Friday, March 3, 2017

Who's Got Your Back? Day 9- What am I really lamenting?

So I've come to the last day of a novena of lament to kick off the Lenten season of renewal.  Despite the 8 different threads I have been lamenting, I feel as though the biggest cause of lament hasn't yet been addressed.  I'm listening to "Bennie and the Jets" and transported to my high school journalism class where I listened to this song so much that my adviser warned me of possible brain damage. 40 years ago life seemed so innocent. What is different now?

What grieves me most is the bifurcated reality that comes from a culture of lying, whether to others or to ourselves, and the consequent disrespect for truth and goodness.  I realize now that the mechanism of control that I had relied on presupposed that people can be motivated by what is true and good in ways that go beyond individual gain.  By presupposing this, I was confident that I could live in harmony with others if I could grasp what is true and good in a situation, point this out to others, and then agree with them to jointly submit to it.

When I listen to people talking out of purely partisan, tribalistic positions, with no regard for the truth or what is good for all people, hope dies within me and I feel disconnected from the world.  I feel like nothing that I say or think will matter to anyone anymore.  For some reason, I take it personally, even though I suspect that the disconnection is really inside the other person, as well as within myself.  The loss of the possibility of honest dialogue becomes my burden.  I'm losing hope that we have the kind of education needed to support democracy.

The events surrounding the 2016 presidential election show me that I can't presume that our society is oriented toward what is true and good, and therefore I can't control my life as I would like.  I still believe that this is the best approach for me, I just need to find a way of living without being in control.  So I am giving up control for Lent this year and in my Lenten journey, I will search for the peace that control never gave me.

The reason I will not stop living out of a worldview where searching for what is true and good and submitting to it is the path towards peace is the suffering that results from the alternative worldview.  The conservative anarchist worldview is derived from the belief that people don't have an inner motivation for what is true and good, and therefore that they have to be poked and prodded or they will stop producing.  There's no seed within us to be nurtured from within, so we are appropriately subjects of manipulation from without.  There is nothing really true or false, no good or bad, to stand in the way.  This is the "beyond morality" worldview of Nietzsche and Hitler.

So in mourning the loss of what is true and good for all people as our guiding light, I am also lamenting the rise of conservative anarchism.  We have already seen how might makes right in Trumpians' belief that the power of winning the election makes right anything they can get away with.  We have seen countless arguments where their partisan positions are so good, that any means to get there are also rendered good.  They deny the reality that peace is a process, a way of working together that can never be achieved through violence and selfish anarchy.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Who's Got Your Back? Day 8- Not the Christian Establishment

I naturally think of fellow followers of Jesus as people who have my back.  But when I think of who among them I could really count on in hard times, very few possibilities come to mind.  Because of my relative good circumstances to date, I haven't had to really test these possibilities, but seeing a future without Social Security, Medicare, or affordable health insurance, without truth, law, or empathy in our government, I know that the time of need is coming for me as well as for others who will want my help.

It's hard for me to see the 80% of evangelicals who, after the State of the Union Address, probably see Trump as the greatest communicator since Ronald Reagan, as being the kind of people who will have my back.  Their support for Trump has been a devastating blow.  I could easily see them coming up with a thousand reasons to walk on the other side of the street in a Good Samaritan situation. They might view giving me assistance as further enabling whatever I did to get to where I am at.  But I don't want to presume that would be the case.

I feel more certain that the Christian Establishment doesn't have my back with the possible exception of a few churches whose culture and worldview help them to minister the love of Jesus in the world.  It is really difficult to separate the conservative anarchist culture of most Republicans from that of most evangelicals.  It seems that the anarchists have had evangelicals hooked into their misanthropic agenda since Reagan, tossing them a few pro-Christian bones for bait, such as the hope of making abortion illegal.  

The Christian Establishment has done very little to reach out in empathic and missional ways.  Its leaders haven't fostered the community that will have our back.  Even something as basic as small groups is difficult to find.  Attending church gives most people just enough sense of community to keep them from becoming fully aware of their need for a truly loving and gifted missional community.  For those who want to do the things Jesus said we would do and gifted us for, church seems like a dismal retirement home.

What saddens me most about the Christian Establishment is how it has given the strongest witness against the Gospel that anyone in modern history could possibly give.  Its powerful anti-witness has contributed to the word "Christian" having such a bad connotation that I don't like to call myself a Christian anymore.  I don't think most individual Christians realize this, or know how much their justifying their beliefs and practices as supported by God blinds them to the godlessness of their worldview.

Things will have to get worse for the Christian Establishment for it to be redeemed.  I believe things will get worse and some in the Christian Establishment will find redemption in the midst of these hard times and some won't. Overall, the witness of the Gospel will be strengthened.  I am looking forward to playing a role in the spiritual revolution that will happen amidst the collapse of the Christian Establishment. Followers of Jesus will do just fine without the buildings, power, money, prestige, or any of the trappings they depend on now.