I’ve written two pieces on the Trump Era that I’ve published online outside of this blog. As some of my readers (and critics) will remember, I have also made my interest in the Trump Era very apparent on this blog, as it relates to the practice of ‘makrodiakonia,’ a Byzantine Christian way of understanding how the church can serve the world by challenging its structures of injustice.
The two pieces are:
- ‘At least we know what evangelicalism is now’ – in which I think about why it is that evangelical Protestants (and some Catholics too) are so enthused about Donald Trump’s presidency. It’s not only about the issues, I claim; it’s also because of what evangelicals might see as a ‘mechanism of forgiveness’ that creates ‘the semblance of integrity.’ I put this on the blog of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion, a religious studies journal that puts out some very interesting work on how to theorize religion. I have, of course, addressed my relationship with evangelical Protestantism on this blog several times.
- ‘The Dumb Prof Considers Intersectionality in the Age of Trump’ – in which I work through some of the more confusing terminology of our time, like ‘intersectionality, ‘identity politics,’ the ‘Left,’ the ‘Right,’ the ‘establishment,’ and the ‘vulgar.’ I put it up on the activist think tank ChangeLab‘s outlet RaceFiles. As an aside, their inaugural report ‘Left or Right of the Color Line’ is, according to me, pure gold. I am, of course, also a proud member of the self-proclaimed ‘Eastern Catholic Left,’ which technically does not yet exist, although Chase Padusniak has also written about it.
My hope is that these two pieces might be helpful for the public conversation about our very interesting times. It is in this sense that I intend them to be acts of service.
As it happens, one of the shared practices between the academy and the Kyivan Church is service, or what our church calls diakonia. This diaconal service takes the form of engaging in the world outside of our institutions. As Patriarch Sviatoslav says:
Another important element, which expresses the inner nature of the Church and reveals the vibrancy of a parish is diakonia, which means serving in love or performing “charitable activity.” This service to our neighbor flows from our rootedness in Christ. Active love of neighbor is the vocation and task of each Christian without exception. It is only faith, acting in love, which leads us to salvation (see Gal. 5:6). Faith without works is dead (see James 2:26). “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mat. 25:40), – says the Lord Jesus.
Let us look around us – in this world there is so much tragedy and poverty, so much loneliness and sorrow, pain and suffering! All the challenging circumstances of our life on earth – these are for us an invitation to active love, which is an expression of living faith. The Lord wants to open our eyes to the suffering world so that we might learn to truly love and to express God’s love to our neighbor – by our attention to them, by our sincere sympathy, support, by our words of encouragement and good cheer, but mainly, through acts of mercy. It is only then that we can consider ourselves vibrant Christians and our parishes can become places where care is given to the orphan, protection for the widow, help for the poor, and where the suffering of the sick is shared. Thus we will reveal to the world the maternal face of the Church and will become the living sign of the presence of God among humankind, according to the words of St. Augustine: “If you see charity, you see the Trinity.”
In this way, both my professional location within the academy and my ecclesial home in the Kyivan Church require me to engage in a kind of diakonia to the world that often takes the form of what might be called ‘political discernment,’ as my spiritual father once taught me.
To the chagrin of some of my readers who want me to be more ‘theological’ and less ‘political,’ I have also thus written bits and pieces about the Trump Era on this blog. To not do so would be to cave in to a kind of secularism that divides the theological and the political. It would also hamstring the church’s diaconal approach to the world. Here, then, are my pieces on Trump on this blog:
- ‘I Think I’m Starting to Get What Ivanka Means by “Make America Great Again”‘
- ‘I haven’t written for a while, I want to write about the elections, I have nothing to say to the multitude, I’m going to put my new chotki to use‘
- ‘On the elections‘
- ‘Maybe doubt sown by the Trumping of Taiwan can be productive for Catholics‘
- ‘Arise, O G-d, and judge the earth!‘
There will, of course, be more forthcoming. It’s a very interesting time to discern and write.