Yesterday, a leader in the Presbyterian Church (USA) posted something on Facebook he thought was cute. While on a tour of Washington D.C., the guide mentioned that things were in place for the President’s arrival by helicopter. The guide said that Trump would drop in between the White House fountain and the White House. My Presbyterian brother asked if we could drop him from 10,000 feet. Reportedly, the bus erupted in laughter.
I commented, “Interesting that we live in a culture where someone can joke about killing the president and others just laugh.” He replied, “When the President is a joke, what do you expect?”
What do I expect? Damn good question!
I expect us, as followers of the Prince of Peace, to model something different. I expect us to discipline our tongues as Jesus’ brother James admonished. I expect us to have an allegiance that goes far beyond the corrosive division spreading like cancer in our nation.
I do not support Trump. I am opposed to his policies on the environment, immigration, and health care. I won’t even get into examining his character revealed in one tweet after another. I am working locally and internationally to counter his Administration’s policies.
But his election has had a curious effect on me. Rather than radicalize me, it has drawn me further into the center. Why? Because like never before, I see the toxic underbelly of what we call the “progressives movement.”
It’s too easy to traffic in memes about peace and justice. It’s too easy to fly a banner that quotes Gandhi’s, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
The real test is to live it out. I have been listening and watching, and here is what I see. We progressives can be just as controlling and insistent about our world views as any fanatic on the right. Our comments, like the one I mentioned above, can be just as incendiary as right-wing bigots. We call for others to repent of their racism, classism, and homophobia, but fail to remove the planks in our own eyes, thus contributing to the disease eating America from its core.
I’ve been guilty of it myself, and I am sorry.
A few weeks back I linked to an article by David Brooks in the New York Times. Here’s an excerpt.
“Some people treat the Trump White House as the ‘Breaking Bad’ serial drama they’ve been binge watching for six months. For some of us, Trump-bashing has become educated-class meth. We derive endless satisfaction from feeling morally superior to him — and as Leon Wieseltier put it, affirmation is the new sex.”
I’m going to work on recovering from my addiction to political controversy and polarization. I can only hope that my other brothers and sisters who are Christian leaders will do the same.
I’m on the other side of the fence as a conservative, republican, Trump supporter but I respect your opinion. Sharing your thoughts as you did is the best way to become educated on other opinions. Screaming in someone’s face that they are a racist because of who they voted for and physically attacking people is not a way to get your voice heard. Thoughts like yours will.
Is this America? That question could have and should have been asked seven years ago as belittling, racist, marginalizing, polarizing, and obstructionist words and actions where systematically leveled against a legitimately elected president of the USA and the will of the people who elected him. Where was your voice then?
Obama was the best President I’ve experienced in my 61 years, and the hatred leveled at him was unconscionable. Where was my voice? Speaking out against hatred and divisiveness then, just as I am now. Asking me that question shows that you have no idea who I am.
You are right ~ I have no idea who you are. Not that I should know, or shouldn’t know. I don’t know and it really doesn’t make any difference. What I must respond to are the words you have selected here in this article. “But his election has had a curious effect on me. Rather than radicalize me, it has drawn me further into the center. Why? Because like never before, I see the toxic underbelly of what we call the “progressives movement.”” The election of the most unqualified, and racially and ethnically divisive president in recent American history makes you call into question the “progressives movement” without any qualification? Wow! The entire “progressives movement” or merely most of it or just some of it? Your language uses a broad brush with little nuance. Just like you took a stray comment (that you characterize as joking about “killing the president”) to tarnish the “leadership” of the Presbyterian Church.
“I expect us, as followers of the Prince of Peace, to model something different. I expect us to discipline our tongues as Jesus’ brother James admonished. I expect us to have an allegiance that goes far beyond the corrosive division spreading like cancer in our nation.” Jesus and the Hebrew prophets had significantly “undisciplined tongues” that you, I assume, also find objectionable. Such language exhibits a privileged position where one anticipates coming home alive today while providing one’s children with adequate food and shelter and safety and medical care and education and opportunity. That is not a luxury that some people can afford. And the Bible does not provide an ethic that commands us to “be nice” at all costs.
“Here this word, you cows of Bashan who are on Mt Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands, “Bring something to drink!” The Lord God has sworn by his holiness; the time is surely coming upon you when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks….”
A time comes when nice words are merely a distraction and a delaying tactic to keep things the way they are, to maintain the status quo. Sarcasm and satire and comedy and irony historically have been used as legitimate weapons against the tyranny of those in power and in control. The prophets did not shy away from the use of harsh, direct and cutting words, and in our present situation, I don’t think we are required to either. Too much is at stake.
You must be a joy in the pulpit. Rock on, bro…
“Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Luke 8:18, 8:16-17 (NIV).
Thanks for speaking up, Krin – I’m a ‘liberal Democrat’ and I understand the intellectual meth-attraction to DJT’s daily embarrassments. But the pile-on of criticism by many of my fellow lefties is repetitive & boring (see MSNBC) and it misses the point: this is an elderly man with a mental condition that renders him unfit to serve as POTUS. I’ve encouraged his family via email to help him resign with some measure of dignity. I’m hoping sincerely they do so within the next few weeks
Krin – Thanks for this thoughtful response.
All the best to you, Jeff.
My apologies for interacting with your writing and on your blog. I was under the impression that your publishing here and posting on FB “Happy to Be A Presbyterian” invited response and discussion. Clearly that was not your intent as you responded with defensiveness (“Asking me that question shows that you have no idea who I am”) and ridicule (“You must be a joy in the pulpit”). My best to you as you work on recovering from your “addiction to political controversy and polarization.”
True, a bit of defensiveness, not at your thoughts, but at your assumption that this was a one time issue with me, echoed in your “Where was your voice then?” Your tone needs some tweaking also. Maybe we can both pray for each other, how’s that?
I had to chastise someone who called for his assassination recently. That’s horrible. I lived through one assassination and don’t ever want to see another. Besides, it would make him a martyr and assure Republican victories for the rest of my life. I’m tired of pointing out how horrible he is personally and his policies are as morally bankrupt as he is. Now I just say
I hear you…
https://vimeo.com/148643920 this is my reply….a simple call for prayer
Thank you for that!
I could not be more opposite than the current resident of the WH. That being said I must not make him other as I am reminded YESHUAH died for my best friend AND my worst enemy. I pray for the WH resident that he will hear the voice of the LORD and respond with a loving quickness. At this same time I pray for all who oppose his views until this awakening occurs. Like it or not we are all in this shi….p together.
Excellent article. Thank you.
Thanks forr a great read