The Day After: 11/9/16

In the last couple of weeks, as I listened to more than a few parishioners share their worry and concern not so much about Election Day itself, but its aftermath, I scheduled a prayer circle for Election Day at noon. Good thing I didn’t schedule it for today. I’m not sure I’m ready to talk or to pray.

As I gathered in the sanctuary with the couple of people who came yesterday, I felt nearly entirely convinced that we were praying for a very different place than I woke up to this morning. Yesterday, I felt confident, mostly, that we were praying for reconciliation, a coming together of sorts, a way forward for those who seem so angry, disconnected and disillusioned—but that I would not be among the angry, disconnected, and disillusioned.

Yet, here I am, feeling those feelings I wasn’t expecting to feel.

What happened? What does this mean? I can’t help but wonder how much of this is about body parts. Has Trump exposed and unleashed, among the many things that he has exposed and unleashed (racism, homophobia, a deep suspicion regarding immigrants, etc.), a wariness, even a hatred, for people who happen to be female?

In the little bit of radio I’ve listened to this morning, comments have been made about the media’s inability to understand the extent of voter discontent. But, is that it? Is it about anger at Washington, or is the anger at Washington masking something else—sexism, misogyny?

Not long ago, I found myself wondering if I would feel so triumphant at the election of the first female president, given that her opponent had said so many vile things about so many people, and so many kinds of people. How could she lose? How could enough people vote for someone who seemed to just bluster his way through election season, saying one outrageous thing after another? Would I feel, then, that the victory was not quite so victorious, not quite so triumphant?

And, now here I am at my dining room table with my mug of coffee wondering what kind of country I live in. How can so many people be so angry as to overlook the inadequacies and the dangers of the Republican nominee? And, how much of this is all about gender, that people were willing to overlook Trump’s liabilities, vast and problematic as they are, just because they couldn’t vote for a woman?

I’ll admit that I have not been the most enthusiastic Hillary supporter. I’ve never liked her husband (I was one of those rare Democrats who thought he should have resigned over the Lewinsky business, that what he did with the White House intern in the Oval Office was not “private”—how different would the world be if he had resigned?) and I’ve often wondered about Hillary and what she’s been willing to put up with with her husband—while I also realize that she was damned one way or the other. Her own ethical problems have also been a concern, but really, were her ethical lapses worse than Donald Trump’s? I cannot fathom.

Yesterday, though, as I filled in that little bubble next to her name, I felt a little thrill at the thought of a smart, experienced, capable woman as President.

Now, it’s all come apart. I live in a country that prefers seemingly anyone, even a demagogue, instead of a woman.

The prayers that we prayed yesterday in Old South’s sanctuary, I wonder what they mean in this world turned upside down. Will all of those angry people wish to seek reconciliation with someone like me? Will all of those angry, discontented people, now victorious, extend a hand of neighborliness, recognizing that I am the one now discontented and angry? Will we find something that we can reasonably agree on as the common good and will we be able to work together toward that place? Will we be able to speak, listen and hear one another, to figure out some way to acknowledge the great chasm that seems to have opened up?

I’m not so sure. When the dust settles, I hope that I will feel more hopeful, that we will not find ourselves in a sea of discontent, but rather a place that acknowledges all of the various things that have led us to this, from all sides. And, then a desire to pick up the pieces and work together.

This is a place where the Church must step up and encourage the faithful to live out the faith, in loving neighbor and seeking the welfare of the vulnerable. This is also a time when the Church must get clearer in its view on and about women. The Christian Church has certainly been complicit in the denigration of women—and much of that not at all based on scripture. May we seek not so much to follow our new leader, but our true Leader. If we are endeavoring to be “great” (whatever that means), the first step, surely, is to begin to be boldly honest with each other and with ourselves.

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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