One year down.
That is all I really want to say about the first year of the Donald Trump administration.
One year...one very long, difficult, sometimes demoralizing, quite often maddening year. Lies became rebranded "alternative facts." And they were abundant. One newspaper kept a tally and found that the president lied more than 2,000 times and that doesn't even count this past month. He lies when the truth really would be acceptable. His spokespeople...he has had three in the course of the year...rattled off one fairy tale and fib after another from the crowd size at his inauguration to whether or not this man, who expresses sympathy for Nazis and refers to Africa as a 'shithole,' is a racist. He's fickle. He's reckless. And his constant provocation of another loose canon leader, Kim Jong Un, leaves many of us concerned about the possibility of nuclear war. Hawaiians got a scare when a false alarm of an attack on the island state sent people scurrying to find shelter. We live in "interesting" times.
It would be easy to throw in the towel, or curl up in a fetal position as the things I hold dear get trampled on or destroyed. But I'm not about to do that. What keeps me going, and what makes me resist the temptation to give up is Love.
Today, on this anniversary of this presidency, I chose not to rally at the state Capitol building, but instead to take with me a group of faithful Christians to the Episcopal diocese of Georgia's tent revival with our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. (Yes: Episcopalians under a tent for a revival. Will wonders never cease, right?). I knew I needed to be there along the banks of Honey Creek more than anywhere else. I have been longing for how to express my faith in this work I am now engaged in with others "to hold fast to that which is good" and was created for good in this world. And our church leader provided the words:
"On a biblical level, the opposite of love isn't hate; in the New Testament, the opposite of love is self-centeredness. It is the mother of hate...Jesus was executed by an unholy alliance of religious, political, and economic establishments, oriented toward self-centeredness...Always be careful when religious, political, and economic interests come together. It was trouble in the first century and it’s trouble today." - Bishop Michael Curry
This. THIS. The work of the resistance, those of us who are visiting our elected officials, writing post cards, sending emails, making phone calls, going to rallies, donating time, money, and sweat to campaigns for various candidates in an effort to stem the tide of backlash against the progress we've made since the 1960s is holy work. Self-centeredness is what makes politicians do the bidding of their corporate donors because they are allowing money to tell them what is good, right, and just rather than serving the needs of the people who are the least, the lost, and the disaffected. Self-centeredness is overshadowing the work of the spirit when Christians can look away from the horror of Roy Moore's behavior that gets him banned from the Gadsden Mall or shrug off an outrageous statement made about African nations and people from Central America and Haiti because the party or the person is more important to them than the greater good of God's creation. Self-centeredness is the key ingredient to the greed that is causing more painful disparities that affect people of all races and making the income gap greater and greater. This self-centeredness is the wages of sin. Resisting the temptation to serve self, and not others, is the holy work of the Resistance.
Now, most of the Resistance movement is areligious. Not necessarily anti-religious, although there is a lot of that, too. When you believe that religion is about bullying people or belittling anyone who doesn't measure up to some mythical idea of perfection, I wouldn't want to be part of that either. That's an entirely different blog entry and I've written on it on this blog (you can search my "faith journey" and get a sense of my Queer Christianity). Most people in the resistance don't see themselves as doing spiritual work.
I do. I see how when one grounds their work in Love...whether they want to call that Love by the name of Jesus or not...it is still a work in Love. And when we do works that are grounded in that Source we are necessarily doing the work of what Bishop Curry calls the transformation of The Nightmare of this World into God's Dream. I have many times in my activism looked to the example of Jesus to give me the boost and the hope that I need when I find myself faced with what seems like an impossible and intractable opponent. I let myself go into that experience of his arrest on Maundy Thursday, and the chaos and the fear and confusion that must have been present in that moment and--as the old hymn says--"it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble." I look at how Jesus, who had moments of private confession of his fear at knowing what was coming at him, and still he overcame his own concerns because his mission was not a self-centered one; it was for all humankind. Maybe my own struggles aren't quite that big and lofty, and yet taking a stand for justice and mercy for Dreamers, for my trans siblings, for people of color is plenty big. I visualize a future where we care about not leaving the planet in worse shape than when we were born. The way to make a country great is to educate children and to invest in improving the lives of women, especially women of color. This is what I believe the words "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" are all about.
Time to count resistance as a spiritual work.