Maybe you've seen the campaign signs, or somebody wearing one of the campaign buttons. Perhaps you've seen the book on a store shelf, or maybe you own a copy.
The "campaign" and the book both go by the same name: "Jesus For President."
And they've both got a presence right here in the East Valley.
The "campaign" in Gilbert seems to be far more rational and intelligible than the book, and I'll explain why in a moment. As for the book ... well, what can I say? I'm an author myself, and I must admit that "Jesus For President" is a provocative and compelling, if not confusing, title.
I say it's confusing because anytime you use a personal pronoun (the name of an individual person) adjacent to the words "for president," in the American vernacular you're advocating that a particular person (John McCain, Barack Obama, Jesus, whomever) should be voted in to a particular political office. Yet that's not so much what the book is implying.
Ostensibly, the book seems to suggest that if Americans would adhere more faithfully to the teachings of Jesus, rather than adhering to American cultural norms, then our nation's politics and public policy would look quite different. That's probably a fair assessment, so far as it goes. The ancient, timeless teachings of Christ quite naturally pose challenges both to modern-day individuals and to modern-day societies, and American society is no exception.
Unfortunately, the book seems to conclude that much about American society is bad - especially our military and our capitalistic economy. Never mind the centuries of history between Christ's time on earth and today, and all that those centuries can teach us. Forget all the examples from world history about man's inhumanity to man that have taught the human species about how best to order an economy, and of the need for free societies to protect themselves from totalitarian threats. If Americans would just be more "committed" to Jesus, then we wouldn't be so "hung up" on such silly things as homeownership or investment portfolios or national security.
Well, that's kind of how the book goes. And then there's the "campaign" by the same name that's underway at Superstition Springs Community Church in Gilbert. And according to the church's pastor, Mark Connelly, the purpose of the campaign is to get people thinking in fresh, new ways about "change" for American culture.
"It's not that voting is unimportant," Connelly said in a recent interview. "You should vote. But we have to stop hoping that our political candidates are going to produce the change that we want in this nation, and we have to become that change."
As part of the campaign, the church has embarked on a variety of social care endeavors from projects to care for AIDS victims to helping women and girls escape the "sex trades."
"As we look at the teachings of Jesus," Connelly said, "change is not so much hoping that your political leaders will change for you, but rather, we have to become the political embodiment of the change we desire."
And isn't this a refreshing approach to problem solving?
We find ourselves in an age where far too many Americans seemingly want their government to solve all the world's problems, and their own problems as well. And American politicians are too quick to promise solutions to both global and personal problems, as long as we'll continue to vote for them.
But then there's a pastor and a church in Gilbert, who, together, have the "audacity" to say that they'll bring about the changes they desire, rather than lay their problems at the feet of politicians. The "campaign" is a positive new step towards real, lasting change. I just hope the "campaign" won't be confused with the book.