I started my day by reading an engaging article in the National Catholic Reporter, “Fixing everything: First, let God be God,” by Sister Joan Chittister. Now this is the first time I’ve read anything in the National Catholic Reporter so I find it an inspired accident that I happened across this particular article. Then again, I don’t really believe in coincidences.
I’ve been a very angry person of faith. (It’s increasingly embarrassing to self-identify as Christian.) I am embarrassed by so-called Christians demanding a wall to keep brown asylum seekers and brown immigrants seeking a better life (the tired and poor; the huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the wretched refuse; and the tempest tossed) from entering the land of the free and the home of the brave. Although I’m not sure how “brave” it is to be so terrified of broken, frightened mothers and children.
I’m embarrassed by so-called Christians who joined Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority movement in the ’80s, and now minimize morality and character, even in public office. They’ve redefined what is acceptable in their apparently Machiavellian work for they do not mind ungodly means to their end.
I’m embarrassed by so-called Christians who twist both themselves and scriptures into hypocritical knots in order to defend a man who has admitted to behaving like a sexually entitled predator, and is a crude, corrupt, narcissistic liar who promotes racism and irrational fear of “the other” in order to hold onto his base. His perceived power. The source of his being-ness.
I’m embarrassed by so-called Christians who believe that the United States of America is God’s chosen nation (seriously?) and that he chose those on the religious and political far right to save it. The Nation. The People.
I’m embarrassed by so-called Christians who support a populist movement that excuses their own ethnocentric, nationalistic, xenophobic, hedonistic natures by accepting an opportunist who encourages and exploits their self-centered fears in order to win votes.
All while they profess a love for God, a belief in Jesus, and an adoration of the Bible as The American Life Handbook.
God’s kingdom is not a populist movement. He does not take advantage of The People who feel powerless by crafting his message to appeal to their fear of being powerless. God, unlike politicians, does not manipulate us by using operatives and pollsters to identify our darkest fears -not because they are interested in assuaging them- but in order to regurgitate those fears back on us, and then promising that they and they alone have the solutions.
These so-called Christians not only nurtured President Trump’s savior complex, they believe in it. They cannot deny it when they use words like “anointed” and “chosen.” Bear in mind that they have no evidence of his anointing. They believe it because they want to. They believe it because they want their (not Thy) will be done. They shout Hosanna! while throwing palm leaves at his feet. Make no mistake: they believe Trump will not only make America great again, he will save it. Literally.
Here’s the sneaky, unacknowledged lie that feeds religio-political populism: God asks us what’s wrong with our country, our leadership, our systems, the establishment, the elite, yada yada yada, and then communicates solutions through campaign talking points and memes. Through political parties. Through earthly kingdoms and empires.
Nope. God doesn’t ask us what is wrong with America. He doesn’t hire pollsters. He doesn’t tweet or use FaceBook or Instagram.
God, if we are paying even a little attention, tells us what is wrong and expects us to come up with solutions.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. -Romans 12:2
The answers to our problems are not mysterious or complicated. We don’t have to meditate or live alone in the desert or sit under a tree. We don’t have to perform rituals or make sacrifices or speak truth to power or “pray through.” For Christians, the real ones, it couldn’t be easier to know how to clean up the messes we’ve made. We need to be transformed. Follow the Jesus Way. He showed us exactly how to bring about God’s Kingdom right here on earth.
And God’s Kingdom is not The People’s Kingdom.
What do you think?