Friday, December 11, 2015

Trump, time and the future

A recent poll reported that we are as fearful of the threat of terror in our future as we were after 9/11. Donald Trump is the presidential candidate who is benefitting the most from our collective fear. Never mind how irrational some of his statements sound, they tend to amp up our fear, too. Trump will keep us safe, Trump will strike fear into the hearts of Muslims, Trump will protect our borders from Mexican intruders. Trump will make America great, again. Trump, our savior.

In some reading I was doing this week I was struck by how short sighted this is. Diana Butler Bass in A People's History of Christianity reminds us how long that history is. The period of the so called "early church" was over 500 years. It is as long as Martin Luther's' day from our own. In that time, the world had gone through huge economic, political and social changes, terrible wars, plagues and famines. The upheaval of civilizations. And the Church was in the midst of all of it. In light of that our politics today and specifically the rise and fall ( at some point) of Donald Trump is like a grain of sand on the seashore of time.
So what are we afraid of? Who do we trust for our future? Does God have a future and a future for us?

Fleming Rutledge in a sermon in New York City well before 9/11 talked about standing atop the World Trade Center and looking out over the city. It was a time in the Cold War when nuclear tensions were high. She thought about the devastation a nuclear bomb dropped on NYC would cause. No Statue of Liberty, no financial district, no Yankee Stadium, no Broadway, no Fulton Street Fish Market, no Brooklyn Bridge, and so on, all ashes, dust and rubble. So unnerved was she about the loss of the future, she had a crisis of faith. She talked to a theological mentor about it. He said, Fleming, did you think God had not thought of that?
The future does not belong to us. It belongs to God. No one of us can fix our problems now. No one we elect can make us safe, or secure our borders, or keep all the Syrians out, and why would we want to live in a world like that anyway?

I was reading a biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer earlier this year and I was struck by the way Bonhoeffer and his mentor Karl Barth kept to their work during the worst of the war. Barth at his desk in Switzerland and Bonhoeffer in a German prison. Bonhoeffer reading Barth's latest volume in his Church Dogmatics with genuine joy even as his life hung by a thread.

God holds the thread. Our future belongs to Him. It is the future of God. So, in our work, and worship we bear witness to our faith in God's future.

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