“I dunno, I think this is all ok. We got the first black president out of the way. We got the first woman out of the way. Now we got a billionaire president out of the way. Maybe soon we can get back to normal again.”
Immediately following the 2016 US presidential election, the very last place I wanted to go to for comfort was my church. I’m not alone in this. I attend a fairly-conservative, mostly-white Republican Evangelical church in a similarly populated town. As a registered Democrat, I suddenly felt politically and ideologically “naked” among my fellow parishioners like never before.
Weeks before the election, while explaining to my first grader the simple first-grade ethics of mutual self-respect, gender equality, compassion for the indigent, I was struck by how these ideals have somehow been lost on a host of the very people that espouse such virtues from the pews. The mantras of “build a wall”, “lock her up”, “grab them by the pussy” and other patently anti-Christian bully sentiments surely are at odds with the core beliefs of my fellow churchgoers.
But alas, that’s not what the election results tell us. 70-80% of my church voted for this monster.
I haven’t yet made peace with my tenuous relationship to Church (capital ‘C’); even less so with Evangelicalism as a model for modern church organization and outreach. But it’s inside of this chaos that I felt the most curious bit of solace: choir.
I’ve talkedaboutmy membershipin ourchurch choirbefore. It’s no mystery that music can have incredibly calming and healing effects on people. So it was in choir rehearsal recently that — despite not having any conscious clarity about the election — the music of Gustav Holst moved me to some modicum of peace.
Here is a sample of another choir’s performance of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”:
Let all mortal flesh keep silence And with fear and trembling stand; Ponder nothing earthly-minded, For with blessing in his hand Christ our Lord to earth descendeth Our full homage to demand.
King of Kings, yet born of Mary, As of old on earth he stood, Lord of Lords, in human vesture, In the body and the blood He will give to all the faithful His own self for heav’nly food.
Rank on rank the host of heaven Spreads his vanguard on the way, As the light of light descendeth From the realms of endless day, That the pow’rs of hell may vanish As the darkness clears away.
At his feet the six wing’d seraph; Cherubim with sleepless eye Veil their faces to the presence As with ceaseless voice they cry, Alleluia, alleluia, Alleluia, Lord most high. Amen.
Cowardice asks the question: “Is it safe”? Expediency asks the question: “Is it politic”? Vanity asks the question: “Is it popular?” But conscience asks the question: “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one what is right.