you want it darker: on race, Trump, apocalypse, and the need for more prophets than priests.
“If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame.”
— Leonard Cohen, “you want it darker”
After getting done with our Election Day communion service Tuesday night, I walked over to a sushi restaurant in downtown Tulsa for a bite. Things had just started to really turn in the election coverage. The guys who work in the kitchen, all from Mexico, were terrified. They said that if Trump won, they were so nervous about what it could mean for them that they would not show up for work the next morning.
Last week I sat across the table from a black pastor friend of mine, who leads a church he founded in rural Salisbury, NC. He was telling me harrowing stories he and his congregation have been experiencing on the ground, with a sudden surge in activity from white supremacists groups in their area, who openly cite the Trump campaign.
My best friend’s daughter, a 4th grader, went to her school yesterday in Cleveland, TN, where her classmates started loudly chanting “Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!” to a Latino classmate.
A young woman who attends a church founded by one of my mentors was told by one of her students yesterday, “Donald Trump won. Get the f#@^ out of our country!”
I am writing these words from a hotel in Houston, where I’m speaking this weekend. A couple of minutes ago, I went downstairs to get contact solution from the hotel gift shop. When I went to check out, the middle-aged Latina woman said to me, unprovoked (we had barely exchanged pleasantries): “Do you know what my grandkids asked me this week? They asked me if they will be allowed to stay in this country, or if we will be sent back to Mexico. I told my granddaughter, ‘honey, we aren’t going anywhere, unless Jesus comes back to get us out of this mess. That’s why it’s so important that you have Jesus in your heart. So long as we have him, we will be okay.” She did not know I was a Christian, much less a pastor. She knew nothing about my political convictions. The pain right now, is on the surface of everything and everyone.
These are random stories of exchanges in my life and the lives of a fistful of people close to me. These are not stories of protestors in the streets. Not a single one of these stories have been reported by “the media,” liberal or otherwise. These are not political stunts. This is not political theater. These are people’s real lives. From inside the Church, I hear specifically from black, Latino, and female leaders over and over again how grieved they are that their white evangelical family continues to ignore the truth of their lives, their narrative, their witness. Either we are not listening, or we are listening and we just don’t believe them. Either one of those realities is harrowing.
Does it feel like the world has turned upside down and inside out? Does it feel like people whom you love and know — good people — almost seem like they are under some kind of spell right now? Saying odd hateful, hurtful things you can’t account for based on your history with them? Does it feel like there we are under some sort of powerful corporate mass delusion? Are you shocked, not only at what is being said, but what is not being said by Church leaders whom you have known to have a heart for justice, mercy and truth?
There are real reasons for this. This is apocalyptic time. “Apocalypse” in Scripture means “revealing” or “unveiling.” And these are the days when the hearts of men and women in America are being revealed — deep divisions that have long been present are being exposed. Apocalyptic time is inside-out, upside down kind of time. In apocalyptic time, some things are dying and some things are being born. But mostly, it feels like things are dying, at least at first.
In Scripture, apocalyptic time is peculiar because it is time marked both by unprecedented, unparalleled grief and seemingly irrational, logic-defying hope. It was such a time on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out on those 120 believers in the upper room, and they spilled into the streets speaking the praises of God in diverse tongues. Hopeful, ecstatic speech can easily pass for drunkenness, so the bewildered crowd that gathers says they must have had one too many. But that is when the apostle Peter stands up and invokes words from the prophet Joel:
17 “In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Reading these words, we, like the crowd, are bewildered. The image of the Spirit being poured out on all flesh, of sons and daughters and slaves prophesying, fills us with hope. But the language of blood and fire and vapor of smoke, of the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood, fills us with terror. Which precisely is it? A time for unprecedented grief, or irrational, gravity-defying hope? Is apocalyptic time the time of catastrophe, or the age of the Spirit? Is it the end of all things, or the beginning of all things? Is this the time when sons and daughters declare God’s truth, or times so dark the sun itself goes black? Is it time for hope, or unprecedented mourning? Yes, yes it is. It is all of those things, simultaneously.
The sun goes dark.
There is a reading of apocalyptic time as a time for new hope, but we must not skip there too quickly. First, the sun goes dark.
