It is the Friday night after Election Day as I write this, and I’ve just finished hosting our Video Evensong webcast. It has been a difficult week for millions of Americans, including me and most of our webcasters – as accustomed as we are to praying our way through bad news all around the world. This election was, metaphorically speaking, like this time, Hurricane Katrina blew through all our living rooms and trashed the place. Almost all of us felt personally devastated; and those who might not have voted the way we did, or had the same reaction to the results, knew very well how much their liberal friends were hurting. We’re a great group that way. Since we get together 11 times a week, we know each other well, and everyone is full of both faith and empathy. So we had some discussions among ourselves a time or two after the webcasts. I’m proud of how we all handled ourselves. No one was burdened, the hurt was mostly left unsaid, but did come out as needed – and we saw that while we agree on most things, we don’t agree about everything, and we have no trouble living with that fact.
So I’m happy with my band(width) mates.
But I’m not happy, not at all; Tuesday was one of the darkest days of my life. Our fellow Americans elected the worst imaginable president. We have been let down by our fellow citizens, including members of our own coalition. (“Hillary’s not Barack, so I’m staying home.”) When have we ever seen post-election violence before?
We haven’t, not in our lifetimes. According to historian Douglas Brinkley, the last time was 1860 after the election of Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.
In my mind the voters have destroyed America. I have no belief in the place anymore; the very idea of America has left me. The country we used to have would never have elected this sleazeball. But that country no longer exists. That is a very, very big deal!
California, here I come – at least the thought passes through my mind. (Now would be a good time for me to leave Indiana once and for all.) But I live in relative poverty and could never afford to live on the West Coast. On top of that I hate earthquakes.
The election of you-know-who fell on me like a ton of bricks; I was peaceably strolling by last Tuesday, minding my own business, when the Big One hit and that apartment building fell on me. I’m still in shock.
I keep returning to the thought that we’ve failed our grandchildren – and I don’t even have any. I visualize my grandparents in heaven grabbing me by the lapels and asking me, “How did you let this happen?”
Hey, don’t blame me; I went Democrat when I was 13. That was the year of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I campaigned for the entire Democratic ticket. Barry Goldwater rejected the Civil Rights Act and I rejected the politics of where I’m from.
Now, 52 years later, every one of them spent in political activism, I quit.
I will do whatever I can to help the poor and oppressed, but I don’t believe in the United States anymore. No more politics for me.
Eight years ago I was Barack Obama’s county coordinator, and we carried Indiana! Now, I just don’t have the time. Y’all do what you want. Spread your nuclear arms all over the world, I’m done. Pollute the air and water, make big money!
Demonize Jews and Muslims? No. I despise every last human on the face of the earth who voted for that.
The racism. The misogyny. The personality disorder!
And the fundamentalists who ate it up like Post Toasties. I have to laugh at their faux Christianity. They’re such frauds, Jesus told us all about it. On some level, I finally find them comical. Better than demonic, I guess; they know not what they do.
Now this language may surprise you, so don’t take me the wrong way and I’ll try to be clear. Here’s what the election said to me as a religious person. I believe the United States is now under God’s judgment. We’ve avoided it for 250-odd years despite genocide and slavery, but this week da shit done hit da fan.
For me personally, I think the message is that I must not idolize the government I happen to live under, despite the nobility of its stated ideals. Jesus didn’t idolize the Roman Empire and we mustn’t deify our version of it either.
In the lectionary we’ve been reading a lot of prophecy lately, as opposed to history; that’s one way to tell that Advent’s coming. And with the OT prophets we also get the Divine Vision of John, that which shall be revealed. He writes vividly of the Fall of Babylon, and as we read those passages last week I couldn’t help thinking of the USA. The city’s biggest sin was greed, and that reminds me of us.
Trump isn’t going to restore jobs in coal country, Detroit or Gary or my hometown. The rich will get richer and the rest are just screwed.
That’s the way it’s always been, Christians know, but for a little while America seemed to promise otherwise.
