Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage: Preparing for a Trumpian Administration

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days.

These words of Harry Emerson Fosdick ring true for many of us today as we face the inauguration as President of the United States a man whose values run contrary to ours as people of faith. Well, people of our peculiar faith, at any rate. 

The president-elect claims to be a person of faith, after all. Many of us Friends wonder what kind of faith it is  that denigrates racial and gender differences, speaks of and objectifies women as sexual toys, mocks and slanders those with religious and political positions that don't align with his, praises those who are "principalities, ... powers, ... the rulers of the darkness of this world", ... the list could on. But, this is not the first time that we Quakers have, throughout our multi-century history, often found ourselves on the "wrong" side of government, elected or otherwise.

The question for many of us today is how to respond. How to act. We could give into despair. We could retreat into inaction in word and deed. We could remain silent; safe in our quiet Quaker congregations of mostly middle-class whiteness. I know I could. 

So I've been thinking a lot about what my call is during this time -- and perhaps the next almost a decade. I'm starting with three things.

One, I've just taken the Matthew 25 pledge at Sojourners.There I said I'd make an active, ongoing commitment to protect and stand with vulnerable people in the name of Jesus, particularly in support of these groups:
  • Undocumented immigrants threatened with mass deportation
  • African Americans and other people of color threatened by racial profiling
  • Muslims threatened with "banning," monitoring, and even registration
Second, I'm going to reread one of most the formative books of my faith -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer's
The Cost of Discipleship. My copy of this compelling statement of the demands of sacrifice and ethical consistency is well worn. And while I don't agree with everything that Bonhoeffer writes in it, I am challenged by these thoughts from a man whose life and thought were exemplified a new type of leadership inspired by a Gospel imbued with the spirit of Christian humanism and a creative sense of civic duty.

Third, I'm ordering a copy of the brand new Praying for Justice: A Lectionary of Christian Concern. This book, published by Barclay Press, (a Quaker publishing house), was put into print in no small part in response to the recent US presidential election. As its description says, "this book is not free of agenda. It is an act of resistance. God is greater than any politician, political system, or nation. And now is the time for people of faith to act in tangible, costly, and courageous ways. This book calls upon Christians to live into wisdom, prudence, compassion, humility, and discernment, to pursue the heart of God’s kingdom vision: a society in which all are valued as individuals bearing God’s image."

These are small steps, I know.  But I don't know what they'll lead to. All I know is that I have to do something that affirms my belief as a Christian that my life is about depending upon and following God and not about which politicians "control" the United States of America. My allegiance is not to a flag, but to the Eternal Lover of My Soul. The platform I espouse (albeit not always well) is that of a not-so-simple son of a carpenter from Galilee.

I need to continue to write words of Light and Love and Good News. I need to live a life that models the words of Galatians -- "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." And I may need to speak Truth to Power in ways that are new, but true, to me and my prayer to have wisdom and courage for the living of these days.


1 comment:

anne stansell said...

I think the phrase for this situation could be, the shoe is on the other foot. Many people of faith, were just as dismayed four years ago, or eight. Not having the opportunity to actually know the last president personally, or to even have personal knowledge of the many negatives attributed to the administration by "media", I have had to draw my own conclusions. Of course they are less than perfect, after all, by the time I am aware of something said or done, its mostly hearsay.So, my only defense in the light of such lack of evidence, has been to try and withhold judgment.I do not know this president personally, nor am I privy to events that others, blog or report on. I guess I will be stuck again, in the light of no actual evidence other then hearsay, to withhold judgment. Hold to the light, and look for that of God in those in office at this time.