strap in, it's going to be a long ride.

Now it’s been 2 weeks since USA election 2016 rocked our world. If you’re like me, you’re a bit inundated with the amount of articles and social media pieces centered on it. I’ve read reflections and ideas from all different perspectives and frankly, I am exhausted but can’t seem to not-read them. I can’t seem to check out. I can’t seem to totally unplug.

I also think we’re not supposed to.

In fact, that is what a lot of people are banking on–that we will check out. That we will wear out. That we will become desensitized to the madness that’s happening before our eyes and accept it blindly. That we will join the bandwagon of “let’s just wait and see” and keep carrying on in our safe, protected worlds.

That we will go back to sleep.

But it’s too late for that.

I truly believe that there’s no turning back, no hiding our heads in the sand; something seismic just happened and even though there are all kinds of theories on which direction this all will all go, we can bank on this–something deeply changed.

Something changed because something’s been changing.

This election just tipped it more clearly.

We all know Christianity has been experiencing a radical faith shift for many years now, but 81% of white evangelical voters casting theirs for Donald Trump sent it on a much more rapid Unraveling.

We all know the racial divide and the realities of refugees and immigrants in this country has been growing in intensity, and this election intensified it in ways that are ugly, insidious, terrifying.

We all know that other countries are experiencing similar threads of nationalism and extremism and have recently voted or are voting for similar types of candidates and policies that match our most recent.

The world is changing.

The church is changing.

Our world is changing.

We are about to enter into a completely new reality that we’re not quite prepared for, in my opinion. In fact, I know I’m not.

But even though these kinds of moments bring out the worst in many, I know the same is true–it brings out the best in many, too.

My hope is that the best in people will prevail over time. I love what I read this morning from Dr. Cornel West:

“For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.”

“Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.”

As we enter this new season, here’s the reminder I have for myself, for all of us who are now even more deeply on the underside of power–we will have to prepare for the long haul.

This is going to be a long, bumpy ride.

And we have got to be prepared to last.

I am glad that so many are protesting, resisting, writing letters, organizing, doing so many amazing things to galvanize us in these first days. It is a true gift, and the passion is contagious. I am deeply moved by the sheer number of people resisting, standing firmly against friends and family members despite the costs, stepping up in ways that are uncomfortable.

It’s beautiful to see, and it gives me so much hope.

But I just want to keep reminding myself–and all of us–that we need to understand we will have to strap in for the long haul.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Plus, we cannot win it with their weapons.

We will not be able to go up against this kind of power and defeat it with the same kinds of strategies. Even if Hillary Clinton had won, we’d be in the same boat with a little different twist because this force of power and strength and might and pretty-much-everything-that-feels-against-the-Kingdom-of-God-that-Jesus-talks-about is far beyond partisan politics.

It’s embedded into us, our systems, the ways-the-world-and-often-the-church works.

And as much as I believe in using our voices and hands and feet to vote for more just legislation and stand against unjust laws (and will keep doing whatever I can in the future as well), that alone won’t get us to a new place.

Power vs. power won’t work on this one.

We will lose.

But subversive-wild-unleashed-people-mobilized-and-working-underground-in-all-kinds-of-beautiful-and-creative-and-strong ways, now that’s a different story.

That’s what I’m seeing.

What I believe will keep happening.

What I believe is our best hope.

That really is the path of Jesus. It is what Christ-followers have always been up against but over time we’ve become so domesticated we forgot it.

Well, it’s time to remember.

And for us to band together in wild, subversive ways with not only each other but with others across faiths, experiences, and a whole host of other divides to infuse this next chapter of our young nation’s story with hope, with purpose, with passion, with unity, with advocacy for our friends and brothers and sisters on the margins.

We need each other more than ever.

Part of that isn’t only listening to the margins who are our best teachers but to follow their lead as well.

But again, this is going to be a long haul.

We will need to take good care of ourselves.

We will need to take good care of each other, especially the many folks who have already been on the front lines for a long time and are starting tired.

We will need to rest when we are weary, so that we will have strength to last far more than weeks or months.

We will need to remind each other what is at stake when we start to waver or be lulled back to sleep.

We will need to pray and sing and make art and use our voices and get our hands dirty and try things we’ve never tried before and give in ways we haven’t given before.

We will need to shine light into the darkness when the despair starts to set in.

We will need to find ways to last because we’ve got a long road ahead.

My heart is with you all from Colorado this USA Thanksgiving week. I’m still a bit stunned, foggy, and juggling a lot with The Refuge and my kids coming home this week, but you can count on one thing for sure–I will be alongside all of you for the long haul.

Love and hope, kathy

//

ps: Last week we recorded a special post-election episode of Faith Circus if you want to listen in on some raw unedited thoughts–Post Election Debrief:  What Happened?!?.  I really do love the little community over at Faith Circus-ing, a place to process the podcasts a little more together.

