I had a very strange and disconcerting experience this afternoon driving through Maryland. As I was driving, five people were shot to death and others injured in a targeted attack in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette, a local newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. What shocked me was the reaction I heard from someone I'd never met.
This is important stuff. Beth Moore reminded me that I was part of the problem not long ago.
My opinions and prejudices and preconceived notions about female leadership in the catholic (universal, not just Roman) church had to change over time when I was presented with new information.
It was hella uncomfortable and took time and new experiences, but it was also worth the discomfort and just plain RIGHT for me to change my views on how women can and should serve God. My discomfort is puny compared to the outright hostility so many women STILL face when they try to follow God’s call. My discomfort belongs on the altar of sacrifice, along with my old this-is-the-way-we’ve-always-done-things-and-it-just-feels-right bubble of safety. It took time, but I put those things on the altar, and my High Priest was kind enough to slaughter them for me.
I don’t like admitting just how sexist I was in the not-so-distant past. Whether I intended to be sexist or not is irrelevant. Whether I was more sexist or less sexist than other people is irrelevant too. The fact remains that I was sexist in my attitudes and actions. Sometimes, if I’m not careful, I still am.
If we want to truly follow Jesus, we are going to have to admit our faults, dethrone traditions that don’t advance the gospel, and take seriously the work of uprooting and removing misogyny.
I was part of the problem. I’m all in for changing things and fixing the problem. Are you?
(Oh, and by the way: Beth Moore writes specifically about her experiences in “conservative evangelical” churches in her letter, but churches that don’t meet that description don’t get off the hook either. Sexism is alive and kicking in plenty of churches across the ideological and theological spectra.)
Mr. President: Let my people go.
What would you do? Before we demonize the stranger and the outcast, we ought to know why they leave their homes. Perhaps instead of treating them like rapists and gang members, we should consider that the opposite may be true. For some, they may be fleeing rape and gangs and more awful realities. If we cannot do our part in addressing root causes, a wall made of concrete, soldiers, or racist rhetoric will certainly not improve the situation.
Are we not one human family?
The Memphis sanitation workers in the time of Dr. King’s assassination chanted a slogan which they still use today: “I am a man.” Translation: I am just as human as you are. Each and every migrant seeking a better life, and each and every desperate parent seeking simply to let their children live is as human as you or I in our comfortable United States homes.
Sí, somos una familia.
Here is an excerpt from the article linked above, describing one heartbreaking story:
Rodriguez, a builder, said he fled his home in El Salvador in the middle of the night with only the clothes on his back, a few dollars, a nephew, and his son, a student who had received a written death threat from a gang he had refused to join or pay.
"To be young, in my country, is a crime," Rodriguez said. "I'm old - they'll do nothing to me. But to my son, if we go back ... they'll kill him."
This right here... this should be the end of his political career. Not normal. NOT NORMAL.
The President of the United States of America—three DAYS after a horrific national tragedy when children were massacred in their classrooms—made it about himself. He didn’t even try to co-opt the event to support some cause or advance some concrete policy goal. He didn’t even try to masquerade as caring. He might as well have said “too bad those kids died, but that’s just another reminder that there is NO COLLUSION.” Before the blood was dry or the bodies were buried. Before the survivors returned to school. Before the weekend was even over. Before the makeshift memorials were supplanted with permanent memorials. Seemingly without hesitation and (I hope) without consulting anyone who knows anything about how to comfort and support the grieving, he jumped on the opportunity. He eagerly issued a hot take as if he were some impotent pundit who has no real influence and can only hope to be heard by yelling into the void. He twisted one terrible truth of the story (the FBI failing to follow protocol on tip investigation) into an opportunity to help himself. Just himself. “No collusion” is almost like a mantra to him lately, a mainstay if his most ugly political tweet-slinging. And he trotted it out in a tweet about a massacre. He even uses his favorite word—“Trump”—to refer to his own campaign... as if we needed to wonder to which campaign he might be referring.
This should be it. He has gone too far so many times that it’s like we have no idea what “too far” is anymore. But can we not agree that this is too far? That this is not the time or place? That The process of national grieving domestic mass murder by an American attacker is possibly the wrong time to try to exonerate oneself from complicity with international espionage? Is this not the absolute sickest and most disgustingly self-centered way to try to turn events to one’s own political advantage, no matter who it hurts?
When you’re president, your words really matters. Talking—it’s pretty much the majority of what you actually do. It’s your most visible job responsibility. You get up and say stuff. People ask you questions, look for orders, debate with you, and listen to you. And you say stuff and armies literally rise when you give the word. You send a mere tweet and it’s often easily the top story of the day.
