Today, as I write this, the United States is in the middle of a two hour debate on whether or not to impeach Donald Trump for a second time. This is, if nothing else, a moment for the history books. It looms between the bookends of an actual insurrection and a threatened second one -- with the promise of much deadlier force occurring on the side of the insurrectionists for round two.
Also today, I requested a personal day away from work. There has been much stress not only in the world but in my personal and family life. I have not been dealing well. I've been drawn into social media battles -- and I can be pretty vicious -- and have also made a series of little mistakes at work which I simply should not be making. I've been distracted, exhausted. I've been fluctuating between rage and depression. Moments of joy have been few and far between. And, I haven't been able to write. That's the dead giveaway that things are not good inside my head.
So, last night, in the privacy of my bedroom, I looked up the medical coverage my work offers me, then looked up counsellors in the area. My sister is one, and the logical thing to do would be to call her for a recommendation, but I'm not going to. I don't want the things in my head near my family. For someone close to family, this is an isolating position to find myself in. After looking up counsellors, I booked myself a massage for today. I fell asleep listening to Ted Talks on mindfulness.
This morning, I got up, drove my daughter to school, despite not having yet brushed my hair stopped in a Timmies and bought coffee, then took my coffee and a candle to my office and spread out my yoga mat. It's possible to do some yoga in my office, but it's cramped, to say the least. The only way to position the mat leaves me staring at the exterior wall door. On that wall, I have taped posters from events I had, at a different moment in my life, put on and participated in.
Top left is the first concert I ever put on. That was Life at the Beach 2013, where I got eight different acts together, rented out the local park, hired a sound tech, and threw a Christian concert event. We sang about God in the public park. It was an impactful moment in my life.
Bottom right is the poster for So Glorious: Food Bank Concert. In that one, I got six acts together for a night of music intended to raise money for the local food bank. Also at the event, we had a local suicide intervention group come out and speak and introduce themselves.
Covering the rest of the door are posters announcing CD's I put out, book signings I was doing, the writer's workshop I held, other concerts we put on, the 2016 calendar I created which features the photo of myself and two other band mates doing an outdoor Good Friday service in the park. I look happy enough in this photograph. In reality, I had just broken off my engagement to a Christian man whose closest influences did not, in my opinion, bring out the best in him and did not understand faith in the same manner I did. Which is a polite way of avoiding words like batshit and crazy. Or worse.
That Good Friday event was one of the last Christian events I was involved with. As I sit, today, on my yoga mat in my office looking up at this wall of events that feel as if they were someone else's life, I realize I have been out of church involvement for four years now. 2017. If you want to know the truth, that makes me incredibly sad even as I now look back on events of this week and of the past four years and think God actually removed me from this circle of influence to protect me, not to harm me.
I left the church because I was deeply disillusioned after, in a two year period, there was adultery at the leadership level in three churches where I led worship. People are people -- even if they so called "wear the cloth", but there are consequences to actions. Each church handled the situation differently, and each wore on me in deeper ways. The first church fired the pastor and claimed it was for a different reason. In the second church, the pastor stood up and confessed what had happened -- which took guts -- and then announced that they had 'decided to stay in ministry'. And the third church fired the guy then sent out a memo instructing people not to talk about it.
I don't know the right way to handle a situation like this, but I don't think any of these places got it right. You don't lie to your people when you are leading a faith where lying is against one of the top ten commandments. Not even if it hurts. You don't get to break the moral covenant you have with your people and then arbitrarily decide you are not going to quit. That's actually for the people paying your salary to decide. Or, at the very least, it is for each individual to decide if you still have the moral requirements to be their own leader. And, once you violate the moral covenant you have made with your followers, it is not longer about you. It is about getting them through their own reactions to what has happened. Therefore, you do not get to tell people they cannot speak of the affair. Instead, you do whatever must be done to help each individual congregant deal with the loss of innocence and trust that situations like these create. In my opinion.
