what we're willing to live with.

I am so sick and saddened by the entire Trump Travesty. Seriously, it is so dignity stripping–that he is even a contender. That multiple Christian leaders have endorsed him. That the Republican party got behind him. That people are wrestling with their “hard choice” (#itsnotahardchoice). That we’d have a debate like that.

I am glad things are tipping in a new direction and finally so many people are waking up, speaking out louder, withdrawing their support.

However, please remember that up until this point many of them were willing to live with this.

A leader who demeans women.

A leader who speaks vitrol.

A leader who stirs division.

A leader who talks about himself all the time.

A leader who gains power by cutting down others.

A leader who incites fear.

A leader who rails against the establishment by benefitting it for decades.

People were (and many still are) willing to live with this.

It feels crazy to me, but I know it’s not (oh, we need to keep redefining what’s crazy).

It might feel like a bad dream to a lot of us, but really, it’s human nature and the force of group dynamics. We’re in one big sociological experiment right now and the results are wild and telling (and scary).

We are addicted to kings and charisma and power and might.

We thrive on making narcissists our leaders because they tell us what to do and say all the right things that defend our position and help us feel superior, too.

I’d like to think it’s just part of politics and not part of Christianity, but the reality is many of the issues we are facing right now in our political system are the same ones that are tangled up in our faith structures, too.

And people have been willing to live with them.

To live in churches that never, ever, ever have women in the front (or if they do, it’s once a quarter at best) or in the circle of true decision making.

To follow charismatic leaders who tell us what to believe, what to think, how to act, what they are allowed to do and not allowed to do, what God thinks of us, and what God wants to say to us (and then when they fall, follow them to their new place of business and repeat the same cycle).

To sit week after week after week facing forward listening to someone talk and sing a few songs and then go home lonely.

To accept that because someone up front with a microphone says “but the Bible says…” to think it must be 100% right.

To participate in systems where only the powerful and pretty get to play.

To stay silent on major issues like LGBQT equality and race and a whole host of other things we care about out of fear of rocking the boat or being judged or scripturized or losing our roles or positions or respect from others.

Yeah, one of the biggest parts of my faith shift has been honoring that I am no longer willing to give myself to this. Others can and still do, but I can’t. I did. God knows I did. It had its place in my story and I want to honor the parts that formed me into who I am today. But I also want to say this out loud–I’m no longer willing to live with these things.

Period.

And when it comes to the president of our country, I’m not going to let him off the hook as “being a flawed human being” or “misguided” or “just tapping into the reality of what real Americans think” or “boys will be boys” or “people are just afraid.”

No, I’m not willing to live with this, either.

We have more agency than we think.

We do not have to give ourselves over to things that harm us, harm others.

We can say, “I’m not willing to live with this. You might be, but I’m not.”

My hope is that a piece of what is happening right now in culture, both in the political landscape and also in the next chapter of post-modern Christianity, is that we are being rattled to wake up.

We have to wake up and build an immunity to fairy dust.

We have to wake up and open our eyes to the ravages of misogyny and rape culture and what women deal with day after day after day.

We have to wake up and follow leaders who are humble and kind and vulnerable and give their power away instead of amassing it for themselves.

We have to wake up to our incredible privilege and the responsibilities we have to use it for good.

We have to wake up to the reality that Christ has no body here but ours and it’s not supposed to be fat and lazy and comfortable and self-centered.

We have to wake up to recognizing that a shame-based theology is bad for our souls.

We have to wake up and remember that the kingdom is not going to drop out of the sky.

Yeah, this post isn’t for everyone; it’s for those of us who just aren’t willing to live with certain things anymore.

Today I just felt like reminding me, reminding you, we don’t have to.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

16 Comments

  • Yup. Not wiling at all. Not one bit.

    I wish in reposting your post (and I will), that those who are still deeply in the dark while masquerading in the light, could read this and pause to consider “what if I’m wrong.” My fear is they won’t. They’ve become so indignant in being right (literally and figuratively) that there is no room for hearing.

    Wait,… this sounds familiar, I think I read something like this about 2093 years ago (give it take). Hum…

    Thanks Kathy. Good stuff.

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  • Thank you, Kathy. I’ve avoided all the debates (primary and general) and avoided personal debates with evangelical friends. I’ve been angry at times and afraid a lot. Not of DT, but of my close friends and neighbors who support him. But, I woke up this morning just feeling very sad and lonely. I don’t even want to talk about it. I just want to grieve. Thank you for articulating what I don’t have the energy to say today.

