Here’s When I’ll Support His Military Parade

So the President has instructed the Pentagon that wants a Military Parade, “like the one of France.”

I’m all for it.

We’ll just need to do a few things first:

Here’s when I’ll support a parade:

When The President stops attacking the FBI, Democratic Leaders, the Free Press, and individual citizens on social media.
When LGBTQ people are allowed to serve the Military (not to mention, marry, adopt, and use the restroom) as they desire.
When every American has access to healthcare.
When the NRA gets less political influence than mothers of children murdered by guns.
When the President apologizes for dodging the draft multiple times.

When Russian sanctions are levied.
When Puerto Rico’s residents all have electricity and food and water.
When the President releases his taxes.
When black athletes can peacefully protest without being vilified by the White House.

When the President stops giving carte blanche to the lunatic fringes of the Christian Right to legislatively weaponize their religion.
When Muslims are not made into terrorist caricatures to leverage fear.
When the President stops Tweeting and golfing and Tweeting and golfing.
When Sarah Sanders stops lying for a living.

When the people who come here fleeing oppression and violence from their Governments, aren’t met with the same from this one.
When racists and Nazis aren’t called “fine people” by the Commander-in-Chief.”
When FoxNews isn’t State TV.
When we spend 18 billion on roads and bridges, and not walls.

When the President stops openly lobbying for a Government shutdown.
When the GOP remembers we’re a nation of immigrants.
When our National Parks aren’t getting subdivided out to contractors.
When the GOP stops thinking women’s autonomy over their own bodies is up for debate.

When our Secretary of Education supports public education.
When the opioid crisis is addressed with appropriate funding and qualified human beings.
When the President’s assault accusers are heard.
When Robert Mueller is allowed to do his job.
When the GOP stops campaigning for sexual predators.

When people of color are allowed to protest freely.
When ICE stops raiding hospital rooms and targeting people on commuter trains.

When the GOP admits that Climate Change is real and that “clean coal” is preposterous.

Only when these things happen, will this President earn the slightest bit of respect and a microscopic fraction of the lofty title he holds and has thus far proven unworthy of—let alone the nonsensical, wasteful, PR stunt, wanna-be Dictator display of phony allegiance that he’s asking for.

As it is, he is a disgrace to this nation, in contempt of its Constitution, a mockery of the Christian faith he claims—and most of all, a clear and present danger to the very men and women of this country who serve its Military; those who are made most vulnerable by his daily recklessness and incompetence.

Sure, I’ll support your ridiculous sham of fake patriotism, Mr President.

You let me know when you’ve taken care of this list and I’ll book a flight and I’ll be in the front row.

Until then…

Stop Tone Policing My Outrage at this President

You can tell a lot about people by what gets them angry, by the causes they choose to defend, by the stuff that moves them to speak after being silent for so long.

There are people I haven’t heard from since the 2016 Presidential campaign began; friends who gradually disconnected on social media; who virtually ghosted me, slowly and steadily going incommunicado. 

They stepped away from any public discourse, intentionally withdrawing from political commentary of any kind, citing how incendiary it all is.

I haven’t heard a peep from them privately or publicly over the past eighteen months:

Not when he said protestors at his rallies should have been roughed up.
Not when the vile Access Hollywood video surfaced. 
Not when refugees were stranded at airports.
Not when they were bulldozing Standing Rock burial grounds.
Not when Sally Yates was unceremoniously terminated.
Not when Elizabeth Warren was silenced and persisted.

Not when Nazis and racists in Charlottesville were called “fine people.”
Not when tens of millions lost healthcare under the cover of night.
Not when kneeling black NFL players were called sons of bitches.
Not when he tweeted taunts at North Korea.
Not when Evangelists offered public prayers for predatory Alabama senators.
Not when the #MeToos were victimized a second time.

Through all of this—nothing. Not a damn word. Flat-out mute people.

Nothing moved them to say anything, nothing burdened them enough to rouse them from their silence, nothing offended their sensibilities significantly enough to merit even a whisper.

And yet lately, many of these same folks have suddenly found their voices—solely to tell me that my words are problematic to them, that they’re uncomfortable with me, that the issue they have—is with the expression of my outrage.

“Your anger isn’t helpful.”
“This isn’t going to reach anyone.”
“There’s a better way to do this.”