So, with these three experiences, I was already pretty much disillusioned. Then the church endorsed one of the least moral men in the United States. They were seduced -- oh so easily -- by promises about their pet peeve, abortion. And they sold their souls. They sold their reputation. They sold their influence. They sold out. For a president who has not made good on those election promises anyway, considering Roe V Wade remains. When I spoke out against Donald Trump, I was scorned and called names. Whether I wanted to or not, I became an outsider. I couldn't affect influence, nor could I participate in the blindness and immorality. I left.
And then there were four years of Donald Trump, four years of deeper and deeper violation of morality and decency, of love and equality, of democracy -- all by the "religious right" -- all of which cumulated in the storming of the Capital Building, the murder of a police officer who was, I understand, bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher. If that isn't just godawful yet also the most apropos metaphor for the times we live in, I don't know what is.
Last night on Facebook, I responded with anger at some stupid point of view about how none of this had really happened. The woman responded to my anger with her own and told me I should learn history. She told me the United States Government has done horrible things. She learned about this in a documentary. Because of course, that is the source of all historical knowledge. At the time, I deleted my posts because, you know, stress and personal day and mindfulness, etc. I just wanted out of the conversation and to save my sanity from this insane world. I woke up, though, thinking, wait a minute. Even if her point were valid -- and I'm not saying that is the case, but playing devil's advocate a moment -- in what healthy mind does that translate into it is okay for the President of the country to incite mob violence, have that mob carry out that violence, have death threatened and occur, and then people can simply say, they are bad, they deserved it? Or worse, bullshit, it didn't really happen that way.
Also last night on Facebook, one of the woman I had put into my band many years ago posted on Facebook that she is leaving Facebook because of the suppression of the truth by Facebook. She is instead intending to join Parler. And the throat tightens, the stomach heaves, the mind wants to say, All is lost. Oh, the layers of deception that break a person's heart to witness.
So, today I am doing yoga. While doing yoga, I have the congressional debate on but muted. For awhile I was tuning in now and then, but it is too awful to watch people who less than a week ago were being defended at gunpoint saying Donald didn't do this and if he did we don't care enough to do anything about it. So I have it muted. I'm waiting for them to finish the final vote tally so I can know they did indeed do what they can to hold the man accountable.
Once, when I turned it on, it was to hear the Senator from Washington say that with a sorrowful heart, he is voting to impeach. He said more stuff, but what I heard was how his heart is as broken today by the state of his country as mine has been by the state of the church. I related to that feeling.
Then another Senator talked about truth. "I am not voting for impeachment, I am voting for truth." Because, truth will set you free. Isn't that what the Bible says?
I wonder, sometimes, what is left to stand on when all the institutions we hold foundational are stripped away. The American Evangelical church has ruined herself these past four years. Oh, maybe she will remain insularly functional, but she has lost what little external credibility she once held. Her light is pretty damn dim right now. The only way for her to rise again, I think, is for her to search her soul and repent. Instead, she is fomenting a philosophy based upon mistruths which enable her to say we did nothing wrong and we are not responsible. Trust us.
As well, the American Government and country has been peeled back and revealed these past four years. You have to wonder if the country ceases to exist, which does seem plausible some days lately, how will that affect the balance of power globally and in my beloved and somewhat under-protected Canada? What do we stand on when even family has fault lines and, at best, evolutions? When a superbug can ravage globally and financial institutions be destabilized and icebergs melted. What remains?
And yet, there are those in congress right now at great personal peril voting for truth and liberty and justice. There is a new community of religious leadership I have found on Twitter preaching the gospel I grew up with -- but in social justice terms that to me identify as godliness and morality. In the absence of leadership by the (evangelical) church or (Republican) state, social media and big business have shown surprising moral fortitude, exacting their own justice and establishing their own boundary lines. This far and no further. For punishment, they hit him where it most hurts.
This morning on my yoga mat looking up at reminders of a life I have walked away from, I accept that those three affairs did not kill my faith, as I for a long time believed. They saved it. With them, my removal from the circles of misinformation was enacted.
The truth can be lonely. But it really does set you free.