Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Role of Toxic Religion in Dismantling Democracy


If we manage to survive as a human race long enough, a few hundred years from now scores of PhDs will be earned as scholars analyze the combination of social, political, and economic factors leading to the rise of the current resident of the White House and to the concurrent orchestrated violent assault on our constitutional democracy. So, let me get a head start. 

I’m convinced toxic religion is a prime cause of the mess we find ourselves in as a nation.

Yes, there are a complex set of factors that lead to the rise of the populist, nationalist, sexist, xenophobic, white supremacist, homo/transphobic toxins that have contaminated our body politic and dominated our public discourse.  

But incubating those factors into this particular set of toxins requires a kind of cultural Petri dish which will simultaneously provide the nutrients necessary to nourish the toxic worldview while protecting it from contaminates like data, facts, diversity and multi-cultural competency.

The biblical literalism foundational to 21st century American Evangelicalism does precisely that.

It feeds, waters and fertilizes exclusively male language for God -- marginalizing women and non-binary people, perpetuating the patriarchy and fanning the fire of unexamined privilege --ultimately making a Putin-style autocracy appear preferable to a democracy where brown and black women have voice and power and leading to the kind of violence we saw in our nation's Capitol on January 6.

Make no mistake about it: it is a very short journey from “the Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it” to “my country, love it or leave it” – with a direct connection to the rise of nationalism, sexism, white supremacism and the rest of the litany of isms that plague our nation and our world: the rise of the forces we struggle against daily as we live out our baptismal promise to persevere in resisting evil and the forces that have assembled to create the climate of violent extremism that fueled the assault on our Capitol, our Congress and our Democracy.

What we saw in sharp relief on our televisions and twitter feeds on January 6 -- and continue to fight against in our body politic -- is the effect of an anti-fact virus epidemic super-spreading in a population pre-programmed to believe fact-based science is an enemy of faith. 

It quite literally lays down neuron tracks in the brain set up to reject as “fake news” the very science that calls us to come together to protect each other from COVID19 and to save what we can of this planet we have exploited -- as well as the fact based reporting of historic levels of corruption and obstruction at the highest levels of our government in general and the certified outcome of a free and fair election in specific.

To be clear: the beauty, power and importance of the First Amendment is that it protects every last one of us to freely exercise the religion of our choice – including the freedom to exercise no religion at all. And including the freedom to reject science, fact and data and to believe whatever one chooses about what God wills, blesses or condemns.

However – and it’s a big however – the First Amendment does not protect the right to confuse the freedom to exercise religion with the license to impose religion. And the job of defending the Constitution against all enemies – foreign and domestic – requires each and every one of us to do our part.

If we are going to save our nation from devolving into a kind of theocratic oligarchy, those who believe that science and data are things – those who embrace the vision of a nation where liberty and justice for all literally means all -- must provide an antidote to the toxins of ignorance and “alternative facts” threatening our constitutional democracy with polarization, division and violent overthrow.

Otherwise we risk finding ourselves in the last scene of the last act of “Camelot” -- looking for a boy to run and tell the story of what almost was: a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people were created equal.

The stakes are too high, the challenges are too great, and the struggle is too real to do anything less than to stand up, to speak out and to resist the rise of the populist, nationalist, sexist, xenophobic, white supremacist, homo/transphobic toxins contaminating our body politic and dominating our public discourse.

Pick your thing and do it. Now. Together we can make a difference. Together we can overcome.

[This is a reprise of a piece I've posted previously ... updated in the light of the January 6 domestic terrorist attack on our Capitol.]

Monday, January 11, 2021

Choose This Day: Who Will We Become?

The privilege of being called to be a preacher is something that still floors me after nearly 25 years of ordained ministry. And some Sundays, the responsibility of being called to be a preacher is uniquely palpable. Yesterday -- January 10, 2021 was one of those Sundays.

Here's that sermon: with thanks to Ana Hernandez, Steven Charleston, Michael Curry, John Lewis, George Regas and ... as always ... Jesus.

======

Pray with me.

Another world is not only possible
She is on her way
On a quiet day,
I can hear her breathing
She is on her way.


 These words by poet Arundhati Roy and interpreted by musician Ana Hernandez are ones I have used in this pulpit before and probably will again.

