I started to write a post this week about “hopeful realism”, what I’m trying to hold on to right now in the midst of the avalanche of cynicism that is trying to bury me and so many people I know. But as I started writing, things quickly turned another direction.
The United States of America is the laughingstock of the world right now, with the kind of laughter only a dark comedy brings.
The reality that Donald Trump is soon to be in the highest office in the world still just leaves me a bit speechless and stunned.
That a big (and hugely powerful) block of Christianity has aligned with him and his team has affirmed my faith shift in a way that I never thought it would be affirmed but also fills me with deep sense of anger at the hijacking and what the world perceives so many of us to be.
That Paula White and Franklin Graham are inauguration speakers? Paula White. Franklin Graham. Of course, that makes perfect sense in all this, but that they are the voices of Christianity many will hear on January 20th does make my stomach turn.
That the first order of business is dismantling health coverage for millions of Americans; of course it needs work but the first order of business? The impact this will have on so many vulnerable people is huge.
That a wall between us and Mexico is even a thing.
That our president tweets bizarre things daily and millions of people read them and re-tweet them and cheer them on.
Yes, a dark comedy for sure.
In all kinds of ways, dark comedies magnify the realities of life and draw out patterns and speak truth to humanity and groups. They exaggerate experiences to illustrate their absurdity. They highlight humanity’s tendency toward violence and exclusion and self-protection. They magnify the story so that we can take a long, hard look at ourselves and see what we are capable of, too.
The darkness inside of us, individually, as groups.
Just how far we’re willing to go.
Just how crazy things can get.
Just how addicted to power and control and giving ourselves over to other people can be.
Yeah, we’re players in a dark comedy right now and a lot of people (and in my opinion, forces of evil) are laughing.
But it’s not funny.
And it’s not a movie.
It’s real life.
Real people at risk.
Real people being played.
Real people pawns in a wild and weird game.
Real people being used to help some people get really, really rich.
In so many ways, this is just the same old story, told over and over and over and over again in history. It’s nothing new, really. The Bible is filled with this story. It was like this before Jesus entered the world and it’s been like that ever since. Those on the underside of power, the marginalized, the oppressed, the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, have known what it’s like for all of history.
Now so many others are beginning to feel its sting, to stand in solidarity in a way we didn’t before, to wake up the craziness and refuse to stay silent and complacent anymore.
This is the shred of hope that I have.
That the cries of the vulnerable will be heard and those with privilege will do something about it.
I am watching people rise up in all kinds of ways, to boldly call out injustice, to give up their seat, to become “sanctuary people” (more on that soon), to care, to get involved for the first time, to put feet to their faith.
It really is pretty.
But oh, this hasn’t even started and look how tired everyone is.
This is why we need healing, sustaining communities right now, tables of friends, gatherings of hope, places where people can show up and share, spaces where we feel less alone and borrow hope from each other, circles of advocates and allies who nurture each other’s hearts in all kind of creative ways, fellow strugglers who are weary and tired and need God’s rest and peace, places to laugh together, eat together, cry together, conspire together, make art together, stand together.
That’s the kind of stuff that’s never in the dark comedies.
In the dark comedies, the Jesus-y people are always the mean, judgmental ones, removed from the rest of the world somehow, so out of touch that when we see them on the screen we want to cringe.
We have the potential to play a different part in this story.
To live out a different narrative that illuminates the weird, wild ways of the kingdom of God.
We will be called naive.
We will be called wishful thinkers.
We will be called heretics.
We will be called worldly-people-who-care-about-politics-when-we’re-only-supposed-to-care-about-God.
We will be called whiners.
We will be called all kinds of things far worse than this.
But that’s okay.
Our eyes will be open.
We will see the dark comedy for what it is.
We will refuse to be somebody else’s character in it.
We will stand with our friends, clear-headed, with our integrity in tact.