In a week already full of heaviness, we lost one of our greatest songwriters, Leonard Cohen, at 82. Just weeks ago, the singer and seer released his final album, eerily prophetic for our times. I took the title of this piece from the opening track,“ You want it darker…we kill the flame.” This is the reality of apocalyptic time — while this may be a time when the Spirit descends on sons and daughters as a flame of fire, this is also a time when we kill the flame.
Apocalyptic time drives the demons that have been hidden in the darkness into the light. It is now-there-is-no-place-to-hide time. It is a time for principalities and powers to be exposed. These are both embodied, institutional forms of evil, injustice and oppression (in political, ecclesial, and institutional structures), but also spiritual forces that transcend human categories, that draw their life force from some sort of disembodied evil of which the whole is somehow greater than the parts. That figure, in the language of Scripture, is called “the Satan” — literally in Hebrew, “the accuser.” And if you want to know why America seems uniquely demonized right now, it is because we have given ourselves over to accusation, blame and scapegoating. These are not peripheral aspects of the Satan’s persona, but his entire job description. As love is not a characteristic of God, i.e. God is not loving, but IS love; accusation is not a characteristic of Satan. Satan is accusation itself. In our absurd blame of people who are not like us, people we deem as other, we actually consort with dark spirits.
This is why our culture seems uniquely “demonized” right now. In our accusation, blame, and shaming of an other, we attempt to demonize someone else. But in fact the affect of such behavior does not alter them at all (if anything only angers and emboldens them). We are not able to actually demonize anyone else at all, even when we vilify them. We finally only really demonize ourselves.
Does it seem like some ancient, primal force of rage and racism has been called out of the pit right now, and is running amuck? Are you in disbelief at the names we are calling each other, and the names we hear ourselves speak aloud toward someone else? There are in fact some very ancient principalities and powers that are being stirred up in the moment, powers that have ruled and reigned in us over 400 years of injustice, slavery, and domination. Things that we thought we pushed underground, but are staring at us all around, now. My friend Anthony Smith of Mission House in Salisbury, NC (the pastor I referenced earlier), says he believes America needs a literal exorcism from 400 years of demonic control. I believe him.
But before such spirits can be cast out, they must be named. This part, while terrible, is important. When Jesus confronts the demoniac in Mark 5, the first thing he asked the demonized man is “what is your name?” The spirit responds through the man saying, “My name is legion, for we are many.” There are indeed demons that collectively need to be exorcised in America. But we cannot exorcise demons we cannot name. So with violent force, it would seem — brutish, manic, out of control — the legion identifies itself through us. It is terribly important that instead of whitewashing this, downplaying this reality, or yelling over it — that we allow these familiar spirits to be named, especially the principalities that rule in us.
I asked earlier if it seems strange for so many religious leaders who we know to be people of mercy, kindness and justice, to seem so uncomfortable speaking to any of this at all? This is characteristic of people who are living under a spell, as well. In Mark 9, a man brings his son to Jesus, a boy with a “mute spirit” (thinking now of an astonishing sermon I heard Dr. Michael Brandon McCormack preach at the Proctor Institute this summer I have not been able to get over). The spirit that possesses him will not allow him to speak. Whether or not this sounds primitive, tribal and ancient to you or not, hear the truth that crackles beneath and through these words — that this is part of what the agenda of these spirits, to silence us. They keep us from speaking God’s truth about ourselves and about the world. If we do not open our mouths to speak in a way that demonizes an other, the other tactic is to keep us from speaking at all, about the things that really matter. The tactic is to silence the prophets.
The uncomfortable truth is that many church leaders cannot drive out these principalities and powers because they have colluded with them. The same forces that have oppressed slaves and women and the poor are firmly entrenched in ecclesiastical systems. It is not incidental that many of the strongest prophetic voices we hear in Christianity in North America right now are female voices; and it is not surprising that these voices are met with unique anger and vitriol from male powers that be. Because it is not just men they are opposing, but the principality behind them. These are principalities that war with prophets, war with the feminine, war with truth. Leaders who have not only benefited from these forces but continue to draw energy from them, are in no place to challenge them. In the words of Jesus, a house divided against itself cannot stand: Satan cannot cast out Satan.
