News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  11 November 2016  •  No. 96

Processional. “God is watching us / God is watching us / God is watching us / From a distance.” —Bette Midler, “From a Distance

Special issue
Post-election perspective and provocations

Invocation. “My church and my country could use a little mercy now / As they sink into a poisoned pit it's going to take forever to climb out / They carry the weight of the faithful who follow them down / I love my church and country, they could use some mercy now.” —Mary Gauthier, “Mercy Now

Call to worship. “We need the Buddhists and the Baptists / Quakers and Catholics, too / atheists and agnostics / the Muslims and Jews / We need people of all nations / all colors and all creeds /  to put an end to war, now / put an end to greed.” —Jon Fromer, "Gonna Take Us All" (Thanks Dick.)

Hymn of praise. “Praise the Lord! Sing hallelujah! Come our great Redeemer praise. I will sing the glorious praise of my God through all my days. Put no confidence in princes, not on human help depend. They shall die, to dust returning; all their thoughts and plans shall end.” —“146 Hallelujah,” performed at the second Ireland Sacred Harp convention, 2012

Exit polls head-scratching conclusions.

        •Despite the fact that for the first time in history a woman was a major-party candidate, Trump received more women’s votes (53%) than Clinton (43%).

        •Stunningly, 81% of personal-morality-boosting evangelical Christians voted for Trump.

        •The American public’s temperament is no less under suspicion. Only 56% of eligible voters did so. Combined with the facts that (a) neither candidate secured even 26% of the voting population’s ballots and (b) Clinton actually tallied more votes than Trump, I’d say we have some tough questions to answer about our assumptions to democracy.

     •Interestingly—and this surprised me—exit polls found no evidence to suggest that income status affected the likelihood for Trump support.

Unheralded history in the making. Ilhan Omar (left) is the first Somali-American state legislator, winning a seat in Minnesota’s House on Tuesday. For more see Deidre Fulton’s “Lights in the Darkness: Celebrating Down-Ballot Progressive Victories,”

Confession. “CNN commentator Van Jones spoke some of the most emotionally-wrenching remarks on election night. ‘You have people putting children to bed tonight and they are afraid of breakfast. They're afraid of 'How do I explain this to my children?’ He then went on to coin a poignantly appropriate term to describe the electoral results: whitelash.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s election coverage, “Listening for whispering hope: Polling the electoral whitelash

¶ “For better or for worse, we will only get through this if we begin to understand the emotions of those that we disagree with in a way we haven’t figured out so far. Emotions are a bit like facts in that once they exist, you’ve got to deal with them rather that wishing they’d just go away. The only true emotional solvent is empathy, followed by sympathy (and if you don’t know the difference, it’s more vital than ever to learn it).” —Dominick Reuter, “On the Election

¶ “Grief is the tax we pay on loving people.—Thomas Lynch

Outbreak of schoolhouse hatemongering

        •A cell phone video at York County (Pennsylvania) School of Technology recorded some students walking the hall with a “Trump/Pence” campaign poster chanting “white power.”

Right: Graffiti painted Wednesday on a wall at a busy intersection in Durham, North Carolina

        •Middle school students in a Detroit suburb chanted "build the wall" during lunchtime on Wednesday, leaving Latinx schoolmates in tears, hours after Donald Trump became president-elect of the United States, according to school officials. ABC News

        •On Wednesday morning someone at New York University (my alma mater) Tandon School of Engineering wrote "Trump" on the door of Muslim students’ prayer room. See Sean O’Kane’s “Day 1 in Trump’s America” for other examples of post-election hatemongering.

¶ “Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”  ―John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Hymn of lamentation.My Strange Nation,” Susan Werner.

Inspiring news. “Two days after a black Mississippi church was torched and marked with ‘Vote Trump’ graffiti (below), more than $180,000 has been raised to repair it. Thousands of people pledged to raise money for Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville by Thursday (3 November) afternoon, far exceeding the original goal of $10,000. ‘Responses have been pouring in from all over the world, and they’re truly extraordinary,' writes J. Blair Reeves Jr., who organized the GoFundMe fundraising initiative. ‘Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, atheists and many more, from all over the United States and many other countries.’” Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

¶ “The election of Donald Trump arose from a profound spiritual, cultural, and political crisis in American society. Two halves of the country both feel themselves left out–and have turned to attacking each other, rather than transforming the system that keeps them both under debilitating pressure. . . . We need to crystallize this outburst into a broadly embracing movement of movements that can pursue acts of nonviolent, loving, empowering creativity.” Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center

¶ “Grief can destroy you—or focus you.—Dean Koontz, Odd Hours

Words of assurance. “Everyone in the world has gone to bed with fear or pain or loss or disappointment.” Listen to Maya Angelou recite her poem, “And Still I Rise(2:52).

¶ “Heaven knows we never need be ashamed of our tears, for they are the rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.” —Charles Dickens

Hymn of intercession. “I am marching every day / I’m meeting trials on my way / Short of blessings, but I’m going on just the same / Folks complaining on every side / Except me, Lord / I’m satisfied.” —Maria Muldaur, “It’s a Blessing” (Thanks, Stan.)

