Greetings from the center of U.S. politics the day I write this, election day in Georgia January 5, 2021. I won’t know the results of our two senatorial elections determining the balance of the U.S. Senate until after you read this, perhaps not until l-o-n-g after you read this. I schedule each post on Tuesdays for publication on Wednesdays at 5 a.m. eastern time and, considering the volume of mail-in votes to be counted and the possible vote-twisting of the losers, delays are likely.
My senior status gave me the opportunity to vote weeks ago, Wade driving me to the only drop-box near us in downtown Atlanta where we had deposited our presidential votes in November. Wade voted before Christmas during early voting. We both received numerous texts, emails and voicemails reminding us to encourage everyone we know to vote, not to mention the television and radio commercials that bombarded us.
When I first moved to Atlanta, I was surprised that, unlike my home state of California, I did not get a non-partisan sample ballot automatically in the mail, explaining the candidates and the propositions. We still don’t receive sample ballots, non-partisan or otherwise, but now we receive mailings from various campaigns.
A Trump-voting relative asked in jest if we were exhausted voting so many times in the presidential election, and I kidded back about how much time it took to fill in all the extra ballots for Biden. “The real work,” I explained, “Was erasing all those filled-in ovals for Trump!”
I hope I don’t see this reported on social media or a certain network or Q-Anon as reality!
“This is Reality!” was a common refrain from the first Presbyterian pastor I worked alongside, the Rev. Dr. Ross Greek, in the late 70s and early 80s at what was then the West Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Reared a Quaker, his political instincts were left-of-center, and he had finely tuned a litany of societal wrongs which he punctuated with the response, “This is Reality!” waving his index finger for emphasis.
It was this left-leaning pastor who inspired our ministries with the Flower Children of the 60s on Sunset Strip, advised conscientious objectors, halfway-housed former prisoners and those with mental health issues, championed the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement, welcomed LGBTQ people who provided worship for gay jail inmates and sack lunches for the homeless, and initiated a transition program for sex workers.
When California defeated a 1978 proposition that would have banned LGBT school teachers and any teacher who advocated gay rights, my personal “pride parade” was dampened by Ross’s dismay at the reinstitution of the death penalty and the election of a conservative governor.
Using the lyrics of Judy Collins, I’ve seen politics “from both sides now.” As a 13-year-old I volunteered at Goldwater headquarters. By the next election, I supported Senator Eugene McCarthy who opposed the Vietnam war, and progressive has been my persuasion ever since. Education helped, but frankly, I believe I simply grew into the kind of person Jesus called me to be.
Jesus may have called you to be a different kind of person, but that, I believe, is why we are part of the same Body of Christ, to consider one another’s values and needs and hopes and beliefs, to pray for one another and call one another to serve God’s commonwealth.
President Trump caused me to pray daily for the president and vice president and all of our leaders in this nation and the world—praying for compassion, wisdom, knowledge, truth, and justice. I pray the same daily for our electorates as well, as our leaders reflect our own limitations and possibilities.
I pray too for humanity’s deliverance from the pandemic, giving thanks to God for scientists and chaplains, the medical profession, frontline workers, healthcare workers and volunteers, grocery clerks and stockers and pharmaceutical workers, mail carriers and delivery persons.
Coping with the isolation of the pandemic, our congregation is enjoying a January series, “From Loneliness to Solitude,” based on the first movement of the spiritual life described in Henri Nouwen’s book, Reaching Out. This has prompted me to name this post, “From Loneliness to Solidarity.” That, I believe, is our ultimate goal in spirituality, to feel a solidarity with all that transcends partisanship.
Beginning this year, tax-deductible donations may be made safely in Chris Glaser’s name to the LGBTQ Religious Archives Network.
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