I’m telling you to #ShutTheHellUp
Advent is approaching. This year, the digital discipline continues with new contributors, a new premise, and a new hashtag.
In my travels following #FuckThisShit to talk about dismantling systems of white supremacy, one question has come up multiple times:
“Why are you so angry?”
When I hear that question, I try to handle my external response graciously. Yet internally, I harbor a very different response. I want them to shut up, or maybe find a new question to ask, because I am angry. I’m angry when the value of a person’s life and ministry is called into question when it doesn’t measure up to metrics that have been manipulated and colonized. I’m angry because in the midst of conversations about justice, they are just that: conversations. Actual justice, the world turned upside down, has yet to appear in the fullness of her glory. And God damn it, I want to live into the fullness of who God created me to be, which is a threat to misogynist white supremacists. When people I love and care about don’t get to live into the fullness of who Creator God incarnated them to be, then yeah, I get hella angry, and I want those detractors to be. quiet.
The words of a dear mentor and brother in Christ came to me when I needed to see them the most in wondering and contemplating my anger. In the space of shutting the hell up and taking time to reflect, his words reminded me that my anger is not only holy, but it is also a spiritual gift. It is my anger that is a catalyst to move and act. Even if anger makes others uneasy and uncomfortable, anger is holy and biblical.
My anger and desire to see justice lived in the world hasn’t dissipated from last year’s #FuckThisShit devotional. It’s waxed and waned, reformed and transformed, but it’s never fully left my bones. I am both angry and grieving about the state of the church and the world. I’m angry because the world is not as God intended it to be.
I’m also angry because after the catharsis of last year’s devotional, #FuckThisShit, I thought I would be able to find ways to handle the days to come in the new year, emboldened by a new community of those openly angry and grieving the state of the church and the world. Yet I come to this approaching Advent realizing that no moment can ever be precisely replicated.
What then do I want to say to those questioning my anger because they’re uncomfortable? What do I want to say to those who speak against me fully being, living, and breathing?
#ShutTheHellUp was brought to Jason Chesnut and me by a modern-day prophet: Tamika Jancewicz. After the incredible amount of noise and static that we’ve encountered in the past year, Tamika said that reframing the devotional could help us experience Advent and the present conflicting times in a different way. While we could proclaim #FuckThisShit, what could happen if a community gathers to fight through the intense noise, telling oppressors to #ShutTheHellUp? And encouraging those who have been forcefully silenced to not just speak, but also to breathe and create life?
#ShutTheHellUp is not a trite statement. This is Biblical.
This is what the prophets of the Hebrew Bible professed. The prophets called for not just accountability, but for the fullness of life for the poor, the orphan, and the widow.
The prophet Isaiah repeatedly cries out that God will seek the lost, bring back the strayed, bind up the injured, and strengthen the weak. And as for those strong and fat from being in power? They will be no more.
The prophet Amos convicts those, instead of caring for the poor, who have turned their greed into idolatry. Amos then pleads for those who have turned to idolatry to turn back to God, to seek good not just for themselves but for their neighbor, and to live.
Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Malachi all proclaim that God is on the side of the oppressed, on the side of the powerless, and on the side of the broken down and broken hearted.
The prophets of the Hebrew Bible professed a truth to those in power, that the ways of power and empire are the ways of dealing in death and destruction, and that all of the ways that deny life can be sealed away in Sheol and shut. in hell.
This is what Jesus told the demonic forces that forcefully bound those from fully leading their lives. Christ told them, “Shut up” before casting them out of and liberating a beloved. If you think the Prince of Peace only used polite and pleasant language, you need to check your Bible.
To those who deny the fullness of life and creation, they can take their words, their deeds, and their actions that deny people to live into the fullness of a loving Creator God and send it right back to hell. They can take all of the forms of death to the lake of fire and sulfur.
If some take the message of #ShutTheHellUp to heart, this is an opportunity for voices that have been oppressed to speak up and speak out. For voices that have been trying out to cry out for generations and that have been viciously silenced, take the words that Christ said to Legion into your heart. Legion needs to #ShutTheHellUp. Those that have wielded power and privilege for far too long need to #ShutTheHellUp; for those who have been told to be quiet, to wait for your turn, that have been told you’re over-reacting… it has always been your time to have voice, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. May those in the position of the power and privilege #ShutTheHellUp to truly hear the voices crying out for justice and liberation.
May those who take #ShutTheHellUp into their bodies truly listen to and act for justice for those who have been silenced.
This Advent, may we all profess to take on those who deal in death and express to them what it truly means to #ShutTheHellUp.