We have now heard Donald Trump’s words, literally ad nauseam, as he boasted about forcing himself on women, kissing them and grabbing them. Now, while the Republican Party implodes, many conservative evangelicals are brushing off the comments.
My daughter and I were listening to the radio, when the prerecorded radio show commercial butted in to say, “We only play NEW music.”
And I thought, How strange. Because there’s a lot of good music in the world. And older music is better. I like new music, but I don’t mind mixing it up with some Indigo Girls, Nirvana, Stevie Wonder, or Joni Mitchell. The melodies are packed with bright days in the Florida sun, the smell of salt water, and the rumble of constant waves. The notes transport me to riding in a car with friends (with no grown up in sight), moving to new towns, and knowing that my life was full of possibilities. They remind me of beautiful sunrises over the ocean and nights of fishing on rocky cliffs.
Judy preached a sermon in which she told a story about herself, a lovely narrative that helped us connect with her on a personal level and supported the scripture lesson well. Judy was known for her preaching, and the church had grown steadily since the day she stepped in the pulpit.
I was working with a group on racial reconciliation, and I felt frustrated. I mostly listened, but then every time I spoke, the words coming out of my mouth were all wrong. And I’m a type-A, liberal, PC, white woman. I don’t like to be wrong. I like to “get it” and secretly roll my eyes at other wrong people.
I’m not sure why the pastorate produces so much anxiety. I suppose you have the performative aspects of it. After so many years, I still toss and turn until my sheets twist into a jumbled mess the night before a sermon or lecture. My mind preaches all night, figuring out how to say it better. I never seem to get to that point of deep sleep.
I hear a fearful refrain coming from church leaders, from every denominational level. They twist their fingers into knots as they say: If we don’t have our endowment, we will die. It’s our job to protect the endowment for future generations. Our future depends on a healthy endowment.
I began hearing the question in seminary. It became louder as I started writing. “Who will be the next Reinhold Niebuhr?” In 1948, Niebuhr was on the cover of Time Magazine. He commented on politics, and since his death in 1971, his voice has been missing from popular discourse.
To keep the evangelical belief system intact, a person needs to be a part of the subculture. You need to be surrounded by like-minded people who can look past scientific realities, uphold a separate role for women, and give unquestioned support to the GOP.