What’s revelatory about these people, is that they’re seemingly less bothered by anything happening in this country: the human rights atrocities, the legislative overreach, the unchecked cruelty, the prevalent hate crimes—than they are by the manner in which those of us who are bothered by it all, are saying so.

They deem our words offense, 
our methods abrasive,
our delivery divisive,
our language hurtful.

This is the very height of irony: people who’ve spent eighteen months repeatedly glossing over or excusing or rationalizing away the most toxic, offensive, vulgar behavior and language—now greatly disturbed by a perceived lack of decorum.

This is how sideways it’s all gone here: that there are people apparently more concerned about the feelings of the bullies than about the very lives of those being bullied. I refuse to be one of those people.

If you’re waiting for me to apologize for emotionally wounding someone with the suggestion that they may not be all that keen on people of color, or that they’re likely afraid of gay people, or that their nationalism is showing because they defend what’s happening here—it’ll be a long wait.

I think the futures of dreamers and the welfare of sick people and the safety of LGBTQ teenagers and the stability of families of immigrants are worth the raising of my voice, and the forcefulness of my delivery, and the discomfort it causes anyone.

You may want to ask why you’re more willing to protest those who protest, than you are to speak into the injustice itself; why the only thing you feel burdened to openly resist is our resistance. You may be fighting the wrong battle, here.

If you’re more outraged by the tone of this President’s critics, than by his bigotry, dishonesty, misogyny, racism, and environmental recklessness—you’re enabling him, you’re normalizing him, you’re encouraging him.

Stop it.

Progressive Christians are Saving Jesus from Extinction

It’s easy to be fooled by loud things.

American Bible Belt Evangelical Christians have gone all-in with this Presidency, and in order to do so, they’ve had to sell their souls, abandon their namesake, and remove any semblance of Christlikeness from their corporate faith expression.

He has been rendered largly nonexistent in their midst.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity in America is now marked by a poverty of compassion and an abundance of cruelty; inextricably tied to this Administration, purposefully disfigured and remade in its own ugly image. It has become synonymous with hostility to outsiders, with contempt for the poor, with privilege and supremacy, with rabid nationalism, with a Christianity of might.

In other words, practically speaking, Jesus of Nazareth is extinct in this supposed community of Jesus followers—and I’ve fully grieved it all.

With great sadness I’ve watched it all unfolding over the past eighteen months; high-profile pastors, Conservative politicians, and once reasonable pewsitters, all slowly succumbing to the seductive pull of power and the cheap high of nationalistic war rhetoric. They’ve made a series of small or quite substantial moral concessions along the way, leading them here: miles away from their spiritual center—to a Christianity that has no need for Jesus.

It’s all been fairly disheartening to see one’s faith tradition swallowed up by a violent, bullying, gun-toting, whitewashed, “don’t tread on me” cultural smallness, that has nothing in common with the generous, open-hearted, least-loving Christ of the Gospels.

I’d started to believe that this Jesus was gone forever—but I was mistaken. I’d been paying too much attention to this loud, hateful clanging cymbal. Thank God for the heretics.”

The Jesus I knew as a child and came to aspire to in adulthood is still here, and it is the heretics who are preserving him.
It is the maligned backsliders, the Godless heathens, and the derided social justice warriors who are replicating his compassion for hurting people, his welcome for foreigners, his generosity toward the hungry, his gentleness for the marginalized.

I’ve been visiting these local Progressive faith communities every week, and they are doing joy-giving, life-affirming, wall-leveling work—alongside people of every color, orientation, and nation of origin.

They are providing Sanctuary for refugees, making meals for multitudes, offering embrace to the estranged, standing between the vulnerable people and the opportunistic predators around them—you know, like Jesus would.

And in our gatherings, Atheists and Muslims and Jews and Agnostics have stepped into these communities and found something they have not found in the counterfeit Christianity so loud in this country: they have found welcome.

It’s all been fully and beautifully surprising, to see this Jesus still alive here in these people.

You may have given up on a Christianity that resembles Jesus, and I can’t blame you. The people claiming his name right now who have the microphone, the platform, the headlines, and the legislative pull—are providing good reason to lose hope, ample cause to imagine Jesus’ extinction, great evidence that this thing is devoid of goodness.

But there is a quieter, more loving, less self-seeking, less headline grabbing expression of faith in this country, that is everything Jesus said he would be: good news to the poor and the disenfranchised, hope for those feeling tossed by the storms of this life, refuge for the oppressed—and trouble for the wolves who come to devour them.

