I just about opened the box with the Linux books last night. I have the computer purchased–an $80 workhorse off of Craigslist. At some point in the coming semester, I suspect I will be driven over the edge and open the box up and start learning a few command line commands a day. Why? I’ve become incredibly disillusioned with whatever there was of myself that could be described as cosmic, loving and charitable beyond the pettiness of my given time and place. I have had too many days at seminary where I feel like a complete fraud. I’ve become disillusioned with people–both ones I’d hoped were better Christians and ones I’d hoped were just plain smarter about someone like Donald Trump. The future right now seems to be utterly dark and full of chaos. The notion that I would be able to happily settle into life in a mid-sized parrish in a mid-size college town for the next twenty to thirty years seems absurd on these days where every single item in the news feed tells me that I and my family will be lucky to survive the next ten years and have a somewhat normal country to live in.
It’s one thing when people lack compassion, and it’s another when they lack brains. I grant folks either one, because I can’t say as I feel like I am as compassionate or making use of my brains as much as I could be every day. But, I will say that I rarely have my days when I lack both, and I truly believe that once you lack both as part of your political views, your humanity is lost and so are you. It’s one thing to be upset with the disproportionate amount of illegal immigration that takes place from Mexico and Latin American countries. I don’t agree with it, but if you intellectually have come to a conclusion that this is more harmful for our economy than not, that’s one thing. It’s another thing to respond to immigration problems by being both lacking in compassion and lacking in intelligence. There are smart ways to reform things and there are ways in which you simply allow your personal, misguided fears to get the better of you.
For Christians who support Donald Trump, I hope at least a few of them are doing a lot of soul searching right now and asking themselves just how far they want to see these measures go. Do they want to bear the burden of guilt that Germany holds today for what was done in the first half of the 20th Century? For some, I think the answer is simple: there is no guilt because they simply don’t see immigrants as human beings. There are a few that I know who probably wouldn’t even have a problem returning to the days of slavery, or simply exterminating or kicking out everyone who isn’t a proper shade of white. But, I don’t think that covers the majority of Christians who voted for Donald Trump.
However, I do think that the majority of Christians who voted for Donald Trump have chosen to put money, guns, patriotism, fear and desire for comfort, football and probably an idolatrous form of Christianity itself over a true love of Christ. For them, I vacillate between feeling a great sadness over just how much they have decided they are willing to compromise in order to maintain their priorities for the idols they worship, and feeling utter contempt and hope that these people all wake up one morning realizing they are the ones who got left behind when the rapture happens. I also think that for a few of them, the idea of being left behind is utterly appealing, because that will give them the opportunity to prove once and for all just how much they are the true Christians as they inevitably become martyred during the time of tribulation.
Do I deserve to be accused of creating a lot of straw men and making a lot of generalities? Probably. Such an accusation isn’t going to change me thinking the way I do and trying to call things as I see them. Does an accusation of being unfair and overly simplifying the moral issues evangelicals struggle with matter to me? No. What matters right now is a question of whether or not I am going to continue on this path toward becoming a pastor, because I ultimately believe that God is calling me to do this and that I will eventually be able to help those God wants me to help.
Are there some days where I wonder if God really called me to do anything at all, or if it was simply my own pride flaring up when I got sick of how things were going at the places where I worked? Of course. There are some days where I wonder if God even gives a shit about me or anyone else on this planet, and if the Deists weren’t onto something–this is a realm where we are left to our own devices to work out are own shit among each other, and God isn’t going to step in and reset everything until we’ve completely fucked everything up, but for good.
Last night, I helped my wife with some simple HTML issue she was having with an e-newsletter she was sending out at her work. It felt strangely good–to be able to do something of tangible value and just fix something that was broken, instead of sitting around thinking, reading and writing and hoping. The temptation has risen ever-so-slightly to reach out to a recruiter and get a temperature check on what kind of job they think they could find me as someone who hasn’t really done any of the old career stuff for almost a full year. I’ve been slightly tempted just to throw my hat into the ring for some random job that doesn’t pay great but still pays better than I’ll probably ever make as a pastor.
But, I think I’m going to stick to my guns and tough it out at least through this spring semester. I am going to see if anything doesn’t change–a light comes on or a door opens or someone walks into my life who would be a mentor or someone to show me the way toward this brand new career I set out to do a year or so ago. I think it is valid and okay to wait for some clearly obvious signs and indicators in this case–God doesn’t talk to me directly, things open up in life or they don’t.