David Russell Mosley
9 November 2016
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire
At 3:30 this morning I woke up and saw the soft glow that told me my wife was awake and on her phone. Curious as to why she was awake, I gently touched her shoulder. She rolled over, squinting from the change of light to dark and said to me, “President … Trump.” It is now just a little after 4:45. I haven’t been able to go back to sleep. I’ve scrolled through my Facebook feed several times, made a quick trip over to Twitter, checked out the New York Times, the LA Times, CNN, even WMUR for local election news. Everyone is reporting a Clinton concession, although she hasn’t officially conceded yet. And nearly everyone on my Facebook newsfeed is pissed.
As for myself, I’m actually still not sure how I feel. I did not and do not want Donald Trump to be president, nor did I want Hillary Clinton to become president (and before you say anything the last presidential election in which I voted, which was also the first, eight years ago, I voted Republican and remain undeclared as a voter. So at worst I took a vote from Trump, at best I took a vote from no one because I wouldn’t have voted for either candidate anyway). But, I am worried. I know that much.
I worry that my family may lose health insurance which isn’t great news for someone on the academic job market currently making money by adjuncting. I’m worried for my friends of color and what they may face in the upcoming months and years as Trump seems to have brought our racism out of the woodworks and into the light (to mix my metaphors). I worry about the women I know and love in this country as Trump has brought our misogyny into greater light. I worry about my Muslim brothers and sisters and what Trump policies may mean for religious liberty in general. I also worry about those who supported Donald Trump (and those who supported Clinton for that matter). So much of my newsfeed (and these are people who are technically my friends) is full of anger. They are angry at those who voted for Trump; they are angry at those who voted for Clinton in the primaries (over Sanders); they are angry at the Clinton campaign for pushing Trump even further into the limelight. I’m worried this means there is no way forward. I’m worried about violence, not just against the poor and oppressed in our country, but against those who supported Trump. I am not a pacifist, but I do worry that this anger felt by so many (myself included) will turn itself into violence and hatred. We must rise above this. Despite all this anxiety I am not so worried as I feel I should be. In fact, I still have hope.
I have hope that the Republicans, who have taken the majority in Congress, who supported Trump throughout his campaign, will not be quite so supportive during his presidency. I have hope that this will turn people off from national politics and yet will simultaneously cause them to turn toward state and local politics (that is my desire for myself). I have hope that watching two of the worst candidates (in my opinion) in the history of the United States duke it out will cause us to take a good, long, hard look at ourselves. I have hope that we will look at what we have done and begin to truly change. Several friends of mine have called this the implosion of both major parties. This is not bad news in and of itself. Perhaps now in the wreckage of this election we can finally begin to move forward, creating new political movements.
But it is quite possible that none of this will come to fruition; that we will all remember when the dust settles that we have very little actual say in these matters (thanks Electoral College); that the status quo will be maintained. In other words, it is quite possible that we will all just go on with our lives without changing a damn thing.
My hopes and worries aside, here is what I think we Christians must do. We must pray for Trump. Even in the unlikely event that his presidency gets overturned before January, he is still a man made in the image of God and for that reason alone ought to receive our prayers––even if some of those prayers are that he not come to power. But more than praying for our political leaders which Scripture commands us to do, we must change the way we live. So many of my politically conservative Christian friends lambasted Sanders and lambast the DNC saying that welfare, that charity, are not the role of the State but the Church. I disagree with the dichotomy, but it is time, my conservative Christian friends, to put your money where your mouth is. My family will not be the worst off from a Trump presidency, so it looks like it may be time to “sell all you have and give it to the poor” and to “share everything in common so no one has any need.” Even more than that, however, do we need to out narrate both Trump/the Republicans and the Democrats. Now more than ever do we need an imaginative apologetics, a lived evangelism. It is time to show the world that Christianity has the key to understanding the nature of reality. We believe in angels and demons, in sacraments, in icons, in the deification of human beings, in the source of all being becoming a being, a baby in fact, who united his divinity to our humanity. It is time we start living like it. It is time we start living as if truth, goodness, and beauty are underlying principles of reality. It is time we start living as if our story is truly the better story. It is time to start living as if Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. I know in these moments to say that Jesus is the answer can feel trite, pious, but it is true, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Let’s live like it. If we do, we will be able to make changes for the Good. Not that we’ll win. We’re fighting the long the defeat, but that defeat will ultimately end in victory. Jesus’ death and resurrection is a reminder to us that though this world may kill us, death is not our end. The Gospel is Good News. We have the better story, let’s live like it.