In these progressive Christian communities all over this country, the peacemaking, neighbor loving, foot washing, leper-embracing Jesus is not only still present, but being multiplied by kind people determined to perpetuate him here.

There is a Jesus here who invites women into ministry, who feels compassion and not contempt for the poor; one who calls disparate people to join him, one who destroys all barriers.

There is a Jesus here of justice and mercy; one championing diversity and equality, one committed to altering the planet in a way that gives voice to the voiceless and resistance to the hateful.

This Jesus is here, and he will never be driven to extinction so long as there are heretics, heathens, and backsliders who refuse to let him die simply because religious people have no use for him.

These people are still reaching out a hand to this hurting world because they are compelled by their faith to do so.

If you are a person of faith and you’re exhausted from a Christianity of cruelty and malice; if you’ve given up on finding anything more redemptive or anything worthy of your presence and time, seek out a Progressive faith community this week—and allow yourself to be beautifully surprised by a radically loving, lavishly welcoming, compassionate activist Jesus you thought was gone for good.

Be encouraged.

If Your Children Came Home This Week

Parents, did your children come home this week?

I imagine they did.

They may have come through the door like a cyclone; exploding loudly through the room and leaving a trail of clothes, shoes, and backpacks, before raiding the pantry and departing quickly to level another section of the house.

They may have come in without a sound; head down, ear buds still embedded; and when engaged, communicated with only a series or grunts and nods which you’ve somehow learned to decipher as some newly developed language.

They may have come in exuberantly after making the football team, or devastated by a text-delivered break up, or frustrated with that Math grade they can’t seem to get any higher than really low.

I don’t know how your children came home this week, but likely they did come home.

If they did, get on your knees and be grateful.

Bailey Holt didn’t come home this week.

She died in her school.

She died trying to call her mother.

She died violently in the glorious, radiant prime of her young life—and what’s worse, is that it was barely news in America.

Bailey didn’t come home this week, and our President and our politicians and the media hardly lifted their heads beyond quick Tweets of thoughts and prayers.

This is because America is losing something important: we’re losing our outrage when children are murdered with guns.

We’re losing the ability to be rightly moved to sickness at what we’ve become.

Many of us have forgotten that kids aren’t supposed to get shot in schools every other day; that this isn’t natural, that it is a global embarrassment, that it is the shared sin in which we are complicit.

I haven’t forgotten.

I haven’t forgotten that Bailey Holt’s parents are walking through a personal hell right now that no parent should walk through; one that thousands of parents and grandparents and neighbors and boyfriends and best friends and classmates are forced to walk through every single month—a hell that is largely preventable.

America needs to recover its outrage.
It needs to recover its compassionate heart.
It needs to recover its soul.

We need to treasure the lives of high school students more than we treasure handguns.
We need to stop clinging to antiquated words about “well-armed Militias,” while our hallways and shopping malls and concerts are becoming war zones.
We need to stop making excuses why we have the highest rates of gun violence in developed nations. 
We need the professed Pro-Life community to loudly advocate for lives like Bailey’s.
We need Conservative politicians to get out of bed with the NRA, so that more children get to come home to sleep in their own beds.
We need to stop perpetuating the ridiculous nonsense, that the way to reduce gun violence is to give more people more guns.
We need to figure out a way to create a country, where an elementary school student or a teenager not coming home, is such an anomaly that it is newsworthy, that it is shocking, that it does set off an alarm in us.

Bailey Holt deserved to come home.

She deserved to be watching this sunrise, to be a part of this day, to be doing all the noisy, goofy, unpredictable, beautiful things that 15-year old children do when they come home.

Her parents deserved to have her come home; to be dealing with all the sleeplessness and laughter and stress and bittersweetness that parents experience each day trying to help their children navigate the normal minefields of this life.

They don’t deserve to be planning her funeral.

No parent deserves this.

I’m not okay when children don’t come home.

I don’t think any of us should be.

America, we are badly broken and we need to be fixed.

We need to face our gun problem—and yes, it is a gun problem. It is other things too; a mental health problem and a violence problem, but make no mistake it is predominately a gun problem.

We need to do something with the greatest of urgency and without delay.

We need to make sure more children come home.

 

Note: In two the two weeks since this post’s publication, there have already been numerous school shootings. I wonder how many children, fathers, wives, and brothers will not come home in the days that follow.