How my ‘West Wing’ fanaticism and faith collide


If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ll know that “The West Wing” is my absolute favorite show ever and I think Aaron Sorkin (the creator of the show) is a brilliant writer. I am a Lemon Lyman, Team Toby, Gail the Goldfish, Bartlet for America NERD.

So last week, when HBO Max aired a special staged production of the “Hartsfield Landing” episode from season 3 of my beloved show on behalf of the “When We All Vote” non-partisan initiative, I parked myself in front of the television prepared for zero interruptions. I cackled as I watched CJ and Charlie play practical jokes on one another. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks during Toby and President Bartlet’s banter about what it means to be Presidential during a game of chess.

In the media blitz leading up to this special reunion show, Sorkin described the show as “a love letter to western democracy.”

This particular episode speaks to the power of the electorate. This TV show, fictional as it may be, speaks to my faith.

I hold faithfully to the idea that we must use our voices – our vote – to create the world we want to see. I hold tight to the notion that we must show up if we want to create better communities, a more just country and a more livable world.

Voting is an act of faith. It is sacred.

It is not a taboo subject that shouldn’t be broached at the dinner table. Politics is personal. No matter where we land on the religious spectrum, our faith informs how we view the world around us. Our faith informs how we engage one another in the difficult work of making our world a little bit more like the kin-dom of God (or as we might say in this country a more perfect union).

I think of the theme we’ve used for the last few Greater Northwest Area annual conference gatherings:

It comes from Luke 10: 25 – 28

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[
a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But the lawyer continues, asking Jesus “who is my neighbor?” which then prompts the classic story we all know about a man, the road to Jericho and the Good Samaritan.

This scripture compared to this story from The West Wing is more relevant than ever in our lives today. How do we serve our neighbors? How do we love God and love ourselves in our world today? How can we be the Good Samaritans on the road to Jericho in our communities? How do we make a better road to Jericho?

In other words: How can we do no harm, do Good and stay in love with God when we feel so divided, exhausted, and angry?

Maybe we ought to take a few deep breaths. Maybe we ought to pray for ourselves and those with whom we disagree.

And then we must vote.

Why? Well, I also take inspiration from the Book of Sorkin when (in a different episode) fictitious Communications Director Toby Ziegler says this about our country:

“We have to say what we feel: That government no matter what its failures in the past, and in times to come for that matter, government can be a place where people come together and where no one gets left behind. No one gets left behind. An instrument of … good.”

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Kristen Caldwell
A mom, a writer, a wannabe runner, Kristen Caldwell calls Vancouver, Wash., home and loves getting to tell stories of the people and places that make up the Greater Northwest Area.

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