Soul of the Citizen: The Birth of a Mission
For me, the creative process generally involves detective work. I’ll get an inspiration, and then I have to discover why it’s there. So the title “Soul of the Citizen” came to me, but I only learned over time what it meant. And one of the key revelations of that process was that it wasn’t “Soul of the Christian.” As much as my lens may be Christian, this book is a collection of prayers for the people and institutions of this nation, because both are in desperate need of soul searching and healing, as they navigate an identity crisis of cosmic proportions. So for me part of this book is an effort, from my particular lane, to serve as a kind of chaplain to the public.
I believe in the separation of church and state. The government makes a terrible church. And the church makes a terrible government. In a pluralistic society, we should all be able to speak from our convictions. We then should all act upon them in serving the greater good. The Apostle James said “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:27 NLT)” He also said “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17 NIV).” These are tests many of us fail. We don’t take care of people in need – we are worried about ourselves. We are also more concerned with getting corrupted by the shadows we fear than we are worried about imbibing the spirit of the age. Culture wars don’t scare me. The pervasive rage that dominates our discourse does. We are increasingly smart, cynical, and confidently ugly in spirit, casually wishing death and destruction on our enemies, and gloating when they suffer. This is the corruption that concerned me as I wrote this book.
If we choose our leaders because they are entertaining, we cannot be surprised when in times of crisis they look to put on shows.
If we choose our leaders because they make complex issues simple, we should not be surprised when they offer simplistic solutions to complex problems.
If we choose our leaders because they can effectively torment our enemies, we should not be surprised that they turn their abuse on us when we challenge them.
Soul of the Citizen is a series of meditations on leadership, service, ethics, justice, faith, culture, and the soul. I believe we need to tackle national problems on both the institutional and individual level. Systems need to change, but the people who create and sustain them need to change as well. I wrote this book to address both, but to consider the particular obligations we carry in society as people created in God’s image, for a grand and glorious purpose.
Many have spoken, in this season, of a battle for the soul of the nation. For me it starts with the soul of the citizen.