"Thinking about what to say to the leaders gathered [for a state prayer luncheon], I recalled a line from the contemporary German philosopher Jurgen Haberman: Democracy requires of its citizens qualities that it cannot provide. Politicians can conjure an exalted vision of a prosperous, healthly, free society, but no government can supply the qualities of honesty, compassion, and personal responsibility that must underlie that vision.
"For all its strengths, the United States shows some alarming signs of ill health. With less than 5 percent of the world's population, we have 25 percent of the world's prisoners--more than Russia and China combined. We consume half of all the prescription drugs in the world, and yet by most standards our overall health ranks lower than most other developed countries'. In every major city, homeless people sleep in parks and under bridges. And our leading causes of death are self-inflicted: obesity, alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, stress-related illnesses, drugs, violence, environmental cancers. Obviously, politicians have not solved all our problems.
"...Fortunately, U.S. politicians of both parties still recognize that faith plays a vital role in a healthly society. People of the Christian faith are charged to uphold a different kind of vision. That this is God's planet, not ours, and as we scar it beyond repair, God weeps. That a person's worth is determined not by appearance or income or ethnic background or even citizenship status, but rather is bestowed as a sacred, inviolable gift of God. That compassion and justice--our care for "the least of these my brothers," in Jesus' words, are not arbitrary values agreed upon by politicians and sociologists, but holy commands from the One who created us.
"We Christians don't always live out that vision. We find it difficult to maintain a commitment to both this world and the next, to this life and the next."
- From the article "On the Grand Canyon Bus," in the Sept 2008 issue of Christianity Today