Charlottesville August 16, 2017

As someone whose ministry is focused on Christian contemplation, I do not like to write about politics.

There are several reasons for this. One is simple humility: my skill as a writer and speaker is inspirational rather than confrontational, so my gut sense is to leave political writing to those who do it better than I could. But just as important is my deeply-held conviction that Christian contemplation is for everyone, across the political spectrum, and that I would be doing a disservice to readers if I made this blog even somewhat political, as if to say “only people who agree with me politically should be contemplatives.” Christianity teaches that we are all imperfect, broken, wounded, sinful, which means that everyone, across the political spectrum, stands in need of God’s grace and the kind of healing that can come through contemplative practice.

But there are times when even a principled silence regarding politics must be broken, and this is one of those times.

Like so many people, I am both horrified and heartbroken about the events in Charlottesville this past weekend, and deeply troubled by the president’s response to those events. We all, regardless of our political sympathies, must denounce racism and the hatred and violence it engenders.

I still feel like I do not have the skill to adequately address these extraordinary times. This morning my wife showed me this video clip from Jimmy Fallon, and it says pretty much everything I would hope to say.

Sure, this is “political” in the sense that our president has made a bad event far worse. But one of the reasons why I am writing this, is because this is an issue that needs to bring us together, regardless of our party affiliation or political sympathies. When Jesus said “Love your enemies,” he wasn’t advising us to tolerate hatred. We must speak out against it. No matter how we vote.

Thank you, readers of this blog, for your commitment to contemplation. I once heard Cynthia Bourgeault say that contemplation is the best defense we have against religious fundamentalism. She’s right, and I want to take that a step further: contemplation is an essential practice for eliminating political and ethnic/racial hatred as well. Contemplation, by itself, is not enough; the Jesuits are right when they say we need contemplation in action. But without that ability to be still and know God, we run the risk of acting out of reactive anger rather than Christlike love.

We have no choice but to fight against racism and white supremacism and other forms of social hatred. Contemplation is necessary for fighting that fight with Christian integrity.

We live in perilous times. May we all remember our mandates from Christ: to love our enemies, to practice mercy and forgiveness, and to withdraw into the inner room where we can be still and know.

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