Monday, November 14, 2016

Business as usual: yet another Christian response to Donald Trump

My sermon this week was based on world events.

To download a podcast of my sermon, click here.

So, Donald Trump, huh?

Since the election, a few parishioners, friends and colleagues have asked "What do we as Christians do now?"

My answer is, "Business as usual".

Let me explain.

If you have met me or read any of my other blogs, you can probably figure out what my political leanings are.  But I have a problem: I firmly believe in the separation of church and state, which is essentially the separation of religion and politics, but it is difficult, nay, impossible for me to divide my politics and my religion into two neat little piles.

For better or worse, my religion and my politics feed into and inform one another, and how and why that works is something I hope to make clear over the course of this missive.

Funnily enough, religion and politics are both things that were meant to unify.  A religion or a political philosophy are what Yuval Noah Harari calls "collective fictions" (read his book Sapiens, it will blow your mind).  That does not imply that they are not true, but that they are collective narratives that we tell one another and gravitate towards in order to unify and work together with a common set of terms and assumptions.  They are vital to human society.

But (and here's the funny part), they just as often divide.  Take the recent American election, and even our own Canadian Federal election not that long ago.  People were divided.  You had families and friends not talking, people unfriending each other on Facebook hand over fist, arguments, debates, strained tempers.  I had no idea until this American election just how divided people were along political lines.

In Canada, we can be Liberal or Conservative (our equivalent of Democrat and Republican, roughly speaking) and generally still get along, but in the States, "Democrat" and "Republican", "left" and "right" can be and are hurled as insults, which is something that baffles the Canadian mind.

Either way, Canada and the rest of the world watched the American election like it was a spectator sport.  For all its intellect, wit and sophistication, I felt like I was watching a monster truck show or that American football league where women play in their underwear.

Don't get me wrong, there are some things worth getting upset about, and perhaps Donald Trump is one of them.  I don't know yet.  I know he said some things that ought to offend just about everyone, but I don't wish him ill.  I wish him well, because he has just moved in next door to us, and the fates of Canada and the United States are so intimately related that it is simply in my best interest that he does well.  Nuclear fallout tends to drift, and hostile ideologies tend to permeate borders.  For the sake of America and the world, I really hope he proves to be a wise and humble leader.

I'll be honest.  I doubt he will, though.

Like many people, I am worried.  I am worried that this man who demonstrated so many character flaws is now at the helm of what is still a reasonably powerful country, that a man who cannot seem to control his tongue, his temper, his sexual impulses is now in charge of an advanced military that has a huge nuclear arsenal at its disposal.

Yes, I know, checks and balances, blah blah, but it is still the principle of the thing.  He's at the big table now, and I suspect totally out of his depth, and not emotionally equipped to deal with it.

So what do we do?  What should be our response as Christians?

Business as usual.

I don't want to sound like a downer here, but fact is the world is always falling apart.

In any given second of any given day, somewhere in the world, something is falling apart.  Whether it be a culture, a city, a country, a civilization, a group of people or just one individual person, things are always falling apart, and they always will.  There will always be someone objectionable in power  doing objectionable things somewhere.

But fortunately, there are also always people who are willing to stand up to the forces of evil and put the world back together again.  That's what Christ calls Christians to do.  That is what we are.

So someone you object to is now Prime Minister?  Someone you object to is now President?

Nothing has changed, it has just hit closer to home.  Our marching orders are as clear as they have always been, and I can say it no more clearly than St. Francis did:

Make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

If Christianity has any business on this earth, this is it.  So like I said, business as usual.

My faith informs my politics.  When I see any politician or religious figure sowing anything from the first column of that prayer, I have to reject it, cry foul and resist.  I am compelled to try to bring things from the second column into the situation and the world.  I firmly believe this is what Christ calls us to do, regardless of who our leaders are, and indeed sometimes in spite of them.

I sincerely hope Donald Trump is a better man than he appears to be.  All I know is sometimes we are called to be better than our leaders.  Let's always strive to be that.


  1. Even if this election frightens me too, I can only agree with you.
    You are right !