“Something’s happening and you don’t know what it is, do you Mr Jones.”
Bob Dylan’s Ballad Of A Thin Man, that described the revolution of the 60s, came to my mind as I went to bed at 2am, convinced that the poll showings in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania were suggesting Trump victories in swing States. Some on Facebooked begged me to be patient but I knew.
I have been getting ready to respond to Donald Trump as President for many months. Like everyone else I laughed at him running and laughed when he was looking like he might even be the Republican candidate. However, once he got the nomination I realised that something was happening and I didn’t know what it was… but it was happening. Brexit only confirmed my fears. For maybe the first ninety minutes of results coming in last night I wondered if Clinton actually make it but by 2am…
So, what am I surmising the day after. I am very disappointed. Many were telling me that Hillary was no better but I would have felt safer in the hands of someone just as bad who had actually some experience in politics!
I am angry that a man who, as a friend of mine on Facebook suggested, represented misogyny, racism, xenophobia and incivility was now possibly one the most powerful human beings on earth. I am angry that every racist, foul mouthed bully who thinks it is acceptable behaviour to encourage punching people and feeling up women has got a role model that suggests his behaviour is not just OK but heroic to the majority of American voters. I pray lord that no one will ever say to their children, "Act like President Trump," in absolutely any social situation!
I am frustrated that Jesus has been dragged into this unChristian behaviour. I have been following Jesus for almost 40 years of my life and it gets harder and harder to relate the Jesus I read about in Scripture with the Jesus in the public domain.
It just got even harder. My understanding has to be that if you are anti-abortion then you are deemed a Christian and you can therefore divorce as often as you like, attack women sexually, be physically threatening and uncivil to your peers and turning away the world's marginalised. I am at a loss to imagine how badly we have taught Scripture and how askew our discipleship is from the call Jesus gave us to go and make disciples. My my ability as a preacher to get a hearing for the good news of Jesus took a major hit on TV and radio this morning.
However, my soul is surmising something else today. I am fascinated and seeking the Spirit’s understanding. Something is happening and I want to know what it means. What it means will be vital for a Church seeking to be missional at this moment in our history.
The most surmising I have done today has been an attempt to hear the cry of America's working class or blue collar workers as they are called in political identity speak. It is a similar cry to what was heard at Brexit. We University Degree, Masters and PhD toting middle class whites might not quite understand it but it is time to listen!
There is an underclass in American society who have had enough of to not getting enough. They have built houses, roads and cars for as long as they had jobs to do it. They have been neglected while the rest got educated and white collar jobs, mortgages, stocks and shares profiles and holidays on exotic sun kissed beaches, maybe even a skiing one in winter too.
This large swathe of the American population have made a statement. They have enough of the status quo. How we read this is now vital. Let us not write these voters off as uneducated sheep being led by a big bad shepherd. Let us not dehumanise them. They had the right to vote. Our disrespect for them might be exactly why this has happened.
As I listen to this moment, I do not only hear blue collar America. I am hearing Brexit voters in the UK. I am hearing the working class loyalists in my own city who have felt the same sense of alienation from the system.
Politicians have to listen to what is happening. They have to work out what it means. So too the Church. So many of us in our middle class Churches, living the life of some privilege in a world where many do not, need to listen to the spirit blowing across our world if we are to find what the Spirit might want us to do in the light of Trump and Brexit. I know that I am pondering today what this says to Fitzroy.
In the end, perspective. The American Constitution was written for a time such as this. Mavericks have limited power. It is not the end of the world. It is the end of a four year Presidency. It is the start of another. A friend reminded me today that he remembers me walking into his office four years today with an Obama tee shirt on. I asked him how long ago that felt. He said just weeks ago. So, in the same feeling of weeks we will have another President.
In the meantime… let us hear what is happening... and we could do worse than act on the Scripture Hillary Clinton quoted at the close of concession speech - "So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all." (Galatians 6.9)