Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Deliver Us

This is becoming far too routine, this jolt of anxiety which awakens me at 3 AM and renders my body unable to return to sleep.  There are numerous causes.  Some are personal, connected to my various physical vulnerabilities, or to ruminations over my failures of the previous day--the ways in which I have sinned by what I have "done and left undone" as the Book of Common Prayer puts it.  But mostly my mind swings between events like Brussels and Donald Trump.

Terrorist attacks now happen so often we have a template for them:  Insert name of city here, images of carnage and traumatized people there;  eyewitness accounts here, investigation updates there.  It seems only a matter of time before it is this country again.  And the terrorists will watch the agony with glee-- again. Will it be my city?  Will it be me?  And I am absolutely powerless to stop it.  All I can do is pray.  Which, God forgive me, feels second only to being able to do nothing.

"So. . . Does God embrace Donald Trump?" my sister asked after reading my last blog post.   It's a good question.  A very good question.  That God loves Donald Trump, I know.  But embrace him?  I cannot imagine.  Perhaps this speaks more of a failure of love and imagination on my part than it does about God, but while love may be unconditional, it seems to me embracing presupposes genuine sorrow and at the very least a sincere desire to repent; to turn around and change direction.  Even the prodigal son did that much.  I see nothing humble or penitential in Donald Trump.  What I see is an empty shell of a man utterly devoid of a core.  What I hear is God wailing in agony, "What has happened to my son?!"  Before God embraces him, I think God will put God's hands on Trump's shoulders and demand to be heard.  God will insist on an honest conversation which leads to confession.  And maybe repentance, if it is ever possible for Trump to turn around.

As it is, I think Trump has made himself a vessel for evil.  Evil is what Trump and the Brussels (and Paris, and 9/11) terrorists have in common.  I do not say that lightly. Evil is more than garden variety sin. Sin is what happens when ordinary people who do the best they can to care for and about themselves and other beings make mistakes; when well intentioned people make bad choices in difficult moments.  Evil is something else altogether.  It carries an air of deliberate malice.  It attempts to bring about the harm of another.  It enjoys watching others suffer.  New York Times columnist David Brooks describes Trump as someone who cares only about himself.  Commentator Rachel Maddow suggests Trump intentionally incites violence at his rallies.  If Brooks and Maddow are right, surely what they describe are elements of evil.  Ultimate diagnosis of evil is God's prerogative alone.   Yet we are called to do our best to discern it when it appears.  And respond somehow.

I'm not sure how.  Nothing I can think of seems anywhere near enough.  But a wise person once said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good [people] do nothing."  This post is my something.  My way of bearing witness and being counted, of providing concrete evidence that I am against this monstrous thing which Trump has unleashed among and within us.  This and the prayer, "Deliver us from evil."  In the hope that that prayer is far more than second only to doing nothing.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

From This Place Called Lent

O God,

The arrogant racist bully who's running for the White House
says things we have thought more often than we'd like to admit.

Ordinary moments erupt suddenly into conflict,
and we blurt out things we would otherwise choose not to say.

Or we are silent when we should speak.

We have the best of intentions,
and we fail you miserably.

Yet you come to us
with open hands and a smile on your face.

What kind of a fool are you
that you embrace us again and again and again,
and give us another chance
one more time?