Also, I had a post up on Election Day at She Loves Magazine called I Believe in You. Right now, that’s something tangible each of us can do this week–remind someone you know who is influencing change, who is giving you hope and inspiring you right now, who needs a reminder that their work matters because they might be extra weary.  Tell them thank you and remind them: “I believe in you.”

Lastly, on my personal and public Facebook pages, for the upcoming months I am going to be sharing stories of friends who are healing the world in all kinds of different small & big ways. The hashtag is #meetmyfriend and #healtheworld. Nothing fancy, just some reminders that there are all kinds of people from all sides of this story who are part of the force for good.  Here’s the first one.

 

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.

10 Comments

  • Absolutely right. This election has simply exposed the depth of hypocrisy in our churches: We assumed our numbers mean the kingdom is advancing. It is, but that’s not why. The numbers only mean it’s popular, socially acceptable, even politically useful, to label ourselves Christian. They mean the lost are in our churches, hiding in plain sight—but think themselves found.

    It’s an opportunity to be salt and light to them, and a reminder to never take ’em for granted.

    Reply
    • thanks for sharing. i do believe this will be one of our greatest calls in our lifetime as a body, to reflect something different. but oh, it’s going to be a rough ride!

      Reply
  • Hi Kathy,

    Like you, my heart is heavy since the election. But for slightly different reasons.

    You see …. I voted for Trump.

    And I am shocked/dismayed at how quickly I have been judged, condemned, and consigned to hell by so many of my Christians friends for doing so. I have been called a racist, homophobic, sexist bigot simply because I voted my conscience.

    Kathy, you know me. I am not a racist, a sexist, a bigot, or a homophobe. Yet when I say I voted from Trump, people never ask my why. Instead, they say, “Whoa! … Well, I guess I never really knew you. If you voted for Trump, then you must be a white male supremacist.”

    The “us vs. them” divide that has arisen in the last two weeks is troubling, but what is most troubling is that many of my Christians friends seem to be encouraging the divide, rather than calling for peace and reconciliation.

    I hope you can continue to be a voice of peace and reconciliation without judging or condemning the 81% of white evangelical Christians who voted differently than you. We may have voted differently, but we are not different. We too are seeking the Kingdom of God and its righteousness.

    Reply
    • Jeremy, I think your comment highlights something many of us have experienced, that it’s simply a bad idea to try to discuss many things with “Christians,” be it politics, religion, Bible, theology, current issues and so much more. These are the folks who believe in what I call “group think.” If they and they group think a certain Bible passage means a certain thing, then anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. Similar reasoning is often applied to just about everything. In my personal experience, many(but thankfully not all) religious people engage in this kind of thinking. Sometimes it gets to the point that there is almost nothing one can discuss with them because they are always right and everyone else is wrong.

      Kathy and I both know you. I have never thought you were racist, homophobic or sexist. Consider that those comments from your “Christian friends” told you more about them than they realized they were revealing. Sigh.

      Reply
    • oh jeremy, thank you so much for sharing here. it makes me so sick and sad that there’s been such an ugliness against you and your vote. these are really rough times for so many in all kinds of different ways, from all kinds of different angles. maybe we should do a little podcast about this, because it’s truly a conversation we need to have. not sure what you have in your lineup but it would be good to maybe give a try or we could do it on faith circus? lmk! my friendship with you supersedes any vote and my heart is with you from afar. i’d love to hear more about your decision, though, because it is really painful to me, that 81%, and 58% of all christians, i know it’s telling us something that we need to listen to but it scares me what it is. i do believe we need more tables to talk about this and glad to participate in any way that works. peace and hope, kathy

      Reply
  • Kathy, I’m finding it interesting in noting the many things Trump said in his speeches before election day on which he and his team are now reversing positions. Now his spokeswoman is saying he doesn’t plan to pursue prosecuting Clinton, for example. I thought at the time that he was trying to get the votes of certain people with many of the things he said. (I’m basing this on his speeches, not on what any political pundit said.)

    We must not allow these issues to slide into oblivion now that the election is over. In my opinion, many people have taken Trump’s election as their mandate and permission to enact their racist, misogynistic, homophobic, sexist, down-with-everyone-who-is-poor, agendas. The election certainly did allow many of those people to self identify.

    I personally doubt that much of any of this stuff was ever intended to be the real “agenda” of this political group. Think: Why did the 30 year T-bill the day after the election experience the largest rate jump since 2011? How have the financial markets interpreted the expected new administration? Why would a billionaire want to be president, in a position where he could appoint lots of people to lots of important governmental positions? Was it really so the conservatives could get a conservative SCOTUS, or is something else really going on? What might that be?

    Reply
  • Kathy, I’m with you both mind (your evaluation) and heart. However, I’m hopeful the worst of it all may begin to diminish fairly soon–perhaps within a couple years. Even the mid-term elections could register (not cause) some of that. People will turn on Trump as fast and furiously as they have supported him — that is those who have let emotions guide much more than sober analysis, patience (…”fruit of the Spirit”). And the more sober of his non-supporters will be there with more restrained counter-plans.

