Thursday, January 26, 2017

Unlikely Saviors

If y'all have not been following the National Park Service Twitter, uhm, amazingness, then start Googling. See, it all started when the National Park Service retweeted photos comparing the crowds at Trump's inauguration to Obama's inauguration. They also retweeted one about the new administration removing pages from the White House website. After those, the Interior Department ordered a shutdown of their Twitter activity. They apologized for the retweets, then were back up.

Well, two days later, Badlands National Park started tweeting facts about climate change. These were seen as anti-Trump administration by many, went viral, and were later deleted. Yes, part of this is in response to the media blackout ordered by the new administration on the Environmental Protection Agency. The official story was that a former employee who was not authorized to use the account posted, so they were deleted in response to the compromise.

Since then, AltUSNatParkService has been created. Their tweet? "Can't wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS. You can take our official twitter, but you'll never take our free time. All of that is background to get me to this morning, when checking news and social media, and a tweet that had been shared on imgur. I'm posting it, too, because it made my morning. It reads, "First they came for the scientists...And the National Parks Services said, "lol, no" and went rogue and we were all like, "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool." Grammar and precision of language issues aside (and y'all know that takes a lot for me!), I'm in love with the idea shared. I might even enjoy hanging out with the original tweeter.

I'd probably love the NPS person more. And all the other people creating AltGovernmentAgencyTrumpDoesntLike accounts. One of them uses "Rogue" instead of alt.

I'm well aware of the privilege of this country. I'm well aware of my privilege within this country. I'm also well aware that what is happening now threatens not just our country, but our world. Still, as I wonder about healthcare, worry about a continued free press, and try to stay engaged with news I don't want to read, I am hopeful in unlikely saviors.

I am hopeful in church agencies that say, "We've always taken care of refugees and that won't change." I am hopeful in the organization happening at local levels to protect vulnerable communities of all sorts. I am hopeful in Dan Rather, pushing forward news--actual, researched, fact-checked news. (I mean, my family watched NBC not CBS, so Tom Brokaw's voice is what exudes truth, but I'll take Dan Rather.)

And yes, I'm hopeful in Twitter, the same platform that kept us abreast of the Arab spring. After all, that's where the rogue park rangers are hanging out. I don't throw around the term savior lightly; however, there are so many things and people that save us. Most of us have a lot of saviors in our lives.

At the end of the day, the one I recognize as the Savior was the most unlikely of all, poor Middle Eastern refugee executed by the state that he was. Jesus' unlikeliness gives me even more hope in other unlikely saviors. I'm one of the people who doesn't believe you have to work at following Jesus in order to make the things Jesus would want to happen, happen. (And yes, I also believe in cooperation with the divine will as a foundation of my faith.)

And perhaps the reason I am most hopeful is because the work that is beginning is hopeful. It is especially hopeful that we can and will sway the course of history toward the better. It is hopeful that it will not take violence to do it. It is hopeful that indeed, we can stand firm against the forces of evil and that will be sufficient to triumph over them.

Today, my hope is in unlikely saviors.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

On the Eve of Inauguration Day

I confess my anxiety this week. It's not the overwhelming kind, but the lurking kind. As Trump's inauguration approaches, it's just been there, in the background. There's this dull hum to say that something isn't right.

Lots of people have been hoping deeply that Trump won't be as bad as everyone thinks he will be. I confess that I've been living by the Gospel according to Billy Joel: "The good ol' days weren't always good and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."

As I worry about what healthcare will look like next year, in Maricopa County, nonetheless, where Marketplace options are already terrible, I'm searching for answers. My fears are minimal compared to many. I am white and Christian, after all. My stories of sexual harassment are few, though yes, all women have one or two. 

I turned to the Gospel of Matthew today, looking for the Jesus version instead of the Billy Joel version. Maybe, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life..." Or maybe the story of Jesus calming the storm, when he chastises the disciples, "You of little faith!"

And then, as I searched, I realized I wanted the stories of Israel's kings. The story begins with the people wanting a king like the nations around them; it didn't begin with a divine plan for a king. God gives them what they want, though, and then they have to live with it. In fact, when having the conversation with the last of the judges of Israel, Samuel, the people are given this warning about the kings they will have, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of our grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day." (1 Samuel 8:11-18)

The cycle begins of bad king and good king, bad king and good king. One king turns the people to God, the next turns them away. The welfare of the land rises and falls accordingly. 

Let me be clear that I do not for a second believe the United States is a chosen nation, especially blessed by God, or anything like that. As I look at these stories, though, I am woefully aware of the truth they point to for us: we made this bed, and now we have to lie in it. 

Our individualistic tendencies ruffle at that thought. I include "my" in "our." I voted for Clinton. I stood in line. I said #imwithher. Still, I am part of the country that chose Trump, so yes I made this bed. We made this bed. In a nation that is still overwhelmingly Christian, we made this choice. And I am appalled.

I am appalled that professing Christians voted for a man who so completely opposes Christ's teachings. I am appalled that professing Christians voted to deny benefits to the poor, voted in fear of immigrants and refugees, voted to deny healthcare to many, voted to endanger women, voted in the name of wealth, voted in the name of weapons, voted in so many ways that have nothing to do with Christian scripture. I am appalled by how completely my fellow believers denied Christ. (No, I don't believe Jesus would be a Democrat; I do believe Trump is anti-Christ, having nothing to do with his party affiliation.)

As I cry out to God, along with so many others I know, "How? Why?" I am met only with silence--at least so far. I am far more worried that I might hear the answer of scripture, "You turned away from me." 

I'm not big on calling down fire and brimstone on people. I don't believe in hell. And yet, I cannot forget that Jesus said he would say in the future, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

Why? Why would Jesus do that? 

"For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me...I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

And so my deepest prayer comes: May God have mercy on us. 

May God have mercy on us.