When women of God began speaking truth to such powers, they are uniquely angry, uniquely stirred up. Authoritarian, patriarchal powers are not only turn quickly and vehemently against the daughters of the Church, but against the sons, too. When the sons of the Church begin to speak anointed words for justice, mercy, and truth, playing their harps with songs of praise and protest, the men that feel challenged do not respond with the tenderness of fathers, but with wrath. In fact, they may provoke wrath from their sons. Truth that is spoken does not bring commendation, but condemnation; not a reason to throw a party, but to throw a spear. After all these are times when we, in the words of the Apostle Paul, have few fathers — though many who want the honor and deference bestowed on the patriarch. In any case, this is why the stakes are so high as to whether or not the daughters prophesy. Some principalities do not reveal themselves, until the daughters begin to speak truth to them.
In the Mark 9 text I referenced earlier, the boy with the mute spirit begins to convulse, rolling on the ground and foaming at the mouth. Just because the spirit is showing out in a particular way here, does not mean it is new phenomena. “How long has he been like this?”, Jesus asks his father. “From childhood,” he replies. The demonic that is being manifest in America right now has been here since the beginning. But these spirits are uniquely acting out. Perhaps the best thing we can hope for, in such dark times, is that these are the convulsions of a spirit that, now that it is in the open, can yet be exorcised from our collective consciousness.
But why now (and do you really think this is all about Trump?!)
Why do such powers seem to be uniquely manifesting right now? There are undoubtedly many reasons. Our dumbed down, caricaturized, radically polarized two-party system embodies financial corruption on both sides, and both feed off the politics of blame and shame, and in doing so breed the demonic. Followers of Jesus are right to not feel entirely at home in either of these parties in their current form. The kind of demonic activity I described earlier has long been with us, and is not at all unique to this season. So in that sense — no, this is not “about” the election of Donald Trump as President.
This is certainly not “about” the difference between “conservative” and “liberal” politics. It is good and right for Christians to have significant differences of opinion around political matters, such as the size and scope of government, big or small, etc. There are more and less faithful ways to occupy space along our political spectrum, as all of our politics fall short of the politics of God (which is a way of saying, they do not embody the love and humility on display on the cross of Jesus — which is the only thing constitutive of the politics of God). The last thing I would want to do is to further the kind of scapegoating and shaming that has already demonized us, by placing the blame on Trump as my “other.” As I have expressed elsewhere, I felt like the Holy Spirit dealt with me that “I am Donald Trump,” insofar that the very things I find divisive about that whole phenomena illumines divisive, ego-driven sin in me that I must name and repent of.
That being said, I want to say gently but firmly: there is no way a discerning person can avoid the ways in which the Trump phenomenon has uniquely embodied the energy of demonization. Yes, both sides scapegoat and blame other humans irrationally, draw life and strength from blame, and speak and act in ways that are violent towards the other. I have never suggested in any way that individual Trump supporters are somehow all inherently racist. I don’t know a single Trump supporter in my own life who would support the kind of violent, abusive behavior we have seen on display in recent days. They would all denounce such acts of violence, denounce the KKK, and are heartbroken by the kinds of stories I told earlier.
I understand, via so many of my friends I have sat with both before and after the election, their convictions: that they wanted an outsider who will not cow tow to the corruption of the establishment. That they felt their candidate, however flawed, championed the position they hold dear on abortion — even if they have great misgivings in other areas. Or that they felt like even if he has his own flaws, they saw Hillary Clinton as equally or more morally bankrupt. Or that they felt like their economic concerns or social concerns are not taken seriously by condescending liberal elites. Even where I disagree with some of these conclusions, I respect the sincerity of the convictions. I have no desire to argue with them here, or elsewhere.
What I have maintained consistently, however, is that there are dark contours to phenomena following the campaign like a dust cloud that are uniquely dangerous. These for me include suggestions that have never been made in modern history of American politics (i.e., the position that we should kill not only enemy combatants but their families if need be; open-endorsement of torture as means of gaining information — there is no intelligible position in church history, certainly not just war theory, in which any of that makes sense). This includes the irrational scapegoating and blaming of Muslims, of refugees, immigrants and outsiders, which again is the heart of demonic activity — stirring up shame and blame for those who are unlike us. This is not a critique of conservative politics. There is nothing “conservative” about the aforementioned ways of being in the world — which are demonized. Many of the people I know who are doing the best work in the world among marginalized people are politically conservative.
