“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
-Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address 1861.
So, Tuesday night happened. Donald Trump will be our nation’s 45th president.
I didn’t vote for either Trump or Clinton, but I was as shocked as anyone else. Sleep was not easy to come by Tuesday night. Part of the tension is the how President-elect stirred up both racial and ethnic resentment. Does that make me, an African American-Puerto Rican, less safe in America? Will racism or xenophobia affect me in someway?
While I’m concerned, I’m not freaking out. I’m not in mourning. I’m not breaking relationships with those that I know who voted for Trump. I’m not freaking out because I truly believe that my ultimate allegiance is in Christ and not who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I believe God is in control.
Now, I know that phrase is sending a lot of my progressive Christian friends into orbit. Their response is similar to what Progressive Christian blogger John Pavlovitz said in his most recent blog entry regarding the election:
At times like these, Christians like to smile sweetly and say, “God is in control.”
No. God is not in control.
God didn’t vote for Donald Trump, you did.
Stop passing the buck to God.
God isn’t defacing prayer rooms.
God isn’t taunting gay teenagers.
God is not bullying kids on buses.
God isn’t threatening Muslim families.
White Christians are.
You are in control of this. You have pulpits and pews and a voice and influence and social media, so get to work.
Saying God is in control doesn’t mean everything is okay. It doesn’t mean we ignore real problems. It doesn’t mean that God is controlling our every move. But I can say God is in control because God is the person I give ultimately allegiance to. To put it in more political wording, “Jesus is Lord and Ceasar is not.”
This evening I went to see Doctor Strange. For those who don’t know the origin story, Steven Strange was a famous and vain neurosugeon who is severely injured in a car crash. His hands, the one that made his living possible suffer extensive nerve damage and he is no longer able to do the one thing he excelled at. This is where Strange makes the journey from normal man to socerer supreme, but together he has to be willing to believe that there is more than what he sees. He has to be able to see into various dimensions to go beyond what he knows to be true and what is beyond reason.
Long story short, he had to have faith.
In reading and listen to the anger and grief coming from some progressive Christians I have to wonder at times if they have lost their faith. We scoff at the notion of God being in control and instead believe it is all on us, or at least on having the right ideology. During this election season white evangelicals were rightly criticized for placing so much on the notion of politics to trade in the faith for a few pieces of silver that they thought Trump would give them. But Progressive Christians are no better. We know longer believe that God is the ultimate and so we make leftist ideology our god. We trade in the belief that there is a God that rules all of creation and is greater than any king, prime minister or president for the world of politics. We wrap our politicians in a religious blanket, giving their words a tinge of God even though God seems to be somewhat diminished. After a while, we become no better than religious conservatives in trading the politics of Jesus for the politics of Washington.