Sunday, November 13, 2016
The Veil, Sally, and whoever God is.
So here we are at the end of times. It's all very dramatic. The gloating, the hand wringing, the predictions, the smug righteousness....it's everything you've come to expect from every single election the United States has had in the last 75 years. I picked 75 because I'm assuming that if you're reading this, you weren't much interested in elections before 1941.
And of course, the early 40s have figured heavily into this year's election, but we'll get back to that, maybe.
"The Veil" has been showing up in my life a lot lately. People keep referencing that we've torn the veil and the that veil is being ripped from our eyes. Metaphors keep showing up saying that we're looking at everything with open, unobstructed vision. Initially, I agreed with all of it. Things indeed feel cataclysmic right now, like the whole of the United States could rip wide open. But I think back to the Revolution, to the Civil War, to the suffragettes, to the laborers who demanded safe work environments, to the warriors of the early Civil Rights movement....and I don't think I stand on any precipice. I think I am dead center on the path that we've been walking since we set on foot some Native's land and decided, "Um yeah, so we're going to need you to go ahead and move all your stuff down to the reservation room, m'kay? That'd be great."
There's no veil. The veil is what we say when we want to romanticize what we're doing, and please please believe me when I say that I would love absolutely nothing more than to be part of an insanely romantic and high-poetry moment in time when my individual actions would be recorded forever as True and Right and Just. But I really don't think anything new is happening here. (See what I'm doing? We're inching back towards 1941...so if that's making you roll your eyes so hard you can see your own brain, it's okay to stop reading. I'm not the boss of you. I don't even know who you are.)
And anyway, if you're rolling your eyes, I need to bring up Sally. It's her fault we're here. She's my friend who read my mind and she gave me the green light she didn't know I was waiting for to write a blog. So thank her if you're mad, sad, glad or any other -ad emotion I've left out. This is at her feet.
And now God. Because we always find that people are putting God square in the middle or taking God out and putting Him/Her/It out in some abandoned barn at the end of a logging road on a remote mountain no one's even bothered to name. And the part about God for me is that I really don't care about God. That might be blasphemy, but I'm betting if God's as big and powerful as all the books and preacher-people say, then my opinion isn't much concern. Here's why: my concern isn't for what comes next. I've seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation enough times to know you don't bank on a bonus check that you may or may not get.
Lately I've been doing a crazy amount of reading by preacher-people, especially for someone who doesn't care about God, and it's been pretty fantastic. There are more people out there than I thought who feel that media-Jesus and Gospel-Jesus are two different people. They also feel that lots of preacher-people are taking media-Jesus and presenting him as real-Jesus. (And, I mean, if these preacher-people putting down other preacher-people aren't committing blasphemy, then I think surely I'm okay to have a "meh" attitude on the whole "thing.") But every person I read says something like this: Jesus found the poor people. Jesus found those who were voiceless. Jesus gave to people who could never pay him back. Jesus gave to people who would squander the gift and come back for a do-over....sometimes a few times. I mean, Jesus....get your shit together. Why in the name of your own Dad and Self, would you KEEP offering forgiveness and grace to someone who keeps on needing it? Who keeps asking for more because they screwed it up and made a mistake?
These people I'm reading (full disclosure, most recently, it's Nadia Bolz-Weber and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu) think this is exactly how it's supposed to go. We're supposed to fuck it all up, and offer each other grace and forgiveness because we are each made in His/Her/Its image or something along that line. Keep in mind, this isn't my bag, I'm just telling you the parts I remember. But I like this God. I like the god who gets off the dais and walks right down into the Sinner's lot and sits down and says, "Holy Hell, what are you people up to? How can I help? You need a drink of water, something to eat? A HUG?" This is a Jesus and a God who is your 3am phone call and doesn't judge you for doing [insert mistake of choice] AGAIN and needing a friend to pick you up and help you try AGAIN.
This is the God I wish everyone believed was "out there" in the great beyond and in the astral plane and (gasp) right there at the end of the phone for a 3am call or text....let it be a text. No one likes a phone call.
So at the end of times like today, which really isn't the end of times at all, it's just another mile in the hike we've been doing since we sent the people with the Red Stapler to the basement, I am leaning on my friends and family who either believe in the God who gives hugs and warm food, or else I'm leaning on the people who give hugs and warm food without imitating anyone. All the rest of the people, who are tending towards a smug righteousness and a head-patting patronization (which is not a word) are those who are, sadly, once again going to find themselves on the side of the path. Kind of like the people who are too old to read this from back in 1941 did. They saw a man who could shake up the status quo, to shake up a government that didn't seem at all to recognize their struggle and the way they saw their values being ignored and left behind. They clung to him and all his charisma and promises and the belief that his way would circle the wagons and protect them.
It wasn't okay - and in the end, God showed up. People showed up. Humanists, atheists, agnostics, Christians, and every shade in between, showed up and fixed the horrifying mistake that had been made in fear. I'm going to keep trusting that God will show up (even though, whatever. I don't care) and We will show up and we'll never mind the people who tell us to stop complaining and stop whining. We're hiking a path together, and we're clearing more brush out of our way than we thought we'd have. It's okay. As Glennon Doyle Melton says, "We can do hard things together."
And if not, if it's all a waste of time and breath and my typing, we'll have a long talk with Sally.
Photo Credit: Irudayam Flickr via Compfight cc