My Theology Lets me Imagine a Nation of California – Part 1
Let me be clear right off: This 2-post series is mostly whimsical. I’m going to indulge my imaginative side. But I’ll interweave some fascinating California (my home state) events with important thinking from a spiritual perspective. Since I have more new readers recently, first, my spiritual “location”:
I’m a somewhat begrudging “member” of institutional Christianity… of a very progressive sort (having been more traditional/conservative about 45 of my 67 years). I almost identify more with the “spiritual but not religious” sentiment. But I know well the positive power of the Christian tradition and of faith communities so I am involved in one. It is part of the United Church of Christ (Congregational… a progressive branch of a line of churches going way back to the independence-minded folks of America’s founding, who’d departed from the Anglican fellowship and sought “congregational” governance rather than a church hierarchy).
Now, as to a “Nation of California”, with Brexit underway, why not Calexit? Yes, that’s already a term… I’m not inventing it! A good number of Californians are serious about seeing if California can become its own nation. I clearly am biased, but just on the merits of being a potentially good nation and neighbor to the remaining 49 states of America and the rest of the world, I think we can and perhaps should imagine prospects and explore the idea. (Not that I’m actually for it, at least at this point, nor do I think Californians are likely to be! But the way things have been lately, that could change.)
A couple more facts: There indeed is a fully legal and peaceful effort to place a referendum on the 2018 California state-wide ballot. Supporters hope that could lead to actual steps to secede from the US and become a separate nation. Needing under 600,000 signatures to get on the ballot, out of over 18 million voters, this is feasible. It appears even likely. And polling shows roughly 32 percent support for at least the concept of Calexit. Of course polling this far removed means very little.
Also, support for a referendum on the ballot is far from the same as support for even an attempt at secession. I will note that the uncertainties and complexities of a possible split are massive. For example, there is lack of clarity on the constitutionality of the move, as far as I know. But, in a sad and disturbing US political environment, let’s play a little with the idea. I’d suggest it can be a potentially helpful “thought experiment”. And provide some entertaining diversion when the more real-and-present dangers get us down. And I’ll have some fun introducing non-Californians, and those who’ve not been so lucky as to spend some time here, to my state.
In the second part, I will go more into the Calexit-related issues of spirituality and theological thinking that sync up with the teachings of Jesus and the example of the earliest Christians. But for now, a little more California braggin’ (recall “California dreamin'”) for those not familiar with our great state. The notion of a nation here makes some sense. We’re certainly large enough: almost 800 miles long by 250 miles wide, with a Pacific coastline of well over that 800 miles.
Our geography includes almost everything seen worldwide from vast flat agricultural valleys (especially the Central and Imperial Valleys) to the snow-clad, very steep Sierra Nevada mountain range… the picture above is Half Dome, from a fall visit of mine to the deservedly-famous Yosemite National Park).
We also have a lot of desert of varying terrain and great beauty.
Then we have thick forests including famous coastal Redwoods (some over 300 feet tall) and inland Sequoias even more massive though slightly less tall. My own Southern California area allows an energetic person to surf in the Pacific, ski in the San Bernardino or San Jacinto Mountains (below)…
… and ride on Ocotillo or Glamis sand dunes in the same day… potentially with no wet suit and no jacket. I no longer pursue such recreation, but am more than satisfied with incredible hiking, just a couple miles from my door (below), or further afield.
Does outdoor recreation get any better than this (plus much more)?
It’s going to be boring to switch to economics and such for California, so I’ll just say this: At roughly the economic ranking (if we were a nation) of sixth in the world, I think we’d have more than viability… maybe some real influence. As to our political stance, we are decidedly liberal – about an 18 percentage point edge of registered Democrats to Republicans, with a large independent (or “decline to state” on registration) bunch of voters. We consistently lead the US in high standards for carbon emissions and clean air and water. We also have a highly inventive and techy streak (Silicon Valley), certainly a world leader in that regard.
So one can begin to see that many Californians could get excited by the idea that we might be better off on our own as a nation. If one were to approach the prospect from a wholistic and spiritual more than a strictly political stance (though the two are inevitably mixed), how might the thinking go? More on that in the next post.