Defined

The last few days have been difficult, which is my greatest understatement of 2017. I have a few statements to make on the events of the weekend.

Fascists, White-Nationalists, other hate groups are among the most repugnant and vile forms of human expression ever to be devised by human-kind. The photos of the tiki-torch bearing racists on Friday night were a portrait of what it looks like when the image of God has become so twisted it becomes almost unrecognizable. I call those on the fringes of these groups, who have not yet had their conscience seared from their souls, to repent these miserable ideologies and work instead for a better world.

President Trump is a disgrace to the office he holds. His statement on Saturday was more about not taking responsibility for the events in Charlottesville than condemning both the incitement of violence and hateful ideologies. His statement two days later was closer to what he should have said on Saturday, but it was too late. And on Tuesday he backtracked on that statement. Given his bombastic and unreflectve nature Donald Trump never had much moral authority in my eyes, and now he has none. He has made the bully pulpit of the Presidency irrelevant, and the other two branches of government must treat his message accordingly. Less than eight months in to his term, Donald Trump has become a lame duck president. His influence must be limited by all possible legal means at the disposal of our government institutions. Current polls show just over one third of the Country approves of President Trump’s job and supports his agenda, I call upon those who continue to support this man to refelect upon his words and understand, this is who Donald Trump is.

I am ashamed of religious leaders who have become more interested in the power this world offers than in being humble servants of Christ. Franklin Graham’s descent into this darkness brings particular pain because our church participates in Operation Christmas Child and one of our members pours her heart and soul into this work. Knowing the love which drives her forward into this mission I would never be so hurtful as to demand she stop. But it is becoming more and more difficult to support a ministry whose public face is someone who has courted the power of Empire, and in so doing  has both rejected the call of the Kingdom and harmed his father’s legacy. I call upon Christian leaders to repent of their association with this morally bankrupt administration, so as to not do further damage to the work of Christ’s Kingdom.

I will not define myself with “anti” language. Racism, both systemic and personal, is evil. White supremacists are pawns of satanic influence. Fascists are right up there with the likes of ISIS for the dubious award of “worst human beings alive today.” But I’m not “anti-racist,” or “anti-white supremacy”, or “anti-fascist.” I make this distinction because I refuse to be defined by those I would call my enemies. What I find, both now and throughout history, is that such impulses often lead to the formation of mirror images — and the excuse of atrocities across the spectrum in the name of being correct. Fascists and White Supremacists have built their entire movements based on who they are against, and who it is acceptable to consider sub-human. The responsibility for the violence in Charlottesville falls upon the hate groups who were deliberate in inciting it, and a member of these groups showed these groups’ true colors when he resorted to an act of terrorism later in the day.

I am also concerned with how many progressives gloss over similar impulses on the fringes of their own movement. The numbers of people would induce violence among progressives are small, because the progressive movement was built from the start on the notion of humanizing all people, but they are growing.  We must not forget the United States’ most recent attempt at political assassination, launched against the Republican congressional baseball team, was carried out by an angry Progressive man. It is the violence with which we might be tempted to empathize which is the most dangerous to our own humanity.

I will define myself by what I am striving toward, and the characteristics which empower that pursuit. I am a Christian, bound to the teaching of Jesus Christ and called to bear his image in this world. I will humbly repent of both my deliberate and inadvertent participation in evil’s workings in this world. I will view other human beings as the image of God — a person lost in sin may treat me with contempt, but by the Spirit’s power I will respond with grace. I will not strike out in violence, but will do my best to put myself between those who would use violence and the victims who suffer it — as Christ did on the Cross, I must be willing to accept blows meant for others. I will both hope and take joy in beauty — cynicism is enticing, but in the end corrodes my soul. I will use the few gifts I have to speak out to the world, and call it to Christ’s shalom.

May wisdom, kindness, and charity always prevail over the rush to hatred and violence.

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