On a quiet day. It might be hard for you to remember what a quiet day feels like on this tenth day of January in the year of our Lord 2021 in the middle of a global pandemic and in the wake of the domestic terrorist attack that rocked our nation this week. I know it’s hard for me.

There’s a prayer in our prayer book which speaks of going from “strength to strength in a life of perfect service” … and the last four years have been the exact opposite as we have gone from “crisis to crisis in a news cycle of utter chaos.”

And that’s not by accident, it’s by design

Because chaos is the point
Noise is the point
Drowning out hope is the point
Fomenting polarization and division is the point
Making impossible the quiet day when we can hear new possibilities breathing is exactly the point.

It’s the point Steven Charleston … retired Bishop of Alaska and an elder in the Choctaw Nation … wrote about earlier this week:

When many voices are shouting to get your attention, listen for the whisper they are seeking to silence.

Today, millions of Americans are whispering. They are whispering their prayers. They are asking for things to get better, for our world to come out of the virus. They are whispering prayers that they will keep a job, or find a job, pay their bills, not get sick, take care of the kids, cover their rent, buy enough food to get through next week. They are whispering these things in hope. They are praying for justice. This is the moment when their voices must be heard.

But to do that we need to lower the volume. We do not need leaders playing to the gallery. We need them to be still, listen, and to allow the people to speak their prayers aloud.


Bishop Charleston knows that when we speak our prayers aloud we speak the truth of our common humanity … we see in each other the divine spark of love that is part of every single member of our Big Fat Human Family … and it is that spark of love that hardwires us to be in relationship with God and with each other across whatever differences challenge us. Including the seemingly insurmountable differences that challenge us in our nation today.

And for anyone who hoped 2020 would be the end of all that, ten days into 2021 has ended that fantasy.

I hate so much about this pandemic -- and right now what I hate is that we’re not all here together in this church and I’m preaching to a camera lens hoping you’re out there somewhere. If we were in the church right now I’d ask you to raise your hand if you’ve heard someone in the days since that attack on the Capitol say these words: “This isn’t who we are as Americans.”

Sadly, I’ve heard it over and over and over again – and while it is not all of who we are as a Americans it is an irrefutable data point that it is part of who we have always been:
  • a nation aspiring to liberty and justice for all while enslaving and exterminating some;
  • a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal while creating and sustaining structures of institutional racism that perpetuate White privilege and inequality;
  • a nation where the certified results of a free and fair election are denied by those whose White supremacist worldview reject the votes of people of color as valid.
Make no mistake about it ... and now I’m preaching directly to my White siblings ... because everyone else already knows this:

What was on display on Wednesday in sharp relief in our nation’s Capitol was White supremacism on steroids – and January 6, 2021 will forever stand as the date when White Americans were asked to “choose this day” whether they will be a solution to the systemic racism that fuels and feeds the chaos and destruction we saw on our televisions and twitter feeds or they will be part of the problem by denying the existence of unexamined privilege granted to White people in our nation.

This is part of who we are as Americans – and owning it is part of healing it; is part of leveraging our power to make this a tipping point in letting go of who we have been in order to move forward to who we can become.

It is work our Presiding Bishop got us started on as he offered his word to the church this week, asking “Who Shall We Be” and how shall we move forward:

I am a follower of Jesus of Nazareth because I believe that his way of love and his way of life is the way of life for us all. I believe that unselfish, sacrificial love, love that seeks the good and the welfare and the well-being of others, as well as the self, that this is the way that can lead us and guide us to do what is just, to do what is right, to do what is merciful. It is the way that can lead us beyond the chaos to community.

With these words Michael Curry stands firmly on the shoulders of prophets through the ages ... from Joshua who called the people of Israel to “choose this day” to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah and Amons and all the others who called our spiritual ancestors to turn from evil and choose good.

Because here’s the deal: Americans didn’t invent exceptionalism. Or imperialism, nativism, sexism, racism, heterosexism, or any of the other isms that divide us as a human family. The “othering” of human siblings is as old as the prophets and as new as whatever social media platform they’re cooking up to replace Twitter. It is arguably an “original sin” if we understand sin as that which separates us from God and God as the Source of love that calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Calling us to choose love –
Calling us to choose life – 
Calling us to choose that other world that is not only possible …
She is on the way.

