Friday, November 30, 2012

A voice from Warrendale (updated)

In 2010 I wrote a review of Warrendale, the 1967 documentary by Allan King about the home for troubled children of the same name. In it I wondered out loud what became of the children of Warrendale.

Did the children of Warrendale grow up to be well-adjusted adults with kids of their own? They would be retirement age now. Possibly spending winters in Florida like thousands of other Canadian snowbirds. Hard to believe, but possible.

Well, turns out, some of them did. Sincere thanks to Sharon Turple Gataiance -- a resident of Warrendale when the film was made -- who came across my piece and posted this reminiscence. Her memories shed light on some of the questions the film raises.

As a resident of House One at Warrendale,at the time that this film was made, I too have wondered how some of the other children have fared.
You question why these children were there. At the time that this film was made, the powers that were had decided that all childhood mental and emotional problems stemmed from their home environment.
In my case,at 14, I was bored at school, started skipping it and got caught shoplifting. Instead of sending me to reform school, the court sent me to Warrendale. I'm sure that they thought that they had my best interested at heart. But, personally, when I was put in the same environment as children with autism, schizophrenia and those that had grown up in foster care, and was told that we're all alike, well, yes, there was some anger and acting out. Even at 14 I knew that there was a big difference.
As far as I could see, holding and bottle feeding were not right. I guess that some of the children needed the attention but was this the way?
And the poor parents, being brought in for regular meetings and told that the reason that their children were autistic or schizophrenic was because they hadn't raised them properly. "These children didn't need drugs, no, they just needed someone to hold them and love them."
This was the alternative to electric shock treatments at that time so I guess that I was lucky to miss that.
At the time, I didn't know why the practices at Warrendale weren't good, just that they weren't. In my own simple way I quietly put as many sticks in the spokes as I could.
At the age of 16, I was discharged from 'John Brown's' care. Not because I had been 'cured', but that I was "untreatable and was disrupting the other children's treatment".
Imagine, thrown out as "untreatable". I repeat that with a sense of pride. This might sound silly to those that didn't go through it, but, it was a hell of an accomplishment to have survived relatively unscathed.
I have worried about the one's that I left behind. I hope that they're alright. I haven't forgotten them, they were one of the most important parts of my life.
I'm a grandmother now, worked at McMaster University for 30 years and yes I do vacation in Florida every year.
Thank you for giving me a forum on which to voice this. It's the first time that I've been able to write about it.
Sharon Turple Gataiance

On 11/30/12 Barbara, another child of Warrendale, posted this in response to Sharon's story:

I, too, was a child of Warrendale - not of your Warrendale, but of the first Warrendale that John Brown directed. It was located in Newmarket ON and was for girls only.
Ours was different from yours ~ we were called "Emotionally Disturbed" back then. A collection of girls from parents that didn't care about them, or abused them or just couldn't afford to raise them.
I lived in Warrendale from 1954 - 1960 and I'm pleased to say they were very happy years, full of fond memories for me ~ memories of the girls I grew up with and the loving staff that looked after us. I think of them now and then, wonder where they might be, and hope they all went on to live a happy and productive life.
I enjoyed reading your story and pleased to know that another child from John Brown's 'Warrendale' is alive and well and happy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The church's duty to take the long view (Forsyth)

I'm taken aback by this quote from Scottish theologian P.T. Forsyth (1848 - 1921). It's from his 1910 book The Work of Christ.

The ideas at the centre of the Christian faith are too large, too deep and subtle, to show their effects in one age; and the challenge of them does not show its effect in one generation or even in two. . . . Therefore it is part of the duty of the Church, in certain sections and on certain occasions, to be less concerned about the effect of the Gospel upon the individual immediately, or on the present age, and to look ahead to what may be the result of certain changes in the future. God sets watchmen in Zion who have to keep their eye on the horizon; and it is only a drunken army that could scout their warning. We are not only bound to attend to the needs and interests of the present generation; we are trustees for a long future, as well as a long past. Therefore it is quite necessary that the Church should give very particular attention to these central and fundamental points whose influence, perhaps, is not so promptly prized, and whose destruction would not be so mightily felt at once, but would certainly become apparent in the days and decades ahead. [pp. 142-3, bold emphasis mine]

Forsyth's warning reminds me how hard it is to take the long view -- in ministry and in life. There's an emphasis today (and rightly so!) on contextualizing the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that communicates to the world around us, but there's a fine line between "contextualization" and trimming the message to fit with an ever-changing spirit of the age. Consult the dustbin of church history for numerous examples of what happens when the latter course is taken.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unconditional Grace?

