Civility in Politics

White Supremacy Is A Criminal Lie

Posted on Updated on

untitled_artwork.png

It’s too easy today for white people to ignore the growing strength of white supremacy in our contemporary culture and political scene in the United States of America. Yes, white supremacy has been in the news because it is resurgent here in the US, right now. Being a white male with no inclinations of supremacy I could easily ignore the whole thing and choose not to participate, but that’s not enough.

As a white male who in my inherent privilege is in no way personally threatened by the criminality of white supremacy I bear an inescapable responsibility to speak loudly and stridently against it. Every white person must accept this responsibility and speak loudly in defense of the truth of the dignity, worth and welcome of our non-white friends, family and neighbors.

Some links about the current swell of white supremacy from…
The New York Times
The Southern Poverty Law Center
CNN

White supremacy is evil. White Supremacy is a lie. It is not a mental illness, because it is chosen. It is a crime against humanity. White supremacy is a systematic devaluing of human beings and it must be denounced and disowned.

I do not advocate violence against white supremacists, but I do advocate for us all to speak clearly with grace, compassion and equity for all peoples’ value. Christians must decry the use of our religious symbols, our scriptures, our Christ and our God in white supremacy. Americans must decry the idea that we are lessened by our diversity.

There is no room in Christianity for racial and ethnic discrimination, as there is no room for any other discriminations perpetrated in the name of Christ. There is no room for partiality and bias among the human family. There is no sacrosanct white culture or American culture. I do not interchange Christianity and American Nationalism here as equal or the same, but I use both because White Supremacy dresses itself in the trappings of each, falsely.

Let us never tire of saying it loudly and repeatedly: White supremacy is a criminal lie. Let no lack of courage, conviction or compassion stop our voices.

AMDG, Todd

 

You Are Not Alone

Posted on

new human logo button blackYou are not alone.

To every one of my Muslim friends and neighbors, you are not alone. The demonizing of your religion will not go unchallenged. Threats to discriminate against you because of your faith will not go unchallenged. You are our neighbors, friends and family. There are so many Americans, so many Christians, who will defend you.

To every immigrant, even those who came to us undocumented, you are not alone. We will still speak of your dignity and worth and celebrate our connection as human beings. You are our neighbors, our fellow humans, and you matter to us. Your children matter, and we will not leave them forsaken.

To every woman who feels that deep pain in their soul when men use and excuse demeaning language like “grab them by the pussy,” you are not alone. We will continue to hold people accountable for their words and actions. We will always speak of your value and we will defend your bodies and rights.

To every LGBTQ friend and neighbor, you are not alone. We have seen important civil liberties achieved in the last decade for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer minorities, and we will not sit idly by when those are threatened. You matter to us, and we will continue to safeguard your life and liberty.

To the millions who have healthcare for the first time, and those who finally have coverage even in the face of preexisting conditions, you are not alone. We will not sit idly by while your health is threatened by political games and rhetoric. We will fight for you and with you to keep the healthcare you so desperately need.

To our non-white friends and neighbors who have been vilified, faced condescension, and suffered demeaning, racist abuses, you are not alone. We will continue to stand with you for equality and truth. We will continue to work for a day when no one’s race or ethnicity is used as a weapon to disenfranchise, demean or discredit them.

To refugees around the world and those who have made it to US soil, you are not alone. We will not allow you to be further victimized by fear and suspicion, but will loudly proclaim your dignity, value and humanity. You are our sisters and brothers.

Those holding public offices change, but some things will never change. We will always stand together to create a better world, a safer world and a more beautiful world where our diverse gifts and shared dignity brighten every dark time. We will work harder each day to embrace love and accept our differences, and we will safeguard one another against all threats. We will stumble and we will misstep, but we will always rise and be better for our shared efforts.

You are not alone.

Life After the Vote

Posted on Updated on

typecastWe are finally here… it’s crunch time. Today we’ll be wrapping up our General Election for the President of the United States. Millions have voted early, and we’ll be joined by millions more. Please take a deep breath and stand back for a moment; no matter who wins we will all be here on Wednesday, and the day after that, and the day after that.

