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September 14, 2020

Just Faith: Reclaiming Progressive Christianity, the new book by The Resistance Prays founder Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, comes out this week! Learn more here.
Mitch McConnell faces pressure from vulnerable Senate Republicans, who don’t want to go home without voting on another Covid relief package. 
"Senate Democrats block Republican Covid relief proposal" - via Politico. "The vote is likely the last chance for congressional leaders and the White House to reach a compromise on a stimulus bill before the election."

"'Mr. Leader, go look up in the dictionary what bipartisanship is. It's both parties working together,' [Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer said. 'This bill is not going to happen because it is so emaciated, so filled with poison pills, so partisanly designed. It was designed to fail.'”
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you." - Luke 6:27-28
If your non-platform is built on denying the impact of the pandemic and boasting about the heights reached by an increasingly irrelevant stock market, then you can't admit how horrifically working Americans have been hurt by the pandemic-induced economic downturn. And if there's nothing to hurt them, they must just be lazy and want a handout, right? Even if they're being evicted in record numbers and deciding between food and medication in ever-growing masses? And then you have an excuse to grind millions of your fellow citizens into the ground out of sheer ideological meanness - because why else would you ever seek office?

Providing historical context for the cruelty, Margaret Somers writes in The Guardian, "Thursday’s performative theatrics did little more than provide cover to vulnerable Republicans and add one more day to the now six weeks since Senate Republicans refused to extend the extra $600 in COVID-related weekly jobless benefits. With [Mitch] McConnell sounding all but liberated from any more pressure to show compassion before the election....It is time to find an answer to the question: how is such unnecessary suffering justified?"

If Ms. Somers and I sound a little bitter - well, I'm not proud of it, but there's our congressional moment. In the midst of that reaction, I struggle with Luke's simple and beautiful statement of Jesus' central message. I'm sure that I also struggle to do good to those who hate me, to bless those who curse me, and to pray for those who abuse me. However, I'm writing this from a situation of relative physical and financial comfort - that is to say, 2020 is lousy for me too, but I'm not being starved or kicked out of my home. How do I, as an individual, pray for those whose very gospel seems dependent upon hurting my fellow humans? And there's no way I could instruct the victims to pray for their victimizers, though I know that many of them do so - perhaps out of a stronger faith or a bigger heart than mine.

Perhaps it's most useful here to recall that most of the Bible's prophetic voices, including Jesus's, are addressing Israel or society as a group. As an individual, I'm not hurt by the cessation of relief funds, but the society of which I'm a part is hurt. I can't pray for those causing the harm, but others can. One interpretation of "love your neighbor as yourself" is not "love your neighbor as much as yourself" but rather "your neighbor is already part of your self."
If you're being directly impacted by the cessation of COVID-related benefits, know that we're praying for you and doing what we can to resist on your behalf.

Fellow mostly solvent folks: please, please let's throw Mitch McConnell out of the Senate next election. Help the campaign of his opponent, Democrat Amy McGrath, here.
On this Holy Cross Day, Jesus our Christ, we remember how you forgave your tormentors at the hour of your death. Help those so crushed that they cannot pray, and those so crushed that all they can do is pray. You stood with the poor of your time; help us stand with the poor of ours. Amen.
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