In the early morning hours of November 9 2016, I lay distraught and wrestling in that place between sleep and wake where nightmares haunt, on a twin bed in a cold stone monastery in Hyde Park NY. A place supposed to provide silence and rest became the spiritual tomb of the religion I deeply loved and once held as truth. It seemed that in that one moment it all became lucid ….a pinpoint clarity….the knot of supposed truth of all I had once argued for, unraveled. The suppressive, patriarchal confines that I grew up with came crashing down and crumbled onto that tiled floor.
Looking back now I know it did not begin there in that room on that post election morning. I was knocked off my pharisaical horse sometime around my second year in seminary -the blinders ripped from my eyes by professors and pastors who loved The Word too much to let it be abused. The first stirrings of hesitation came when I began to understand the blatant misuse of the text for power mongering and gender oppression. Where those who had no problem preaching a God of love while holding the Bible as a vicious weapon to silence any and all who disagreed with their literalist interpretation.
I had spent months, if not years, grappling with the safe predictable religion of my youth which said grace was enough: one that preached of purity, acceptance and love but was infected with hypocrisy, hate and exclusion. And I was left to wrestle while an enigmatic and mysterious faith began to emerge…. one that was comfortable in paradox and mystery. A faith that was awakening to context and nuance and subtext, one that didn’t need to defend God or protect God’s reputation because God was quite capable of handling any doubts that I had and any shade one could throw. A faith that was comfortable being right and contented being wrong.
Somehow in that moment, post election morn… it all became clear and I saw it…I awoke to the hateful injustice toward the marginalized coyly couched in the “poor will always be with you” to justify a bootstrap mentality. I saw how it didn’t really matter what you said and what you did as long as you could recite the equation of the Romans Road and you voted in the right party… you were in the club. I saw that people who claimed to know and love Jesus could just toss out the teachings of Christ like yesterday’s trash and fully disregard his call to love neighbor, welcome the stranger, heal the sick and help the hurting. I finally saw the weeping sores of the great cancer of evangelical consumerism and power.
In the early morning hours at Holy Cross, the reality sunk in: the country and church I had loved my whole life betrayed me in the most unimaginable way. The scales fell from my eyes, and it all became clear. I could not unsee, unfeel or unknow the truths I had witnessed and then and there I knew I must come out and say NOT ME..
I will not be a part of this…if this is what and who the Evangelical church stands behind…count me out!!!
I choose to accept….
I choose to include….
I choose tolerance…
I choose truth…
I choose LOVE.
God have mercy on us all!