Americans seem to loathe the phrase “business as usual.” I am not sure which word causes the biggest reaction. Is it business? Or is it usual? Both words denote something people spend too much time doing. In a media saturated culture that promises the exciting and new with each purchase, the desire to see spectacular improvement is unfulfilled. We expect it to happen. It never does. This is the condition where “business as usual” comes to be despised. Consumers want to believe they are part of something spectacular and comfortable. We are concerned about the quality of our internet connection. We want to participate.
The Lure of the Spectacle
The Sunday after the 2016 election I went to my office to get the bulletins. The secretary for the Charge was there. He was distressed. “I don’t understand it,” he began. “I have been reading everything in the Bible about not cursing your leaders and having respect for the powers. But, this man who has just been elected is horrible.”
I understood the problem all too well. The secretary was a conservative evangelical. He believed Secretary Clinton would be elected. There was no need to come to grips with evangelical support for her opponent. That is until she lost. What did it mean for him to win? What did it mean to all of our church friends that supported him? He was as perplexed as I was. But I believe I know why it happened. The church has embraced the spectacle for something other than truth.
What are the two events at church most people attend? Christmas and Easter are the big draws. Church leaders feel a need to make these events more spectacular. We try to do something to bring the people who only attend at these times want to come more often. We pretend this is not our business when it is. The savvy leader knows what sells to the broader audience.
The Usual Business
President Biden is the epitome of “business as usual.” Why did he win? Because, as we recognize in the South, he is as exciting as grits and just as dependable. In terms of church, he is the anti-spectacle that the majority of regular attenders want after Christmas and Easter. He is not the revivalist preacher standing in place of the Savior. Joe Biden is the man in the crowd who bows his head and crosses himself in prayer. He does not wildly claim he is the anointed savior of Christianity in America.
President Biden is also a problem. What he represents is every failure and the paltriness of successes in the past few decades. He is a good person. The question is, “will he take on the structural problems of American society that causes our social ills?” Biden is the first President since Warren G. Harding to be elected by promising to get back to normal. The new President has promised business as usual. I hope I am wrong about where this promise will lead.
The Progressive Business
Progressive Christians will get back to work. We still have the poor, the homeless, and the hopeless. The usual business of the Kingdom of God is speak truth to power even if we helped elect the powerful. God gives us a vision that keeps out our illusions. When evil people commit evil acts, we respond. When good people commit evil acts, we respond. If we commit evil acts, we repent. It is our usual business to rely on the “vertical relationship” we have with the divine to restore the “horizontal relationships” with others. Our primary job is to love.
Continue praying for the new president. Continue doing the work of kingdom of God. We didn’t vote for a Savior. Jesus is a gift.