Faith and Politics
Across the street and across the globe, our daily lives have been upended by the coronavirus. Whether it’s by city or state mandate, advice from our healthcare providers, direction from our employers or at the behest of our sessions, it’s reasonable to say that our lives look much different today than in February. The early months—February and March—found us stunned, wondering how long it would be until we returned to normal.
Now, six months and counting, our perspective on normal has shifted. We’ve taken mask wearing, physical distancing, virtual connecting, and checking for rules as our new pseudo-normal, while still eagerly awaiting a vaccine that will let us return to the “real normal.” But these six months have also been a time that our society as a whole has started to question what we had accepted as normal. Perhaps this not-so-normal time is our call to pro-pose a new normal.
Scripture cautions us to not look back in nostalgia for what was but instead look forward to what could be. “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this” (Ecc. 7:10).
Yes, our “former days” included won-derfully just and wholesome goings-on! Just consider our Thank and Birthday Offerings and mundane blessings such as good news stories and passing of the peace! But normal doesn’t necessarily mean good. How, when or why did our society normalize and accept social ills such as racism, violence, climate change, detention centers, inequity? As God’s beloved children, what is God asking us to do or dream? Let’s face it. We can only go forward so how do we choose to proceed?
In the words of writer and activist Sonya Renee Taylor, “We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”*
Our garment as a society is stitched through politics. For many, the word “politics” brings to mind speeches, elections, notions of red and blue in opposition to one another. But politics, as contributors to this issue explore, is simply about issues that impact the community and the planet. And if we’re going to create a garment that “fits all of humanity and nature,” what better place to draw inspiration than from Jesus, who upended his society’s notions of who deserved care and respect?
The following pages include articles and art from people who are or were “in politics”—part of elected government for their community—but also contributions from individuals who care for their communities in a variety of ministries that seek to stitch a garment that fits each of God’s children and each part of God’s beloved creation. Together, with God’s help, let’s put our hearts and minds to ushering in a new normal, a good new normal.
* Sonya Renee Taylor, interview with Brené Brown, Unlocking Us, podcast audio, September 16, 2020; https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-with-sonya-renee-taylor-on-the-body-is-not-an-apology.
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Our Faithful Response
Shanea Leonard articulates what it means to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly in the world today, and looks to Jesus’ ministry as a model of how love recognizes every person’s full humanity, in particular those who are pushed to the margins.
The Law of the Land, The Faith of the People
Mary Throne describes how faith and personal belief shaped her service in the Wyoming legislature, and the delicate balance of being led by faith but not relying on faith-based lobbying.
An Evolving Platform, Rooted in Presence
Micah Rose Emerson shares how politics have shown up in her life—from election debates with her family in her childhood to jobs and volunteer roles that have allowed her to put her beliefs and care for others into action.
Politics, Guns and the Church
Deanna Hollas reflects on differences between political and partisan topics. She shares insights from her work in gun violence prevention ministries and offers tips for holding conversations that set aside rhetoric and emphasize honoring each other’s experiences.
Nothing Can Separate Us—Without Our Permission: How White Supremacy Is Used in Immigration
Teresa Waggener names the terms and rhetoric used to describe immigration and migrants, and reflects on how this language and immigration policies creates division among God’s people. She urges us to resist white supremacy and the divisions it creates and instead, be led by love and welcome.
Running for Our Lives
Robb Ryerse tells the story of how he first started to understand the political significance of the gospel message, and what he sees as the role of the church in meeting people’s needs.
Lighting the Way
Carissa Herold shares the touching stories of PW mentors and sheroes who inspired generous giving from Presbyterian Women to PW Gives Day.
Anna H. Bedford Bible Study Resource
Joyce MacKichan Walker offers insights and questions for use in studying Lessons Three and Four of the 2020–2021 PW/Horizons Bible study, Into the Light: Finding Hope Through Prayers of Lament by P. Lynn Miller.
A Call to Care
Cecilia Amorocho Hickerson
Unpacking the Theme: Scripture Study
Praying with Jesus: A Revolutionary Manifesto for All Time
Magdalena I. García
Pages Worth Turning
After the Offering
Welcome to Dinner!
Jo Ella Holman
Stories from the Ages
A Tradition of Protest
Hillary Moses Mohaupt
The Welfare of the City
Amy Starr Redwine
A “Purpose”-full Surprise Project
Working for Justice and Peace
News and Information About Presbyterian Women and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Strengthening the PC(USA)
Making Noise for Justice