How do we choose? One place I want to suggest we start is by claiming the power of John 8:32 – “the truth will set you free” – and telling the truth about the role that toxic religion has played in feeding, fueling, and fomenting the worldview that incubates division, polarization, and violence.

There are complex sets of factors that lead to the rise of the populist, nationalist, sexist, xenophobic, White supremacist, homo/transphobic toxins that have contaminated our body politic, dominated our public discourse and incited the terrorist insurrection we saw this week. But incubating those factors into this particular set of toxins requires a kind of cultural Petri dish which will simultaneously provide the nutrients necessary to nourish the toxic worldview while protecting it from contaminates like data, facts, diversity, and multi-cultural competency.

The biblical literalism foundational to 21st century American Evangelicalism does precisely that. It feeds, waters and fertilizes exclusively male language for God -- marginalizing women and non-binary people, perpetuating the patriarchy and fanning the fire of unexamined privilege making a Putin-style oligarchy appear preferable to a democracy where brown and black women have voice and power.

It creates a context where it is a very short journey from “the Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it” to “my country, love it or leave it” – with a direct connection to the rise of nationalism, sexism, White supremacism and the rest of the litany of isms that plague our nation and our world: the rise of the forces we struggle against daily as we live out our baptismal promise to persevere in resisting evil.

And it is this fertile environment that becomes a breeding ground for a population pre-programmed to believe fact-based science is an enemy of faith. It quite literally lays down neuron tracks in the brain set up to reject as “fake news” the very science that calls us to come together to protect each other from COVID19 and to save what we can of this planet we have exploited -- as well as the fact based reporting of historic levels of corruption and obstruction at the highest levels of our government and rejection of the certified results of a free and fair election.

To be clear: the beauty, power and importance of the First Amendment is that it protects every last one of us to freely exercise the religion of our choice – including the freedom to exercise no religion at all. And including the freedom to reject science, fact, and data and to believe whatever one chooses about what God wills, blesses, or condemns.

However – and it’s a big however – the First Amendment does not protect the right to confuse the freedom to exercise religion with the license to impose religion. And the job of defending the Constitution against all enemies – foreign and domestic – requires each and every one of us to do our part.

If we are going to save our nation from devolving into a kind of theocratic oligarchy, those who believe that science and data are things – those who embrace the vision of a nation where liberty and justice for all literally means all -- must provide an antidote to the toxins of ignorance and “alternative facts” threatening our constitutional democracy with polarization and division.

And as people of faith we must offer that antidote from our own witness AS people of faith; to refuse to allow those who have corrupted the Gospel message of the Lord of Love into a weapon of mass destruction speak for Jesus; to choose this day to stand up and speak up when necessary.

Hear again the words of one of the saints in light, our brother John Lewis:

Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.

It was to the vision of that world community – that Beloved Community -- that George Regas called us over his decades of ministry and countless sermons from this pulpit.

And so it seems fitting today to end with words of his … these from that sermon that got us in trouble with the IRS in 2004:

We are humbled by the challenge of being faithful to God amid all the complexities and demands that are placed before us. Some of you will say, “I have so little to offer against the hugeness of the issues confronting us.”

Feeling that way myself sometimes, I go back to some words spoken by Senator Bobby Kennedy in South Africa in 1966. They have always inspired me. “Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence…. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of our generation.”

Hold on to hope that your life and witness count. Hope will make a tremendous difference in the tasks you assume for yourself. Cynicism and despair are deathblows to any movement for national renewal and world peace, or just your trying to survive the challenges of daily life. Teilhard de Chardin said, “The world of tomorrow belongs to those who gave it the greatest hope.”

I believe that passionately. Many of us have been working on all of this for a long time. It is a terrible day when we let our defeats and failures beat us down into hopelessness and despair. Dante knew the destruction of the loss of hope, for he placed over the gates of hell the words, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

Despair is the deathblow to a new and better and more just future. It is unmistakably clear that when we lose our capacity to hope, we lose our capacity to shape our future. Do you remember those days when your heart was full of hope that life could be different, that life could be transformed and healed, that life could be better and more wonderful?

