by Berry Friesen (November 8, 2016)
Michael Brendan Dougherty, a Roman Catholic blogger, offers a concise and accurate appraisal of America’s current political reality: “In 2016, self-described conservatives, the supposed defenders of the eternal verities, our national traditions, and family values, are rallying to the side of a cretinous, amoral lecher and thief. And liberals, the friends of the little guy and advocates of friendship among all races of men, are siding with a desiccated grifter and war hawk.”
“Everyone seems to recognize the world tipping into craziness,” writes Dougherty, “and they respond by holding on tighter to their own version of craziness.” Dougherty suggests another path, one that starts by recognizing the miserable choice between Trump and Clinton as the judgment of God.
What is accomplished by characterizing an historical event as God’s judgment? Does that mean it is supernatural and inexplicable? That there is no point in resisting its direction? Is it simply a rhetorical device that adds gravitas to one’s own assessment?
Dougherty provides a clue when he says, “For those who can accept it, God's judgment is a good thing. The same fire that consumes the chaff is used to purify gold and silver.”
I’m not sure the reference to “purity” helps us much; we’re talking about secular politics here. But yes, there is a pathway from disaster that involves coming to our senses, repenting and moving in a new direction. That would be “a good thing” for America and for the world, regardless of how we may feel about “God’s judgment.”
What might repentance entail? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Turning away from the hubris of claiming this nation is “indispensable” to what is good in the world.
2. Acknowledging that US policy since at least 1990 has been full-spectrum dominance, which means no other nation is permitted to develop even the capacity to chart a path independent of the US-led empire.
3. Recognizing the huge role deception has played in our national life, especially related to 9/11, the invasion of Iraq and the so-called war on terrorism.
4. Turning away from our exaltation of material wealth, making money and “the market” above all other values.
5. Turning toward the modesty and humility of caring patiently for our own, local communities first.
This repentance will need to occur within a context defined by a newly-elected President who has to one degree or another embraced the imperial ideology of indispensability, dominance and deception. So we’ll be working against the grain, so to speak.
But we’ll be living in hope and YHWH will be our strength. May it be so.