Poop Cruise Hope
So Ben and I went on a cruise last week (which was awesome by the way. We did an inflatable water obstacle course and rode a catamaran and I let tiny fish eat dead skin off my feet, which was weird. None of this is relevant to anything else I’m going to say, I just wanted you to know that last week was awesome).
Oh real quick, do you guys remember a few years ago when that Carnival cruise had a fire and lost all power (including the sewage systems, which means they had no food or working toilets for days) and they all floated in the Gulf for days until another boat came to tow them back? This happened on the Carnival Triumph and was affectionately known as the “Poop Cruise” and it’s the exact same ship we were on. That’s important later, but moving on…
We had no phone or internet for an entire week, mostly because we object to paying $25 a day for mediocre wifi. The timing was absolutely perfect though, because as I’m sure most of you know, the last 6 months have really shaken me up and I’ve been pretty vocal about my feelings on social media, which has resulted in all sorts of fun. So the break was much needed.
I think the reason I’ve been so shaken up is because I have no idea what’s going on in the world today. I feel like the American church has just taken a nose dive into irrelevancy. Good Christian people have started down the slippery slope of racism. I’ve seen Scripture tossed aside for “Christian values” and even worse, “American values.” I’ve seen rational, logical people dismiss and excuse insane behavior like abused wives. “No, he didn’t mean it when he said that.” “I know he says that but he’d never really do it.” “I really think he’ll get better once things calm down.” “He’s not really racist/sexist/xenophobic, it just comes across that way.” “He really is a good person, he even says he’s a Christian now! Really!”
This isn’t about politics to me, and it never was. I don’t hate Trump, I don’t think Republicans are bad people (I’m still a registered Republican!), but I do think we’re heading in a dangerous direction. And it’s scary.
I’m going to be honest, I’ve been terrified for the last month. As soon as Trump took office it seemed like he was on a mission to prove how powerful he was, how xenophobic he was, and how Christians would follow him wherever he went. He doesn’t feel the need to play by the rules, which doesn't seem like a great trait for a president to have. I have been genuinely afraid for our country, for democracy, and most importantly, afraid for the church.
I’ve been seriously concerned we’re going to turn into Nazi Germany or go to war with China or our economy is going to completely break down. I’ve been afraid the church is going to become some fascist political movement instead of a sanctuary for sinners. I’ve been afraid that people will turn away from Jesus in droves because of how his followers are acting. I’ve been afraid a lot.
I’m sad to say I let this fear take over. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying I think God isn’t in control or He isn’t sovereign. I fully believe all that’s true, but I also believe he allows us to live with our choices. And we’ve made some questionable choices, which could easily lead to terrible consequences.
I let this fear turn to anger and bitterness (some of which I am definitely still dealing with). I’ve been angry at people for voting this awful man into power, angry at the people that continue to defend him despite everything he’s done, angry at Christians who have sold out Scripture to gain political power and false security, angry at the church that fights for their brand of Christianity to become law.
It’s been so hard to reconcile what I know about Jesus with what I’m seeing in some Christians these days. I’ve lost a lot of respect for people that I never expected, but I’ve also gained respect for people I never expected (or in some cases, barely knew). It’s been weird to say the least. And it’s been hard. I’ve never had my faith shaken so badly or my views of people changed so quickly.
And then we took this vacation with no internet for a week. And it was glorious. I spent a week reading books and watching Big Bang Theory and laying in the sun and eating an absurd amount of chocolate cake.
And thankfully, I calmed down.
Not to say I’m not still angry or bitter or trying to reconcile the Jesus I know with the Jesus being touted from “Christian” politicians and their followers, but I’ve found a new hope.
During our last day, the Cruise Director had a Q&A session where you could ask him anything about the ship, the crew, etc. About halfway through someone asked if he’d been on board for the aforementioned Poop Cruise. He laughed and said he hadn’t and recounted some tales he’d heard from people who were, but then he said something interesting. He said, “Honestly, I think that engine fire was the best thing to ever happen to Carnival. Because of it we’re safer than ever, more prepared than ever. You know, sometimes things have to completely break down so you can find the problems and rebuild to be better than before.”
Sometimes things have to completely break down so you can find the problems and rebuild to be better than before.
And I realized, that might be what’s happening now.
Obviously our political system has never been flawless, but I think it’s easy for it to get more and more messed up when 80% of the country doesn’t care (or know) what’s happening. And I have to admit, up until now, I’ve been part of that 80%. I’ve trusted that smarter, less apathetic people than me are in charge and making sure things are ok. I haven’t wanted to get involved or care about political things so I left it in the hands of people I assumed were “more capable,” as I’m sure many of you did.
But that’s not an option anymore, is it? I think our country and our government has always had issues, but a lot of these issues are coming to light thanks to the current political climate. People that had never cared about politics before are reading the news. People that had barely thought about refugees or immigrants are attending rallies to support them. People that had no idea who their senators were are now writing and calling to let them know their opinions.
So many people are involved now, so many people care. And it’s awesome! It’s incredible to see how many people want to stand up for refugees and women’s rights and civil rights. People are no longer complacent, no longer willing to let the “more capable” people run our country. It turns out, obvious injustice is the key to turning apathetic followers into passionate leaders.
I mean think about it, who could even name the Secretary of Education or the Attorney General a year ago? I know I couldn’t. But now people know them, the rest of the cabinet, and all their senators and representatives, the White House counselors, and probably the name of Trump's personal chef. People are involved, people care, people are concerned for the future.
Injustice was most definitely an issue before now, but most of us were happy to ignore it, dismiss it as something that happened elsewhere. But the political situation has brought that injustice to light and made it nearly impossible for us to ignore. And I think that’s awesome, because we've obviously needed a wake up call. And I think this was it.
I think something similar is happening in the church. There was a divide in the evangelical church long before Trump came into the picture, but I think this made the division so much clearer than before. And while it’s scary to me to see the church I grew up in struggling so much, it’s also comforting to know we can now see and identify the problem before it breaks the church completely.
One thing this has made me realize is how many issues the American church has. We’re spoiled, we’re greedy, we’re fearful, we’re entitled and we think we wrote the book on what it means to be a Christian. It’s so hard for us to see the world from anyone else’s perspective because we’ve been so sure we’re so right for so long. And that’s not great. But the good news is, we know it now. We see it. And you can’t fix a problem until you see what the problem is.
It’s just like the engine fire on the Carnival cruise. It sucks and a lot of people are going to have to suffer while we work through it, but it’s better to be able to see and fix the problems while it’s still salvageable, rather than waiting for the ship to explode and then saying “Oh, I think something might have been wrong…”
We need to fix these issues now so we can get back to being the hands and feet of Jesus, not a political party. We need to heal the church (heal doesn't mean asking one side to shut up so we can pretend things are fine- heal means both parties coming together and really diving into what Jesus wants for us) so our kids and their kids can have a healthy, Jesus-centric environment to grow up in.
So here’s our chance, Church. This is our opportunity to identify our problems, really take a genuine look at ourselves, and figure out what needs to come next. We see the symptoms now, but how do we find the cure?
I don’t have the answer, I don’t know what needs to be next or how to fix our issues, but I do have a new hope. Instead of being afraid and nervous about what’s to come, I’m choosing to be hopeful. Hopeful about our country, hopeful about our future, hopeful that this is the Poop Cruise we needed to make things better.