These are turbulent times. 2016 was a turbulent year. But the waters of baptism invite us to hope. We hold our breath, the water splashing against our skin. We hold our breath, anticipating what is to come. We hold our breath, we remember our baptism, and we have hope.
“You want it to be meaningful not only to your president-elect, but you want it to be meaningful also to the nation,” Graham said.
“I’m taking time just to pray and ask God to give me wisdom and guidance because it’s a responsibility that I take very seriously.”
This is the third inauguration Graham will have attended, he noted. The first was to assist his father Billy Graham at the second inaugural of President Bill Clinton in 1997; the second, to offer the invocation at the first inaugural of President George W. Bush in 2001.
Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, who has drawn praise and pans for his critiques of President-elect Donald Trump, has apologized to Southern Baptists who think he was critical of anyone who voted for the Republican candidate.
“There’s a massive difference between someone who enthusiastically excused immorality and someone who felt conflicted, weighed the options based on biblical convictions, and voted their conscience,” he said in a column published Dec. 19
Now that the election is resolved, both the media and politicians have moved to “normalize” the president-elect, even if his personality and practices are far from normal. Let’s call this the great Washington “suck up” to power which goes far beyond the peaceful transition of power, which is an invaluable American democratic tradition.
But this is not normal. None of this is normal.
Like many people in the nation, I was deeply disturbed when I stayed up late watching the election results on Nov. 8. This country elected Donald Trump to succeed the nation’s first African-American president — a deed that was in no way coincidental. President Obama’s election was an historic moment: the United States sent a black family to live in the house that slaves built as a residence for the highest political office in the land of their captivity. And with the election of Obama to that high office, the White House became home to free ancestors of the slaves who built it. Obama’s election felt like an earthquake of sorts. When the dust settled, it seemed that some old, terrible things had been demolished, and other things were moved around. From all appearances society had been recalibrated.
Arrival is an intricate, beautifully-realized story reminding us that, especially at a moment of great clamor in our society, it’s important not just to talk, but to listen to each other — and not just to listen, but to listen with intentionality and compassion.
We’re part of a community of people who are using cameras and pens and microphones to explore our differences — and I think that’s what keeps our differences from being explored by knives and bombs and all these other forms of destruction. What you’re doing with a publication, what we're doing with film, it’s all part of the same effort.
That’s where you see democracy at work, and that’s really what we’re rededicating ourselves to.
This is the world as it is: a world that a robust doctrine of sin should teach us to expect but which idolatry seduces us into forgetting. The chasing after idols is always foolish, but some have the luxury to indulge such foolishness at no physical cost to themselves. The election of Trump is a wake-up call to remember what those who are black, brown, queer, disabled, or a religious minority can only forget at their peril: that oppression is likely to get worse, but the struggle goes on; that the absurd becomes normalized, but must nevertheless be ridiculed even to the point where ridicule feels absurd; that love is more real than hate, but real love means hating what is evil; that the space between the world as it is and the world as it should be must be grieved in order to find the hope to go on; that a truly good, happy and meaningful life cannot involve leisure built off the domination of others. No form of life can be good if it does not have in its institutional forms and ends justice and generosity for all, and pursues this in such a way as to foster the agency of everyone, especially the vulnerable and dependent.
As members of the left, we find ourselves wanting meaning, now, no less than did those who voted to Make America Great Again. We want a theodicy. We want answers. We want, in a sense, a religious explanation for how to proceed next.
It would be intellectually satisfying to come up with new narratives. It would also be lazy.
As Christians, what we are called to do is sacrifice that. We go on living. That’s it. We donate, if we choose to; we participate, when we can, in acts of goodness and solidarity and defiance; we rage against racism when we see it; when men grope women on subway platforms we follow the women to comfort them, as happened to me earlier this week. We do dull, good things, and we vote. We love, but do not soothe ourselves with the softness of that love. We deconstruct our own narratives, especially when they make us feel good.
We cry out in the wilderness. But we do not expect answers — not yet, and maybe not ever. If we are called to anything, now, it is do the work of living without them.
Trump has painted a picture of America where walls loom, refugees are banished without a merciful glance, families are torn apart, people of color are killed more frequently and with even less consequence, and the suffering are left to suffer all alone. I find myself praying for a presidency that is only bad rather than catastrophic. And I find myself resolved with a new certainty to never let the vision Trump has painted come true.
While I mourn how this election threatens to erode the progress that’s been made over the last eight years, I am reminded this is not our whole story as a nation nor as citizens of the kin-dom of God. There is a better story yet to be written.
Storytelling is at the heart of all movements. If we have ears to hear and eyes to see, stories can inspire us to listen deeply and to compassionately respond to the voices and lived experiences of those on the margins of society.
"Both sides are terrified of the other side," Colbert said. "... How did our politics get so poisonous? I think it's because we overdosed, especially this year. We drank too much of the poison."
A diverse group of Christian leaders — including Bishop Claude Alexander, Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Rev. Joel Hunter, Rev. Traci Blackmon, Dr. Leith Anderson, Jim Wallis, and dozens more— issued a statementthis afternoon calling for the presidential candidates and all Americans to respect the process and outcome of today’s elections. The statement was authored by Bishop Claude Alexander, who is the senior pastor at The Park Church in Charlotte, N.C. In issuing this statement, dozens of signers from across the theological, racial, and political spectrum have come together — before the election results are known — to support the integrity of the election process and call for Congress as a body to “… put partisan politics aside and end the toxic gridlock.”
This is another form of racialized terror for a black woman to endure. Our call in this 21st century is to be faithful in the small things, follow the ways of Jesus, and resist empire and oppressive systems at all cost. This is the cost of discipleship, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer teaches. The active resistance to systems that perpetuate terror and oppression is what we are called to do. This is part of being faithful in the small things: resisting systems that perpetuate the logic of dominance and that do not conform to the eschatological hope of collective liberation.
"Saturday Night Live" has been having a great run this season, thanks to historic nature of this election cycle. But besides flat-out mockery and spot-on impersonations of the candidates, the show has also provided some excellent fodder for discussion, including last month's "Black Jeopardy" sketch, which found common ground between black Americans and a Trump supporter.
For years after my experience working with UNHCR, I struggled with secondary trauma, with the heavy weight of so many terrible stories swirling in my mind, causing flashbacks, numbness, and anger. As UNHCR resettlement worker, I made decisions about the lives of war survivors and afterward I couldn’t shake the weight of power I wielded in that tiny interview room. But simply being a neighbor, a person who returns wrongly delivered mail and waves from across our picket fence, a person who delivers cookies at Christmas time and receives piping hot sambusas in return, has been healing for me. I count it as one of my life’s greatest joys to live next door to my Somali neighbors.
"Try your hand at voting in the world's greatest democracy!" the first card reads. "Will you endure hardships like long lines and voter intimidation? Or will you just take a leisurely stroll to your well-staffed polling place?"
Like Oregon Trail, players then get to choose their character: a white programmer in California, a Latina nurse in Texas, or a black salesman in Wisconsin. Game creators say the choice to mimic the popular pioneer game, and myth, was intentional.
The nation’s attention may be on the presidential election, but there are a number of down-ballot issues of interest to religious and nonreligious voters. Here’s a sampling of what’s being considered and how people of faith are weighing them.
“I always thought I might see a woman president before I leave,” Douglas said.
“I worked in food service management at a hospital for 20 years, and then at a public school for another 20. I didn’t have the chance to do the jobs that men do, and knowing that my granddaughter does ... I like that.”