On Voting Booths, Neil Diamond, WWF, and That Great Day When Worship Trumps Rancor

October 29, 2012 | 18 comments

There were 54,000 of us in all. We were singing one song, waving our arms, belting out Neil Diamond in a college football stadium.

In that one moment — which was, at once, silly and grand — nobody cared about anybody’s political party. No one screamed at TV sets, banged out fiery Facebook statuses, accused anyone else of hatred or stupidity. There were no clenched jaws, banging of fists, teeth grinding, or threats to move to another country after November 6. I didn’t see a single political ad.

It was just one cheesy song, and an arena full of happy people in parkas on a Saturday night. (See video below, taken from my iPhone Saturday during an Iowa State University football game in Ames, Iowa. Email subscribers can click here.)

I felt an ache for heaven, right there with “Sweet Caroline” echoing toward the moon. The atmosphere was electric, and I got a bit weepy over the sheer joy of it.

Someday, it will be like that. There will be no more sound bites or stump speeches. Everyone will lay down the swords and the crowns. No one will feel the urge to “unfriend” someone on Facebook simply because they don’t see eye to eye in the voting booth.

It will be about one long table, one common cause, one body, one cup, one High Priest, one unifying hope-then-realized.

But until then, the ache …

I don’t talk about it often here, but I used to be a political correspondent on the staff of The Des Moines Register. I covered the 2000 presidential election between George Bush and Al Gore, which means I scrutinized every debate and dozens of attack ads. I attended political rallies and arranged for private interviews with the candidates, their running mates, their campaign managers, their spouses. Because our state hosts the first-in-the-nation caucuses, I was paying attention very early on. It was an exciting season, concluding with the infamous hanging chad.

But it was also painful. It was painful to watch as people tore one another down. I’m in favor of healthy, spirited debate. I love the fact that, in a democracy, we can literally wear our political preferences on our sleeves with T-shirts and buttons. I strongly believe that every American should vote, even if he or she marks different ovals from the ones I pick.

But it feels like a foot-stomp to the heart of humanity when people use our democratic privilege to make an enemy out of anyone with a different view. Call me a fool if you want, but I ache for a world where every tongue, tribe and nation come to the table, not to a WWF-style brawl.

Believe me, I know of a place … Go there with me? To just imagine for a moment what is to come? 

I believe in a place where the broken are invited to sit in the seats of honor; where the winners are those who took up crosses; where people partake bread instead of sound bites; where worship replaces rancor; affirmation replaces attack; praise replaces polarization; sacrifice trumps “success”; and the only crown sits atop the head of our one true King.

I don’t believe in fairy tales. I am not Pollyanna. I believe in Gospel truth. I believe the creeds I profess every morning, that Scripture is truth, that Jesus Christ died because He loved us while we were yet sinners, that He rose from the grave, and that He is coming again.

I believe that He set eternity in the hearts of men, and that’s why people can, at once, sing and feel a deep ache, in crazy places like football arenas.

I believe that one day, thousands upon thousands will gather to sing in unison, and there will be no aching for what is to come, no more wishing for something unseen. Because it will already be.
RECOMMENDED: The Ten Commandments of Talking Politics on Social Media, at The High Calling.


by | October 29, 2012 | 18 comments


  1. SimplyDarlene

    Soooo, politics aside (and you know that’s hard for me to say and do) what ND song were ya all belting out? Can we get an audio clip?


    • dukeslee

      Darlene, Is the video not working for you? Did you click play?

      • Lori

        This was absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait for that time also.

      • SimplyDarlene

        oh my land, miss JDL – i’m a little slow on the uptake lately. my bad.

  2. Marcus Goodyear

    Last presidential cycle, Facebook got so bad we actually had to leave our church. We couldn’t reconcile the smiling Sunday faces with the hateful Facebook posts.

    It wasn’t something that we did lightly or quickly, but it began with their political vitriol on Facebook.

    • Susan DiMickele

      I hear ya Marcus, for this and other reasons I’ve stopped doing any politics on social media for some time. Maybe one day I’ll publicly reenter the discussion, but I just can’t do it right now.

  3. Lori Poppinga

    Well-said, my friend. I am so glad that we only have one week left before election day. I must not be friends with too many die hard political fans as I have not been inundated with the “hate” speech that I know is out there. I also don’t watch a lot of television and I wish the pollster calling me would ask: “how much credence do you give to political advertising?” because I would have to answer none. So thankful there is coming a day…
    Keep up the God work.

  4. Nancy Kourmoulis

    Beautifully written. Longing for that day when His kingdom is on earth as it is in heaven and our citizenship is fully attained.

  5. ro.ellott

    oh…I believe in that place too…and long for the day we live more fully in His Love…blessings to you my friend~

  6. Linda

    I long for that place too Jennifer. You’ve written what is on the hearts of so many. I sure will be glad when this election is behind us:-)
    I love you right back Jennifer!

  7. Diana Trautwein

    Thank you so much for this fresh air tonight, Jennifer. I am so done with this election and all the accusations, and fear-based rhetoric, most especially from Christians, so many of whom seem to have forgotten that God IS still on the throne. Yes, it is important to vote. Absolutely. But goodness gracious sakes alive – the vitriol is so unnecessary and unhelpful. This, however, is exactly what we need more of – so thank you. A lot.

  8. Jerralea

    I feel that ache, too, Jennifer. I’ve been longing for home lately … I’ve been writing about it for my 31 Day series. I can’t think of anything more encouraging than the thought of our forever home.

  9. Leah Adams

    Let it be. Come, Lord Jesus! The older I grow, the more I long for heaven.

  10. Susan

    Amen Jennifer — Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. ~2 Tim 4:8


  11. Jillie

    Hey Jennifer…I know a lot of Canadians, meself included, who take great interest in your political system ‘down there’. We’re very caught up in the race. I guess I just never thought that things could get so ugly on social media because of it. And especially that Christians could be so hurtful and venomous online over their beliefs…so much so, that they would ‘unfriend’ someone on FB because they don’t agree? I don’t know if the same thing happens here, or not. We all have our own opinions, but that’s the beauty of a democracy-we all get to have our own opinions! And, as I recall, the Good Book says something about GOD being the One who sets up leaders and kingdoms…AND takes them down.
    Waiting as well, for That Beautiful Day when the King of kings sets all things right. And, I’m praying for your country-believe you me!

    • dukeslee

      I should probably clarify, Jillie, that no one unfriended me. But I talked to two different people last week who admitted to unfriending someone on Facebook because of differing views over the election. I was so sad about that.

  12. Dolly@Soulstops

    AMEN…aching with you, Jennifer, for that day when the King of Peace reigns complete..hugs to you, my friend 🙂

  13. Susan DiMickele

    Well said. I’m just sorry we don’t have more political correspondents like you out there. But I’m also really glad you’re a Jesus writer.


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