The fearful rhetoric of hatred for Trump has wrought this.
Some hate him so much they will hate that sentence on principle.
This principle is called "the rhetoric of blame."
I do not blame Rev. Dr. John Nunes, President of the LCMS affiliate Concordia University NY, for appearing in the twitter feed of Fordham-sporting @drantbradley at a Black Lives Matter rally, and so inadvertently also winding up the target of a Pulpit and Pen hit piece calling out the terminal stage cancer of lukewarmness eating at the LCMS’s historic orthodoxies.
I didn’t write the hit piece. Neither did I march with a Marxist organization that proclaims the destruction of the Fourth Commandment as central to its message, as Dr. Nunes chose to do.
The most Dr. Nunes will suffer is a few mean emails from some midwestern people he doesn’t know, and maybe a phone call or two from slightly higher powers cautioning care where appearances and donors are concerned.
The LCMS as a whole won’t be too bothered. We are all quite happily quibbling in the engine room about the proper way to light a pilot while the storms of darkness descend upon our bottom lines.
Because we’ve forgotten the dream. We’ve forgotten what it means to burn with zeal for the atonement of your countrymen, and against all risks foreign and domestic, to put your skin in the game of your religion, to be dissatisfied with the lack of its application, until its symbols reign from sea to shining sea.
I still have that dream, given to me, a white child growing up in city-scaped northeast Portland, by a black preacher of non-violent resistance, as the antidote to all abuses of authority, because it is also the divine and holy warfare of a people certain that God’s own justice is on their side.
That black preacher inspired me with words about a glorious world wherein little black boys and little white girls joined hands and live together in harmony. I looked around the classroom to see the black and white faces of my very racially mixed friends.
We were living the dream.
That was 1986.
This is 2020, and I’m a liar if I don’t say that today it is only a dream that my five white children might live side by side among people who refuse to judge or be judged by the color of any skin because they live in a world where they are being judged for theirs.
Yes, it is but a fast fleeting dream that that they would be judged by their ethnically diverse neighbors according to the content of character as shown in the conduct of the person.
For all this, and not unmindful of the two-faced history and treachery-laden annals of the American justice system, neither shall I forget the words of the Son of God, “Bless those who hate you; Do good to those who oppress you,” as well as the words of that black man martyred shortly after he preached its meaning to an entirely peaceful protest:
“Unearned suffering is redemptive.”
If “these truths we hold to be self-evident” are no longer self-evident to the drugged up and sloganized masses of first-world snowflakes tearing down their own houses in fits and starts, then we must invest boldly in their self-evidence again, at least among ourselves, lest it be stolen right out from under us.
We must have the dream.
We must dream that the burning heat of riots and racism, and the sweltering, wrath of “mother earth” gone amuck, the swarming white noise of black hate brewing up out of the greedy cowardice which ever percolates in swamps both deep and shallow - we must dream that these both can and shall be transfigured by the awakening of an army made ready to stand firm in the powerful posture of the brotherhood, philanthropy and neighborly intent because we dream the dream of a religious vigor, born in a people who will never be satisfied with this vain world’s kingdoms because we have seen the particularly glorious light of a better one.
A kingdom founded on a new rhetoric: the rhetoric not of blame, but of grace.
“From every mountainside let freedom ring” is the dream that wickedness cannot long rest upon any land wherein righteous men dwell, for they themselves, as God’s witnesses, will not let it be so. A righteous man rarely stands alone for long.
One tyrant topples another. In the mud, with the salt and the darkness, in suburban hoods and country townships, in busy streets and quiet places, among the 1% and in debt with the rest of us, the righteous man is not done dreaming.
Regardless of the color of his skin, the righteous man always dreams, always resists the enemy, always seeks a better civilization by peacefully, constantly and with great and positive prejudice talking his enemies into being his brothers.
Or dying trying.
That’s the dream.
Live free. You are immortal now, and he won’t be long anyway.