Here's a thought provoking quote from Tim Keller (Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road, pp. 226-7).

Grace is not unconditional acceptance, but it is undeserved. That is a very difficult balance to strike! God's grace comes to us without prerequisites, finding us as we are. God's grace does not come to the "deserving" (there is no such person), and it does not discriminate. Rather, initially it comes to us freely. But once it enters into our lives, God's grace demands changes; it holds us accountable. Why? Grace demands our holiness and growth for our sake as well as for God's glory. Grace intercepts destructive behavior, protects us from the ravages of sin, sanctifies us so we can be "holy and happy," two inseparable qualities.
In summary, grace is undeserved caring that intercepts destructive behavior. It is not unconditional acceptance, nor is it a legalism that says, "Shape us or I will stop loving you." Rather, it says, "Your sin cannot separate you from me," and then, in addition, says, "I won't let your sin destroy you." Grace comes to the unlovely person, but refuses to let him remain ugly. Grace begins as "justification," a free act of God alone, but it becomes "sanctification," a process by which the person cooperates with God in spiritual growth.

I find that a helpful distinction because it challenges my tendency to make grace cheap. Bonhoeffer's classic definition of "cheap grace" is worth repeating -- "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

In other words, it's the grace we gladly extend to ourselves, with no strings attached. But the grace of God is different. We see it modeled in the earthly ministry of Jesus: the perfect balance of grace and truth. He healed and forgave the undeserving, but he didn't leave it at that. His free grace was accompanied by a message of repentance. "Go and sin no more." Divine grace shakes things up.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  (Titus 2:11-14)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Three cheers for Thanksgiving

And I could see you comin home after work late
You're in the kitchen tryin to fix us a hot plate
Ya just workin with the scraps you was given
And mama made miracles every Thanksgivin
- Tupac Shakur

It's testimony to the universal appeal of Thanksgiving that a personality about as far away from a Norman Rockwellesque white-bread conception of American culture as one could get, the deceased rapper Tupac Shakur, could rhyme affectingly about gratitude to his mama ("a poor single mother on welfare/tell me how ya did it/there's no way I can pay you back") and include a great line about Thanksgiving.

We've just come through an incredibly polarizing presidential election season, yet tomorrow blue state Obama voters and red state Romney voters will be united around a common table loaded with all-American fare. Soccer moms and welfare mamas, NASCAR dads and metrosexuals, fans of Tupac and fans of Michael Bublé, liberals and conservatives, secular and religious, rich and poor and everyone in between -- all will plunge wholeheartedly into rituals remarkable for their sameness.

I've heard it said, and I agree, that Thanksgiving is the most simple, genuine and least commercialized of the major American holidays (of course it's followed by Black Friday where our baser instincts come out). When it comes to Turkey Day Americans of every stripe are "all in." Why? Are there lessons to be learned? Can the spirit of the Thanksgiving table begin to heal our national divisions?

It seems that, for one day at least, gratitude brings us together. I'll eat and drink to that. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tupac's "Dear Mama" via By Way of Beauty

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"You go first. You have children waiting at home."

Having offered words of appreciation for the movie version of A Night to Remember let me recommend the 1955 book it's based on. Author Walter Lord had the benefit of being able to interview many Titanic survivors. Memory being what it is he encountered differing versions of events, but by stitching them all together, and allowing as many voices as possible to be heard, he delivered what is the closest we'll ever get to experiencing what it was like to be there on the night of April 15, 1912.

A Night to Remember is full of vignettes that stick in the reader's mind, all delivered in a matter-of-fact documentary style. One of the reasons the film adaptation is so effective is that it too eschews florid melodrama.

