Kingdom Building in the Age of Kavanaugh

Kingdom Building in the Age of Kavanaugh October 6, 2018
“Shame” (c) 2018 Mike Maguire via Flickr

Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice despite his long history of sexual assault and alcohol abuse, and his current inability to maintain even a fraction of the emotional stability required of his female colleagues.

For me as a woman, the expected confirmation was like a replay of the morning of November 9, 2016: I knew it was coming, that the whole debacle wasn’t a nightmare but the beginning of a deep dive into dark places.

But I still feel sicker than I expected.

The news came through as husband and I are on the road to Kansas City, talking deep theology. And the conversation’s reminders feel timely.

We talk a lot in classes and with each other about a couple overriding, guiding beliefs.

First, “Original Sin” is belief in the lie that we are separated from God. We aren’t. We never were. Separation is a lie that keeps us striving and fighting for something we already have: Connection with the Creator in and by whom we have our being, and by extension, connection with each other.

Second, salvation is collective and is happening now. It’s easy (and convenient!) to forget in our hyper-individualistic culture that the biblical notion of salvation is not about some afterlife or about securing for ourselves heaven or avoiding hell.

Salvation is about how and who we are collectively as humans and whether or not we choose to abide in Connection or cut-off and exclude ourselves.

We either are or are not the Body of Christ.

We are either actively building the Kingdom of God right now, by feeding the hungry, upholding the humanity of the prisoner, clothing the naked, protecting the bodies of the exploited, welcoming the immigrant and refugee, stewarding the Earth, and gathering those on the margins into the Fold.

Or we are building Hell.

Hell on earth where black bodies are gunned down and their killers praised for a job well-done.

Hell on earth where women are treated as broodmares whose bodies and organs belong to and are traded between men, and where the attacks we survive are dismissed, disbelieved, and turned into jokes by those in highest office.

Hell on earth where Trans women are beaten and killed by men whose own self-hatred explodes in rage against bodies they don’t understand.

Hell on earth where immigrant children are caged and used as sex toys by those charged with their protection.

Hell on earth where school children and their teachers have to endure the ongoing trauma of worrying about whether they’ll be sprayed with bullets by madmen because our lawmakers cannot find it in themselves to stand up to lobbyists who whose god is the gun.

Hell on earth where Christian LGBTQIA youth are more likely than any other subset of youth to attempt or commit suicide because their faith families refuse to acknowledge the Imago Dei so brightly shining in their queer selves.

The Western Christian Evangelical Church sold its soul for this day: For the hope of a deeply partisan political pawn appointed to the SCOTUS who would undermine women’s rights, queer rights, civil rights, and uphold white male power over and against and in destruction of the rights of all others. Today is the day they cash it in. For them, it’s a celebration.

For the rest of us, it’s a call to action.

To be Kingdom Builders who do the work, brick by brick by brick, even as Hell bringers follow behind us with bulldozers.

We won’t see the Promised Land in our life time. But with any hope, our kids and theirs will complete the work our ancestors started, which we labor to advance against all odds.

Brick by brick.
This is who we are and choose to be.

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  • Having grown up in the evangelical bubble I have heard the “building the Kingdom of God” bantered around for years. Unfortunately amongst many evangelicals it has been defined solely in terms of personal conversion experiences, interpreting Jesus’ call to make disciples (Great Commision) as the basic definition of creating the Kingdom of God. While a part of the gospel message about the Kingdom, it falls woefully short of incapsulating Jesus’ message.

  • Robert Conner

    The planet the evangelicals have been praying for is now likely the planet we’re going to get. The only kingdom any of you are building is the Republican Party.

  • jekylldoc

    Well, I realize I’m a lot less vulnerable than many others, but I tend to see Kingdom-building as a matter in which faith plays a strong role. While I probably agree with every sentence in this column, as individual statements, the overall tone feels a lot more like doubt. The evils of 200 years ago have gradually passed from the scene. The folly of 100 years ago no longer determines the destiny of humanity. We have learned to be better in a lot of ways, and I can’t help thinking we will learn to be better soon in a lot of other ways, despite the setbacks of the last two years. And it may help a lot to love our enemies, to listen to them, and care about their insecurities and their suffering, even if we can think of someone else who is suffering more. The biggest looming danger is climate crisis, and our division as a society seems to be the single factor most holding back progress about it. Maybe we could make common cause with them, instead of seeing their deplorable side?

  • Random_acct

    Very sad that Amy is a leftist ideologue who does not value truth. She is one who embraces the smear of a good man with NO corroboration on the charge of sexual assault. To Amy and the leftist religious cultists, white males are guilty until proven innocent. That is despicable and dangerous…and profoundly immoral. God hates sin…including the sin of slander and bearing false witness.

  • Random_acct

    Are “we” excluding the Catholic Church? Or do the leftist religious cultists find them acceptable now that the Pope is a left-leaning ideologue?

  • otrotierra

    Yes, U.S. Evangelicals still supporting sexual predators should indeed begin listening to the survivors, starting with Dr. Blasey Ford. Maybe they could start listening today, right now. Will they? Let’s observe:

  • Random_acct

    Please list those who corroborated the story of Ford. Slander is sin….as is bearing false witness.

  • Random_acct

    No…climate crisis is not the biggest looming danger. That is absurd. Leftist ideology is the biggest threat. Let’s never forget that leftism has been responsible for the murder of >100 million people in the past 100 years. That ideology is still the biggest looming danger. Unfortunately, some elements of Christianity have embraced the secular religion of leftism.

