Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Weary, Furious and Fearful
A few weeks ago, a woman I respect and don’t know well got hot under the collar about churches and hypocrisy. She stopped herself before I could hear enough of what was on her mind to understand her fury, but I notice enough hypocrisy, particularly in the news, to get hot under the collar myself. After all, Trump calls himself a Christian, and so do some people who support him. I think every president and his followers have.
Which brings to mind a question for a later blog entry: Will a non-Christian or a woman be first to assume the US Presidency? (Decades ago, female friends and I wondered aloud if a black man or a woman of any race would become President first. We all thought a Black man would.) If the question were, Will a bully or a woman be first to assume the US Presidency, we now know that answer, too.
Back to the topic at hand: I understand peoples’ anger about church hypocrisy. Lots of folks, some of whom are LGBTQ+, some divorced, some I know and many I don’t, have been hurt by churches. I even experienced a mild version of this hypocrisy when I lived in Dallas and visited 17 churches in search of a good fit. I didn’t find one. First Methodist seemed to me like a social club and the Unitarian church seemed like a college class. The others fell somewhere along that continuum. (Decades later I met a group of people in El Salvador from a small Dallas church that was a few blocks from where I’d lived. If I’d known the term “social justice” at the time, I might have found them.)
Most of my experience in churches, however, has been at Pullen Memorial Baptist in Raleigh, NC, and at Wallingford United Methodist in Seattle, WA. In both of those churches I’ve loved genuine people who recognize all creation (all people, all animals, the trees, the earth…) as from God and of God. These folks ache and celebrate. They have more questions than answers. Some have a lot of money, and some don’t. They seek, and they wonder. Or I should say “we”, not “they”, because these people are my people, and I am theirs.
Monday night, our church had a lovely Christmas Eve service, with the telling of Jesus’s birth story, and an angel always telling folks not to be afraid. Interspersed throughout the story were Christmas carols. When we got to our fourth carol, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” I started noticing the same words kept appearing throughout the hymns. Some I would have predicted because they’re the happy words I hear so often: angels, singing, joy, peace, love, and gold (that last one’s complicated for me).
The word in “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” that got me noticing the patterns, however, is not such a happy word and resonates with me. Weary. I am so often weary and always have been, even before brain radiation. One of my first formal baby photos, perhaps the first, catches me yawning. One nickname in my twenties was “Weary Mary.” I have always loved Tennyson’s lines in his poem “Marianna,”: “’I am a-weary a-weary,’ she said.” (I’ve never continued with the next line, “I would that I were dead.”)
Lately, I am most weary of the daily news about Trump. News of a government shutdown. News of abusive treatment towards immigrants. News about tweets and bigotry. Unkind news about health care and everything else. I find myself beat down by this. And terrified.
The Hitler parallels strike me—all those people in death camps: Jewish, disabled, queer…the list goes on, and it includes me and my ilk. What will we do about this man? What will we do to take back our country? What am I doing?
I’m writing. I’m asking you to notice with me. I do not believe this man and his followers represent us. I do believe we are mostly good people. I hope we will stay good and become aware.
Whatever that means.