Much has been written about the stoic resolve of the first-class male passengers to see their wives and children loaded into lifeboats and lowered into the freezing North Atlantic not knowing if they would ever see them again. Among this group were some of the scions of New York and Philadelphia society. With a few rare exceptions the crew's policy of only allowing women and children into the limited number of lifeboats was accepted without complaint, though toward the end enforcing it got to be a bit dicey and the unselfish code of conduct wasn't limited to the men. This from chapter five. . .

Only one boat left. Collapsible D had now been fitted into the davits used by No. 2 and was ready for loading. There was no time to spare. The lights were beginning to glow red. Chinaware was breaking somewhere below. Jack Thayer saw a man lurch by with a full bottle of Gordon's gin. He put it to his mouth and drained it. "If I ever get out of this," Thayer said to himself, "there is one man I'll never see again," (Actually, he was one of the first survivors Thayer met.)
[Second Officer Charles] Lightoller took no chances. Most of the passengers had moved aft, but still—one boat . . . 47 seats . . . 1,600 people. He had the crew lock arms in a wide ring around Boat D. Only the women could come through.
Two baby boys were brought by their father to the edge of the ring, handed through, and placed in the boat. The father stepped back into the crowd. He called himself "Mr. Hoffman" and told people he was taking the boys to visit relatives in America. His name really was Navatril and he was kidnapping the children from his estranged wife.
Henry B. Harris, the theatrical producer, escorted Mrs. Harris to the ring, was told he couldn't go any further. He sighed, "Yes, I know. I will stay."
Colonel Gracie rushed up with Mrs. John Murray Brown and Miss Edith Evans, two of the five "unprotected ladies" to whom he had offered his services on the trip. He was stopped by the line but saw the women through. They reached Boat D just as it was starting down the falls. Miss Evans turned to Mrs. Brown: "You go first. You have children waiting at home."
Quickly she helped Mrs. Brown over the rail. Then someone yelled to lower away, and at 2:05 Collapsible D—the last boat of all—started down toward the sea—without Edith Evans.

Whether she realized it or not Edith Evans had given up her chance of survival. She turned out to be one of only four female first class passengers to perish in one of the singular events of history.

Quote from this edition

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jindal 2016?


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday called on Republicans to “stop being the stupid party” and make a concerted effort to reach a broader swath of voters with an inclusive economic message that pre-empts efforts to caricature the GOP as the party of the rich. . . . “We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything,” Jindal told POLITICO in a 45-minute telephone interview. “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”

He was just as blunt on how the GOP should speak to voters, criticizing his party for offending and speaking down to much of the electorate.

“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that,” Jindal said. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”

Calling on the GOP to be “the party of ideas, details and intelligent solutions,” the Louisianan urged the party to “stop reducing everything to mindless slogans, tag lines, 30-second ads that all begin to sound the same."

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Makers vs. takers? Some post-election thoughts.

Prominent among the post-election breast beating on the Right is a counterproductive (and quite ugly) meme. It goes something like this. We've become a nation where half the population expects the government to take care of them, a nation where takers outnumber makers, where there are more people in the wagon than pushing the wagon. This metanarrative is counterproductive because it insults the very voters you need to win over to have any chance of ever having another Republican president, and ugly because it raises stereotypes about certain groups being lazy shiftless folks looking for a handout.

I'm not saying this meme is completely without credibility. Many sweeping generalizations have an element of truth in them. I'm sure there were people who voted for Obama simply because they think he'll protect some or another benefit they get from the government.

On the other hand, it's an oversimplification to say that Romney was the candidate of rich white people, but truth be told there are a lot of glum faces on Palm Beach island this week!

The counterevidence to the "takers for Obama vs. makers for Romney" meme is abundant for anyone with eyes to see. How about my former neighbor, a retired African-American postal carrier, with an Obama sign in his front yard. Is he a taker? Maybe his life's work is worth less since it was done for the federal government and not the private sector? How about the millions of Hispanics and Asian-Americans who exit polling indicates rejected Republican candidates? Are they all on the government dole?

Hopefully the answer is obvious. If anything these communities typify values of hard work and family more than some white communities.

