No, Society is NOT a S***hole, but God’s Kingdom

The Prayerful Preacher V6 N2 2018

Recently I was challenged to not just write about prayer, but to live it. I have accepted that challenge. The fire that was lit under me has, for all intents and purposes, become a wildfire. My writing has become my clarion call to action in regard to social justice and commentary on the events of the day.

I was shocked and appalled by the comments that our nation’s leader made a while ago. I feel that the attacks on immigrants, the poor, and the marginalized runs counter to the teachings of Christianity, as well as Islam and Judaism. I am apoplectic that many of our elected officials, who purport to be good Christians, totally forget that the Christ taught inclusiveness and love. Who then are they following???!! I cannot be silent in the face of this outrage. I believe that to deny the teachings of Christ IS a heresy. To put people down for where they came from, there financial situation, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation/identity and much more is to put down God and Christ. We are ALL created in God’s image!

I am further incensed by the complicity of members of Congress through silence and denial of the language that was used. To not express outrage is, to me, worse than the use of the abhorrent language.

Like most of us, my family came to this country from somewhere else. They came seeking opportunity for a better life. I am proud to be the descendent of immigrants. Yes, they arrived here in the mid to late 19th century, but the conditions they left were equivalent to that of some of the nations that our president disparaged. I am proud of and fully embrace the fact that I my ancestors came from the “s***hole countries” of their era.

When it comes to policy for our nation, we must require our elected officials to be inclusive of ALL points of view; not just ignorant prejudices and outdated ideas. This is the 21st century by the way. What happened to civil dialogue on the issues of the day?

I remember a time, not too long ago when politicians from all ends of the spectrum could civilly debate and compromise. In 1994, I ran for office. My opponent and I, though from opposite ends of the political spectrum, were able to civilly debate the differences in our opinions as to how to handle the various issues. We did not forget that ultimately our goals and outcomes were the same. We merely differed on the “how”.

We can no longer sit on our asses and give lip-service to our outrage. WE MUST GET OFF OUR ASSES AND FIGHT BACK!!! For the sake of this country and humanity we cannot be silent. It can be as simple as conveying our disgust to our elected officials, writing a letter to the editor of our local newspapers; or as radical as protesting in the streets and at the local offices of our senators and congressmen.

New Testament scholar and theologian Marcus Borg stated, “Jesus was a person radically centered in God, empowered by that relationship, and filled with God’s passion for the world—a passion that led to his execution and vindication”. It was not zealotry nor righteous indignation, but deep sympathy for the human situation which drew Jesus into a ministry of healing and forgiveness. There are some out there, and I heard one on TV the other day, who fall into the trap of over-zealousness and lack of a center point. A group evangelicals were being interviewed on what they thought about the state of affairs in our country. A lady commented that she liked the administration’s agenda and that the Bible contained everything we need for making laws. She also added that she thought that she was glad that we had new leadership because she feared that our country would be ruled by Sharia Law. I was shocked! In my view, she was espousing a Christian version of what she was against. In our society, we need to think of diversity and not push one religion over another when it comes to making laws. That, in my thinking, would be the height of injustice. Yes, we must utilize the principles of love and justice, but not some over-zealous bastardization of these principles.

The face of human suffering is the same whether it belongs to a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, or Christian, to a person who’s gay, straight, transgender, male or female, even a believer or non-believer. If we don’t see this, it’s because we haven’t risked looking into the suffering face of one of our brothers or sisters. Jesus announced, lived, and inaugurated a new social order, an alternative to violence, exclusion, and separation. Jesus went so far as to promise us this alternate reality. (not to be confused with alternate facts) It is no fantastical utopia, but a very real and achievable peace—by the grace of God.

As I begin my quest, I am seeking outlets. To that end, I will be volunteering as a caseworker for Red Cross Disaster Action Team, continue my written commentaries and speaking out on the issues of the day. My parish, St. Dominic’s, will be getting involved with an interfaith social justice organization called Esther.

I issue a challenge to all of us; that we hold our elected officials accountable for their actions (and inactions) and to vigorously fight for social justice. This is the only way to make our great country greater!

The Rev. Father Andrew Smith

Rev. Fr. Andrew Smith grew up in Appleton. WI. He studied Theology, Philosophy and Sociology at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, WI and completed his theological studies at Holy Redeemer Seminary of the UICC. Fr. Andrew was ordained to the diaconate in December of 2010 and to the Order of Presbyters in May of 2011. He entered his novitiate in the Order of Preachers Old Catholic in August of 2016 and took his three- year vows in May 2017. Fr. Andrew is pastor of St Dominic Old Catholic Church in Oshkosh, WI. He enjoys cooking, reading, writing and is an avid history buff.