Trump embodies the spirit of Empire that crucified Jesus

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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(Editor’s note: We don’t normally publish religious material. However, the comparison of “the spirit of Empire” seemed particularly apt and timely, so I asked permission to cross-post. It comes from a newsletter called “The Resistance Prays.” If you want to learn more about the publication, you can visit them at TheResistancePrays.org.)


Today’s Top Story

I recommend reading two in-depth articles from the Atlantic. The first, “The Mueller Report Is an Impeachment Referral,” analyzes the redacted Mueller Report. “Its most important implication can be summarized in a single sentence: There is sufficient evidence that President Donald Trump obstructed justice to merit impeachment hearings.”

The second, “Trump’s Guardrails Are Gone,” analyzes how the aides who refused to implement Trump’s commands have all left the administration. “Trump has installed more pliant senior advisers, meaning the nation could see more of the ill-considered and ultimately self-sabotaging behavior that Mueller chronicled in his nearly two-year investigation.”

Today’s Scripture

John 18:1-19:42– the Crucifixion narrative from John

Takeaway

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker describe the redacted Mueller Report as a “damning portrait of a White House dominated by a president desperate to thwart the inquiry only to be restrained by aides equally desperate to thwart his orders.” We can be cautiously assured that the redacted elements contain even more damning evidence of wrongdoing by Trump, his family, and administration.

Not only is the process of obstructing justice and constantly lying damning, but the policies of the Trump administration at every turn have been damning. Trump embodies the spirit of Empire that crucified Jesus. The same self-serving protection of power and privilege that animated shouts of “we have no king except Caesar” two millennia ago inspires Sean Hannity and the rest of Trump’s backers today.

Of all the responses to the Mueller Report, Andrew Gillum’s tweet stuck out to me: “Impeach Trump. Defeat Trump.” There’s a debate among people opposed to Trump about whether it’s best to pursue impeachment hearings or focus on the 2020 election. It’s a false choice. We need to do everything we can to defeat Trump and the spirit of Empire that animates him. I believe the evidence of obstruction of justice is enough to start impeachment hearings. I believe many of the 2020 Democratic candidates stand a good chance of defeating Trump. Both are true, and we can hold our leaders accountable for both paths of pursuing justice.

Am I confident in either impeachment or defeating Trump in 2020? No. The spirit of Empire is strong, just as it was when Jesus was crucified. But I don’t believe the Christian story ends with laying Jesus in the tomb. As we watch evil on the rise in America, we mourn just as the disciples did who watched Jesus suffer the most humiliating death Rome could devise.

Act

Even if the Democrats vote to impeach Trump in the House, it will take 20 Republicans to convict him in the Senate. I’m not hopeful that’s realistic, but it’s important that Trump face consequences for his actions obstructing justice. Sign this Need to Impeach petition.

Pray

Prayerfully reflect on the words of the Rev. Dr. James Cone in the Cross and the Lynching Tree:

“Unfortunately, during the course of 2,000 years of Christian history, this symbol of salvation has been detached from any reference to the ongoing suffering and oppression of human beings—those whom Ignacio Ellacuría, the Salvadoran martyr, called ‘the crucified peoples of history.’ The cross has been transformed into a harmless, non-offensive ornament that Christians wear around their necks. Rather than reminding us of the ‘cost of discipleship,’ it has become a form of ‘cheap grace,’ an easy way to salvation that doesn’t force us to confront the power of Christ’s message and mission. Until we can see the cross and the lynching tree together, until we can identify Christ with a ‘recrucified’ black body hanging from a lynching tree, there can be no genuine understanding of Christian identity in America, and no deliverance from the brutal legacy of slavery and white supremacy.”

And pray with us this adaption of another passage of Dr. Cone’s book:

God of the Oppressed, reveal to us the heart of Jesus’ death on the cross, not a rational concept to be explained in a theory of salvation, but a story about Your presence in Jesus’ solidarity with the oppressed. Grant to us the same faith that You snatch victory out of defeat, life out of death, and hope out of despair. May that faith be our redemption and the redemption of all of Creation. Amen.

–30–

Written by Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons.
Cross-posted with permission from The Resistance Prays.

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