Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Praying for Guidance

There is a classic film called The Bishop's Wife.  It stars David Niven as a Bishop who very much wants to build a grand new cathedral, Lorretta Young as his far too neglected wife, and Cary Grant, as the angel named Dudley who comes to help sort things out.  (If you've never seen it, go and watch it at once.  This post will be here when you get back.)

In an effort to raise the needed funds, the Bishop courts a wealthy widow, but she will only give her money with certain stipulations -- that it include a large stained glass window of St. George the Dragon Slayer, with her late husband's face.  Eventually the Bishop caves to her demands.

But things don't end there, because Dudley didn't come to help the Bishop build his cathedral.  In a fantastic exchange the Bishop challenges Dudley and says, "But I prayed for a cathedral."  "No," Dudley replies, "you prayed for guidance, and guidance has been given you."  The Bishop realizes that he was on the verge of losing his wife because his priorities had gotten skewed, and that he was no longer even really serving the God he claimed to be wanting to honor.

Dudley gave guidance elsewhere, too.  He visited the widow and convinces her not to give her money to the building project.  I'm paraphrasing here, but he says to her, "For the cost of that one big roof, I wonder how many little roofs you could build."  Why would God want a grand cathedral when there are people who need homes?

I think about this scene whenever I hear something like I did the other day.  Hillary Clinton's campaign aims to raise $2 billion.  $2 billion.  That's more than was spent in the entire 2008 election!  Think of all the good that could be done with that money -- the teachers who could be more fairly compensated, the people who are struggling with addictions who could receive treatment, the unhoused who could find homes.

Why in the name of all that is Holy do we have to drag out our campaigns for so long and spend so much money on them?  People have been informally positioning themselves for the run since before the 2008 election was over.  In England they have had elections that lasted no more than one month.  As Gerald D. Skoning wrote in his 2010 op ed in the Chicago Tribune,
How long does it take for candidates to communicate their positions on issues? How long does it take for the electorate to get to know the candidates, their qualifications and their election platform? Are voters from the U.K. that much smarter than Americans that they need so little time? Are the candidates in the U.K. so succinct and articulate in the expression of their position that they need only one month to run an effective campaign? Do the Brits go to the polls with inferior information? Are we better informed voters?
Obviously no.
There are millions billions that are spent on political campaigns (so that an electorate that has largely already solidified its opinions can watch their candidate extol the failings of the other candidates).  There are millions that are spent on holiday decorations at the White House.  There is so much money that is spent on the equivalent of "one big roof."  If only Dudley would return ...

Pax tecum,


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1 comment:

Sharon B said...

You are spot on with this post, Erik. Surely we can fix this. Who would oppose a change? The big media! But who needs them, anymore, if we can use the Internet and reach more people -- especially our voters?