  • Random_acct

    “…falls woefully short of incapsulating Jesus’ message.”

    We all fall short with this.

  • Robert Conner

    Evangelical “thinking” is like plastic shopping bags: ubiquitous, polluting, and mostly good for smothering small children. You’ve been staying up nights for 2000 years waiting for Jesus to Come Back, but you won’t have to wait long for billions to die due to climate change.

  • True, but you have not addressed my statement. Are you using that as an excuse?

  • Random_acct

    I don’t agree with the basic assertion. That was not my experience. All churches make mistakes. They are all made up of flawed and sinful people, after all. The biggest problem I see is how the church is adopting leftist religious/ideological ideas and policies and doesn’t really believe the gospel, which is what it has asserted for years.

    The basic message of repentance from sin is essentially gone.

  • I am not quite sure why this is a either/or discussion. Why one cannot have both social justice and repentance. That was the original trajectory of post war evangelicals who were tired of the fundamentalist either/or framework for the Kingdom of God. What fundamentalists like MacArthur seem to be grousing over is society’s longing for social justice while the church puts off social justice until after Christ’s return (pre-millenialism). This is awkward for fundamentalists because they have a conflict of interest. At times they have been the cause of social injustice (usually masked as condemning sin), and therefore cannot honestly condemn the search for social justice.

    One need look no further than the tragic legacy of white fundamentalism in the South following the Civil War, the Jim Crow South and the vehement Christian rejection of desegregation. You basically had a bunch of Christians who had their “get out of jail cards” punched, but never boarded the Kingdom of God train. One can either be working for the Kingdom of God or working against it, regardless of having filled out a “decision card” or prayed the sinner’s prayer.

    The biggest danger to the church comes from within. Looking outside it’s wall to identify sin only blinds oneself to the evil within.

  • jekylldoc

    With all due respect, leftist ideology is not getting worse every year, nor is it a byproduct of our normal living. It presents no direct threats – no one who is taken seriously by voters or policymakers is proposing a dictatorship by the left. In fact the usual suspects by right-wing fearmongers are among those working hardest to protect our liberties. Most importantly, ideology does not accumulate like CO2, building up more and more potentcy and getting harder and harder to undo. It is already clear that we are destroying our climate, and in 10 years only flat-earth denialists will be left unclear on that. Our children will not forget that we were warned and ignored it, because they will be the ones living with the damage.

  • jekylldoc

    I don’t think what Kavanaugh is, or did, rises to the level of sexual predator. On the other hand, it was grossly demeaning and traumatizing, and his lack of interest in the feelings of others in these episodes fits well with his rulings as a judge. And evangelical support for leaders who have violated women fits well with their endorsement of male privilege over concern for women’s lives. I just think we progressives should also look to our own scorn and sense of superiority, because it is our own behavior we can do the most about. Why did we not hold Bill Clinton accountable, for example? Not pleasant to think about, but it’s on us.

  • jekylldoc

    You are quite willing to draw a conclusion about Dr. Ford, and slander her. We do not know for sure what happened, but we have ample testimony demonstrating that Brett Kavanaugh was a casual sex offender when drunk, and that he got way too drunk way too often, and that he chooses to bluster and cover up over the other things he has done wrong since then. I am not worried that God will hold me accountable for slandering Brett Kavanaugh because truth is a defense.

  • otrotierra

    No, sexual predator Kavanaugh and his Evangelical supporters do not have a hall pass with “Clinton” written on it. Yelling the word “Clinton” during a job interview does not justify sexual assault.

    U.S. Evangelicals still supporting sexual predators will have to work much, much harder in their attempt to justify sexual predators. They will not be raptured, but will spend the remainder of their days trying and failing to justify the unjustifiable. This is how history will remember them.

  • jekylldoc

    Sure, I agree no hall pass. I’m just saying we have a few things we owe history ourselves. It’s potentially a log in the eye type issue.

  • Random_acct

    Ma’am. Ford had no corroboration. She changed her story along the way. She is a very disturbed person who was used as a tool of the lying left…and has now been discarded by them. Shameful.
    God will hold you accountable for your slander and bearing false witness. Lies are always exposed in the light of truth.

  • Random_acct
  • Random_acct

    I lose zero minutes of sleep over “climate change”…as do you, I suspect.

    Leftist religious cultists are working to destroy everything good in the USA. It has murdered >100M people in the past 100 years…and will continue to murder and destroy if conservatives don’t fight back with truth.

  • Random_acct

    Justice needs no adjectives. There is either justice or injustice. Jesus never promoted “social” justice. Show me a verse where he stated we must have “social” justice. He promoted truth, sacrificial love, rejection of hypocritical institutional religion…and the need for repentance from sin.

    The biggest danger of the church is not speaking the truth, particularly about leftist religious cultists (and their utopian dreams using government force). The Christian church has helped the leftists hijack “love” and made it a false god. This is a big mistake. God is indeed love…but love is not (a) god. Leftism is the most dynamic religion of the last 100 years. The Christian church has been largely complicit in allowing this to happen by not speaking the truth.

    Have a nice day.

  • And you have a nice day too.

  • Robert Conner
  • jekylldoc

    You lose sleep over abortion? Really? You will find, if Roe v Wade is overturned, that Americans do not generally agree that early abortion is murder. And forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy due to rape is barbaric. Your rhetoric is extreme.