Perhaps the answer to the GOP defeat is more complicated than one is led to believe by the likes of Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh? If you find those voices authoritative then you probably won't care what David Brooks has to say. He's a moderate and he writes for the liberal New York Times. Nevertheless in my opinion he's one of the sharpest commentators out there and if Republicans are going to learn from this defeat -- and if those of us social conservatives who care passionately about defending the unborn and traditional marriage are going to have a voice in Washington (my hunch is that a meaningful slice of the people who voted for Obama did so in spite of his social liberalism) -- we should listen to such as Brooks (and his colleague Ross Douthat) that the GOP's traditional "public is bad private is good, what's good for Wall Street is good for Main Street" economic message is hopelessly out of touch with the challenges faced by growing numbers of hard-working Americans.

Here's a relevant quote from Brooks' November 8 column The Party of Work:

The Pew Research Center does excellent research on Asian-American and Hispanic values. Two findings jump out. First, people in these groups have an awesome commitment to work. By most measures, members of these groups value industriousness more than whites.
Second, they are also tremendously appreciative of government. In survey after survey, they embrace the idea that some government programs can incite hard work, not undermine it; enhance opportunity, not crush it.
Moreover, when they look at the things that undermine the work ethic and threaten their chances to succeed, it’s often not government. It’s a modern economy in which you can work more productively, but your wages still don’t rise. It’s a bloated financial sector that just sent the world into turmoil. It’s a university system that is indispensable but unaffordable. It’s chaotic neighborhoods that can’t be cured by withdrawing government programs.
For these people, the Republican equation is irrelevant. When they hear Romney talk abstractly about Big Government vs. Small Government, they think: He doesn’t get me or people like me.
Let’s just look at one segment, Asian-Americans. Many of these people are leading the lives Republicans celebrate. They are, disproportionately, entrepreneurial, industrious and family-oriented. Yet, on Tuesday, Asian-Americans rejected the Republican Party by 3 to 1. They don’t relate to the Republican equation that more government = less work.
Over all, Republicans have lost the popular vote in five out of the six post-cold-war elections because large parts of the country have moved on. The basic Republican framing no longer resonates.

I'm not Asian or Hispanic, but I have the same reaction listening to cliche-ridden rhetoric about the evils of big government, etc. "He doesn't get me or people like me."

Sure, I understand the threat posed by deficits and runaway spending. But when I'm struggling to scrape together enough money each month to pay our bills, when I'm getting screwed by my insurance company, when I worry about how we're going to afford to send our boys to good schools -- with those things on my mind the priority of cutting the capital gains tax or reducing the size of government to below twenty percent of GDP leaves me cold.

I guess that's why for the first time in my adult life I didn't vote in a presidential election. Give me a candidate that represents my social values and economic values and I'll make the effort to vote.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Charles Wesley's conversion

On May 17, 1738 thirty-year-old Charles Wesley lay gravely ill, but well enough to write the following in his journal.

I experienced the power of Christ rescuing me in temptation. To-day I first saw Luther on the Galatians, which Mr. Holland had accidentally lit upon. We began, and found him nobly full of faith. My friend, in hearing him, was so affected, as to breathe out sighs and groans unutterable. I marvelled that we were so soon and so entirely removed from him that called us into the grace of Christ, unto another Gospel. Who would believe our Church had been founded on this important article of justification by faith alone I am astonished I should ever think this a new doctrine; especially while our Articles and Homilies stand unrepealed, and the key of knowledge is not yet taken away. 
From this time I endeavoured to ground as many of our friends as came in this fundamental truth, salvation by faith alone, not an idle, dead faith, but a faith which works by love, and is necessarily productive of all good works and all holiness.
I spent some hours this evening in private with Martin Luther, who was greatly blessed to me, especially his conclusion of the 2d chapter. I laboured, waited, and prayed to feel "who loved me, and gave himself for me." When nature, near exhausted, forced me to bed, I opened the book upon, "For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness, because a short work will the Lord make upon earth." After this comfortable assurance that He would come, and would not tarry, I slept in peace.

via Carmen Fowler LaBerge

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday Wendell: confronting abstraction, or, "What are you willing to destroy?"

This piece of polemic poetry from Berry is harder-edged than the poem I posted in the last installment of Wednesday Wendell. Someone posted it at the Wendell Berry Society Facebook page yesterday.

Questionnaire (a poem by Wendell Berry)

1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons. 