Is Mr. Trump the person whose words we want speaking into the soul of our nation? Does he speak life? Does he speak truth?
It matters, because, in this vain moment of opportunistic verbal vomit, the President is building our future. He is building our future on the backs of slain civilians, teachers and marching band kids. Except the only future he actually seems to want to build is his own political survival.
What a small, pitifully low, weak aspiration toward which to direct the words which issue from the most powerful office in the world.
It’s one thing to call for more “mental health” treatment, or to blame horrific events on a nebulous evil or a large-scale set of cultural ills. It’s quite another thing to identify specific defects in our social fabric, tie those defects to specific events in specific people’s lives, and devise specific options for how to mend the holes or re-weave the fabric.
I want to know exactly what went wrong, and fix it. I have a strong suspicion that everyone from presidents to everyday citizens of both major parties and of many walks of life will be found lacking if we take an honest look at the whole picture of how Mr. Cruz’s life arrived at the events of Feb. 14. I have a strong suspicion that a great many of us are part of the problem, even if we’ve never touched a gun or never intended to hurt a Douglas HS student or teacher.
I keep hearing more news coming out about warning signs and missed opportunities to help or at least contain the “broken human being” (to quote his public defender) who confessed to the massacre in Parkland on Valentine’s Day.
Here’s the thing: much as I want to see better gun control policy in the USA, I also know that preventing potential killers from easily getting their hands on guns and ammo will not solve the deeper issues that lead to massacres.
I hear that the FBI didn’t follow through on tips. I hear he passed a gun-buying background check despite being banned from carrying a backpack to school before he was expelled. I hear that he displayed behavior concerning enough to be reported over and over. I hear he had fallen under the influence of white supremacists and even drilled with them. And I hear that he is recently an orphan who was not given the treatment and care and community he needed.
I also hear calls for better school safety and better mental health policies from many people, including the President.
What I want to know is: how did the system fail Mr. Cruz? How did the community fail him? How did we all fail him, and how did we fail each other by not stopping him when he was perhaps beyond help? How did government agencies and laws at all levels fail him and fail his victims? What do we need to change—specifically—before the next time, to make sure there is no next time?
The President’s latest offensive comments are no surprise. However, we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere and this seems a moment of clarity.
I gave him a chance. He failed even basic tests of presidential competency and decency. Repeatedly.
So, from now on, I shall consider myself a conscientious objector to the Presidency of the current President.
I at first thought it was denial to say #notmypresident. After the election, whether I liked it or not, he was my president.
But the reality is apparent at this point: he may be “the president,” but he is not my president, and I will not pretend any longer that he is. He probably never will be. Herod and Pontius Pilate may have had legal authority in first-century Palestine, but I know of at least one small junta of nomadic activists who did not recognize their authority as the rightful rulers of the people (and who clearly delineated the limits of Caiphas’s authority).
#Resist. Peacefully, firmly, within our democratic processes: resist.
Our children, grandchildren, future generations, and the rest of the world are watching. If you’re wondering what it looked like when “good people” stood by in the face of past atrocities and seemingly intolerable national outrages in various other countries, this is it. Stand and be counted as one who said, unequivocally, “No.”
The many people online defending the President’s calling Haiti, El Salvador, and THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA “shithole countries” make me sick.
Let’s follow the logical path forward. I would never use such a term to describe any of these countries, but I would agree that many have serious issues that can make them unsafe to live in and visit, depending on where you go (though I would never apply that description to THE ENTIRETY OF AFRICA). But you know what? The same could be said of the President’s beloved New York City, a place I and he both love to visit.
Anyway, following the logical path a bit more: if these countries are such “shitholes,” don’t we as a “Christian” nation have a moral and spiritual obligation to help them and to welcome the vulnerable and desperate into our “great” country as best we can? I’m not going to start quoting scripture, but the instructions to do so are legion.
So, are we a nation of people who follow “Christian” principles, or are we just a nation of selfish liars? We can’t have it both ways, no matter what the President says.
To this we’ve come.
I know people from those “shithole countries,” and they (and their cultures of origin, and their stories, and their families) are beautiful, valuable, and not shitty at all.
I’m tempted to tell the President of the United States of America where he can shove his opinion of their countries. But I won’t stoop to his level.
Instead, I’ll settle for giving him a milder piece of unsolicited but heartfelt advice, using the word he chose to describe my friends, colleagues, and fellow sojourners in this difficult journey of life
I invite the President to end his shitty presidency, resign his office, remove himself from the nation’s capital and the executive mansion he found so unimpressive, and take a very long (or permanent) vacation in one of the beautiful “shithole” locations he chose to denigrate. We will gladly take their immigrants if they will please look after him for the next three or so years.