when did we see thee Lord...?

Have I made it clear why I continue to raise concerns - challenge the "alternative facts" we used
to call lies - and call out the current regime every time they violate one of our core values? It is because I am a person of faith who loves my country and knows a measure of history. When the Tea Party Movement began - funded by the Koch Brothers and other ideologues without a conscience - I started to draw fascist/nazi parallels. That was nine years ago and the downward spiral has only gotten worse. Samuel Freedman, writing in Israel's Haaretz, cuts to the chase in "The Dawn of the Dictatorship."

It has taken only nine days of the Trump presidency to see that we are in the dawn of a dictatorship. One of his first executive orders pushed forward a $25-billion plan to build a wall along the Mexican border. Another slammed shut America’s golden door on refugees from the Syrian civil war and both immigrants and already-approved resident aliens from seven majority-Muslim countries. That measure also gave explicit preference to Christians, a religious test for admission that has never existed in American history. Our nation knows by now that it was a fantasy to have expected the Republican Party to act as any kind of brake on the extremism of Trump and his personal Goebbels, Steve Bannon. Well before Trump even took office, all but a handful of Republican senators and representatives had proven themselves gutless wonders. The primary-election opponents he mocked and subjected to conspiracy theories – “Little Marco” Rubio, Ted Cruz, son of that supposed participant in the JFK assassination – endorsed their bullying tormentor.(check it out @ http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.768325)

I was at a regional social justice meeting tonight for BIO - Berkshire Interfaith Organizing - held at Temple Knesset Israel. My friend and colleague, Rabbi David, spoke of how the most recent executive order re: immigrants has caused a wave of fear and uncertainty into his life because his wife holds a green card. Five thousand protesters descended upon New York City's JFK airport yesterday in solidarity with those being forcibly detained or even pushed back on to planes because the Border Patrol has no guidelines for enforcing the President's punitive edict. In 24 hours, our small New England burg turned out 800 people to stand up for refugees in the bitter cold. As another colleague confessed tonight, "this is no longer about Right and Left, it is about Right and Wrong!" Mr. Freedman continues:

If one mistake for those of us in the resistance is to expect an iota of integrity from Republicans in Congress then a second is to believe that even the best investigative reporting will change the minds of Trump’s hard core – those 36 to 40 percent of Americans who approved of him in recent polls. Thanks to decades of efforts by right-wing Republicans to delegitimize reported, factual news as partisan bias, efforts that began with Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew in the late 1960s, a substantial share of the citizenry cannot be persuaded by truth if it contravenes predisposition. At best, some of Trump’s voters will change their mind only after experiencing his unkept promises first hand – when the revival of coal mines and auto plants doesn’t happen, when trade wars kill jobs dependent on the import-export economy, when working-class whites lose their Obamacare coverage in favor of a wholly insufficient tax credit, if even that. Trump’s base must suffer before it learns.

These next few years are going to be bitter, ugly and violent. Good people are going to be hurt and innocent people are going to be ruined before we see the light of day.  The interfaith community's of the USA must seize the moment and articulate a clear "call to conscience." it will not impact the regime, of course, but this is the moment when St. Paul's "foolishness of the Cross" becomes clear. The ONLY litmus test we now have is Matthew 25:  "When did we see Thee Lord and wound, abuse, neglect, jail or starve you? Whenever you did so unto one of the least of these my sisters and brothers you did it unto me." It is one thing for Christian congregations to celebrate a radically open table. It is another entirely to collaborate with those who willingly crucify our Lord. The forgiveness necessary for table fellowship of this magnitude falls to the place of Christ's grace beyond this life. For in the realm of this world, the dialectic of sin and forgiveness is predicated on repentance - learning the consequences of our brokenness and changing direction - anything less is cheap grace. Think about it...

Our congregations, synagogues, mosques and other houses of prayer have now been put on notice that this is the hour we can challenge American fascism. It will take discipline and action. It will demand solidarity beyond our comfort zones. And it will become a matter of life and death before we're done.  My agitation is not partisan: it is born of seeing the face of my Lord in the stranger, the alien, and the one who is most vulnerable. 

This coming Sunday I will begin to teach my congregation about the radical Christian witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was martyred by the Nazis for his opposition to their hatred. In 1933 he wrote:"The church might find itself called “not only to help the victims who have fallen under the wheel, but to fall into the spokes of the wheel itself” in order to halt the machinery of injustice... The Church is the Church only when it exists for others . . . not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.” If you are in town, please join us: Sunday, February 5, 2017 @ 10:30 am.


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