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred. 

3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without. 

5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child. 
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

From Leavings (Counterpoint, 2009)

Here's Berry making essentially the same point in a less provocative way, from his magnificent essay The Gift of Good Land.

[. . .] We should remind ourselves that materialism in the sense of the love of material things is not in itself an evil. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, God too loves material things; He invented them. The Devil’s work is abstraction—not the love of material things, but the love of their quantities—which, of course, is why “David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people” (II Samuel 24:10). It is not the lover of material things but the abstractionist who defends long-term damage for short-term gain, or who calculates the “acceptability” of industrial damage to ecological or human health, or who counts dead bodies on the battlefield. The true lover of material things does not think in this way, but is answerable instead to the paradox of the lost sheep: that each is more precious than all.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Going down with the ship

Last night I sat down to watch A Night to Remember, the 1958 adaptation of Walter Lord's influential book reconstructing the Titanic disaster. I'm not sure what I was expecting. I think I was expecting a somewhat cheesy movie owing to the technical limitations of 1950's film making, and by what we've come to expect in a post-Titanic (the James Cameron one) era. I couldn't have been more wrong.

On every level -- technical, dramatic, visual -- this movie is far superior to the 1997 film (as undeniably impressive as Cameron's achievement was) and rightly holds it's place as the best movie about the events of April 14, 1912. Because it's a British production with a British cast it has an emotional truthfulness in keeping with what we know about the passengers and crew. The scene where Thomas Andrews breaks the news to Captain Smith that the "unsinkable" ship is going down, and further, that there are lifeboats for only 1200 of the roughly 2200 passengers is devastatingly effective because it's so understatedly played (you can watch that scene here).

A Night to Remember conveys the fateful tragedies of that night without ever resorting to cheap melodrama. It also matter-of-factly portrays the nobility, and let it be said, the moral blindness of the chivalric code of the aristocrats that made up the ship's first class passengers. Their "women and children first" ethic was laudable, but not so laudable when we realize that didn't include the less fortunate women and children below decks in steerage class.

As the ship goes down the movie recreates the legend of "Nearer My God to Thee" being played by the ship's band. Whether this actually happened we'll never know. Some survivors later recalled that the last song was a tune called "Autumn".

Film critic Michael Sragow writes of this scene:

The moment is so emotionally complete that it’s hard to quibble. The hymn crowns a mortal adventure replete with strokes of valor from women as well as men, such as Mrs. Isidor Straus’s spurning a lifeboat so she can spend the short remainder of her life with her husband. This film, like Lord’s history, captures the final gasp of high honor in high society.

A Night to Remember is brilliant docudrama and a fitting tribute to the lives lost, and those forever changed, by an event that after a century still resonates in our collective consciousness.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Not a part of any political party's "base"

I couldn't vote for President Barack Obama. Having said that let me quickly add that I can't stand the barely disguised nativism and hysteria of some of his ardent foes -- I've ceased being amazed at some of the things that show up in my e-mail and Facebook -- and I think he's done a good job in some areas. I believe he's a decent ethical man, good father and husband, and someone who loves America. But I couldn't vote for him.

The reasons why revolve around "women's issues". Obama has concluded that the path to victory means getting a solid majority of college-educated white women, and the way he's going about this is to be the Cheerleader-in-Chief for Planned Parenthood, unrestricted access to abortion, and free birth control. Apparently those are the issues professional women care most about. In doing this he's forced to wink at the hook-up culture represented by writer/filmmaker Lena Dunham, whose clever pro-Obama ad has created a stir. In going after the "Lena Dunham vote" the President tacitly endorses behavior that's been disastrous for the poor African-American communities that will turn out and vote for him in overwhelming numbers.

Let it be said that the GOP's offensive and clumsy statements in this area ("legitimate rape" etc.) have made it easy for the Dems to caricature them as misogynistic Neanderthals.

So this means I'm an automatic vote for Romney. Right? Well, no.

Baylor historian Thomas Kidd has identified an emerging group of evangelical Christian voters that he calls "paleo evangelicals". I'm not crazy about the label, but I fit pretty well into what he describes.

