It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times.
That about sums up 2017.
Of course there can still be more worse times
and we all hope for better times in 2018,
so even though the year is ending,
the book is never closed on
how bad or how good things can get.
And sometimes the worst of times wakes us up and leads us to the best of times when we see how our characters and the love of others can add up. The truth is I was often too depressed about my narcissistic family, the patriarchal denomination I was raised in and the fragile state of leadership in my country and the woes of the world to write a lot. Some weeks it was all I could do to write on my memoir which is in the past and as an Enneagram seven, I am not as fond of the past as I am the future.
As someone who has never enjoyed political discussions, I’ve taken part in more of those in this last year than in my entire life. Which is weird for someone who believes Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world. So what happened? Number 45 and the religious right. When very religious people take sides with white supremacists and rapists and murderers, I began to question calling myself religious. I’ve decided Christian itself has become a label for white patriarchy which pretty much disregards any people not like them and I am not one of them.
Please note, I’m not disowning Jesus. I love Jesus. I’m just saying when you compare the Christians who wrote the Nashville statement and the Christians in Congress who supported Roy Moore and Harvey Weinstein and the Christians who don’t care if poor children and elderly can get healthcare and compare them to Jesus—It seems obvious one of these characters is not at all like the others. If the very name Christian is to be Christ-like, we have an epic fail in churches across America.
This has taken my husband and I on a strange journey where we have grown so much and yet when we go to church, it often feels like the same stale bread from last year’s communion and like Jesus Himself said, “It’s frickin’ hard to put new wine into old wine skins.” Okay, so I paraphrased a little and I doubt Jesus swears, but let’s be honest, do you really think Jesus cares about swear words at this point nearly as much as he cares about our deceitful and dirty hearts? Let’s face it, he’s seen it all and I’m talking to you religious narcs. Nothing surprises Jesus—not even self-righteous Pharisees who wear his name proudly while they use and abuse others, nor fragile, broken ragamuffins begging him for justice. Jesus loves and forgives all of us, but the real question is who wants to be healed from the curse of selfishness?
And so when the worst of times came in 2017, (and I won’t go into all of them, but humor columnist Dave Barry did a great rundown, so you might wanna catch his column) something good and better happened—the resistance rose up. No, I’m not talking about anti-fascists for they are no better than the other warmongers. I’m talking about ordinary, peace loving, kindhearted people who have made it their motto to make America and the rest of the world kind again. I wish I could say these were Christ-followers, but no, they happen to be people from every faith and walk of life. Sadly I have sometimes found more in common with those who do NOT worship the same God I do than some in my own church. (I believe this is because there are two groups of people–fundamentalists and progressives and more and more the division is increasing to the point two cannot walk together because they don’t agree.)
When women were mistreated and belittled and described in obscene ways, women around the world stood up for women everywhere. Those of us who have seen sexual abuse and gender abuse and lack of equality, got out of our lazy boys to type and paint and sing and march and join hands with our sisters and brothers of all faiths and all persuasions and all orientations because we realized in the words of Maya Angelou, “We are more alike than we are different.”
And when we remember Jesus told us that his followers would be known by their love, we have to question a church that does not treat women or LGBTQ or people of color with equality. We don’t get to make this stuff up—we either treat everyone with equality and unconditional love like Jesus taught us or we are not his true followers.
I wish someone could send a memo to the president of every Christian denomination who treats women as less than men, our LGBTQ friends as non-human and those of color as not as worthy. Wake up oh church! Such Christianity goes against any picture of Jesus I see in the gospels and it is more than worldly politics—it’s about having our lamps trimmed and burning because one day all the money in the world won’t save the actions of an insane president, nor will it buy the Holy Spirit for those who are used to buying whatever they want.
Meanwhile we have an opportunity step into the revolution. My friend Louis likes to remind me that the word Revolution contains love spelled backward. Perhaps that’s because in order to make a difference, we sometimes have to run a pass around some unsavory characters.
I believe good will come of evil because God eventually works all things work together for good. Eventually. Meanwhile we are often stuck between the now and the not yet, the worst of times and the best of times.
I don’t know of many who think of 2017 as a great year. Most think of it as the year of chaos. We all hope 2018 will be a better year. Which reminds me of an old man I once knew who planted a marvelous garden every year. I looked at his produce basket once and said, “God has sure blessed you!” And he replied, “God did the blessing, but I did the planting and God can’t bless what we don’t plant.”
To all the new kids, the nerd kids,
the left out of the game kids
who wonder if there is any
place in this world for them.
There is room
among the outliers and free thinkers,
the once beaten, but not broken.
Come join the throng because
we’re all walking each other home.