The morning after

It’s morning in America. November 9, 2016, to be exact.

I just saw the news (and I don’t need to tell you what news I’m talking about).

My four-year old son, Daniel, has the croup. I went to bed early expecting to be up a few times during the night. I’m thankful that he only woke us three times and was finally sleeping soundly when I got up at 7 a.m.

It is no secret that I was vocal in my support for Hillary Clinton. I tried to be far less vocal about my opposition to Donald Trump and what he represents. This campaign, like all campaigns, needed more civility, dialogue, and thoughtful reflection. I wanted to build a case for Clinton without tearing down Trump. After all, tearing down the candidate is the same as tearing down the people who support the candidate. Those people are my family and friends and neighbors. I cannot and will not tear them down.

I admit: The news that Trump won the election frightens and shakes me to my core. I won’t go into details here and I won’t ruminate on that fear for long. It does no good. I just need to get it out: I’m afraid.

That fear is the reason I “went public” in a political campaign for the first time in my adult life. Many years ago, I made a quiet promise to myself that I would no longer participate in open discussion of politics. These two candidates in this presidential election changed that. I felt like too much was at stake to remain silent. As Edmund Burke famously said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

So what now?

Three things. And, you know, they would be the same three things whether Clinton won or Trump won. I recognize that many of my own family and friends feel about Hillary Clinton the way I feel about Donald Trump. Somebody was going to awake today to the feelings of fear, homelessness, and loss that I feel now.

So, three things:

1. The church of Christ needs to be the church of Christ. My understanding of the word “church” is that it originates from a Greek term that was political in the common vernacular of the day. To those who would speak of “church” during Bible times, they would be speaking of a public assembly, a kind of “town hall” meeting. “Church” is where the community assembled to care for itself. We might call that politics and we would be right. The origins of the word “politics” is the Greek politikos–from polites (citizen) and polis (city). Citizens make up a city and, together, manage their affairs through politics. The Greek ekklesia (church) was the place where citizens gathered to deliberate the affairs of their city. I imagine that the ancient church thought of itself in that same political context: An assembly for the purpose of deciding how to best care for the community’s needs. I believe this is the purpose of the church of Christ regardless of who presides in the Oval Office. I think this election in particular points us back to our roots as a body that assembles for the sake of the real needs in our communities. Perhaps one way to end the debate–among Christians themselves–about whether the government should take care of people is for the church to become obsessed with taking care of people itself.

2. Listen and understand. I’m angry this morning. Angry at a lot of people. I need to process that anger and get over it fast because a lot of my neighbors voted the other way. I didn’t meet too many people who were enthusiastic about Trump, but I met a lot of people who said they would vote for him because…because….And that’s it. The “because.” All of us–ALL of us–are walking around every day with a “because.” How many of us feel like someone will listen to us? Really listen? And try to understand? The people who voted for Trump have some powerful “becauses” and I reckon they have a powerful need to be heard, to be known, to be understood. I’ve talked a lot in this election about lifting people who are down and out, on the margins and the short end of society. Turns out, all of us feel that way. I think that’s what this election should teach us. So, today I don’t go out looking for someone to listen to me talk. I need to go out there and look for someone who needs to talk. I need to go out there today and every day from now on ready to listen and understand. Can I do that? Can we?

3. Choose the trenches rather than the seats of power. I, for one, felt great conviction as I wrote about this election. Particularly as I wrote about the abortion issue for my evangelical Christian family and friends and fellow pro-life voters. I wrote a lot about how easy it is to take a stand on an issue, but that voting for someone to make policy is not the same as doing ministry. And I think the Lord would much rather have us do the ministry. I wrote that Christians in America hitched to the wrong star when they allowed themselves to become a voting bloc that political experts could mobilize into action simply by touching the right pressure point. As Christians, we need to devote 90 percent of our time to being in the trenches rather than getting into the seats of power. I’m fairly certain that one thing Jesus Christ was trying to teach us is that getting into the seat of power is anti-Christ. Jesus spent 100 percent of his time in the trenches, no time in a seat of power, and did not campaign for more influence. So what am I actually doing about the issues I claim to care about? It’s time to stop writing and start doing. That’s for me. That’s for all of us. Today is the day I–and we–start figuring out how.

Father, who art in heaven.
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours for ever and ever.


Now read this

Why I’m talking politics for the first time in 20 years

This week I announced to my social media network that I will vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. Over my adult life, I’ve made it a point to keep politics to myself for the most part. I think I chose to be... Continue →