In this election cycle, we have opened up pandora’s box in a very particular way. These forces have not been peripheral features of the campaign, but it’s driving force. In harnessing this kind of energy in the main artery of national politics, even and perhaps especially in context of claiming to use them for some kind of greater good, we have opened ourselves up to all sorts of demonic activities. It is especially dangerous because it feels so right/and therefore so righteous; but is in fact a sick parody of righteousness — we cleanse ourselves, on the soul of an other. This all the more toxic when we call what is evil good, and thereby resist, and thus potentially blaspheme, the Holy Spirit — stuck in a kind of self-induced, eternal blindness.
Even when we attempt to engage such powers constructively, we must be cautious. When we make war against the side we think is unjust or wrong, the very soul-draining energy of the side we think we oppose has a way of getting into us. But this is especially frightening to those who are the object of this kind of demonic blame and scapegoating, like the stories I told earlier. The scene in front of us is legitimately scary. I do not wish to play any of it down, or shrug any of it off. For so many who are on the wrong side of these principalities, the world is a scary place right now — and the Church, which often seems ambivalent to matters of race and justice, does not feel much safer.
I am empathetic to the reasons I listed earlier that many evangelical Christians had for choosing Trump. Given the caricaturized, polarized nature of the times in which we live, I am not at all surprised that people within the body of Christ were split on election day. But especially given the long and loud cries of our brothers and sisters who have tried to warn us of the consequences this would have for them, this simply must be said: the fact that that white evangelicals voted for Trump by such an overwhelming majority (81%) is not a political crisis, but a theological one.
It exposes not just the trouble with evangelical leaders who have openly championed the Trump campaign, but the pastoral malpractice of church leaders who give their flocks a depoliticized Jesus. Wanting to avoid conflict in our communities, too many of us have swallowed the lie that the claim of “Jesus is Lord” has no implications for real-life, i.e. political life. This election has not just exposed the problems of the Christian right, but of functional Christian gnostics who accept a division between body and soul, physical and material.
Yes, the Church has survived any and all kinds of shifts in culture, and any and all kinds of leaders. I can hear and be encouraged by that. Yes, we have survived Nero and Diocletian. Yes, Christianity thrives around the world even and perhaps especially under tyranny. But I’m also very aware this is a much easier claim for me to make, because I’m not the one who feels like I’m on the wrong side of a gun barrel here. Pastors, if you don’t understand why many of your sons and daughters say they are ready to walk away from the evangelical church right now — it’s not because they are “overreacting” to the election of Donald Trump, per se. They are responding the fact that in many cases their Church elected him overwhelmingly, by a near consensus. It is not Trump they are struggling to live with, but themselves. And I would dare say this may be less in reaction to those who have explicitly supported and sanctified the campaign, but in response to the silence of those who saw the dark cloud rising these issues, but would not speak to them.
It feels like the world is upside down — because it is. It feels like apocalyptic time — because it is. There is much to mourn, much to lament. For some of us, the terror they feel rising is rising up against them. For some of us, we are struggling with the notion that we ourselves may have become unwitting vehicles of terror. Some of us are grieving the fact that these principalities and powers seem now completely lodged between us and our native tribe and tradition, between our past and our future, between fathers and their sons, between mothers and their daughters.
Yes, this apocalyptic time gives us so many, many reasons to grieve.
earthquake: the dawning of apocalyptic hope
The realities described before require sustained lament. The appropriate response of the Church is grieving, listening, fasting, and prayer. I do not want to skip to hope in a cheap way. And yet as I noted before, apocalyptic time in Scripture is both a time unparalleled darkness and gravity-defying hope. Apocalyptic time is both the end of things, and the beginning of things. I do not know how to speak of one without the other. The very time that the world is turned inside out and upside down, is the time when the Spirit is also poured out on all flesh, and sons and daughters prophesy. How can both of these things be?
The other week I felt like God dealt with me powerfully from the prophet Haggai, a book for displaced, discouraged exiles who are slowly returning from Babylon to Jerusalem — to find that in reality, they have no home and no temple to come back to. Into this context, the prophet speaks these words from Haggai 2.6–7:
6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; 7 and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come.
