Party has been looked at from that perspective quite a bit. So I’m not saying that the Democratic Party is the only party with Christian values. I don’t think that’s true at all. What I am saying is that there are many policies that I think are much stronger with the Democratic Party that are more in line with biblical policies. Now, I’m not saying 100 percent. But I think that if you decide that the Bible—if one looks at the Bible carefully and says, “I see a strong care for creation and I see that we are asked to be responsible stewards, so that leads me to a certain ecological position.” And then I look at both parties and I say, what party I think is a better steward of the Earth in terms of their policy. I don’t think there’s any question which party is a better steward of the Earth. I think the Democrats clearly have much better policies that care for the Earth more. And so if I’m going to put that as one of my high values and say, “Which party will I vote for?” I’m going to go with the Democrats on that one.
Harris: So what I’m saying is that I think Jesus has a problem with politics in general.
Harris: I think if you look at the history of our country, you look at the state of affairs in the black community today, you look at the genocide that’s going on in the inner cities, if you look at the state of affairs in the Jewish community, in Latino-Chicano communities, there’s a lot of unrest, and I think Jesus—
Seger: Oh yeah.
Harris:—if he were and is the great person and the caring person that we know him to be through the Bible, I think he would have serious problems with Hillary Clinton and John McCain because for them it is about positioning. For Jesus it was not about positioning; it was about doing the right thing, and I think that’s gotten lost. And so that’s why I have a problem with your effort to relate him to any party. I think he would be offended by that.
Seger: Yes. I’m not trying to relate him to a party. I’m trying to relate him to party policies. In other words, if you say, OK, I think, when I read the Bible and I see Jesus’ concern for the poor and the oppressed and the disenfranchised and then I look at our society and I say, gosh, there’s a whole lot of people who are poor and oppressed and disenfranchised, and many of them are from various races, black and, as you say, Latino, etc., some even white, and if I look at that as I say, OK, if I think that’s an important value, what policies do I see in the various parties that I think best address that value? I get the values from my understanding of Jesus, my relationship with him and my understanding of the Bible. Then I look out at politics and I say, who do I think best expresses the values and what policies? So we’re not just talking about candidates; we’re talking about policies as well. I think that raising the minimum wage is a good thing. And I think it helps the people who are poor, who are working hard and cannot make a living even with two jobs. So when I say, what policy best expresses that? I might say, I think the Democrats are doing a better job with certain policies that care for the poor and oppressed. So it isn’t like saying, well, Jesus is on the Democratic side and not on the Republican side. Where we see policies trying to come into our society to fruition that seem in line with what Jesus cared about, when I start to vote, I’m going to look at the policies and I’m going to look at the candidates. And some of these candidates, you say, gosh, I like them on this policy and I don’t like them on that policy. And just what you mentioned also about saying, who do I think is honest or not? Because that’s another thing, what people say—. Oh, it sounds so nice. He talks about Christianity, and then you look at the policies and say, hmmm, tsk, I don’t know, I don’t find them lining up. So all of us go through all these candidates and say, well, I don’t know. Who do I think is best in line with the kind of person I think is going to help create a society that is the most in line with the values that I find and help actualize those values.
Harris: I’m glad you had the chance to straighten that out. I get what you’re saying, and I hope our listeners are able to at least gain some sense of understanding of what you’ve just said. So it’s not necessarily about Jesus being a Democrat but that the Democrats seemingly are in line with what Jesus might have intended.
Seger: Right. Clearly with certain policies, with Jesus. There might be others where people say, well, I don’t know about this policy. The whole pro-choice/pro-life thing—that’s just a tricky issue. And, yes, you could say, well the Bible says this about life and then there’s another verse that seems to say, well, under certain circumstances. ... I think that’s the real wedge issue. But that’s why I was so impressed with Democrats for Life. And people can go look it up: democratsforlife.org. Very interesting program. They want to reduce abortion by 95 percent in 10 years. So they want to be effective, not just moralistic, and I think that’s important. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some candidate where someone could say, boy, this one’s totally in line. But I think what has sometimes happened with George W. Bush—there are times I have heard people talk about him as if they were worshiping him and they make it sound as if we criticize him, as if we’re unpatriotic and also un-Christian. And I say, George W. is not my god, but I hope he’s nobody’s god. He’s a man who happens to be in power and does a lot of stuff that some of us don’t agree with and other people do.
Scheer: Now, make it clear though, with abortions, you don’t believe in just ending abortion and not supporting the child through life, right? Because—.
Seger: I think one has to look at the complexity of the whole issue, because if you force a woman to have a child and then you don’t give her enough money to make a living and you don’t help her with child care and the kids don’t have enough food on the table and they can’t get healthcare, I think there’s something not very Christian about that. That’s why that issue is so complicated. It’s not just about that fetus; it’s about what’s going to happen in the next 20 years or 40 years in that person’s life and do we really care or do we just care about the embryo and the fetus? I think that’s why it’s such a complicated issue.
Harris: She’s written the book “Jesus Rode a Donkey.” You might grab a copy. For Josh Scheer, this is James Harris, and this is Truthdig.
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