He writes:

The paleo evangelicals are not liberal in any sense. They come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives: some are deeply conversant with the ancient history of the church, and with the Reformation; some are sympathetic to Roman Catholic social doctrines and traditions (if not all Catholic theology and ecclesiology); some are deeply conscious of the church’s mission outside of America; some gravitate toward outlets such as The American Conservative or the Front Porch Republic, publications and blogs focused on the conservative themes of local culture, limited government, and ordered liberty.
Check, check, check. He could have added -- many of them are inspired by the writings of Wendell Berry.

In other words these are folks who are theologically and culturally conservative, but deeply uncomfortable with the Republican party and what now flies under the banner of conservatism. Kidd gives three reasons for this discomfort. A suspicion of American civil religion. ("Our faith needs to be focused on Christ, the paleos say, and rooted in the deep, wide tradition of orthodox church history. We do not base our faith, in any sense, on the personal beliefs of Jefferson, Washington, or Adams.") A pessimism that any political party can do much good in the world. And problems with certain GOP positions (e.g. the Iraq War). All of this makes "paleo evangelicals" reluctant Republican voters.

Kidd doesn't mention another area: economics. My family's economic security has been shot to hell by the greed and reckless behavior of Wall Street -- the "one percent" if you will -- and so I have big problems with much of the rhetoric and substance of the Romney campaign on everything from taxes to healthcare. Not to mention my loathing of big Romney backers like billionaire playboys the Koch brothers.

So what to do? Suck it up and vote for the lesser of the two evils? If that's an open question for you let me point you to a terrific piece by Thabiti Anyabwile -- Are Christian Voters Soldiers Entangled in Civilian Affairs? -- challenging the assumption that we have a duty to vote, even if we do so reluctantly.
. . . most of us will rationalize our settling [for the lesser of two evils] by saying a few things to ourselves. These are the only two choices we have. Or, Voting for the lesser of two evils is an effort to stem the tide. Or, There’s one candidate that’s clearly better on the social issue(s) I care about. You’ll know that this is a rationalization for you if you say these things with the nagging suspicion that there’s gotta be more mixed with a pang of uncertainty in your conscience. My hope for us all is that even if one or more of those reasons tip us into the voting booth, we might have a deeper resolution to fight for something positively better next election, not just something a little less bad. 
Some others will vote in a couple weeks because they’ve heard and perhaps believe that not voting is not an option. It’s fine if people feel that way, too. If you feel a moral ought when it comes to voting, do what you believe to be right. Even write and speak to convince others that voting is right, morally good, even morally necessary. 
But I don’t hold that view. Nor do I believe that speaking against the system while not voting is less effective than speaking against the system then voting. I think that position, while I respect it, fails on two counts. First, it seems to me to assume that the fundamental freedom and action that most necessarily needs to be exercised is the vote itself. It seems to suggest that speaking alone is empty or at least incomplete. But the right of free speech comes prior to and is fundamental to voting, which is simply another form of speaking. The most necessary thing is that we speak, not that we vote. The more effective thing in a democratic society that prizes the free exchange of ideas isn’t the private, quiet, sometimes symbolic act of voting. The more effective thing is shouting from the rooftops, banging the drums or pots, repeatedly delivering the message, enacting a little civil disobedience that challenges the powers of complacency and complicity. The most effective weapon in the campaign of ideals are words, not ballots. Ballots have their place but only if they reflect what people are speaking.
Moreover, it seems to me that if we really believe the system is broken but we vote anyway, we simply nullify our contention that the system is broken. Now, we may not believe it’s “that broken,” and so we vote. Praise God. I support you if you feel that way. But if you think the farce of national democratic elections has reached an almost irretrievable state of disrepair, corrupted by big money on both sides and fundamentally manipulative and insincere in its presentation of candidates, then to vote could only end in one outcome no matter who is elected–the further entrenchment of the brokenness we decry. The vote becomes a veto. In that case, the ballot is empty and the voice is empty. You can’t decry a thing sincerely and then comply with the thing secretly. We can’t hope to bring change or reform by continuing practices and patterns that are themselves part of the problem. Broken systems call for genuine fixes.

Food for thought as we enter the home stretch. I don't know about you, but I'll wake up on Wednesday morning in a good mood no matter who wins.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.