A bumper sticker I saw the other day asked, "Is it 2008 yet?" From the other stickers on the car, I surmised the political change the driver wanted - and soon. My reaction, after the chuckle, was the desire to skip a year of pointless arguing and name-calling. Can we simply hit fast-forward, and cut out the campaigning and haranguing by 12 or 14 months? Umm, no.

Gordon MacDonald's desire for the next year would appear to be the commitment by Christians to true scrutiny of the candidates, a year of asking hard questions about what really matters. His insight is below.

The other day I read this headline in our newspaper: "Christian Right Leaders Struggle to Find a Strong Candidate for President in '08."

It turns out that, a few weeks ago, there was an unpublicized meeting in Florida at a five-star hotel during which "Christian leaders" discussed who they would support in the upcoming presidential race. I worry about a situation in which a few people who are very adroit at seizing the microphone presume to make a movement out of all of us and then speak on our behalf.

I was not raised (by parents or mentors) to think politically or to participate in public political dialogue. My generation of men and women who felt called to the Christian ministry were told that our task was to develop deeply rooted Christians who would transform our discipleship into action items such as work ethics, family strength, financial responsibility, moral choices in entertainment, and responsible political decisions. It was not "ours," we were taught, to form or join political organizations and use our privilege as Christian influencers to pick and tout candidates from our pulpits or TV/radio shows or print publications.

But the rules seem to have changed.

And people like myself who are a bit unhappy about this may have to speak up a bit more. Thus, in an idle moment I imagined myself invited to the Florida meetings, and I began writing down issues and questions I would like to have raised had I been there. I am somewhat confident I know what others who did go would have talked about. So on my list I went in other directions.

As the various names would have been raised at the table in Florida (Clinton, Romney, Obama, McCain, Edwards, Giuliani - please note the randomized sample offered without prejudice), these are the questions I would have raised:

1. Can he/she give us a government that will recoup our reputation in the world as a generous and compassionate nation? And could he/she take more seriously the fact that a large part of this world now finds our country distasteful? And this goes for Christians in other lands also. (I'm embarrassed every time I go abroad.)

2. Is there a candidate brave enough to influence the formulation of bold new initiatives regarding energy-consumption, health-care, and Social Security? (If there isn't, the year 2030 isn't going to be a good year.)

3. Does he/she think they could stop putting our grandchildren in hock with hideous deficits? (Isn't being debt-free a Christian value?)

4. Would he/she take the issue of climate change and environmental care seriously? (It is God's creation, and some more generations may have to share it.)

5. Would he/she pledge to be so truthful with the American people that no reasonable person would question their integrity? Let's describe this as being Lincoln-esque. (I'm tired of spin.)

6. Would he/she renounce all forms of torture in the treatment of prisoners? (I'm ashamed that this is even an issue in America.)

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