Elections and 100


[Wednesday morning November 7, 7 am].  I just put on the television in my hotel room in Kortrijk (close to the Belgian-French border), where last night I had an important meeting.  I had hoped for an Obama victory, and my hope had been fulfilled. Barack Obama will have another four years as president of the USA. He will undoubtedly have some difficult years ahead of him, for he will meet stiff resistance from a Congress with a republican majority. But everything is to be preferred over a republican president, whether his name is Bush or Romney. Most of the readers of my Dutch blog will agree with this. If the Dutch people would have had the task of electing the US president, the current president Obama would have been re-elected with a very comfortable majority of at least 80 percent. Many of my American readers of the English edition of this blog, however, are disappointed, for, unfortunately, a very sizable part of the American Christians, including Seventh-day Adventists, votes Republican. I will never be able to understand this. While I am writing these lines, I am listening to Romney’s speech in which he admits his loss. It is remarkably reconciliatory in tone.  Obama has yet to give his acceptance speech.

This week China will also elect a new leader. The process is quite different from that in the USA, but the event is not less important.

Yes, and the Adventist Church in the Netherlands is also in the midst of elections. Last Sunday, during the second day of the Union session, the president was elected for the next five years. There was great uncertainty, until the very last moment, but in the end Wim Altink was re-elected. I had hoped that this would happen. But, like Obama, he must face the reality that many people wanted a different leader. I am happy that he accepted the assignment in spite of the strong opposition. He has experienced that leadership can be very challenging. But, fortunately, he has a leadership role in a church and one may expect that the choice of the majority will be respected and that he will receive full support. We pray that he may have the strength to truly lead.

But I start this day also with thoughts of a different kind.  November 7 is my mother’s birthday. Exactly one hundred years ago today, she was born. She did not live to be a hundred. We had to accompany her to her place of rest when she was 79, now some 21 years ago. November 8, tomorrow, was the birthday of my youngest sister. Tomorrow she would have turned 62, but she had to be satisfied with about half that number of years. It is not something I think about every day, but once in a while it underscores for me the realization that we all live just a day at a time, and we do not know when our name comes up.

Each day brings new surprises. When about half an hour ago I opened my e-mail, I saw an invitation to attend a congress of Adventists theologians, next March, in Beirut, Lebanon, where I am supposed to read a paper. I had not really expected this invitation, considering that  I am no longer ‘active’ in church work, in the regular sense of the word.

With these various thoughts in mind, I will go down to the ground floor to take my breakfast. Before hitting the road, I will spend some time reading, since I want to avoid the rush hour around Antwerp. I am reading a biography of the great, but at times bizarre, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.  Then, while I drive the 280 kilometers to Zeewolde, where I live, I will no doubt have the opportunity to listen to all kinds a analyses of the US election by ‘America-experts’.