challenging this present darkness with solidarity - part four...

A colleague and comrade in the ways of the Spirit recently posted an insightful article from Jacobin, the on-line and print journal offering a non-doctrinaire socialist take on contemporary culture and politics, that urges those who oppose the goals of the Trump regime to quit using Weimar Republic/Germany against Hitler analogies. It is a most insightful reflection on this moment in history: 

Comparing the recent American election to the doomed Wiemar Republic has become pundits’ favorite pastime. In newspapers and on talk shows, commentators are quick to warn that the United States is going the way of 1930s German democracy. Donald Trump’s arrival on the political stage — not to mention his presidential win — has heightened fears that economic anxiety, right-wing nationalism, and paramilitary violence will once again mix into a gruesome cocktail. (Jacobin)

I know I have made careful comparisons to Trump's fascist and authoritarian statements and
inclinations that evoke Germany in the 1930s. And I have not been shy in calling out his white supremacist connections and their affinity with neo-Nazis. Further, I believe rereading and reclaiming the insights of Dietrich Bonhoeffer are essential for people of faith who are 
committed to engaging the resistance to PEOTUS Trump. Nevertheless, at the heart of the Jacobin critique is a warning against the very neo-liberal elitism that simultaneously dismissed the wounds of the American heartland too glibly and was willing to compromise our democratic principles on the altar of efficiency.

Condemning fascism is not a productive progressive agenda. The political value of such a strategy is limited, as the Clinton campaign recently learned; but more importantly, as Loewenstein and Speier’s project shows, it can easily become a dismissal of democratic principles, treating the public as a force to be avoided rather than engaged. If anything, Trump’s disturbing victory provides the Left with the opportunity to reject technocratic politics and the close collaboration between the government and economic elites. Rather than retreating into “militant democracy," progressives should build viable coalitions, commit to distributionist policies, and address the needs of the many. In the process, we should retire the Weimar analogy. Historical comparison can be useful, but it would be even better to develop a new way of confronting the problems that we face.

Locally that is exactly what is beginning to take place: a broad coalition of organizations and individuals that have previously worked without conscious cooperation are now seeking both cooperation and solidarity.  The Four Freedoms Coalition - a loose confederations of labor, arts, religious and non-partisan political groups - is actively planning a kick off event on Saturday, January 7, 2017.  A recent press release described our initial action like this:

Join us on Saturday, January 7th, the 76th anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's inspiring Four Freedoms speech, as our Berkshires community comes together united against hate and bigotry in all its forms. All are welcome. We plan to gather in down-town Pittsfield, march, and then rally together to re-inspire and reconnect ourselves with our highest values and commitment to our neighbors.

The Four Freedoms Coalition is a new, non-partisan, diverse coalition of community organizations and individuals working together to unite the community and reaffirm our true American values, as outlined in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's landmark Four Freedoms speech. They are:

Freedom from fear - Freedom from want - Freedom of speech - Freedom of religion

We will hold the inaugural rally in our Sanctuary. We will be Black and White together. Gay and straight and transgendered together. Republican and Democrat and Green together. Male and female together. Labor and artists together. Religious and atheist together.

I can't help but think Christian participation in this coalition is part of what Bonhoeffer imagined when he spoke of "the world come of age."  I sense that the martyred pastor was speaking of Christians who took their responsibility for nourishing, healing and strengthening the common good as the essence of "coming of age."  Bonhoeffer, you see, was explicit in stating that only when we embrace and encounter the suffering of God in Christ are we living into our fullest calling. Anything less is either superstitious or infantile.  In a poignant and clarifying article,the Rev. Peter Potter writes:

When Bonhoeffer writes of humanity coming of age, therefore, he is not suggesting that human actions in his day were somehow signs of a new independence or a higher form of maturity. Instead he is saying that the human race is able, and is required to speak for itself, to account for Auschwitz, Hiroshima and all the other suffering inflicted in our own day. (Lost in Translation, Peter Potter)

Here is an opportunity to make connections beyond the confines of our Sanctuaries. Here, too, is a chance live out our sacrificial love beyond theological abstractions. We are called to enflesh the love of Christ in ways that bring hope and healing to the brokenness of real people beyond faith traditions, ideology, race, class and gender.


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