    A couple specific points: As to my local resistance to potential widespread deportations, nothing specific yet but I may try to begin a more in-depth examination of options, reasons for a Jesus/Christian-based (slash inserted on purpose) response of protection, etc. That is, via a class or “working group”. I’ve also discovered that a quite large (few hundred) sized group of faith leaders (of congregations and faith-based non-profits) in SD region will step up forcefully in defense of innocents and the marginalized if it should come to the need for that.

    As segue to a related point: I’m not at all sure the deportation practices will change dramatically from the current ones…. For those looking for popular parallels, America now is not even a close parallel to Germany in 1933 when Hitler came to power… and when, by 1938, he began the overt and brutal part of ethnic cleansing. So I don’t think the stage is set for us to follow nearly the same path; and our relative histories and geopolitical situations are quite different. And though I do take the authoritarian aspect of Trump seriously and with strong concern, I don’t think he should be carelessly compared to Hitler (one thing that understandably raises hackles among supporters of his or whoever is being likened to Hitler).

    That being said, I do think religious (predominantly Christian) people, SBNR’s and “secular” humanists all have an important role in discernment and preparedness to fight hate/fear with love/peace. And Christians, across a wide spectrum, are the much-largest of these groups.

    So one of my plugs is that Christians use their venues and time spent on classes, Bible studies, etc. to include one particular kind of study and preparation for action right now. That would be a look at and discussion of Christians’ discernment (or lack of it) and resistance to the lead-up to Nazism and Hitler’s chancellor appointment in 1933 and the subsequent years to 1945, but especially the 5 years from 33 to 38/39 when his designs became crystal clear and his mechanisms were set in place.

    In such discussion Bonhoeffer is prominent, of course. His life and work do present fertile story-lines and theological issues, etc. And he tends to be admired and even somewhat read across most of the denominational spectrum and range of theologies. But I’d hope it goes broader than just him, to especially include some of the following:

    Karl Barth (Swiss/German) and his role in the important
    Barmen Declaration, and other
    Early warnings about the danger of what discerning people, chief among them, Barth, were seeing
    The ways in which Hitler manipulated the German Lutheran church as a necessary part of his plans and how he also
    Manipulated Catholics to keep them out of his way

    Now, to plunge into people like Barth, Bonhoeffer, Heidegger (philosopher well known to his theological contemporaries who did NOT resist the Nazi regime) Pastor Niemoller and others in a theological as well as social/political way will be a stretching exercise (YEAH!)… Evangelicals USED to do this, particularly with Barth, given his wide prominence and not being easy to pigeon-hole theologically. (He offered supportive things for traditionalists and broke from much of the liberalism under which he was educated, but operated in a different kind of “space”). To study Barth and the other Neo-orthodox folks of both Europe and America is to gain vital stimulation toward both careful/deep thought and application of that thought and spirituality to everyday concerns,

    not least of which is civil government and advocacy for the “commonwealth” of God on all levels of life.

    Famous adage attributed to Barth: “Do theology with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper [or the Internet] in the other”. BTW, for what it’s worth, we no longer have any religious thought leaders of the likes of [Neo-orthodox] Reinhold Niebuhr, who used to publish commonly in newspapers in addition to his widely-read books, such as the classic “Moral Man and Immoral Society” (a highly recommended read despite its age… not nearly as “liberal” as the title may sound today…. I think I reviewed it on my blog a year or 2 ago.) Incidentally, hardly the flaming socialist (etc.) that his detractors have made him out to be, President Obama apparently cites Niebuhr as his favorite theologian, and I see it showing in the kinds of positions he’s taken, with the carefulness of thought and foresight (seldom recognized) that he has displayed. (Another aside: I do think another 2-5 years or so will begin to recast Obama as a much more wise and accomplished leader [yes, I said “leader”] than even many liberals see him as, and those who voted for him and THEN Trump will gain some clarity on what they’ve misread in both men.)

    Reply
    • thank you so much for all of these great thoughts and challenges and ideas for folks to read, howard. it’s going to be an interesting ride and i do think the call to educate ourselves and talk about it and keep the conversations and challenge going is going to be so important. i hope we can find better spaces than Facebook 🙂 i have only read a little barth but i love that quote 🙂 you need to come hang out with sage and talk about so many of these things!

      Reply
      • Thanks! If things develop as I intend, sometime in the new year, I’ll get a class or discussion sessions going, and some other creative stuff mainly for young adults and begin to post highlights, etc. on YouTube. Maybe in such ways we can get some virtual community around these kinds of things… tho nothing substitutes for in-person community, as you well know! (Not that I’d not love to get to Denver come spring or summer.)

        Reply

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