In his novel “The Shack,” William P. Young portrays Mac, the central character who represents all of us, having a serious conversation with Jesus. Mac has asked Jesus about religion, Christianity in particular, and Jesus responds, “I don’t create institutions; that’s an occupation for those who want to play God. So no, I’m not too big on religion, and not very fond of politics or economics either. And why should I be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three?”
Religion, politics, economics . . . the man-created trinity of terrors.
On this weekend between the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, the United States is drowning in religion, politics, and economics. This “trinity of terrors” has divided us as a culture, as a nation, as Christ’s church, and as families. We are sliced and diced into Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, blacks and whites, men and women, straight and gay, rich and poor. Out of fear that someone who doesn’t look like us, act like us, or believe as we do, will take away something that we hold dear, we lash out and demonize the “other.”
Out of fear that someone who doesn’t look like us, act like us, or believe as we do, will take away something that we hold dear, we lash out and demonize the “other.”
This is not a new problem. In his introduction to “Called to Community” Charles E. Moore writes, “The world Christ was born into was also splintered and confused; it was violent, factious, morally corrupt, spiritually bankrupt, full of tensions, and teeming with competing interests.” Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? As Jesus went about performing miracles of healing, he also was demonized. The “church folk” of Jesus’ day, accused him of being in league with Satan and practicing black magic to perform healings (Matthew 12:22-28, Mark 3:21-26, Luke 11:14-20). Jesus’ warning is just as relevant to 21st Century America as it was to 1st Century Palestine: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” (Matthew 12:25 NRSV)
Benjamin Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” Founding fathers John Dickinson and Patrick Henry, chose the phrase, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”; so did Abraham Lincoln.
The United States is founded on the belief that individual freedom and the common good are not mutually exclusive goals. We can have both. It starts with not demonizing one another. “Love one another,” Jesus said. Even the ones we don’t like? Especially the ones we don’t like!
United we all stand, divided we all fall . . . and all means all.