Late in the day on January 1, the US Congress passed compromise legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff” of broad tax increases and spending cuts that was set to take effect starting that day. The new bill stays tax increases for middle-class Americans while raising rates for the wealthiest earners, although it doesn’t lay out a long-term plan to address the national debt. The bill passed both the Senate and the House by wide margins, as Republicans and Democrats compromised to avoid the potentially devastating “cliff.” US and international markets surged after news of the deal, as investors breathed a sigh of relief that a deal had been reached.
“‘Fiscal cliffs’ and debt ceilings: learning lessons” takes a spiritual look at the difficult politics behind the “fiscal cliff” legislation. It reminds us that our prayers shouldn’t ignore the seriousness of the political challenges being faced, but that spiritual qualities such as honesty, integrity, and humility can guide our thoughts and lead us -- and politicians -- to decisions that bless everyone.
“God is not a Republican, or a Democrat” expands on this line of reasoning, explaining how our prayers can have an uplifting, leavening effect on the political scene -- not by petitioning God for a specific policy outcome, but by recognizing that God governs His creation, maintaining fairness and stability for each of His ideas. Prayer also eases partisan gridlock, by allowing human will to give way to a receptiveness to God’s good will. This kind of humility enables compromise and understanding in government.
You’ll also enjoy “Practice makes perfect,” in which the writer shares how he prayed about a government issue when political inaction threatened negative effects. The article makes the point that even when our prayers feel small in comparison to the magnitude of a particular political issue, they can make a difference when offered sincerely and honestly. And our prayers for good government don’t need to take the form of hoping one political party knuckles under to another; rather, they can insist that only divine government can be reflected day-to-day.
The poem “Agreement,” originally published in 1976, catches the spirit as well — beautifully noting that the divine will can be perceived by all, regardless of political persuasion. Surely this thought can sustain elected officials as they work to find common ground on future legislation.