I’ve read a wide variety of things over the years and know it is always important to consider the source!
When I read social media, I consider the source. If it’s truly the discourse of people, not merely the sharing and re-sharing of previously created content, I find this discourse inherently valuable.
I write from a very specific place in history today; I am not a fact checker or scientist or environmentalist or activist. I continue to value the work these people do, as it helps to inform our understanding.
Today I’m standing up as a woman of faith. I have chosen this course personally, but choose equally not to stigmatize those who have not. Additionally, I have responded to a call to lead a body of faith—which I do out of conviction, carrying the weight of the question: what does it mean to be a follower of the Christ of the Gospel—the brown, nomadic, radical protector of those most hated and most vulnerable, whose challenge to the regime predictably led to his execution?
When (in the discourse of people) I read words such as “the name of Jesus was lifted up” (at the Republican National Convention for example), or “we are upholding our god-given right to choose what is best for our children” (while defying safety ordinances put in place to benefit all people), or people rally to demand that churches be allowed to open (with evidence abounding that these tight, indoor spaces infect us all) I feel a profound dissonance.
The current boisterous, attention-seeking, visible display of “faith” reminds me of Jesus’ words when he quotes the ancient prophet, Isaiah: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. Their worship of me is empty since they teach instructions that are human rules.”
We live at a time where 181,000+ are dead in this nation following an outbreak of a pandemic so deadly it defies comprehension. Yet it was labeled a hoax.
We live at a time where people of color are gunned down in the streets (or in their beds, or in stores, or while jogging)—many times by members of the police force, yet the coded language of “law and order” is applauded as godly.
We live at a time when hate crimes are at a 16 year high.
We live at a time when places of worship are targeted for assault, defacing, and brutal killings.
We live at a time when over 16% of children in the US live in poverty, yet the wealth of America’s billionaires has increased by 20% since the beginning of the pandemic.
We repeatedly hear that catastrophic events (eg. hurricane Laura’s unprecedented devastation on the southern coast of the United States and the number and intensity of California wildfires) are the highest in recorded history, evidence that the changing temperatures on our globe impact not only our beloved planet but real people’s lives. This too has been labeled a hoax.
The list continues and includes an inconceivable depth of corruption, systematic isolation from forward-looking, responsible international allies, an obsession with the power, optics, and rhetoric of dictatorships. During this time we the people are exposed to an exhausting number of assaults on our personal, community, spiritual, and political lives, and I’m even a white woman. However, it is the constant conflation of what is on full display from this administration with the Gospel of Christ that I speak against today. These two could not be further apart; one does not in the least reflect the other.
It is these realities that haunt me as a concerned global citizen and as a woman of faith. If we do not consider this the jurisdiction of followers of Christ we have completely missed the mark.
If we believe that things will miraculously change—either by divine intervention or neatly fit into end-time rapture theology—we are victims of projection, gaslighting, deflection, abject lies, blame, and narcissism. These were words once confined to clinician’s offices, but have taken center stage in our culture and in too many churches. These words describe people as well as ideologies; these are words that are used to describe cults.
If you are equally concerned and are not a person of faith or adhere to a faith different from mine, I stand in solidarity.
If these atrocities do not keep us up at night it may be that we truly are among the few who are privileged and insulated, or we belong to those who have been intentionally misled and used as pawns.
Photo credit: Julia Penner-Zook