¶ “‘Trump’s victory is a powerful slap to those promoting the benefits of democratic mechanisms,’ tweeted Hamza al-Karibi, a media spokesman for Syrian jihadist group Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.” —Ishaan Tharoor, “Islamist extremists celebrate Trump’s election win,” Washington Post

Commentary from a British journalist. “The fact that the messenger [Trump] is deranged doesn’t mean the message itself contains no significant truths. . . . It took the Brexit result [of the UK leaving the European Union] to pay attention to communities devasted by neoliberal globalization. . . . Trump is deluded about many things, but he’s right to insist the media and political classes are out of touch with the population. They exist in a fetid ideological comfort zone where radical change is considered apostasy at precisely the moment when radical change is both necessary and popular.” —Gary Younge, “Note to America: Don’t Be So Sure You’ve Put Trump Behind You,”

¶ “Love is an engraved invitation to grief.―Sunshine O'Donnell, Open Me

¶ “Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years. . . . But they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top, and undermined the working class. . . . What happens when you combine freer trade, shrinking unions, Wall Street bailouts, growing corporate market power, and the abandonment of campaign finance reform? You shift political and economic power to the wealthy, and you shaft the working class.” —Robert Reich, “Why the White Working Class Abandoned the Democratic Party,” Alternet

Post-election vow (something we all should have vowed long ago). “I am now going to pay more attention to teachers.” —Garrison Keillor, reacting to the election, “Done. Over. He’s here. Goodbye,” Washington Post

Stephen Colbert’s presidential election sign-off on “Showtime” (9:32) is worth the watch.

¶ “We can build the scale of our movements by frankly admitting that alienated white working-class people are right: Both major parties are together destroying the country on behalf of the 1%. It may be hard for college educated activists to admit that the cynical working-class view is more accurate than the belief of graduates of political science courses. However, the sooner the humility arrives, the better.” —George Lakey, “Without emphathy for Trump voters, movements can’t succeed,” Waging Nonviolence

Preach it. “To embrace hopelessness means regardless of how the story ends, the struggle for justice is what defines our very humanity.” —Miguel de la Torre, “The great white backlash,” Baptist News Global

Can’t makes this sh*t up. “The way I think about it is, the religions are all brokers. We're all selling the same thing: the guy upstairs.” —unnamed vice president of Fortune Internaitonal Group, a luxury real estate agency, who attends Vous Church, a Miami megachurch

¶ “Although it’s tempting to treat [Trump’s electoral victory] as a function of some colorblind anti-elitism, that cannot explain the unity of white voters in this election. Trump didn’t just win working-class whites—he won the college-educated and the affluent. He even won young whites. Seventeen months after he announced his candidacy, millions of white Americans flocked to the ballot box to put Trump into the White House. And they did so as a white herrenvolk, racialized and radicalized by Trump.” —Jamelle Bouie, “White Won,” Slate (Thanks Alan.)

Call to the table. “There will be a shining river / There for you and there for me / There will be a sweet forever / There we will meet, and we will sing / Glory hallelujahs / Golden bells will ring / There all will be forgiven / In that land called sorrowfree.” —Kate Campbell, “Sorrowfree

¶ “Jesus can save your soul, but John Wayne will save your ass.” Commentary from Alan Bean on why, incomprehensibly, many in the evangelical world are enamored with Donald Trump.

The state of our disunion. “Before we go into hard core resistance mode, we should listen carefully to the fear and sense of loss that was strong enough to overlook the obvious lack of decency. While it is hard to overlook the hot froth whipped up around race and gender we just don’t know how much was also about the loss of moral credibility of the privileged. We just elected one of the most weirdly privileged insiders of them all, but I know that’s most of his supporters were certainly not. We won’t get anywhere if we don’t listen.” —Gary Gunderson, “apart

On the lighter-and-totally-off-the-topic wonderful news. “A Loma Linda University research team, led by Lee Berk, DrPH, has confirmed that the consumption of dark chocolate (cacao) benefits brain health.” Adventist News Network

For the beauty of the earth. Full moon rising over Mt. Victoria Lookout, Willington, New Zealand. (3:45 video, accompanied by Dan Phillipson’s “Tenderness” instrumental. Thanks Paul.)

Altar call. “When I closed my eyes so I would not see / My Lord did trouble me / When I let things stand that should not be / My Lord did trouble me.” —Susan Werner, “Did Trouble Me

Best one-liner. “Vengeance is a lazy form of grief.” —Nicole Kidman’s character in the 2005 movie “The Interpreter”

LECTION & ELECTION. During election week members of Circle of Mercy Congregation, Asheville, NC, are creating art—using phrases from Isaiah 65, the lection for Sunday 13 November—as a reminder of our post-electoral horizon. Get a free copy of the “Isaiah 65 coloring book(22 pages) for your own use.

Benediction. “After Tuesday, may you still find us with Jesus, walking unafraid, unfaltering . . . undone only by your Spirit swirling in and around us all.” —continue reading Nancy Hastings Sehested’s prayer, “After Tuesday.”

Recessional. “The birds they sang / At the break of day / Start again / I heard them say / Don't dwell on what / Has passed away / Or what is yet to be. / Ah the wars they will / Be fought again / The holy dove / She will be caught again / Bought and sold / And bought again / The dove is never free. / Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in.” —Leonard Cohen (R.I.P), “Anthem

Lectionary for Sunday next. “Speechless Zechariah, / befuddled cleric, / schooled in the theory of divine history / but unacquainted with its Advent. / For us, too, / encountering the One / who promises the impossible / is a confusing, confounding prospect. / New life issues with a scream, / but is forged in the ordeal / of muted mouth.  —continue reading Ken Sehested’s poem, “Boundary to benedictus: A meditation on Zechariah"

Just for fun. Black swans surfing on Australia’s Gold Coast. (1:07 video)

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks

• “Listening for whispering hope: Polling the electoral whitelash

• “After Tuesday,” electoral season pastoral prayer by Nancy Hastings Sehested

• “Boundary to benedictus: A meditation on Zechariah,” a poem

Other features
• “What Are You Reading and Why?a new batch of annotated book reviews by Vern Ratzlaff 
• “Why is it hard to say thanks? 10 reasons,” preparation for Thanksgiving
• “On saying thanks,” a poem for Thanksgiving

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