Trump and a crisis of faith

On the day of the U.S. election, I had lunch with a friend. He had an Ipad with him so we could monitor the incoming vote tally.

Buoyed by the polls and the prediction of a ‘blue wave’, I was tentatively optimistic. However, as several states coded light blue turned light red, I became nervous. I asked my friend to take his Ipad off the table.

By the end of the day, I was frankly stressed.

The roller coaster continued… The counting of postal votes over the next few days, which leaned to the Democrats, restored my equilibrium, and when Biden declared victory, I was more than relieved.

Now, with Trump refusing to concede, my stress is returning. Some commentators are talking about a coup.

What’s the issue here? After all, I live in Australia, not America and what Trump does has little direct impact on me.

The issue is theological.

Over the last four years, Trump has shown contempt for many democratic customs and laws. He has demonstrated that placing the dictates of ego above the welfare of the nation is a viable model of leadership.

His antics have shredded and undermined any vestigial sense of normality, and we have been grudgingly forced to recognise that the values we hold dear are less resilient than we thought.

All of this is worrying. Further, the Christian Right in America continues to support Trump, even after four years of evidence about his character and policies. I struggle to comprehend that. I am told it is because Trump continues to pack the Supreme Court with anti-abortion activists.

When life moves well beyond the normal, questions re-emerge about the veracity and tangibility of what we hope for and believe. That is why this issue is theological and personal.

I let go of a theistic notion of God some time ago (i.e. the view that God intervenes in history and human affairs).

In its place, the notion of the kingdom of God as an ever-present and ongoing invitation, an invitation that calls forth imagination, courage and change, has continued to inspire me.

However, the last few weeks have shaken that belief, as these biddings have been repeatedly muted, marginalized and disregarded.

How does one sustain hope in this context?

I fund it helpful to create some space to reflect upon this.

I sense we can overidentify with what we hope for. I do not imply it doesn’t matter. I do suggest that whatever we hope for, which is indeed worthwhile, is always much bigger than we are.

Such hopes and ideas remain independent of us. They require our involvement, but our involvement does not define them.

From a faith perspective, the gospel invites us to stand with a foot in two different worlds, the world we know and the world called the kingdom of God (perhaps a recipe for instability!)

At times like this, I remind myself that the hope of the kingdom continues. Its why’s and wherefore’s are beyond my grasp, but its power to cast the world in a new light remains.

My turmoil continues, as does a renewed sense of hope.