The imagery is evocative. There is a shaking that is coming to all. In the words of the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament, “all that can be shaken, is shaken.” This shaking is not just for Israel as God’s chosen people, but for all the nations. Yet the shaking that is for all people, has unique implications for God’s people — that the treasure God has placed inside of them would be dislodged through the shaking; and thus released into the world.
This is not somehow for God’s people over against the nations of the earth, however. It is for the world, as God’s promise to Israel was always for the world. In the election of Abraham in Genesis, God calls Abraham and says he will make him great, give him a great name, a great people, that through him “all the families of the earth” will be blessed. The light of the nations would come through Israel to the world. The treasure that God would draw out of them would not be for Israel’s sake, but for the sake of the nations that are shaken. The shaking itself is terrifying for all. But the people of God discern a unique purpose in the midst of such shaking — that the gifts and calling that have been locked up inside of them may be released to the world, for the world.
From here, I felt directed to a New Testament text — when Paul and Silas are locked up in prison. They are locked in a jail cell, and thus, it would seem, the gospel is locked up in that little room along with the apostle to the gentiles — locked up in Philippi, as Paul and Silas have their feet placed in stocks. Like ourselves in a time of great tumult, the evil around them has them temporarily paralyzed, unable to move.
But then, the earthquake comes. It is a violent earthquake, that shakes “the foundations” of the prisons. It surely is terrifying for all, perhaps even especially for Paul and Silas at first. I have to think if you are already locked and bound up in a prison for preaching the gospel, the earthquake does not feel like liberation at first! But a reason to look to the heavens and say, “REALLY?! Another thing, here, now?” The earthquake is a terror to us all. All kinds of things are being shaken, that we don’t want to be shaken. Old pictures are crashing down off the walls; old ideas about God, life, relationships, and the world as it has been ordered, are collapsing. The foundations themselves, rumble — foundations of political life, ecclesial life, American life. We feel it all crumbling around us.
AND YET — what is an earthquake for all serves a unique purpose for Paul and Silas. It is subtle change of perspective. What is merely an earthquake for everybody else, is a JAILBREAK for Paul and Silas. The very things that rattle their bones, rattle their chains. The quaking that would seem to snap them in two, snaps their chains instead. The earthquake that threatens to kill them, actually looses them.
And I cannot help but wonder right now, if this is not exactly the same kind of shaking that is happening in the Church right now. Some things may be falling that we don’t want to fall in this “explosion of the real,” in these systems and structures that are crumbling all around us. Evangelical Christians, especially the sons and daughters (always the ones most open to the Spirit), feel like their faith has failed them, and indeed in many ways it has. The structure that brought comfort and support before now is revealed to be oppressive, constrictive, a vehicle of harm rather than justice.
But is in such shaking that these bereaved sons and daughters are now open to Spirit of God in a new way. The Spirit of God poured out on Pentecost, the birthday of the whole Church; Pentecost as the gift of God given to the whole Church — not just a sect of it. This gift of God stirs up dreams and visions of a different kind of world— but most of all, empowers the sons and daughters to prophesy.
The travail and trauma of the time is especially violent, because the scope of the transformation that can and must yet come is vast. The time must yet come when “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” So the earth sighs and groans — with groans too deep for words — for, in the words also of the Apostle Paul, “for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God.” And how will the sons and daughters of God be known, unless they prophesy? Unless they speak God’s truth?
There is so much we have to grieve, about what all is shaking. But my prayer is that in the violent quake, that the sons of daughters are being awakened.
And so I say to you, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth:
Wake up, beloved daughter of God! The earth needs you to be a prophet of God’s justice, God’s Shalom…God’s peace. If you have been in a system where the forces of patriarchy and domination have oppressed you, come forth — the earth needs your voice! The world needs the Spirit of God in you. Do not be intimidated by the forces that rise up against you. Speak your liberating words of truth and justice! Prophesy to our dry bones, that we might yet live!
Wake up, beloved son of God! Do not be rattled when Saul throws his spear or threatens you for telling your truth. Do not be sucked into blame and accusation. Keep your heart clean from the toxins of shame and violence around you, and speak your truth in love. But speak with power. Speak with authority. Speak with force, on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed. Stand up — not as a preacher, but a beloved son!