I’m not hurting particularly for Gay people yet, but I want to mourn with African-Americans. And the disabled and Mexicans and refugees and teenage beauty queens who didn’t deserve to have a future president of Babylon walk into their changing room, because he owned the place and thought he owned them.
What is my mother going to say? That’s what I wonder. My grandparents were always nice to me; my mother’s going to be so ticked off.
She might even have voted for Hillary this time, and then complained about it constantly for four years. She wouldn’t have been able to stand the mention of That Man’s name in her presence. Diehard Republican, my Mom. She put Bruce Willis to shame.
She wouldn’t have recognized this idiot as a member of her party. She’d have been totally irate that she paid taxes while he didn’t. She was a capitalist; I am not.
I bet she started raking coals in hell when Trump insulted that Gold Star family because they’re Muslim. She’d spare the Muslims and throw Trump in once she got her fire going real good.
This all becomes so personal; here I am talking about my ancestors, and above I was talking about my friends.
God’s judgment is firm; I feel comfortable claiming this, that God does not permit without consequences the demonization of vast social groups by politicians, governments, churches or countries.
I think we’re under the judgment; and I think we’ve just witnessed the beginning of the Fall of Babylon. Does this sound extreme to you, alarmist?
If I’m right, other countries will take our place; China’s the most logical one. Way to go, Rust Belt!
This certainly is a time for robust Federalism on the West Coast. I’d think an American decline, if it happens, would hurt Silicon Valley and educated, innovative people everywhere. Discrimination costs money; inclusion makes money. We can’t have a scientist who would cure cancer shut out of school because she’s Black or Muslim or an immigrant. If that’s how we’re going to operate, other countries will pick up the slack, and so will their companies.
The idea of America depends on its living up to its ideals. If we don’t have those, we don’t have the overwhelming advantage they’ve given us.
I’m still weighing whether I have to give up newspapers now, to avoid the normalization of Trump as if he’s just the latest in a long line of presidents. I have no interest beyond the headlines in anything he says or does, much less the climate change denier he’s putting in charge of the Environmental Pollution Agency, or who’s the next secretary of Bombing the Middle East.
If somehow Trump turns out better than I expect, I will celebrate that – but there’s virtually no chance of it, considering that two days after he was elected to be world strongman, he went on Twitter to denounce the demonstrations against him as the work of “professional protesters.” They’re mostly high school and college kids, but the first words out of his fingers were a lie!
He’s not going to change once he gets sworn in; his narcissism and disorganization will consume him. I spent years on the front lines in mental health; the last person you want in the White House is a personality disorder. Psychotic Nixon would make Trump look good. Next election, let’s restrict the franchise to psych nurses.
Trump has no core at the center of his personality; that’s why he’s so grandiose, to fill up the emptiness inside. The man has no friends; the day after he’s sworn in he’s going to say to himself, “Is that all there is to being president?”
Don’t blame me, I voted for Hillary, even though I don’t like or trust the witch. (I haven’t indulged my tempting Sanders fantasy; the fact is we’ll never know how he’d have matched up against this fool. Thank you, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and assorted media scum.)
As for my congregation, I close with this: we’re right to make fun of churches with American flags in the sanctuary. We’re right not to worship America’s PR machine. There’s only one God and we must have no other before him, or even near him.
As I get older I’m really letting go of a lot of things, including some of my own shameful delusions; now it turns out I have to give up politics too as any kind of answer. Justice is rare in this world; injustice is more common.
Keep fighting injustice, never give in to it, but our fellow citizens have let us down, which is where the betrayal naturally comes from; the Founders warned us and countless others since. Now it’s happened, we are betrayed, and God has allowed this to happen (along with millions of non-voters).
Our special status as a nation is gone, at least to me. Instead, our help is in the Name of the Lord.
I’ll give Mother Mary the last word. Her song isn’t sweetness and light, it’s a curse and a cry of liberation.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, *
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded *
the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold from henceforth *
all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me, *
and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him *
throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; *
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, *
and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel, *
as he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed for ever. Amen.++