Scripture has so much less to say about who we cast a vote for (as in none, no scripture at all)  than about who we are going to be regardless of who is our President. Of course it matters who is the next President of our country, but I only control my one vote, not the election. There are many things in scripture to shape my personal values which should affect my vote, but we must admit that scripture primarily directly speaks to my submission to civil authority. Who I am, what I say and how I impact the world, is up to me. That’s the constant in my life, not the person holding our highest elected office. My own life, words and actions, are the responsibility I personally carry as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

 
I can only guess how either candidate will make it easier or more difficult for me to actively express my faith in God and my discipleship to Jesus Christ. Wait. Let me rephrase that… neither candidate will have any impact on my ability or responsibility to actively express my faith in God and my discipleship to Jesus Christ. And certainly as a Christian, I will be working as hard and as loud as I can to be sure that no one else faces any threat to their religious freedoms be they Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or atheist, etc. For even though a person’s convictions and faith belong solely to the individual, we must safeguard everyone’s right and to openly and safely be themselves. No matter who is in that highest office we will be our brothers’ keepers, and our sisters’ keepers. We will continue to stand with sexual miniorities who may be denied their civil rights and we will work to help and welcome the globe’s most vulnerable populations in their own countries and when they are forced abroad seeking refuge. None of this changes, regardless of the election’s outcome. Stop thinking of the election as an end or a solution… it is simply one step, forward or backward, in the sojourn of a little slice of our species.

 

religion jesus taughtDo yourself a favor and after today’s election, take a deep breath and stop the uncivil and angry dialogue. Drop the anger and the fear. Stop believing every unfounded accusation and spin job. Neither candidate will enter office unscathed by this past year, and neither needs to enter office amid this continuing storm of uncivil mud slinging and promised reprisals. Hold them accountable fairly and unceasingly. We will each be part of the process of helping whomever is elected, and our whole country, move forward. And in four more years we’ll do it all again, a little worse or better for the journey. And in the meantime we’ll all keep working hard for the values and goals we most cherish.

We’ll pray and we will be our neighbor’s servant. This is our calling. Not power. Not domination. Not nation building. Serving, and not being served. And peace will be our legacy and our inheritance.

“O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land,
that we may be a people at peace among ourselves
and a blessing to other nations of the earth.”
Book of Common Prayer, Page 821

And amen.
AMDG, Todd

Walking DC and Praying

Posted on Updated on

I took some time this morning to make a much needed walking prayer tour down in DC. I used to do this a little more often, and I miss the city. I walked near the White House, past the Capital Building and around past the Supreme Court building. We have a lot going on right now in government, and it felt good to move among their buildings and lift them all up, Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

It was stealth prayer as far as everyone else knew. I just walked and prayed. No signs, no banners and no yelling. There was some of that going on around in different spots, and I prayed for them, too. It felt good to move outside of the issues for a bit and just express some love and appreciation for the people in our government, and to ask God to give them wisdom, courage and opportunity to help make this a better world. DC Duck

I was thrice blessed to catch noon Mass at the Downtown Catholic Bookstore. Please allow me a moment to explain…

1) I had no idea that today is the feast day of Catherine of Siena, whom I love. She famously wrote, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” That was the first blessing.
2) We prayed together, especially for Baltimore and Nepal. They have been on my heart and mind for the last few days, and it was good to beg together for God’s blessings with all the souls gathered there for Mass. That was the second blessing.
3) And when I stepped back into the sunlit street I stopped to admire the flowers by the curb and discovered a duck all nestled down amongst them. This was the third blessing.

There may have been a fourth blessing, but I’m still wrestling with it. After Mass I was cruising the bookstore and looking through the prayer books, as I always do… but today as I looked through the books and thought of my desire to be going deeper with God right now, I was a bit overwhelmed for a moment… my heart beat fast and my breath caught in my throat. I felt hot and rooted to the spot for a moment of frozen time.

I recently bought a new journal, not because I have already filled my 2015 journal, but because I was moved to make some room for a freshness in my prayers and journaling. I just began using it a few days ago. Did God’s Spirit touch my heart? Did I feel a tangible touch of nearness with our God about whom Catherine of Siena says, “You, eternal Trinity, are a deep sea. The more I enter you, the more I discover, and the more I discover, the more I seek you.” I don’t know. But I had not had lunch yet, so it wasn’t indigestion.