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    • it is a really painful thing, the reality of what this has revealed and what it can mean in relationship with friends and family members. i feel your pain! we are all traumatized and grieving in different way.

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  • I just said yesterday that I’m most concerned at how many people support DT, and church systems that promote his attitudes. There, apparently, are millions! God help us. Once everything imploded for me by being the poster child for who-you-don’t-want-to-be-in-a-church by a misogynistic pastor, I feel like I see much clearer the abuse in other systems, and can’t abide it. I’ve had to walk with people as they confront their own faith shifts and just be a companion when no one else will. That’s the hardest part for me to watch. I’ve been in church leadership for 38 years–helping promote those systems–and was blindsided when I realized I’d been put in ‘time out’ and ignored because I was no longer considered a team player; therefore, I’m labeled ‘dangerous.’ I know the hurt by them was un-‘intentional’–because I was never a thought to them. So, now I try to walk with the ones who have been hurt ‘unintentionally’ by those in power. One of the reasons I LOVE the Walking Wounded course that you offer–we’re all wounded, and we need to walk together while we heal. :0)

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    • millions and millions. i read today that 68% of white evangelicals will be voting for him. that is just freaking crazy to me. on another note, hoping to get walking wounded back up soon, we need another one!

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      • As Jeremy Myers suggests, people are willing to live with bad things — corruption, misogyny, divisiveness, incompetence, etc. — as long as perpetrator is not Trump. The excuse may be that the “reputable” media do not spend much time on sins but other candidates, or that the coverage provided contains justifications. That may be an excuse, but it’s not a good reason. And regardless of what Kissinger used to say, perceptions are not reality. And as most voters are prepared to live with evil and incompetence because doing so is socially acceptable, the country is going to suffer accordingly. Sad, but not without precedent.

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  • Kathy,

    I appreciate your concern, but it needs to be noted (as the media is failing to do) that Obama and Hillary have both said things that are just as nasty, derogatory, and mean, and more recently than 2005…

    There is audio and video of things they have said that are just as bad as what Trump said, but most people don’t know this, because the media doesn’t report it. But some google searches and YouTube searches can reveal them.

    Reply
  • We continue to be amazed at the huge number of Americans who cheer on and support racism, misogyny and all manner of prejudice against a wide range of people. Some of this is mindless, learned behavior. Even if we learned it at mama or papa’s knee, or from the preacher or Sunday school teacher, that is no excuse to believe it, repeat it or live as though it is true. I suppose some of us have to stand in a cow pile for awhile to realize what we’re standing in and to realize that it stinks.

    We refuse to support any political party, church or any organization or person that resorts to any of these types of things. We do not give them money, do not attend their functions and do not even listen to the bile that pours out of their mouths in the media. We refuse to participate in anything they have to offer. But we think it is also important to tell them why we will not support them in any way. Otherwise, those who have bad cases of diarrhea of the mouth and continue to spout hate, bigotry and nonsense on whatever platform they have fantasize that many of us somehow agree with them.

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    • thanks for sharing, sam. “i suppose some of us have to stand in a cow pile for a while to realize what we’re standing in and to realize that it stinks” that made me laugh.

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  • “…this post isn’t for everyone; it’s for those of us who just aren’t willing to live with certain things anymore.”

    In that case Kathy, this post is for me, because I’m sure not willing to live with these things anymore!

    You are right – it’s not just politics, and it’s not just America. Some years back we had the situation in Oz, where the leader of the party in power was stabbed in the back by his ‘deputy’, leading to a very nasty election. In those days I was a ‘church leader’ and I remember sharing one Sunday that I believed God was telling us that we had the opportunity to be an example of how to live differently, and to show we weren’t willing to live with this type of crap. Instead, one of my peers decided to act exactly like our politicians, and precipitated the church into its third major leadership crisis in less than two decades. Not the Kingdom I was interested in!

    The good news is that it caused me to “wake up” to all the realities you’ve described here. And like you, “I’m no longer willing to live with these things”… and I’m grateful for the reminder from you today 🙂

    Reply
    • thanks so much. i think “waking up” is such a big part of all of this. it’s painful to be awake but much better than eyes closed, ignorant, and following the herd. i always appreciate what you share! (and a really good reminder it’s not just the USA. i was just in europe and it was fascinating to see and hear some of the realities what these divides look like there, too.

      Reply

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