Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trump and the faith community

The intent of the confab, according to news sources, was love, to bring together hungry Christian conservatives with that rowdy Donald Trump, who doesn't talk a Christian, doesn't walk like one, and had never--before running for President--acted like one nor hung out a shingle to be one or be seen as one. He's a recent convert.

Last weekend Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at the request of a circle of evangelicals who want badly to embrace him, despite his being him. They hoped he could persuade them to baptize him, and they want badly to do just that.

All of that according to Ralph Reed, who's been one of them for years and regularly speaks for them. NPR reported on the meeting, and, like others, explained that Trump had told the Christians not to pray for Obama, thereby thoughtlessly contradicting Christ's own dying words about enemies. Not surprising.

Reed tried to spin what Trump had said: "In the meeting that I was in, which was of the advisory group," Reed said, "he didn't say don't pray for your leaders. He said, you know, pray but you need to act. You need change, and this is your opportunity to see real change come to Washington."

Ralph Reed, who often glaringly lets his light shine before men, insists that the Donald is the Christians' "opportunity to see real change come to Washington." 

He's right. Donald Trump will be a President unlike any other. 

Reed went on:  "And, you know, I believe that, should Donald Trump be elected, he will disrupt the broken system in Washington, D.C., in a way that Hillary Clinton won't. And I think that message is likely to resonate. . .very powerfully in the faith community."

The bald arrogance of that assessment sickens me. Here's why.

Marcella is 90 years old, a Lakota nurse who gets emotional when she speaks of how the waters of the Missouri River covered her home fifty years ago when the government decided to create a series of dams through South Dakota to bring water to land that all too regularly had all too little.

She's not fragile, never was. She was in Europe after D-Day, caring for American GIs on the long march to Berlin. She's a Lakota woman, an army nurse, a mom, a quilter, a grandma, a resident of the Cheyenne River reservation, where she still lives.

Not long ago, I told her I'd be privileged to help her write her story, which is only half truth. The whole truth is I'd love to hear it, love to know, love to understand, love to know more about just how she's lived her long and incredible life. So we're talking about that right now. It may happen, but don't hold your breath.

Yesterday, I needed to explain to a woman who, in some ways, is acting as her agent, that I am--for better and for worse--a Christian. She needed to know, if she hadn't expected it already, because my Christianity is in my work. She wanted to read the book I wrote about the Rehoboth Mission, so I sent it to her. I hadn't mentioned anything about my being a Christian, and I knew I needed to. I didn't know what faith, if any, this agent of hers might espouse, nor did I know about Marcella's. She hadn't mentioned anything in the stories I'd heard her tell at a Great Plains history conference.

I told the agent she needed to know that I was a believer but not a preacher, that I wasn't interested in crafting stories of people's lives into Sunday School lessons, and that I often felt I had to apologize when I explained that I am and remain a believer. 

"Not to worry," she told me when she responded. She told me she herself is a Unitarian Universalist, a religion she says harmonizes well with traditional Native religion. Marcella, she said, is Episcopalian, which is not surprising; the Episcopalians have a long history among the Sioux or Lakota people. Marcella's daughters, she said, who will be very important in my hearing the stories, aren't greatly taken with Christianity after what it did to their people, as many Native people aren't--with good reason. 

And then I heard Ralph Reed explain that he thought what Donald Trump promises will "resonate. . .very powerfully in 'the faith community.'"

It is sheer arrogance for him to assume that his is the faith community. In fact, it's exactly that pompous assessment that makes some of us apologize for being believers. What's more, it's that damning exclusivity that creates anger in the minds and hearts and souls of Marcella's daughters and many, many others.

Evangelical Christians who believe that they are the only "faith community" are the pagans, the idolaters. It's not God almighty they worship, but themselves. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jeepers, Jimmy... you could not have stated it better...

"Evangelical Christians who believe that they are the only 'faith community' are the pagans, the idolaters. It's not God almighty they worship, but themselves."

I often felt this way about many of the Christians I grew up with in Oostburg... Christ had little patience for hypocrites as well... Grace is necessary...


PS I hear even though Trump is not a very "polished Christian" he has demonstrated "loving you neighbor as yourself" countless times...