For now I’m just going to thank God, to express my deep appreciation that I was able to walk a few miles and lift some prayers and at the end of it, be touched in so many ways for the time spent. I have read that my Father Ignatius also saw visions which he didn’t understand, mystical moments that he treasured even without understanding them or ever interpreting them to a specific meaning. If it’s good enough for Ignatius, it’s good enough for me.

AMDG, Todd

Yesterday I Prayed

Posted on

i prayedMost of us rolled out of bed yesterday morning and reached for the nearest device that would link us to Tuesday’s election results. We saw the list of winners and losers. We felt like winners and losers.

And I prayed. I was both a winner and loser yesterday, my vote at times landed on a candidate who prevailed and at other times upon a candidate who will not lead us in the coming years. I would imagine that we all faced some wins and some losses as the ballots were tallied. We each will have issues and interests at stake in who leads us forward. We’ll all have hopes and we’ll all have fears.

Today, I’m still praying. Tomorrow, I’ll pray some more. Prayer is not a consolation prize or an escape from the realities of life. Prayer is the ever-present expression of what is timeless, what is transcendent, what is hopeful. Beyond the arguments, the political parties and caucuses, and all the maneuvering of the powers that be, there must exist a truth and a reality undiminished by our collective failure to express God’s love, justice, grace and charity to one another. It must.

When I pray I beg for wisdom and for graciousness to inhabit the winners and losers of Tuesday’s contests. I beg for wisdom to overwhelm them all. I pray for the Spirit of the Divine to overlay them, even if they do not recognize the source of their growing empathy, mercy, grace and courage.

We keep moving, praying and hoping. I know what issues and values I have at stake in these many new leaders, and in the old leaders who will continue in their positions of power and influence. I know what many of you, a diverse group of people I dearly love, have at stake in these leaders. But we cannot let our fear ever extinguish our hope. We cannot allow our disappointments or even our victories to erode our commitment to justice, mercy and equity for all people.

I hope we’re surprised and not surprised. I hope that in the coming months and years we realize more justice, more equality, more joy, more freedom, and more of the rich life that we have to share. I hope that we see less poverty, less disease, less violence and less hatred, beginning in the halls, offices and rooms of our own Capitol. I pray that the good stuff God brings us is surprisingly beyond what we can today articulate or hope. And I hope we’re faithful enough in our anticipation to not be too surprised.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. To the greater glory of God. This is my daily prayer, inscribed upon my flesh with ink, that God’s glory grows and abounds in this world. This is my prayer because I am convinced that God’s glory is found in our love, grace, mercy and service to one another. Now and always, world without end. Amen.

AMDG, Todd

Comparing a Sitting US President and Hitler: Uncivil

Posted on

I am going to just to say it out loud: Comparing any U.S. President to Adolf Hitler is about the most overused, ridiculous and vapid attempt at humor or political astuteness that can be imagined. It simply serves to embarrass the person doing so, and it serves to move everyone exposed to it a bit further from any meaningful dialogue or engagement with current policy issues. Every President deserves better than this. You and I deserve better than this. It is simply demeaning for us all.

President Hitler CollageIt isn’t funny. It isn’t clever. It isn’t civil. And however well intentioned or sincere a person might be, it doesn’t advance any valid political ideas or highlight any useful policy insight. In the most blunt terms it is a waste of time and extremely disrespectful to our nation’s highest office and any person who might be holding that office.

This is also not a problem of the political right alone, or solely of the political left. This has recently been done with both past President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama. Both have been vilified by an attempt to connect their actions and intentions to a dictator with whom neither have any political, national or religious common ground. This is a problem of American discourse, not just of one political party or political persuasion. And when followers of Christ engage in it, it becomes a spiritual problem, a spiritual short-sightedness.

Of all of my friends and neighbors who believe that implicating connections and commonalities between their political adversaries and an historical evil such as Adolf Hitler, I ask only this: Find something constructive to do with your time. It might look like this…

  1. Find someone to encourage.
  2. Find someone to help.
  3. Pray for or find a way to better relate to a political figure you feel the urge to vilify or defame.
  4. Pray for and find a way to help the people around the world suffering under political and tyrannical regimes that are actually reminiscent of Adolph Hitler’s abuses and murderous evil.