We are witnessing the Tea Party’s bitter seepage. They’ve been redrawing voting districts and running people for office, taking over state and local governments. We’ve watched, aghast as the Koch cronies took seats in Washington.
“Do we lean in, or blame society?” We don’t need a solution that addresses either/or. With many structural inequities, injustices, and cruelty, the answer is both/and. Do we feed the homeless, or advocate for a society that no longer produces so many homeless people? Do we protest the death of one young black man, or do we work to change the brutal policing system? Do we send the people in Flint bottled water, or do we fix the pipes? The answer to all of these is yes and yes.
When I began in ministry, men took the time to advise and counsel me. There were few women, and the ones who were there were far away from the rural swamp where I served. They were in more urban areas, miles from the lectionary group where we sipped chicory coffee. It took me years to sort out that I needed to consider the source. I was dealing with different issues than the pastors surrounding me.
It would be easy for those of us who lean to the left of the political spectrum to dismiss the right by saying that they are waging a war on women, but that would deny the whole picture. What about Sarah Palin? What about Michelle Bachmann? And what about the other Grizzly Mamas who are being plucked, groomed and prepared as we speak?
There is a particular authority that comes from privilege. When a white man steps into the place where he belongs, he has an internal power with which he was born. He is entitled. Like royalty, he sits on the throne naturally, because that place is caught in his blood. But an entirely different power emerges from women who have been told that they are not allowed to speak in church—and suddenly rise behind the pulpit. Something flares up from deep inside of them, and when they have a safe space, the words can come out of them with force and fury.
Every significant act of protest has its iconic image: the barricades in Paris in the 1960s, the Berlin Wall in the ’80s, the roadside war-protest camps leading to George W. Bush’s Texas home in recent years.