Carina has been our guest before and is still the coolest friend you have.
Nearly every election cycle I have to steel myself to return to church. I sit next to people who purportedly share the same values but want such different outcomes. Let’s be honest, it never feels great to be somewhere when you know you’re surrounded by people who are happy your team lost. Every election I mourn and then I seek hope. I overlook hypocrisies as I hope they will overlook mine. I resolve to love, even if they won’t. Every cycle I come around. I forgive. I seek forgiveness. I find the knot in my heart and I work it out with love.
But this year feels different. This time offers an enormous personal test of my Christianity.
I am struggling.
How can I act with a Christian heart when the hypocrisy is profound and devastating? The overwhelming Christian purpose to help the poor, those less fortunate, the other, and my neighbor feels hollow when these same people continually vote against themselves, vote against each other, and vote on purpose against the least of their brethren. How can I care about them when they will not care about others? How can I do this thing? The failure of empathy, the blessing of racism, bigotry, and assaults on women with our franchise?
Our protestations were ephemeral. We lined up. We decided bigotry, vulgarity, hate, and utter lies were OK as long as it wasn’t her. We decided women aren’t important, more pointedly, women decided women are not that important; the cognitive dissonance on that one is migraine-inducing. The principles we stand on are exposed as rot. We are not loving our neighbor. We are not caring for refugees. We are 61% enabling contention.
This is where the work is: when we go to worship on Sunday, we are not being asked to care for the samaritan, we are being asked to care for the thieves who beat and robbed. This is a brutal ask, one made all the more brutal because they will insist that they didn’t really beat and rob anyone, or certainly didn’t mean to, or it was all just exaggeration for effect, or an imagined higher principle served, but certainly the samaritan should go back where he came from. Meanwhile the samaritan is bleeding at our feet.
I’m tied up in pain. I see the pain in others. What comes next is terrifying. I have been screaming for months, a constant Cassandra, and I am hoarse. I can’t bear to hear a joke, or a snide remark. I can’t bear to know what this will do to our daughters. I can’t bear the excuse of I voted for him but I wasn’t voting for that. Yes, you did. You did. You did. You knew. You didn’t care. You did it on purpose. I can’t sing the song; I am a witness.
Even as I write I know I am the one who will have to change. I am the one who will have to accept. I know these feelings are ungenerous, marked by fury, hurt, and self-righteous pride. They sin differently than I do; I still sin. I must seek forgiveness, hope that it is offered. I will have to turn my head knowing they will keep raising their hands; we will do this 490 times. The atonement covers even this, the church divided, the anguish in pews. How long will Zion be delayed? As long as we let it.