Reflection: The role of the contemporary white institutional church in the rise of alt-right politics in our nation

Reflection: The role of the contemporary white institutional church in the rise of alt-right politics in our nation

The alt-right political movement, emboldened by ex-president X over the past six years, found a safe haven, and in many cases support, in the contemporary white churches of the U.S. With their cheap grace, free of repentance and confession, and their ‘country club’ mentality of catering to members for a membership fee, .i.e, tithing, these churches and their members invoke the name of Jesus in heretical blasphemy.

It is, of course, ironic that the contemporary church offers sanctuary and support to the modern empire and its oppressive regimes. As far back as the medieval church, the doors of churches were painted red to signify they were places of refuge and sanctuary for those needing to escape oppression, particularly the oppression of the Empires, who were all powerful and whose citizens had no rights. And today, it is just the opposite, with the church providing sanctuary to the oppressor Empire.

And so, tragically, we find the contemporary white institutional church simply to compromised and complicit with the dominant culture of power, control, and violence to do anything about this subversion of its’ true mission which is to act according to the Gospels and its’ kerygmatic vision of God’s kingdom, i.e., the alternative community of true belonging of all through radical grace and radical love as proclaimed by Jesus, the Christ.

This interjection of the dominant culture into the churches true mission is called ‘Christendom,’ and more contemporarily ‘Christofascism,’ and has been around in the history of the church since the Edict of Milan signed with Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire in 313 which established the Emperor’s protection for the then persecuted Christians. ‘Christofascism’ is reflected in the Nazi’s political efforts to subvert and control the Christian church in Germany in its’ efforts of ethnic cleansing, mass genocide, and world domination.

And so what does the future hold for these failing churches? The theologian and author, John Douglas Hall, asks in his 2010 article in The Christian Century, ‘ “What then is the mission of a church that can no longer count on its favored status in Western civilization to ensure its meaning and its continued existence?” Hall’s answer is that the church must recognize its failure to act according to the Gospel and begin to witness and serve outside or on the edge of the dominant culture. For the church to survive and be faithful to its message, it must change, or ultimately die, according to Hall.’ (note: the Hall quote is from an article in ‘Sightings’ by Charles Maynard, a professor at the University of Washington).

The role of the white Christian church in the rise of the alt-right political movement can not be over-emphasized, and its’ untenable consequences for our democratic nation and all its citizens must be recognized. Those white churches so complicit and supportive must be resisted at every turn by people of good conscience, and its influence eliminated by those of the true faith knowing truth will overcome the lies of the alt-right.

Book suggestions for further reading regarding Christianity’s complicity with the dominant culture and its’ failing churches: 1) ‘The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance’ by Dorothee Soelle, and 2) “What Christianity is Not” by John Douglas Hall.

Reflection: The foundation of my Spiritual being

Reflection: The foundation of my Spiritual being

The two quotes below are foundational to my understanding of God and Christ consciousness, by whatever names, and to the spiritual practice of my daily life. While the quotes are from the Judeo-Christian tradition perspective, my study of other traditions supports that these perspectives are represented in them as well thus they are universal in their applicability.

The first quote is from Marcus Borg, a New Testament theologian and author. And the second quote is from Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament theologian and author. Both are highly respected scholars and teachers in their fields and have written prodigiously.

Both quotes below address the non-partisan aspect of the political nature of Jesus’ Way and ancient Israel’s resistance to the dominant imperial Empires. They are political because they affect the way in which we live together in community. Their practice in our personal and collective lives includes resistance to the imperial accounts of reality grounded in power, control, and violence and the advocacy of alternative realities grounded in radical grace and radical love of authentic communities of belonging.

“The way of Jesus was both personal and political. It was about personal transformation. And it was political, a path of [nonviolent] resistance to the domination system and advocacy of an alternative vision of life together under God.”

—Marcus Borg

“….the tradition of emancipatory covenant making….affirms human agents who have the capacity and responsibility to act transformatively for the well-being of the human community and the ecology of creation. All of that pertains to the ancient context wherein the subversive narrative of Israel lived in ongoing tension with imperial accounts of reality, and amid that tension resisted imperial accounts while proposing alternatives.”

