God among Trump supporters / finding God is difficult, seeing God even more so

During this Lenten season I have decided to give up God, akin to Atheism for Lent by Peter Rollins. I made the decision to give up on God, the compartmentalized God I still retain every now and then when I act more cynical and skeptical about anything and everything that’s happening in my life. I gave up the God that seems marred by political agenda and party alignment, because truth to be told I can find and see God among my progressive friends, my atheist friends, my agnostic friends, my Jewish friends, my Muslim friends, my students, my coworkers, my friends, and my family…but…

I have a hard time seeing the commingling of the divinity and humanity in Donald Trump, and even to a certain degree those who align themselves with his politics.

But I told the God who I often think isn’t there, the God who made Donald Trump and his supporters, please be there so I can see you. God’s no magic genie, my prayers aren’t wishes that will get answered, but still the part of me that realizes that prayer has the capacity to transform me, consequently becoming the answers to my prayers wants to see God in Donald Trump and his supporters.

If there’s anything that’s said to be taboo in conversations it’s religion and politics. I have no problem with either provided it remains civil and an equal amount of time spent listening and talking by all parties. With that being said, I’ve slipped up when it comes to talking about politics in some circles I am in because his antics needs to stop, his name calling needs to stop, his marginalization of others has to stop…need I say more?

It isn’t fair on my part to demonize him (dare I say reduce myself to his level of fighting and engaging with others?) and it’s something I am working on, but sometimes what comes out of his mouth really pisses me off to no end. Yes, so much of what he says is to get a reaction, and he feeds off of it to a large extent. I need to give up the position of bringing myself to his level, it doesn’t do anyone any good.

Trump is a human being, an Imago Dei, and I have a hard time seeing it at this time…  But I am intentionally trying, to suspend my disbelief, to suspend my doubt, and to come to terms that yes God does love Donald Trump and has made Donald Trump.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

The Suffering Christ

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The common denominator between anyone and everyone in all of humanity is suffering. Suffering takes many forms, but it unites us in some shape and form. It is because of this, the Jesus I identify with is one who suffered.

Yet while I recognize when I look at crosses whether he’s on it or it is vacant, I identify with him suffering like us. It takes a God who is willing to hurt like us for me to love God that much more. If God was one who started the wheels of life in motion and walked away or backed out of the scene, I don’t think I could connect with such a God because it lacks warmth, it lacks humanity. There wouldn’t be that connection that I feel in my heart, in my mind, and in my soul if I had to somehow follow a God who couldn’t identify with my life and what I go through.
I know that in my personal life that some individuals I cannot truly identify with; I can’t identify with the issues a single mother faces who survives paycheck-to-paycheck just to put food in her children’s bellies, I can’t identify with being a young Gay man who grows up in a small conservative town where he’s told on a regular basis that being Gay is a sin and an abomination in the eyes of God, I can’t identify with a black guy who despite a rough upbringing he overcame odds and makes it in the corporate world only to suffer the duress of institutionalized racism…I can’t identify with these individuals, but I can empathize, and I can listen to them as they tell their stories, and I can BE with them.

I need a God in my life who can BE with me, which is why the face of God I so often see is a bedraggled, haggard, suffering HUMAN face. It is marred, it is ugly, it hurts like I hurt and yet…it is the face of love, the face of God-with-us, the face of a God who cared so much for ALL of humanity that he set forth to make things right between ALL of us, not just SOME of us.

In this Lenten season I am reminded time and time again of Christ and what he went through as he was with us, and it is encouraging in many ways but one that sticks to my mind regularly is the nature of “go[ing] and do[ing] likewise”. To be a part of humanity not apart from humanity, to love others and serve, to end paradigms that separate US and work towards bringing about perfect shalom and recognize the imago dei/image of God that we all bear. It is also within the context of the lenten season I am aware of where his end and resurrection is ultimately our beginning as well as our own resurrection. Easter brings it all into focus, it is about life and renewal, it is about order being restored and perfect shalom starting to take place with all of humanity.

Love won that day, and continues to win. Each day draws in a bit of perfect shalom for all of  us.
~Nathanael~

I, multitasker during the Lenten season

A bit about me when it comes to Lent; When I was younger I attended a Presbyterian church, and if anything there was emphasis on Christmas and Easter but that was it. It is with a heavy heart that I grew up in a community that made catholics, in particular roman catholics, to be outside of faith, the rhetoric of “catholics aren’t Christians” was drilled into my head. For the record, catholics I have met and catholics I have worked along side of me are followers of Christ as well. They have traditions that are different than mine and mine from theirs, but there is so much common ground that it is a shame that some followers of Christ still like to perpetuate an Us versus Them paradigm between denominations.

It was my early 20s I started learning more about denominations outside of the Protestant ones I knew. I delved into Greek Orthodoxy with vigor and learned their traditions and the accounts of the Desert mothers and fathers. I also started learning about Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen, St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Theresa, Augustine, and other figures within the Roman Catholic tradition and it was a breath of fresh air to work outside the framework that was constructed for me and to start constructing my own framework of faith.
I am a free range follower of Christ, I cannot/will not be aligned with a particular denominations but I pull a little here and there. When I pray I try to keep my hands open and eyes to the sky, I also sometimes do the sign of the cross and I do that with imagery of Christ off the cross as well as Christ on it at times. I burn incense, play some Taizé music, and meditate… And yet through all these diverse traditions, they shape me in my walk of following Christ and living out a life according to what is attributed to what he said and what he did.

During this Lenten season I want to delve more into liturgical traditions, books of prayer, books of spirituality,  but also the I want to partake in Atheism for Lent. I’ve given thought as to what I want to give up, and for me it’s giving up my spirit of cynicism/skepticism, because too often I don’t give people the full benefit of the doubt, I get caught up in word games and semantics and it makes for me coming across as very abrasive. I also want to elevate online discussions offline; I realize that with some issues I start or add to via Facebook it stays there and yet so much goodness could come from talking these things out in community and in real life OFFline.
I also want to give back in some fashion and I’m not sure how yet; I have been the “hands and feet of Christ” for a long stretch of my life, but I want to give weight to be his eyes and ears for a while. I’m not looking at this as some kind of a spiritual exercise that I start and stop once Easter gets here, but rather starting a posture that I can take with me for life.

I might be juggling a lot, but I want to practice these things out of servitude and desire not out of obligation. I recognize in my own journey there have been times where my beliefs was built on a foundation of works and a checklist mentality; did I pray today? Check! Did I read the Bible? Check! Did I…and so on, and so forth.

I also want to elevate my blog, because even though I am first-person narrative so much of the time and I strive for honesty in what I write, I want to write more of the darker side of who I am. I don’t write to have a squeaky clean ending, but sometimes I get caught up in nostalgia and how I wished it went and I put a more positive spin on things. They say you’re only as sick as your secrets, and I am at a place where I am able to bare some of those wounds, some of my internal scars without turmoil. Sure it might open me up to some hurt, it might open up some wounds again, but I want to be more real with myself and you the reader. Care to take this journey with me? If we walk this path together, we won’t be alone…

~Nathanael~