It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times.
Of course there can still be more worse times
and we all hope for better times
because the book is never closed on
how bad or how good things can get.
And sometimes the worst of times wakes us up and leads us to the best of times when we see how our characters and the love of others can add up. In the last year, I’ve been too depressed about my narcissistic family, the patriarchal denomination I was raised in and the fragile state of leadership in my country and the woes of the world to write a lot. Some weeks it was all I could do to write on my memoir which is in the past and I am not as fond of the past as I am the future.
As someone who has never enjoyed political discussions, I’ve taken part in more of those in this last year than in my entire life. Which is weird for someone who believes Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world. So what happened? Number 45 and the religious right. When very religious people take sides with white supremacists and rapists and murderers, I began to question calling myself religious. I’ve decided Christian itself has become a label for white patriarchy which pretty much disregards any people not like them and I am not one of them.
Please note, I’m not disowning Jesus. I love Jesus. I’m just saying when you compare the Christians who wrote the Nashville statement and the Christians in Congress who supported Roy Moore and Harvey Weinstein and the Christians who don’t care if poor children and elderly can get healthcare and compare them to Jesus—It seems obvious one of these characters is not at all like the others. If the very name Christian is to be Christ-like, we have an epic fail in churches across America.
This has taken my husband and I on a strange journey where we have grown so much and yet when we go to church, it often feels like the same stale bread from last year’s communion and like Jesus Himself said, “It’s frickin’ hard to put new wine into old wineskins.” Okay, so I paraphrased a little and I doubt Jesus swears, but let’s be honest, do you really think Jesus cares about swear words at this point nearly as much as he cares about our deceitful and dirty hearts? Let’s face it, he’s seen it all and I’m talking to you, religious narcs. Nothing surprises Jesus—not even self-righteous Pharisees who wear his name proudly while they use and abuse others, nor fragile, broken ragamuffins begging him for justice. Jesus loves and forgives all of us, but the real question is who wants to be healed from the curse of selfishness?
And so when the worst of times came in 2017, (and I won’t go into all of them, but humor columnist Dave Barry did a great rundown, so you might wanna catch his column) something good and better happened—the resistance rose up. No, I’m not talking about anti-fascists for they are no better than the other warmongers. I’m talking about ordinary, peace-loving, kindhearted people who have made it their motto to make America and the rest of the world kind again. I wish I could say these were Christ-followers, but no, they happen to be people from every faith and walk of life. Sadly I have sometimes found more in common with those who do NOT worship the same God I do than some in my own church. (I believe this is because there are two groups of people–fundamentalists and progressives and more and more the division is increasing to the point two cannot walk together because they don’t agree.)
When women were mistreated and belittled and described in obscene ways, I was proud to see women around the world stand up for women everywhere. Those of us who have seen sexual abuse and gender abuse and lack of equality, got out of our lazy boys to type and paint and sing and march and join hands with our sisters and brothers of all faiths and all persuasions and all orientations because we realized in the words of Maya Angelou:
“We are more alike than we are different.”
We all want the freedom to love whoever we love, we all want to love and be loved, we all want to have the opportunity to live our lives in the best way we can and we all bleed the same color and need health care. No child should be bullied because they are different and no adult should be shamed because they chose to live differently than others.
Jesus said his followers would be known by their love, so I have to question a church that does not treat women or LGBTQ or people of color with equality. We don’t get to shift the blame—we either treat everyone with equality and unconditional love like Jesus taught us or we fail to be his true followers.
I wish someone could send a memo to the president of every Christian denomination who fails the love test. Wake up Church! Such Christianity goes against any picture of Jesus I see in the gospels. Sometimes I hear Christians saying those of us who choose to love all people are just confused by our culture. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t need to carry a fight for people who don’t look or love like I do, but it is Jesus Himself who tells me that I need to stand up for the marginalized. Inclusion is about so much more than worldly politics—it’s about having our lamps trimmed and burning because one day all the money in the world won’t save us from the actions of an insane president, nor will it buy the Holy Spirit for those who are used to buying whatever they want.
Meanwhile, we have an opportunity step into the revolution. Some people have pointed out that the word Revolution contains love spelled backward. Perhaps that’s because in order to make a difference, we sometimes have to run the love-pass around some unsavory characters.
I believe good will come of evil because God eventually works all things work together for good. Eventually. Meanwhile, we are stuck between the now and the not yet, the worst of times and the best of times.
An old man planted a marvelous garden every year. One day I looked at his produce basket and said, “God has sure blessed you!” And he replied, “I did the planting and God did the blessing, but God doesn’t bless what I don’t plant.”
To all the new kids, the nerd kids,
the left out of the game kids
who wonder if there is any
place in this world for them.
There is room
among the outliers and free thinkers,
the once beaten, but not broken.
Come join the throng because as Ram Dass says,
“We’re all walking each other home.”