I can’t sleep.
I wish I could say that I trust in God. I wish I could say that I know for a fact that the Lord’s will is being done tonight. In my heart I believe that humans have the power to go against God’s will; after all, look at what happened in Eden.
I remember an election eight years ago where I wept with joy and surprise at seeing the first non-white President elected in the U.S. I voted for Obama the first time around and I’m glad I did.
I didn’t vote for him the second time around. I don’t have a problem with him personally; he seems like a friendly, relatively down-to-earth guy for a politician. I am mad at all the people who had spread and even now continue spreading lies about him.
I didn’t vote for him the second time around because some of his policies and precedents were just as dangerous as some of the things done during the Bush administration. I wanted *real* change. I wanted an end to Guantanamo Bay. I wanted our government to not go around drone-striking people. I was hoping for a lot of things.
But all in all, it wasn’t a terrible eight years. Life went on. As a relatively affluent (globally speaking), semi-educated, lower-middle-class white suburbanite, my life was not greatly affected by Mr. Obama.
Then I went to North Dakota, and I saw another side of America.
I saw a side of the country where people listen to Nickelback and Kid Rock without irony. I saw a side of the country where growing your own food and hunting your own meat is normal. I saw a town left hollow in the wake of a dwindling oil boom, and a struggling blue-collar economy that was ready to frack the Bakken oil field into submission if it meant more jobs and more money.
Before I went out there, I never ever would have had any perspective on what would motivate a person to vote for Donald Trump. There are people in America that feel as though they have been left behind, and rightly so, from what I’ve read.
Cities fared better than rural areas during the bailout. The “liberal agenda” pouring out (apparently?) from places like Washington and Hollywood is contrary to the conservative values of small towns and Republican counties.
You don’t have to live in a small town to feel like you’re not properly represented. The approval rating for Congress is 11%. Of course, given that members of Congress are re-elected at a near 90% rate, it seems that we all believe that it’s someone else’s representatives that are the problem.
This fucking election breaks my heart. I wish I could say I wasn’t surprised, but I am.
I’m not shocked at the populism, by the way. I see the reasons why we might get behind that in this day and age: a widespread belief in government corruption, millions (or is it billions?) of dollars being spent to influence legislation and elections, a failure to actually jail any bankers responsible for the recession… the list goes on.
In a different world, maybe we’d have had a moderate populist. In a really different world, we’d have had Bernie Sanders. A moderate populist could at least put the brakes on the massive social change that is alienating the working class conservatives without taking this country back 50 years or more. A moderate populist could work toward cleaning up Washington (draining the swamp, as it were) without resorting to xenophobic, racist, and sexist rhetoric to do so.
But then, I feel like I might as well be asking for a unicorn to run for office. I honestly have no sympathy for the old guard of the Republican party. Well, okay, maybe a little bit. They panicked and cried out #NeverTrump! I wonder how many of them held onto that conviction at the polls.
This is the bed they made. They worked hard to energize voters, to make it clear that it was all about the real Americans, the hard workers, the faithful… it was their conservative duty to fight against the baby-killers, the welfare mothers, and the godless hordes of the left.
Looking back a few years, we can see the fledgling movements that were signs of what was to come. The formation of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, although they were disorganized and decentralized, pointed toward growing dissatisfaction on both sides of the political spectrum.
How we ended up pointing fingers at each other instead of pointing them all up is beyond me, but I can’t say it’s surprising. Maybe if we can get some fucking term limits on Congress and fire all the career politicians, we could actually get something done in the interest of the people and not in the interest of some already-rich individuals keeping their work-half-the-fucking-year government jobs. Maybe we could stop the banks that should have been prosecuted from donating millions to the very committees that are supposed to regulate them.
But here we are. In the battle between authoritarian populism and business as usual, the American people have spoken, but just barely. The Republicans control the Senate, the House, and the Presidency.
I’m mad as hell. I’m scared as hell, too, but I’m mad as hell.
I have a sick feeling about the next four years. To be honest, part of me wants it to go badly so the pendulum can swing the other way at the next election.
I am afraid.
I don’t know what else to say about politics, so I’m going to start talking about that other thing everyone loves: religion.
To any non-believer (and to many believers) this is going to sound insane, but I don’t care. I think the devil set up his church in America. If you don’t like “the devil” then you can feel free to substitute “evil,” or “greed,” or “all the base desires, lusts, and fears that make humans destroy one another physically, verbally, economically, and spiritually,” if that suits you better.
I think the devil set up his church in America. I think that evil found a way, that the darkness and fear and greed in men’s hearts was so strong that the devil was able to make a religion out of the state, a religion out of money and power and ambition, and he was able to slap a Jesus sticker on it to make people feel good about it.
I’m going to lose a lot of people here: the devil is the one who says that as long as you vote against abortion, then you have done your Christian duty. After all, nothing else in the kingdom of God matters.
