Like many of my friends and colleagues, I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to make sense of how the presidential election turned out. I see this as a spiritual task because spirituality is, after all, essentially about finding meaning in (and making sense of) this life.
How we live our lives in light of the meaning we find in it and the sense we make of it is ultimately an expression of our spirituality. And for those of us whose lives are grounded in a progressive spirituality (one “which reveres the natural world, connects religious faith with novel scientific theories, and has a forward-looking agenda for society’s transformation” according to Gordon Lynch) the results of the election are, to say the least, a challenge.
So I’ve spent the last few weeks keeping an eye out for blog posts, etc., that help me with my spiritual practice of making sense of the new political reality in which we find ourselves.
Over the next few days, I’ll look at four post or articles have been essential in that process.
First, there’s Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie’s “Now Is Liberal Religion’s Moment.” Yoffie put into words something I believe is absolutely true: “For those of us who are adherents of liberal religion in America, this is our moment.”
“America is in peril,” Yoffie says, “and we must take the lead in saving it, preaching a message of justice and compassion.” He goes on to offer “4 items…for religious leaders to consider” rallying around that “protect the weak, the vulnerable, the struggling worker, the immigrant, and the children of poverty.”
- Take on those politicians who have found it politically opportune to peddle divisive anti-Muslim bigotry.
- Insist on access to healthcare for all, and be ready to advocate on both the state and federal level.
- Provide moral and legal support to immigrants entitled to be here and demand compassionate treatment of those here without sanction of law.
- Strengthen the ritual and liturgical elements of your congregation’s religious life.
While I agree that all four of these items are important, it’s that last one that really grabbed my attention. Yoffie says that
Congregants will best be able to deal with difficult public issues if they are fortified by their faith. Liberal congregations that are most effective in public advocacy are those that do not ignore liturgy, hymns, holidays, and festivals. The best way to counter the cheap platitudes of our political season is to begin by strengthening your religious community with prayer, study, and the rituals of your tradition.
As a minister who works on with nearly 200 UU congregations on the middle judicatory level, I take Yoffie’s words seriously. I know from experience that the congregations that fortify the faith of their people are the ones who make the biggest impact on their communities and the world.
So I very much take this as a guide for how I’m going to approach my work in the coming months and years. Whenever I work with a congregation in the future, one of the first things I’ll be keeping an eye out for is whether or not the leadership is “strengthening [their] religious community with prayer, study, and the rituals of [their] tradition.”
I’ll be looking at another essential post tomorrow, Jim Wallis’s “10 Commitments of Resistance in the Trump Era.”