These are weird times. I don’t know if anyone lives in completely normal times, outside of a few exceptional places and times in the arc of human development, but these are weird times because they are weird for me. I don’t know where I belong, or how to fit in anywhere, anymore, if I ever did. But, there were the years where I intentionally tried to fit in only with the misfits, and then came the years where I sought to be as well-adjusted as possible. I failed miserably at both.
How does someone fit in with these strange groups to whom I know I don’t belong? I don’t fit in with the Trump lovers and alt-right types, but I don’t get especially excited about the people who clamor for other kinds of attention, either. I grew up in a world where adults still mostly got their news from three different channels, and the local newspaper, and maybe the nearest large city paper. There was talk radio, and a few wackos, and you could subscribe to newsletters and meet locally to talk about how Bill Clinton was coming with the UN to take away your guns, but it seemed like everyone more or less worked off of the same page of reality.
When times were fairly predictable, I was in my teenage years and twenties, trying to get attention by being intentionally different. When I grew out of it, I didn’t recognize the world I lived in. I couldn’t get my brain around people who unquestioningly accepted Bush, and then the ones who wanted to do the same for Obama. Those days seem so quaint in comparison to the rabid crazy that pervades the news now. Were all of these people who subscribed to the Bircher Society newsletters, and certain that the next Democratic President would take away their guns just waiting for their platform to arrive and voices be heard? Or are people still mostly just concerned about their jobs, and ready and willing to listen to anyone who promises them that their coal mining/auto manufacturing jobs can come back? I don’t fully get this, either, given how much those of us who leaned liberal were told to have oodles of personal responsibility during the Bush years–of course, nobody wanted to take personal responsibility for the economy failing, and the Iraq War accomplishing so much less than it was originally supposed to.
Nobody likes to accept personal responsibility for anything when it’s time to wear that shoe. The fault always lies elsewhere. But that has probably always been the case.
What I am really struggling with right now is the fact that I seem to connect better with people at my school who are more conservative and love Trump, and I could never be brought around to even tolerate the man. Meanwhile, when I overhear conversations about how white males don’t need to be adding their voice to the mix anymore, and how little I’ve ever been blessed or given grace–it’s always just been privilege, apparently–and all of the self-hatred of some–it’s just not really my thing, either. The world was supposed to be working a certain way by the time I got around to making the decision to play by its rules, only, it seems like none of the old rules are there, anymore.
Of course, I may have simply been spending too much time in radical places–up in ultra-conservative Waco, and now down here at an ultra-liberal seminary–which I had kind of assumed would be a little more balanced, but I don’t know why. The trend in Christianity is clearly that you can stand in one of three places–you can attend an ultra-liberal church that sermonizes on smashing the patriarchy every Sunday and spends little time discussing scripture, go to an ultra-conservative church where everyone still believes Moses wrote most of the Old Testament and every single word was dictated directly by God, or go to a light, suburban megachurch where people are probably conservative or apolitical, and the thing is just to rock out with the praise band, listen to a fluffy prosperity sermon, and go watch football. There is really no place for anyone else outside of these three big buckets, at least in Protestant churches.
Maybe I’ve just arrived too late.