No word is vile enough, no insult strong enough, no transgression deep enough to permit voting against the candidate that says they will fight against abortion. It doesn’t matter that sexual education and access to contraceptives would reduce abortions. It doesn’t matter that there are so many other Christian values that Jesus spoke about directly.
It doesn’t matter, because in the Church of America, God and country may as well be one and the same. “God bless the rich. God curse the poor. God bless America.”
“God save the babies.”
“God condemn the gays.”
Never mind that we are all sinners. Never mind that in the depths of our sin were we saved, not from some lofty place. Jesus did not save us from atop our soapboxes. He did not save us when our houses were already built on solid ground.
We are and were sinners, all of us. Abortions aren’t great. But as has been said, a child born is not a child fed, or clothed, or housed. I may be wrong or I may be insane, but I believe it is the devil that tells you that your Christian duty begins and ends at being “pro-life.”
Abortions may be murder, but you don’t see a lot of “Christians” these days rallying against war or gun violence. In fact, it seems like there are those who would relish the chance to “stand their ground” against a home invader. We are a nation of itchy trigger fingers.
I saw a sign for sale at a gas station in South Dakota that said basically that: “Lord, make my aim true,” or some such thing. Add that to the list of #thingsJesusneversaid.
I am mad as hell. I’m mad that the church has become twisted and embroiled in politics. I’m mad that people who have strangled the life out of the gospel and traded it for kitschy folk religion have the gall to tell more moderate and liberal Christians that they are the ones watering down the gospel.
I’m going to be honest; there’s a part of me that never wants to vote again. I have a respect for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, although I see it as a bit of an unnecessarily legalism, who do not get involved in politics.
My understanding is that they do not vote because they know they need to continue the work of God no matter what happens in America or anywhere else. Our status as Christians, as the saved (at least in the process of being saved, anyway) and the supposedly beloved of Christ should never be dependent on where we live.
Will Christianity ultimately be viewed through the lens of the age? Of course. It’s inevitable. I’m sure no one has had it 100% correct, not even when Jesus walked among them.
We believers need to turn back to the Bible and away from this nationalistic, Ayn Randian philosophy that has been so wholly adopted by many who profess to follow Christ.
Ultimately, everything I have said may be wrong. I am a frightened child staring down an alien world, a world full of hate and fear. I am powerless, and maybe someday I will find myself shaking and trembling at the feet of an all-powerful God.
In the past, I would not have made assertions and accusations like these. I would have been silent out of fear: fear either of being seen as crazy or fear of driving away someone that might be healed or saved had I chosen gentler words.
These are not gentle times.
I am weary. I don’t know what to do. All I can do is pray and continue my journey to understand God’s will for my life. All I can do is pray and try to be more like Christ, even as I still learn and struggle and doubt and grasp at what that means. Even as I fear.
I’m trying to learn more to listen and understand. I want to give people something that people have tried to take (and sometimes succeeded in taking) from me in the past: dignity.
I cannot sway your heart; only God can do that. I cannot tell you what to believe. I cannot judge you accurately, for I do not know what unsettled struggles disturb you, what fears plague you, or what hopes drive you. I cannot change you, but I can allow you to have the dignity of your worldview, of your truth as you perceive it.
I seek to rob no one of their dignity, of their self-efficacy, of their right to self-determination. I can pray for God to work good through all things, but I want to accept every person’s right to decide for themselves, for good or for ill. Not for others, mind you, but for themselves.
Christ accepted me as I am, as I was. I pray to God that I am forgiven, that I am being saved and healed. I pray to God with fear in my heart that he will correct my crookedness, that someday my mistakes and transgressions will be washed away. I pray that it is all true, that God is love and that His good is the highest good.
All I can do to show Christ’s love at this point is to accept people as they are, for who they are. Christ walks forward with those who want to walk forward, and I want to do the same. We may slip backward, but Christ will meet us there also, no matter how far we fall before getting back up.
I have a life, and a job, and bills, and responsibilities. I struggle too; I have it worse than some and easier than many. I don’t know how to ask for help, and it’s something I need to work on. If there’s some way I can help you, please let me know. Maybe all I can do is pray. I don’t have much space, time, or money. I don’t know what I can do. I wish I could save this whole goddamn world.
God, I wish I could. I wish I could save my fucking self. But I can’t. I can’t save myself right now from financial struggles, from spiritual struggles, from emotional struggles… I can’t save myself from hopelessness and fear.
So I don’t know what I can do for you or anyone else, but whatever I can do I will do in the name of Christ, that you might know the love that I have known. I don’t understand it, and I struggle with what passes for the church in this world and in this nation especially. I’m not going to lie: this election has filled me with a new kind of despair.
But God is King. Jesus is Lord. That has to be worth something.
Maybe, through me, through us, it can be.
Assalamu alaikum. Peace be upon you.