-Walter Brueggemann- “God, Neighbor, Empire”

And so we see that our struggles today against the imperialistic Empire’s accounts of reality (i.e., our resistance to insurrectionists attacking our democracy) in their dominant power, control, and violence are age old in their tensions between violent domination vis-a-vis liberation and freedom to live together in alternative communities of the Truth of Self and the authenticity of belonging. Until all are free none are free. The suffering of the other is also my suffering. So we resist and dream our dreams and see our visions of a better way together for which we must never stop working.

Tat tvam asi. That I am.

Shanti, shalom, peace dear Beloveds.

poem: writing it down for healing

poem: writing it down for healing

trying to figure things out
finding my psyche and soul
greatly wearied and in mourning
in the postmortem of the culture wars
and efforts to destroy our nation’s democracy

and so I write it down, it is what I do,
until I grow in understanding and feel
I can authentically express myself
as to my witness and truth,
then searching for the right words and
moving them around on the page in composition

while some may be ready to move
beyond these atrocities in triumphalism, I sit here,
on a foggy mid-winter morn during the pandemic,
observing the suffering and waste and contemplating
the challenges, preparing for the work ahead
in the slow recovery from our collective trauma

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
January 25, 2021

photo by Herb Stone
“On a foggy mid-winter morn during the pandemic”

(reader’s note: Richard Rohr teaches: “If we do not
transform our pain, we will transmit it.” )

poem: ex-president X sounds pleasant in our mouth and in our ear

poem: ex-president X sounds
pleasant in our mouth and in

our ear

the new moniker for the man
whose name is never said
referring not just to one
small man’s official title but also
to their enormous responsibilities

ex-president X was thrust shocked
into our brain resulting
in trauma and toxic shock syndrome
sickening the minds of millions
and radicalizing millions more

like the X factor
ex-president X was
inexplicable and unknowable
bombastic evil personified
and a shadow upon the land

there must never be
another such assault
in our system politic
posing such a threat to
our sanity and way of life

less stalwart souls
and discerning minds
are lost and flummoxed
and the most fragile perish
from the incompetence

now ex-president X is removed
from the world stage
a bad actor and two bit con
flubbing his lines
bombing another gig

may he live out his life
in ignominy and loneliness
far from the world stage
a history lesson learned
never to be repeated

ex-president X rolls
off the tongue, is pleasant
in our ears, and timely
so that the grieving, lamenting,
accountability, and healing begin

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
January 22, 2021

photo by The Columbia Dispatch
‘The Maddened Crowd’

poem: ode to our nation on inauguration day 2021

 

poem: ode to our nation on inauguration day 2021

today our nation
inaugurates our 46th.
president and vice president
Joe and Kamala
who feel like family
Papa and Auntie

after the past four years
of a president and his administration
bullying its’ citizens
undermining our rights
eroding our democracy
empowering domestic terrorist
cutting off world allies
causing death and confusion in a pandemic
and leading an insurrection
we citizens of good conscience
find some relief and optimism again

fellow Americans
let us come together
in confession, repentance, and reconciliation
healing one another and our nation
that we will finally do the hard work
of forming a more perfect union together

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
January 20, 2021
Inauguration Day

Photo credits: Vox, AP, AFP

poem: savasana

poem: savasana

gonna take a little
rest today
from the resistance

living in times
of injustice, pandemic, and insurrection
is taxing

keeping up the good trouble
is demanding
body, mind, and spirit

in this age
adrift so far from God
can be dispiriting

gonna rest up
binding up wounds
find my repose

the activist
the bodhisattva
the wounded healer

shall return
re-energized
warriors of the heart
Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
January 17, 2021

art image ‘Savasana Chakra
Garden’ by Kimberly Russick

(reader’s note: Savasana is the ‘corpse
pose’ in yoga which is traditionally
used as the last pose of a class and is
a state of deep relaxation also used to
relieve stress and trauma. Combined with
yoga nidra meditation we enter a state of
consciousness between waking and sleeping
in which we are deeply relaxed while
fully conscious. Namaste!)