Remember the energy that brought to your life. Those dreams you have for your children and grandchildren, those dreams for your marriage or close relationships, those dreams for your job—they are powerful engines for change in your life. Don’t let anyone take them from you. Nor take from you your dreams for a new America and a peaceful world.

For Jesus now speaks to all of us. “I need you to share with me the healing of all life.”

Let us choose this day to be agents of change in that high and holy work of all life healed, restored, and redeemed into the creation God intended it to be – the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven – the garden of Eden grown green again.

That is the other world that is not only possible
She is on her way
On a quiet day … you can hear her breathing
She is on her way.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

We didn't listen


We didn't listen when they told us how bad it could be. Maybe because it was too hard to believe it could really happen to us ... to those we know ... to those we love. They warned us what would happen if we didn't social distance, wear our masks, "flatten the curve." They told us hundreds of thousands could die, that hospitals could be overwhelmed, that critically ill patients could be denied treatment and that life-as-we-knew-it would become more and more a distant memory. And we didn't listen. And we didn't wear our masks and we didn't stay in our bubbles and we traveled to see family and we met up with friends and now here we are: and what they told us could happen is happening across our nation in general and here in Los Angeles in particular. And it is terrifying and it is heartbreaking and it didn't have to be this way. 

We didn't listen when they told us how bad it could be. Maybe because it too hard to believe it could really happen here ... in this nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal. They warned us what would happen if we kept enabling a leader who flouted the rule of law, courted dictators and oligarchs and fomented sedition and rampant corruption. And yet it just kept happening. And those with the power to make a difference didn't listen, dismissing fears of coups and the dismantling of democracy as hyperbole and partisan hysteria and now here we are: on a day we couldn't have imagined where an armed mob has invaded our Capitol, terrorized our Congressional leadership and ground the certification of a free and fair election to a halt. And it is terrifying and heartbreaking and it didn't have to be this way.

We are fighting two viruses in this nation: the COVID19 coronavirus and the Trumpian White supremacy virus. And if we don't start listening -- if we don't heed the warnings -- if we don't come together across our differences and unite in the effort to eradicate them from our nation and figure out a way to move forward -- then the worst that can happen will happen again, and again and again ... and we cannot let that happen. History has its eyes on us. La lucha continua.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

A Giant Goes Home to Jesus: George Regas, 1930-2021

We know that there are giants amongst us -- giants of justice who live larger, dream bigger, risk greater and change more than the rest of us who stand on their shoulders. And we lost one of those giants today when the Reverend Canon Dr. George F. Regas went home to Jesus. In words I heard George say in more funerals than I can count: "Oh, lucky heaven."

George was 90 years old and had been in failing health and so his death this morning with his beloved Mary Regas at his side was not a surprise to those who know and love him. We are grateful for a peaceful passing -- and we trust the great resurrection promise that in death life is changed, not ended -- and yet it is still a special kind of grief and shock when one of our giants leave us. 

And George Regas was a giant of justice. His life was an incarnation of the words of former Presiding Bishop John Hines who proclaimed that "justice is the corporate face of God's love." In his words and in his actions; in his teaching and in his preaching ... oh, especially in his preaching ... George Regas did what prophets are supposed to do: he comforted the afflicted and he afflicted the comfortable as he made that face of God's love accessible to absolutely everybody -- sometimes much to the consternation of the institutional church.

He was in the forefront of the struggle for the ordination of women in the 1970's. He was in the vortex of the AIDS crisis in the 1980's. He broke liturgical ground that helped pave the way for equal marriage by blessing same-sex unions in the 1990's. His interfaith relationships were as legendary as his credentials in the Civil Rights movement and his unwavering commitment to preach peace -- even in times of war, election cycles be damned -- made for a rocky patch with the IRS and All Saints Church in 2004. 

Nevertheless, he persisted. And we are in no small part the parish we are, the diocese we are and the Episcopal Church we are because of his willingness to live larger, dream bigger, risk greater and change more than the rest of us who stand on their shoulders. 

"Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith you are welcome here to receive the bread and wine made holy." George's words of invitation to the communion table are words that have become a mantra for All Saints Church in Pasadena -- words that have inarguably changed countless thousands of lives ... both here in Pasadena and beyond ... making the corporate face of God's love avaialable to absolutely everyone. 

