Sunday, October 23, 2016

2016.10.23 Dominus Flevit

As Christian women we are appalled by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's recorded remarks that disparage women and condone sexual assault. Such language cannot be dismissed as “locker room talk.” Mr. Trump must offer public contrition that fully acknowledges the seriousness and depravity of his actions.

The sin of misogyny has caused many of us to experience sexual assault or sexually abusive language that threatened our safety, dignity and well-being.

Christian leaders cannot condone such violent speech about women as a minor mistake or an innocent attempt to be “macho." These excuses teach our young people that such language is acceptable and do further harm to those who have been abused.

We urge all religious leaders to preach, teach and help their communities heal from the twin sins of sexual violence and misogyny. While we are disheartened by Mr. Trump's toxic words, we believe this moment presents an opportunity to teach our daughters and sons that they are loved, and to teach all Americans how to speak out against sexually violent language.

        -Rev Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life.


I signed this letter with little hesitation and then immediately wondered if I should have. Was it “Christian” to condemn another person? Oh well, I thought, it’s in line with the biblical prophetic tradition, and we all know that it’s okay to condemn the sin but not the sinner, don’t we?  Besides, I’m not Jesus.  Even as Lyn, I know that misogyny and the toxins it stokes—violence, rage, profound physical and spiritual pain, and social disorganization—are godless. 

One of the most poignant places we visited in 2012 when we went to Israel was the location at which Jesus is remembered in the New Testament as looking out over the beloved city Jerusalem and weeping. The site is a small chapel at the foot of the Mount of Olives with a dome shaped like a teardrop. Built in 1955 it's called Dominus Flevit: The Lord wept.

Luke’s gospel remembers it thus: “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!”  This lament may reflect the historical destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. A great political mess of contending parties—Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, Tax Collectors, Samaritans, Zealots and Scribes—warred for primacy and authority in Jesus’s time. All of these spiritual and political streams buzzed in and about Jerusalem. Jesus was trying to recall their attention to God’s ways of justice, compassion and peace. No wonder he wept.

I weep too scanning the national scenario in the USA right now. I also rage. I’m a woman, and, like most women, I know the sting of misogyny. So does the woman who is running against many currents to be elected our next president.

“As it turned out, Clinton, who began her campaign intent on breaking the last barrier—the glass ceiling—has found her most compelling rationale in her own role as a barrier, a bulwark against the impossible alternative. As I was leaving our interview, she smiled, looked me in the eyes and left me with a casual reminder. ‘As I’ve told people,’ she said, ‘I’m the last thing standing between you and the apocalypse.’ ” (Mark Leibovich, “Her Way”, NY Times Sunday Magazine, October 16, 2016.)

Is it that dire? I don’t know, but some days it feels that way as the delusional scenario of individuals and groups “building proud towers which shall not reach to heaven . . .” (Hymn #573, Laurence Housman) unfolds.

Still, I’m not one to sit around. I’m powerless, not helpless. SO: I sign petitions like the one above. I pray with specificity. I order books for grandkids. I write to steady my convictions in hope.  I remember I am a Christian and  I remember dominus flevit.  Tomorrow I will vote for Hillary and get my little oval “I voted early” sticker with the American flag on it.

I'm voting for her because she is practiced and practical. Second, I'm voting for her because she has stood her ground and managed to avoid serious head bleeds from glass ceiling shards as she pokes through a barrier that needs breaking. Finally, I am voting for her because I am not afraid of her.

I am voting for her, because I bet, that behind the necessary defenses, she weeps.