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Living in Parched Places

I live in a parched place. In east Tennessee, it has only rained 3 times in the last 4 months. This relentless heat and drought are palpable every day. So also on this political landscape: the heat of hateful rhetoric and the drought of substantive discussion of the serious issues. Facing the weeks ahead, I turn to Jeremiah 17.

Living in Parched Places

Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune

I live in a parched place. In east Tennessee, it has only rained 3 times in the last 4 months. This relentless heat and drought are palpable every day. So also on this political landscape: the heat of hateful rhetoric and the drought of substantive discussion of the serious issues. Facing the weeks ahead, I turn to Jeremiah 17.

"Thus says the Lord: 
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
and make mere flesh their strength,
whose hearts turn away from God.
They shall  be like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed are those who trust in God,
whose trust is in the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.”

This election cycle has been excruciating for so many reasons. But it has been particularly difficult for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The demeaning and dismissive rhetoric about women has released the internet trolls from wherever it is they hide and they are having a field day. The resulting misogyny is beyond imagining but not surprising. The election of Barack Obama released a barrage of racism and bigotry in this country that we hoped we had overcome. Hillary Clinton's campaign (and Donald Trump) have done the same for sexism. She may be the lightening rod for this misogyny, but it is directed at all women and we all feel its sting more than ever.

But here’s the good news: rape culture has been laid bare for all to see as never before. For those of us who believe that social change happens when we are willing to face head-on the evil that oppresses, name it, and dismantle it, there is no going back. If anyone were so naive as to believe that patriarchy would go quietly into that dark night, think again. Yet I think we are seeing the turning point. The emperor has no clothes and it is a sad sight. But we have many more allies than every before who will carry forward the commitment to respect every person and to seek equality and justice at every turn.

We pray for the day that every woman, man and child feels safe at home—and not because they own 20 guns. We pray for the day when men in groups will challenge each other and interrupt “locker room talk.” We pray for the day when immigrants and refugees are safe and supported in our communities. We pray for a return to civility in our political processes and when elected officials think first about the common good.

I pray for rain. I pray for justice. I pray for an end to this drought and the heat of hateful rhetoric.

Remember that we are blessed by the spirit of a God whom we know by many names. Trust in the assurance that our leaves shall stay green and we will continue to bear fruit.

Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune
www.FaithTrustInstitute.org
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Our Real Hope

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at Nov 09, 2016 12:32 PM
After a night of sorrowing, I needed this so much this morning. You must have been up most of the night, so was I--writing because I knew not what else to do. Thanks, Marie, for reminding us all, once more, where our hope must be.

On THIS morning

Posted by Rev. Karen Lipinczyk at Nov 09, 2016 12:33 PM
I was so surrounded in comfort and hope to open this email and read your words THIS morning after the election. I am filled with rage and despair - but I believe that the metaphor (theological reality?) of crucifixion/ resurrection is a true reflection. THanks Marie.

Misogynist in Chief

Posted by Allyson McKinney at Nov 09, 2016 12:34 PM
As always, you've said it so well, Marie. Misogyny "beyond imagining" is right. Defiant patriarchy refusing to cede ground to a more inclusive, egalitarian vision is exactly what we are witnessing. I do take some solace in the clarity that, as you point out, this difficult election season has brought, concerning what I'd describe as a moral crisis in our society. Although this clarity leads may lead those of us concerned about sexual and domestic violence to redouble our efforts, and main build additional support for our cause, I am deeply concerned about the 80% of white evangelicals who saw fit to cast a vote for Trump, despite his philandering, belittling, objectification, and confessed sexual violation of women. How do we reach more American Christians with a gospel message of human dignity and equality, one that would prevent them from carrying a Misogynist in Chief into power?

Thank you!

Posted by Phoebe Knopf at Nov 15, 2016 01:55 PM

    Thank you so much for this beautiful piece, Marie Fortune! Yours is definitely a much needed prophetic voice in the wilderness. Once again you have powerfully healed and inspired my survivor/activist soul.