In the days and weeks ahead there will be many tributes, remembrances and opportunities to honor George and his legacy and I look forward to those. But right now -- in this moment -- as we pause to mark the passing of a giant who lived among us, my prayer is that we can be given the grace to remember George in his full humanity as a brother, mentor, teacher, preacher and friend -- and to celebrate the difference he made in our lives by continuing to do our part in the work of being the change we want to see in our beautiful and broken world. 

====

Here's a photo tribute to George for his 90th Birthday: October 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Of Light, Love & Miracles: An Evensong Meditation

 

Tonight we light the fourth and final candle on our Advent wreath and Love joins Hope, Peace and Joy in the iconic circle awaiting the arrival of the fifth candle we will light on Christmas; the Christ Candle in the center of the wreath -- the light of God’s love, justice, and compassion incarnate for us as Christians in a baby in a manger.

It is a ritual we repeat every year. As Christina Honchell wrote in an Advent meditation many years ago: 

“The beauty of the liturgical year is that we get a chance to re-do, to think, to worship in a new way each year, as we spiral toward the coming of God’s dream realized on earth. We go around the liturgical circle, and we start and end in a new place every time.”

And when I read those words this year, I thought that there might quite possibly never have been a year in my sixty-six-so-far that they rang more true.

To think and to worship in new ways 
are hallmarks of the global pandemic which continues to challenge our human family exacting a tragic toll in the numbers of precious souls lost and in lives turned upside down.

Nevertheless, we persist.

And to Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, that very persistence – that very willingness to try new things – are in and of themselves miracles. 

“What is a miracle?” he writes in his Chanukah message this year. “Most of us see the miracle of Chanukah as the menorah burning for eight days. Instead, we might back up a few steps to the moment the Maccabees decided to light the menorah even though it was clear there wasn’t enough oil. They had no idea a miracle might occur, but they lit it nonetheless.

The decision to try something without knowing the outcome is the miracle. It is the miracle of life itself and the miracle of human civilization. It is scientists who ultimately developed the vaccines that will now save our lives who had no guarantee their work would succeed. It is every medical professional who comes to the aid of a COVID patient, treating them the very best they know, without any inkling of whether the patient will heal.”

The weeks and months since the shutdowns began in March have been full of decisions to try something new without knowing the outcome.

Building online communities on Zoom comes to mind -- and figuring out how to adapt ancient worship practices to 21st century pandemic realities are but the tip of the iceberg.

Nevertheless, we persist

As we gather tonight for this “virtual Evensong” we may be separated by the miles between us but we are bound together by the love that unites us -- gathered together through the miracle of technology to try something new as we go around the liturgical circle again: a circle represented for us tonight in this wreath with lights of hope, peace, joy and love and prepare to hear again the stories that tell us of the mystical longing of the creature for the creator – the finite for the infinite – the human for the divine – all wrapped up in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

In the words from one of our Eucharistic prayers: “in miracle and mystery Jesus was born, as we are born, and lived as we might live” -- the miracle of a God who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how love one another; the mystery of the indestructible power of God’s inexhaustible love.

The light incarnate in the baby we await in these waning days of Advent -- and alive in the Jesus we follow into the New Year -- is the light as old as the prophecy from Isaiah and the call to God’s covenant people to be a light to the nations to open the eyes of the blind to free captives from prison, and those who sit in darkness from the dungeon.

And it is the light as new as the miracle of new vaccines to end the scourge of the virus that plagues us; of new visions for global cooperation and collaboration; of new hopes for our nation to live into its pledge of liberty and justice for all.

We are on the cusp of the Winter Solstice turning the corner toward more rather than less light; longer rather than shorter days; more rather than less hope for our beautiful and broken world as we work together to overcome the divisions that polarize us; the virus that infects us; the challenges that face us.

As we journey together toward that corner, we travel with the Spirit our brother Bishop Steven Charleston describes as “the ageless power of love.”

