A friend asked for advice as a Christian for not letting Donald Trump’s evangelical support color our views. Here it is.
It’s going to be a long haul. Jeremiah warned the Israelites they were going down hard if they didn’t repent, but once they were conquered and in captivity, his message changed to one of compassion and encouragement:
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”— Jeremiah 29:4-14
We are going to face a tough number of years. Figure we’re going to be fighting for a generation: 20–22 years. I’m not wholly convinced by the Strauss-Howe hypothesis, but it’s not a bad model to keep in mind.
We are in a Crisis period; we will follow that with a High period, one where the country prospers materially but is stunted by conformity. Then comes an Awakening, then (alas) an Unraveling, followed by another Crisis.
So what do we–both as Christians and as individuals–do? Well, we need to take the long game view. We must endure the Trump years. They will be bad, but hopefully if enough people call him and the GOP on their BS the worst can be blunted. We’re not entering a Nazi era (the country is much too diverse for that) but we are entering a period of corruption that’s going to last until the next generation has its fill and decides to turn the rascals out.
When that happens, some promise will arise, some progress will occur, but not as much as we would hope for. But we must get through that to get to the next phase, the Awakening, in which the real progress will be made.
And real progress will be made. As bad as things will be over the next few years, we’ve already made tremendous steps forward that cannot be undone, simply delayed and hindered for a while. Go back in history and you will see this generational ebb and flow in all times and cultures. While it may go retrograde for a while, it always returns further ahead than it was.
But that’s the future. Today we are to be encouragers and helpers and mentors of those who will carry through the era into the next. We need to be telling people hedged in by this society and culture that they can make a change, that they can restore the promise and dignity of this country.
We are like Depression-era school folk singers, the Woody Gutheries et al who carried a message that permeated the culture. We’re not going to be the Dylans or the Beatles or even NWA; it’s not our time, not our moment. But we can make a mark and be a positive influence.
As for specific things to do as Christians, there I’d say find like minded people–not necessarily in churches but online or in non-traditional venues–and lift up and encourage one another. When Trump fails the evangelicals and then finally turns on them, they’ll start coming apart as a church culture.
That’s when the real church (i.e., the body of believers as opposed to any denomination) will need to step forward, to carry the message of love, justice, and compassion.
It ain’t gonna be easy.
One thing we cannot do, however, is give up. The Pirkei Avot, one of many Talmudic commentaries, says “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”
God bless you and keep you and give you peace of mind and soul in the days and months and years to come.
Photo illustration by Dan Wilkinson.
About Buzz Dixon
He outraged parents, ticked off networks, and delighted young fans with thought-provoking classic episodes of G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Batman. Writer/editor/publisher Buzz Dixon, who created the Christian manga category in publishing when he launched the bestselling Serenity graphic novel series, continues to create new stories and concepts for Young Adult readers as well as blogging on writing, comics, and Christianity at BuzzDixon.com.