The din surrounding Trump’s presidency invites me to sink into the Source, like a child escaping the surface noise by descending into a pool. There I hope to discover a hidden fount that liberates prayers for the man. Nothing else will do. Only the God who meets us in weakness, in silence, can help us now.
Last week I walked through two walls of protesters screaming ‘F**k Trump’ outside an airport. Amid the assault, I noticed one man holding a placard which displayed one of my favorite verses: ‘Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were once aliens in Egypt’ (EX 22:21). I thought of the Latin Americans I know who have helped revive the heart of Church and family in the north. For a flash, I wondered what kind of border best preserves the dignity of all persons, not only US citizens but also aliens in our midst whose gifts are greater than our fears. My thoughts dissolved in the barrage of vulgarities. Silence. Pray for the man.
I returned home to hear Madonna on the DC Mall muse on her plans to blow up the White House (she decided against it) while Ashley Judd coined her ‘Nasty Girl’ protest to protest nasty Trump. Another femme fatale lamented that she hadn’t machines guns in her vagina to aim straight at Trump. Hmmmm. More disturbing was the awareness that close Christian friends marched in smaller versions of ‘Women against Trump’ only to discover that they were unwittingly championing transgender and abortion rights. Since when does any man’s boorish persona justify a woman’s ‘freedom’ to annihilate her birthright or the child in her womb? Silence. Pray for the man.
Like you, I shudder at Trump’s self-congratulatory ways, how he apparently stays up all night to tweet back the stones hurled at him during the day. I pray that others might help him lose himself long enough to discover what best safeguards the dignity of all persons. His task is a crushing one. I love this country and honor the office of the presidency so I shall advocate for Trump’s best on my knees.
I am helpless on the water’s surface. Fox and CNN both confound me. Silence. I shall sink into the Source and pray.
‘All I wanted, something special, something sacred in your eyes; I will be your father-figure…’ George Michael
The pop singer died on Christmas, the day Christ was born afresh in the hearts of faithful ones. Michael’s broken heart gave out as Jesus offered us broken ones the Father’s heart. ‘When you were children, you were slaves under the world’s system. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son…so we could receive our full rights as sons and daughters. Because we are now His children, He sends us the Spirit of His Son, who cries out “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer slaves but sons…’ (Gal. 4:3-7)
Few represent enslavement to the world’s system better than George Michael. He gifted us with infectious pop hooks and videos, while slowly taking his own life in homosexual addiction and drug use. Some claim that homophobia drove him to cruising bathrooms and smoking crack but I say it is the nature of the world’s system itself; the holy longing for Father twisted into enslavement to eroticized ‘father-figures.’
Guilty, sure—sensitive people ‘get’ dehumanizing practices. But bad feelings do not break chains. Drugs dull the ache but cannot take it away. Neither do ‘gay-affirming’ laws (spoiler alert: male ‘gay marriages’ make few if any claims to monogamy) or the likes of Madonna and Elton John whose effusive eulogizing of George Michael suggest their own guilt.
In the glare of a man struck down by a world that enslaves estranged sons of God, we are all a little guilty. We choose to no longer even use the language of slavery to describe the divided life Michael lived. We fear that the ‘gay feds’ will brand us ‘haters’ or worse, ‘reparative therapists.’ Even churchmen qualify the truth that Jesus transforms the ‘gay-identified’ into sons and daughters of the Father.
So we mute the power of Christmas. We turn down the relevance of Jesus’ descent into the muck in order to reclaim children of dignity, who summons what is real and true from the rubble of our lives and who stokes His refinement of us by His Spirit. We are now artful dodgers; we so nuance St. Paul’s words that we reduce the Holy One to a ‘father-figure’ rather than the Lord of all.
George Michael postured himself as a ‘father-figure’ in a vain effort to secure the love he needed. But his world was a cruel, unforgiving one that tempts men only to torment them. His light burnt out. May his tragic end bring us to our knees and provoke us to manifest the One who makes sons and daughters out of slaves.
Crazy how a few songs can elicit a host of memories. David Bowie’s death at 69 this week flooded the airwaves with the soundtrack of my teens—‘Turn and face the strange Ch Ch Ch Changes…’ Strange indeed.
For a kid with same-sex attraction who adopted the credo that weird is good, sex better, and sensational times set to music lay just beyond suburbia in nearby Hollywood, I made Bowie the troubadour of my teen dreams. He was smart and sexy and for rebel kids, a guide to gender-bending bliss. I can relate to Madonna’s recent comment: ‘I was inspired by how he played with gender confusion.’
Confusion was our clarity. My high school friends and I would salivate at each new album, its cover sporting another evolution of the ‘glaminal’ Bowie. ‘Rebel, rebel, put on your dress; rebel, rebel, your face is a mess; Rebel, rebel, how would they know? Hot tramp, I love you so …’ When he growled: ‘All night, I want the young American…’ we related. We were the young Americans he wanted, right?
Strung out and resilient, insinuating ourselves into adult clubs and the fantasies of father figures, we had fun. Even when Bowie turned the tables and exposed the sickness of the ‘Fame’ we were seeking (‘What’s your name, what’s your name?’), we stayed faithful to his ever-changing persona.
I just saw a clip of an interview with Bowie where he equated his search for new expressions of music with a search for God. Which I guess means you never really land; a new riff, another spritzer of spirituality–the search is everything, more important than actually finding God. Or perhaps being found by Him.
For all my bluff and dare, I hoped someone would find me. I was strung out but not that resilient. My two friends with whom I traversed the thin line between Disneyland and Hollywoodland (we lived smack dab in the middle) bottomed out. One became a porn guy and died of AIDS and as did the other. But he passed radiantly into the arms of Jesus, the prayers of his Pentecostal single mother answered as he cried out for mercy in his dying.
I pray Bowie did the same. Sensations aren’t enough. Personas and good music do not save you. Only Jesus.