Healthcare: Hell or Heaven?

President Barack Obama speaks to a joint sessi...
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So here’s Eli’s two-cents on the whole healthcare thing.

Christian responsibility exceeds the legislation of our country.

Look, I’ll be honest with you and myself, I’m disenchanted with conservative politics, I’m disenchanted with liberal politics. I’m a moderate who leans left on most issues. That’s my bias. However, when I was a younger man I hated George W. Bush with a passion, for his war, for his stupidity in handling certain things int he fallout of 9/11, and I was outspoken about it. But in the end of everything, I learned to be generous, and forgive him my personal grievances. He can’t possibly have all the answers, he’s one man, just like Barack Obama is one man. Obama has been getting hell fro trying to deliver on a campaign promise. Look, the deal is, if we don’t like the fallout of this healthcare thing, we can do away with it. It’s not the end of society as we know it. Life goes on.

While this may be a step in the right direction in some ways this could also be terrible, and time will tell. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but we can watch, wait and see what happens. There are two myths I’d like to combat here and now, and maybe put to rest some things Christians seem to be thinking about all this.

Myth Number 1: This is terrible, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Or basically “healthcare passed. goodbye america. hello Canada”

While some of my friends are rejoicing others are spitting on the ground in disgust at what’s happened this week in Washington. Some are jumping for joy, others are yelling and wringing their hands at what’s going on. In fact some have tweeted this or something like it: “Currently researching other possible countries I could move to that I would entrust my future generations to… Not looking too good…” As if, this one bill destroys society, and everything we’ve known. Pandering to hysteria, fear and irrationality will not solve anything, and neither will running to Canada, where they have a different medical system that resembles what America’s future may someday be.

Requiring car insurance was and is a heated issue, but states have made modifications to policies and laws along the way. I’m not crazy about mandatory health coverage, but there can be amendments and changes made to fix things that don’t work for us as citizens.

Look, the thing I’m saying is, we have a government based on deliberation and reform, we can always fix it if it’s broken. I didn’t hear a strong consensus on a plan from conservatives, and if it had been a matter of public vote, I would have voted in favor of healthcare reform. I’m not a fan of all the possibilities of the bill, and I’ve certainly thought long, and hard about all of this. It’s difficult to make decisions with less than perfect solutions, but that’s all we’re gonna get.

Myth Number 2: This is a wonderful day, and we’re making progress towards a fully realized and just society.

No. Dear Brothers and sisters, this is just as dangerous as the first irrationality. We’re no closer to justice today than yesterday. If the reformers had focused a little more on people and a little less on abstraction, a little more on discipled faithfulness and a little less on breaking away violently, there might be a different America today. I’m not going to cry over spilled milk, but let’s just consider the facts. America is still a war-mongering opposition to the kingdom, and we cannot pretend it’s not.

Some would have us believe that either Jesus wants Americans to care about budgets or he wants them to care about the poor. This dichotomy is false, and the healthcare bill could be the most dangerous possible thing to cement that. Conservatives are pointing at numbers and some groups of people, democrats are pointing at other numbers and other groups of people. It’s difficult, but today is not a day of victory, it’s just another day. The good fight is never over, and the heart of that fight is not fixing America, but being faithful disciples.

While I certainly am happy in a sense that more people have access to healthcare, it does indeed come at a cost. While for me personally I can indeed choose to say “God and Neighbor before Market and Country,” it’s dangerous for me to think that because I pay some sort of tax for healthcare and others benefit I’m fulfilling the gospel. There is no more dangerous thing than for Christians to uncritically celebrate a law that has nothign to do with God’s calling on their personal responsibility. Our responsibility as sensible loving people is to exceed this standard and provide for the needs of the poor in excess of what the Government can muster.

While it is not the Government’s responsibility to provide these social benefits, it has chosen to do so, and what actually happens as a result of this bill remains to be seen. What we must do is stand outside in a sense, and consider that while this is a good thing in some ways, it has costs, it has detriments, and it will be uncomfortable to change.

America is still a challenge, and will never be a solution to Christianity’s response to the world. Making this bill into a reality does not put America any closer to or further away from God. We are currently and always have been resident aliens, and our stake is in history, but also meta-history. Our stake is in today, knowing that The Triune God has already claimed today and tomorrow. Celebrate if you want to, I’ll stand aside, looking on. I’ll be watching, and waiting, continuing to serve my neighbors as best I know how, this is the best thing to do. Life is full of complication and problem, but that’s the beauty of it. This is a call to me to be more able to provide for the needs of those around me, and I must recognize that, and respond.

Legislation is not a victory, it’s still an affront to the loving lordship of Jesus of Nazareth.

“At the end of the day, the church’s politics are found in the discipleship she promotes as part of her public message to the world about her conduct. Liturgy is our evangelism, and our ethics, and at the end of it all. even if the state crumbles due to its own stupidity, the Church will carry on, by being that body which transcends legislation, even while involved in it.” – Eli Silva “Legislation and the Christian Community

That’s all i really have to say. This is hardly an apt blogrimage post, but it demanded my attention and response. Peace be with you all.


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5 thoughts on “Healthcare: Hell or Heaven?

  1. Thanks for taking time to write and think about this. Our hope is not in legislation–totally agree. Watching this play it is way different from an overseas perspective. Glad I got to read your thoughts.

  2. Hey Eli. You made lots of good points, and did a great job of pointing out the built-in limitations of either pole, which is really good.

    The dharma teaches a “Middle Way” but that’s not, as some people suppose, the mid-point between two poles, any more than the Christian viewpoint is mid-way between the two pole. From my standpoint, the demand is to look into these things deeply, see the “interbeing” of all things, and then act in wisdom and love not “as if” my neighbor were myself, but seeing how we really can’t separate our good from another’s good, that is to love one’s neighbor *as* oneself. No ultimate separation.

    Anyway, this was a great post, with a lot of heart and insight.


    • In my personal conversations with friends I’ve been using Zen koans to illustrate examples, and it’s been really interesting to see the things that come out of that. The “interbeing” is definitely soemthing we’ll agree on. I think the lack of this recognition in western academics is to blame for the spiritual practice of distance. The culture shames relation, connection and interaction, and that is truly sad.

      I am always appreciative when you guys comment and reply with thoughts or encouragements, just a big thank you, to all of you.

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