Monday, April 05, 2010
How would Jesus vote?
There was a rather undignified pair of posts yesterday on the two main parties' unofficial blogs: Andy Flannagan for LabourList on why Jesus might vote Labour (src) and a rejoinder by Tim Montgomerie on why he mightn't (src). Trying to claim Jesus for either political side is unwise at the best of times, but as Montgomerie implies, to do so on Easter Sunday is downright distasteful.To reinforce that point, allow me to make the following observation: our best surmise is that prior to the start of his public ministry, Jesus was a small businessman who had inherited the family firm from the man whom everyone regarded as his father. When he began his ministry, he was dependent on the charity of his followers. He never raised an army, and declared that his kingdom is 'not of this world', and elsewhere, 'in [it] but not of it'. If I might put it in anachronistic terms, Jesus lived practically his entire life in the 'private sector': so far as we are aware, his only significant 'public sector' involvement was in the day or so before his execution.I don't point that out in order to claim Jesus for a particular view of the relative merits of private and public sectors, but rather to note that the highly state-based arguments about 'which political party?', and even 'how much redistribution?', are actually very alien to the Jesus who actually lived and died in first-century Judæa. If, in addition to recognising his life and death, we also celebrate his resurrection, then we have a far greater list of reasons to avoid ascribing mere political views to the risen and ascended King of kings and Lord of lords; but even people who are not Christians should, I think, see the historical implausibility of treating a carpenter from Nazareth as a political figure.