Torch Column: Reverendly Yours

13 March 2017

There are real grounds now for anxiety about the future of our nation and subsequently the world. For many, the worry has less to do with the one controversial figure currently occupying the Oval Office, and more to do with a spineless Congress that has lost all proportion and meaning in terms of preserving democracy and acting responsibly on behalf of human good.

Not every American leader has enjoyed the support of the progressive population. Many differences have played out in the course of a presidential term or two. But what we face today is a phenomenon new to me: living in fear. If you live long enough you experience ideological battles. You win some, you lose some. That’s what a democracy is all about. But never until this point have we had to endure the dread that accompanies an authoritative president with questionable motives and a shaky psychological profile. He exemplifies a deviancy from a modern democratic and humane society. Our expectations of all cultural norms continuing have been shattered in less than 50 days in office.

The presidency thus far has been single-minded about destruction. All safeguards protecting minorities, women, and the safety of workers have been dismantled. The protection of the planet no longer exists; the goal of a sustainable planet is off the table. Government is but a shell of its former workforce. The new cabinet hell-bent on eliminating the departments they were supposed to lead. White nationalism has replaced any shred of decency in the country, with repercussions felt around the globe. The Republican Congress acquiesces to everything, gambling that passing a right-wing agenda is worth the risk of supporting a madman.

Our church, like many liberal houses of worship, have felt a “Trump Bump.” Why? I think it has to do with the basic gut-wrenching worry we carry in the pit of our stomachs. Inside of two months, the core values of our nation have been annihilated.

We now speak of the “unworthy poor,” and foreigners are perceived as threats to our safety. Facts are irrelevant as is scientific research. Violence is unleashed on sacred values, and again – people are afraid.

In fear, we turn to one another for support and strength. Our worlds are very different now. The word Capitalism has replaced the word Democracy as the banner to which we are to be committed. Capitalism now means freedom and progress. The press has become the “enemy of the people.” Fear drives us to one another in hope of finding solace and coming together in resistance.

Our church has had to stand tall in past eras: McCarthyism, Vietnam, September 11th. Today, our church must continue to provide leadership and vision. These qualities that we look for in a church are found when a creative congregation works closely with its inspired leaders. We are lifted by new numbers in our pews, not only because they like the music, worship, and religious education, but also because they want to work in the trenches of rebuilding our democratic nation. We must be dedicated to getting our hands dirty, and making avenues of possibility viable for people who deeply want to make changes. Together let us grow, build, and encourage one another in the hard work ahead. It’s the best tonic for combatting fear. TRG