The sole vice-presidential debate is scheduled for tonight at Longwood University in the amusingly named Farmville, Virginia. (Hi, Justin!) I’m sure aspirants Tim Kaine and Mike Pence will be asked about the usual things: Donald Trump’s taxes, Hillary Clinton’s email and the nation’s general ignorance of vice presidents.
I’m hoping they talk about theology.
Pence, the Republican governor of Indiana, is an evangelical who generally lines up with the beliefs of GOP hard-liners.
Kaine, the Democratic former governor of Virginia, current U.S. senator and a devout Catholic, was educated by Jesuits and embraced the idea of liberation theology, that faith should manifest itself in political action — in general, with the less fortunate.
The two men can probably literally quote chapter and verse from the Bible — and frankly, I’d love to see it. (As a Jew, I’d also love to see them dig into Talmud, but that will have to wait for another set of candidates.)
I remember hearing the Bible described in oversimplified terms: The Old Testament is about justice while the New Testament is about love. The Old Testament features an often angry God who smites opponents of the Israelites and threatens sinners. The New Testament features a prophet who talks about turning the other cheek and embracing forgiveness.
These two philosophies keep colliding in modern-day America and in the beliefs of our political parties: vengeance or forgiveness? Doomed to damnation or free to hope?
Personally, I can’t buy into God as often portrayed — the furious father on His throne, prone to violence at so many offenses. (On Rosh Hashanah, which is winding down as I type, the story of Abraham and Isaac takes center stage: a story that still makes us uncomfortable — thank God, pardon the term.) It’s an angry God indeed who would create humanity only to condemn it for its very human flaws. There must be justice and fairness, yes, but also love and compassion.
Tonight’s debate will probably revolve around less philosophical issues. But here’s hoping the two raise their thoughts to the heavens.