I do not despair   Leave a comment

I spend a great deal of time trying to convince some of my non-Christian friends that Christians aren’t all like the few they see in the news. Ever seeking click-bait, media depiction of Christianity in recent decades has made it look as if conservative discrimination of LGBTQ+ people, Islamophobia, sexism, vilification of people in poverty, racism and virulent nationalism going by the name “American Exceptionalism”, and unfortunate claims of “religious persecution” are characteristic of the faith. The vast majority of Christians I know—numbering in the hundreds—don’t hold these views; in fact, in most cases, they hold the opposite view—because of their faith, not in spite of it.

And I hold in my heart a deep optimism, a belief that humankind is continuing to evolve and be less violent and more compassionate, despite frequent evidence to the contrary in the daily news. The artist Laurie Anderson tells a story of asking composer John Cage, “Are we getting better, or are we getting worse?” and his instant response, “Oh, I think we’re definitely getting better.” I think often of that quotation and cling to it in these times. My faith in humankind is strong, even if I recognize that we have our weaker moments.

But the last few days have shaken my optimism, as I have seen and heard of inhospitable calls to turn away Syrian refugees from our borders. The drumbeats for more war. And to top it all off, a leading presidential candidate calling for a registration for Muslims in our country. All of these things steeped in rancid fear and appealing to the worst in our natures. In the past few days I’ve lamented the descent of our society into this negative, fearful state, and my wife and I have talked half-seriously about leaving our country, if this is where it is going.

But today I realized that the reason I had heard so many of these negative stories over and over again is that my hundreds of Facebook friends—Christians and non-Christians, liberals and even conservatives—have been calling them out as unjust, un-American, fear-based. They’ve been sharing petitions to admit refugees, celebrating the state governors who have advocated welcome, and forwarding instructions on how to tell your congressional representatives to do same. They’ve been renouncing the hatred and fear of the presidential candidates who’ve spoken against the refugees, and sharing the words of the leaders—including our country’s President—who have called for generosity and neighborliness.

I realized that I was failing to trust my own belief in the goodness of people.

My friends—Christian and non-Christian—live in what I would consider a Christian spirit of abundance, not scarcity. That there is enough to take care of everyone. That fear is not the way. I do think that too many of our politicians and pundits are catering to the lowest common denominator, trying to appear tough on terrorism, and in doing so, appealing to our worst instincts. But I think that—despite the volume of their voices—they are in the minority.

I will not despair.

Posted 20 November 2015 by Br. Scott Michael Pomerenk, BSG in Uncategorized

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