I have to admit that I still feel majorly hungover trying to come to grips with Donald Trump’s presidency and the dominance of the Republican Party throughout the country. As a Christian, I still can’t get my head out of the toilet bowl knowing that it was fellow Christians who voted the new authoritarianism into federal and state offices. I suppose there is some consolation living here in King County, but it’s only a matter of time before we are impacted through forces larger than ourselves. Indeed, the presence of ice is a forerunner of what is to come.
About 100 years ago, a young pastor in Switzerland named Karl Barth was shaken out of his compliancy when he discovered that his world renowned Christian professors of theology had fallen into line supporting the German war effort of 1914. He didn’t leave the Church, but he recognized that Christians had lost their way. Barth went on to become one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century and was a major voice against the rise of Nazi Germany.
Current events remind me of Barth. With so many Christians identifying with the values of racism, militarism, nationalism, sexism and economic segregation, I wonder whether the Church is of use anymore? I’m wondering if Christianity is coherent? Let’s be honest, what do Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin Graham have in common? How can we reconcile the faith of Desmond Tutu and Joel Osteen? Has the Church become irrelevant?
I think these questions might be good starting points for Christians these days as we enter the season of Lent. The six weeks before Easter (called Lent) are traditionally a time of great sobriety, and self examination, a time to feel one’s sorrows and to purge oneself of one’s accumulated bad habits and rotten attitudes. Christians focus on prayer and withdrawal as we intentionally take an interior spiritual journey into the basement of our life where our most hidden secrets are kept. We are summoned to examine those secrets, to analyze what we have done with our life and to confess what we’ve left undone.
Christians have unleashed political forces that seek out and break up families, deporting parents and leaving their children orphaned, forces that retract funding for those who hunger and seek shelter, forces that privatize prisons thus giving an incentive to punish and torment, forces that expand military conquest so that the nations are terrorized, forces that brutalize and rape the Earth thus mocking the Creator’s generosity. When you stop yourself and simply look at what we are doing, looking at what Christians have set in motion, one is left with a very deep, bleak question during this dark night of the nation’s soul. One is left asking: Have Christians become the antichrist?
Rev. Rich Lang is the District Superintendent of the King County United Methodist Church, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.