It has taken me a few days to process and settle my mind enough to write a blog entry. Let me begin with the rawest of my emotions. This year has sucked and this presidential election is a cherry on top of the suckiest sundae ever.
I am shocked. I am angry. I am deeply hurt.
And I have felt fear in my heart. On Wednesday, I attended Morning Prayer, a quiet time of contemplation marked with hugs and tears. I worked and then had to drive to Augusta, GA, for a meeting of the Commission on Healing Justice, a working group-in-progress with the Episcopal dioceses of Georgia and Atlanta looking to leverage our place as Christians to confront issues of the death penalty and criminal justice system. Before I left Tallahassee for the nearly six-hour drive, I made sure I put air in the tires and filled up the gas tank. And then I drove, without ever getting out of the car, until I got to the hotel in Augusta. I did not want to have to stop for anything, even a bathroom break. I look like what I am: a dyke. And I was going to be driving through the heart of Trump’s America. I did not feel safe.
Friends, especially among Episcopal clergy, were posting that we need to come together for the good of the country. One priest here in Tallahassee penned an op-ed piece that appeared in the paper on Monday and insisted this healing had to begin immediately. Even I knew that if Hillary Clinton had won, there was no way the healing was going to be immediate, not after such a bruising campaign. Now, it is really questionable.
Already there is talk of rescinding the Obama administration’s rules that protected the rights of transgender students to use the rest room appropriate for their gender. We have an incoming Vice President who signed a religious freedom law that effectively gave the green light for Indiana businesses to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, and he supports conversion therapy for LGBTQ kids, an absolutely wrong and horrible thing to do to a child. They don’t support marriage equality either. And that’s just what they have in mind for queers for the first 100 days. We haven’t talked about all the other minority groups the president-elect has bullied and further marginalized and threatened to strip away rights and disrespect them. Friends are posting that their kids are coming home in tears because the bullies have become more emboldened in their attacks on them for being "different." It's terrible. So, please, excuse me if I’m having a little difficulty with wrapping my mind around how I need to “come together” with a person still hitting me in the head with a hammer.
So, yes, I am concerned. I cannot reconcile how people could vote for this man, and particularly if they are people who sit in the pew of a church and hear the same message of Love that I hear in the Gospels. How are Episcopalians, specifically, going to tell me that they truly do “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving their neighbor as yourself,” or claim to be “striving for justice and peace among all people and respecting the dignity of every human being” if they voted for a man who spits in the face of those very values? (The Baptismal Covenant, BCP, pp 304-305). Have the clergy failed to impart that what one professes on Sunday is supposed to become a rule of life that we live out in the world? Has the church, not just clergy but the entire church, dropped the ball in holding each other accountable on these promises? We wring our hands about dwindling membership, but I hear what is muttered about Christians and Christianity. We have for too long remained too timid to speak up when things go awry. We have allowed too much discretion in whether to stand with the marginalized group and made it OK to make peace with oppression if it protects the church or the diocesan budget, and doesn’t upset some “really nice people.” I, for one, am tired of hearing about how much everyone loves Jesus. I would rather people proclaim that they will boldly follow Jesus. I believe this is what is meant by our Presiding Bishop when he talks of us joining in “The Jesus Movement.”
My meeting in Augusta went well, and it was good to be with people who also have a passion for finding new ways and different paths to speaking to the issues of the death penalty and the victims of violent crime. I was truly thankful to be immersed for three hours in a discussion that, while colored by the events of the election, has not stopped us from engaging to dig deeper and bring forth Love to a hurting world.
And that’s where this particular entry is headed. In this Trumped America, I have a call to Love and to speak Love and live in Love even in the face of unmitigated hatred. I have a vocation that requires me to keep my inner lamp lit and not hide out in my house but take it out into the darkened streets because there are people who really need to see it. Now more than ever. I will rise. I will not back down. Please join me.