This is not a time for priests, but for prophets
In the Old Testament, a handful of prophets came up from the margins to declare God’s truth. Michael Hardin has observed, brilliantly, that much of the Old Testament is actually a debate between priests and prophets. The priests often embody a kind of institutional self-preservation that prophets are always challenging. When Jesus comes on to the scene, he repeatedly affirms the stance of the prophets in such conflicts, he consistently validates and embodies the prophetic critique. Though as I recall Chris Green telling me once, it is not so much that Jesus validates the prophets against the priests so much as he re-interprets the priestly tradition in a prophetic way.
Now on this side of the day of Pentecost, the calling of the Church is not that all the sons and daughters would be priests — but that they all would prophesy, that the entire community would boldly declare God’s truth. The Church is now not a community that produces occasional prophets, but a prophetic community! We are not supposed to now be communities that merely house prophets, but entire prophetic communities of faith and justice, alternative communities to the politics of the world!
It is in the kingdom of God and only in the kingdom of God, that this new way of being human is made possible. It is only in Christ that “there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.” This new way of being human is both already and not yet. It is a futuristic community, to which you have already been baptized.
I wish I could tell you, sons and daughters, that the Church at large will appreciate your bold witness. But it may well be for awhile, that the invitation to God’s freedom that you offer, will be perceived only as threat. To those who have not yet accepted God’s call to be prophets themselves, you will be branded a traitor and a heretic. Your acts of faithfulness will be called a betrayal, branded acts of unfaithfulness, to the truth to which you bear witness.
But you know this call to stand up for the poor and for the marginalized and the oppressed is not a product of the spirit of the age, but of the Spirit of the age to come. The future beckons you forward, summons you, calls out to you. You must enter it fully, so that the summons may now be ushered through you. You are not a traitor to the Christ you love, for embracing this new kind of humanity. Rather the new humanity of the resurrected One is being made manifest in you, in the midst of a culture of death, in a valley of dry bones.
You must not speak falsely about this culture around you. You must not speak peace, in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, when there is no peace. You must speak of the reality of the world around you, not bury your head in the sand, not call the darkness light. But you must not just merely describe the valley of dry bones — you must speak to them. You must prophesy.
You must speak to the wind.
The world is waiting, not for God per se — but for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God, for prophets of peace who preach love like it’s hellfire and brimstone.
So finally, for the preachers, dreamers, artists and poets; for the pastors, lovers, and would-be truth tellers: in the chaos of so much rage, violence, and racial injustice: you must, must, must, must not cower before the agents of fear, when you are an ambassador of heaven. You must stop fearing the reprisals of white people who you fear may leave your church, if you speak the truth about race and justice on behalf of the marginalized that are in your midst. It hurts to be misunderstood, I know. And I understand that we all have to pay the bills. We all want to bring everybody along, and we will bring as many as we can.
But pastor — do you know what would be worse, than losing some key white people in your church? To lose the Spirit of God. If God writes Ichabod over the door of your house — “the glory has departed” — there will be no Church left, no matter how many people you have. It is not people you must worry about grieving, but the Spirit. There will be no joy in keeping one generation at all costs, if you lose your sons and daughters in the attempt — as they watch you refuse to stand for justice. And we will lose them. In many cases, we already have.
Let us heed the words of the great Dominican preacher and theologian, Herbert McCabe:
“The Christian minister is meant to be neither the pillar of an established quasi-feudal order, as conservative Christians are inclined to think, nor is he the democratic representative of a quasi-bourgeois society as the progressives seem to suggest; he is a revolutionary leader whose job is the subversion of the world through the preaching of the gospel. He exercises authority amongst his people not as maintaining an established structure; he is the leader of his people in a movement towards a new community. He is representative of his people not necessarily in the sense of being their elected spokesman; he may represent them in the way a revolutionary leader does, a way that is not obvious to them and only becomes clear when the revolution is achieved.”
So much sucks right now, I know. It is good and right to make space for the grief. But for God’s sake, in the days to come — man and woman of God…
Don’t speak from the center. The center already has more than enough people speaking for it. The center does not need your protection.
Speak for and with the One who was crucified outside the gate.
Speak from the margins.
If you will not speak from the margins, don’t you dare claim to speak for God.
We need you. I need you. The world needs your prophetic voice.
Don’t pontificate, damn it.
Prophesy. Prophesy. Prophesy.