Into the darkness quickly, 
skating the cold air like ice,
seeking the lost and lonely,
the ones who are hanging on,
the ones who are feeling afraid,
the keepers of sad memories,
to each of them comes the Spirit,
gliding on the cold air like ice,
bringing a blessing to each and every one,
healing and mercy for the broken hearted,
strengthening for tired souls,
lifting up neglected lives,
making the dark corners bright,
comes the Spirit, the ageless power of love,
the force of love, breaking through gently
to free every human being
who feels the weight of this season,
setting them at liberty,
restoring each one to hope and wholeness,
into the darkness quickly,
skating the cold air like ice,
comes the Spirit,
to light a candle in every window,
every window of the world.

May we be agents of that Spirit as we work together to be the Body of Christ – to be the miracle of those who try new things without knowing the outcome – to be the change we want to see in the world – until that kindom come on earth is not just a prayer we pray but a reality we live -- until finally the candle of love shines in every window of the world. Amen.


Friday, November 06, 2020

Morning Prayer - November 6, 2020


This morning it was my turn to lead Morning Prayer for our diocesan staff cohort. And on this morning -- one we hope is near the end of the middle of the longest election cycle in the history of voting -- I won the Lectionary Lottery with propers celebrating William Temple.

So we began with this Collect:
O God of light and love, who illumined your Church through the witness of your servant William Temple: Inspire us, we pray, by his teaching and example, that we may rejoice with courage, confidence, and faith in the Word made flesh, and may be led to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
And read this lesson from Exodus (22:21–27) appointed for the day:
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. If you take your neighbour’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbour’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbour cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.
And then we reflected on what it is to build a city with justice for its foundation and love for its law.

And what it means to be part of a human family where wronging and oppressing resident aliens is as tragically old as our most ancient scriptural texts and where economic exploitation of the poor is not something that just got invented by a particular president or party.

And we pondered what it means to be part of that arc of history that bends toward God's justice -- especially in moments when the forces working to bend it the other way are active, energized and palpable. 

And then we turned to Bishop Steven Charleston for a Word -- and as usual, he came through:

Show me what I can do to help, Spirit,

show me what I can do.

You know me.

You know my strengths and my weaknesses.

You know my heart and my mind.

You know my story.

Come into my life as it is, Spirit,

come in and show me where

I can use my talents to make a difference.

There is so much to be done,

so much healing, so much rebuilding,

so many challenges for so many people.

I don’t want to stand on the sidelines.

I want to do something positive.

I want to do my share.

So show me where I can help,

whether it is deeper into commitments

I have already made,

or working for change in ways I never expected.

You are calling us to a new beginning

after this election.

You are giving us the ability to become

something better than we have been.

Let me be part of that with you, Spirit.

Show me what I can do to help.


Wishing you stength for the journey, hope for the future and safety in the struggle -- this morning and in all the days ahead. La lucha continua.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Cleaning Up the Mess on All Saints Day


Since the calendar gave us an “extra hour” on this All Saints Day morning I’ve been using it to reflect on how much this election cycle/pandemic time has been like unto moving a rock and exposing all the creepy crawlies under it. You can put the rock back — but they are still there and you can’t unsee them. 

And if our metaphorical rock is our American Exceptionalism, then everything we - particularly we White people - hadn’t seen because it was hidden under that myth has — over these last four years in general and last few months in particular — been incontrovertibly exposed. And it’s now up to us to clean it up ... which is - to put it mildly - a daunting task. 

But taking the long view, it is the task the human race has been set to from its most ancient days.
This president did not invent corruption, economic exploitation, the othering of immigrants, or any of the other ways we grieve the heart of God. The prophets railed against all of those. The psalms lamented them. And Jesus turned over tables and got himself killed trying to clean up the mess under the rock by the same evil energy that yesterday tried to run a bus off the highway because it represented those telling the truth about the mess that needs cleaned up in our nation. 

So yes, it sucks. And yes, it’s hard. And scary and anxiety producing and disheartening and exhausting.
Nevertheless on today of all days — on this All Saints Day — take heart in the truth that we are in good company as we come together to do the work we have been given to do - standing on the shoulders of generations who have gone before us as we strive to love God, to love neighbor and to clean up the mess. An inch at a time.

And yes, I’m preaching to the preacher. 

Happy All Saints Day, friends.
Be Safe. Be Kind. Wear Your Mask. And Vote.