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The Resistance Prays

November 11, 2018
By Rev. Ashley Whitaker

Today's Top Story
From CNN: “Trump's Paris trip marked by missed moments - and a dire warning”
  • President Trump’s visit to France in commemoration of Armistice Day “did less to bolster the transatlantic partnership than to expose its cracks.”
  • Missed moment: “The optics were undeniably bad, partly because the episode only appeared to confirm the suspicions of Trump's critics that he is uninterested in carrying out the traditional duties of the commander in chief.”
  • Dire warning: “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying 'our interests first; who cares about the others?', we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great, and what makes it essential — its moral values.”
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. - Acts 2:42-47
Glad and Generous Hearts
Trump’s visit to France was in observance of the Armistice Day, this year marking one hundred years since the end of World War I. As early as Saturday afternoon, however, Trump’s actions (and inactions) began to draw negative attention. Inclement weather kept Trump cloistered indoors in Paris instead of visiting an American burial ground, even as his European colleagues braved the weather to attend other memorial services. (Twitter, of course, took the opportunity to lift up images of President Obama honoring veterans in the rain…)

This snafu pointed out what many critics have said for some time: this president seems to have no interest in the traditional duties of being Commander in Chief. Instead of carrying out the duties of the Commander in Chief and putting actions to his many incendiary words in defense of the military, he took to Twitter during this visit to blame the California wildfires on forest management, complete with threats to end federal funding of those agencies.

Trump’s propensity to spew fact-deficient rhetoric on Twitter, coupled with his extreme nationalistic political stances, made him an easy target for veiled (and not so veiled) speeches during the weekend’s ceremonies by many of our traditional European partners.

Part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday is pointed and true: “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. … Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying 'our interests first; who cares about the others?', we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great, and what makes it essential - its moral values.”

The CNN article goes on to say, “Macron later warned that ‘the old demons’ have resurfaced, declaring that ‘giving into the fascination for withdrawal, isolationism, violence and domination would be a grave error’ for which future generations would hold them accountable.”

This passage from Acts 2 always comes to mind when I consider the kind of community Christ calls us to be: one marked by generosity, praise, and a dedication to the common good. This is the exact opposite of what nationalism leads us toward. As Macron said, nationalism leads us toward the ways of our old demons, which include not only bad political values, but also un-Christ-like values and ways of being.

It’s baffling that, even on a trip ostensibly to remember our nation’s war dead and to commemorate the end of a tragic chapter in international history, Trump manages to bring the spotlight back to himself, no matter what. For those of us who claim the name of Christ, we must resist. These antics, these political values, and this “nationalism” must be rejected without fail whenever they appear, for they do not have their source in the Spirit of God in Christ that enlivens the church of Christ in every age.
If Trump wants to draw attention to the forest fires affecting California, then let’s give them our attention. Check out this list for ways to donate in support of relief efforts.

As always, keep paying attention to what Trump says, and also what he doesn’t say.
O Lord our God, form us into a true community, we pray. Create all of us who follow the way of Jesus into a community of generosity, joy, equality, justice, and goodwill for all people. Comfort those who grieve, strengthen those who suffer, and empower those who proclaim your good news of Christ’s eternal love for all people. Amen.
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