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"So it goes."



May 13, 2024


Yesterday marked five months in this apartment in NE Portland. I do so love it here I really really do. More than the studio at the Henry Clay, although I still think of that place when I get off the elevator here and walk to my door. The distance is about the same. Sometimes I compare the differences walking that length, and they are significant, but I am every bit as pleased with my environment and I feel every bit as much at home here.


I received my grades today. I got an A in Reformed Theology, which was not unexpected, and a B in Postmodern Theology, which was just FINE. I wasn’t expecting an A, I HATED THAT CLASS. I worried I’d get a C, so a B is perfect, for such an imperfect, dare I say torturous experience. And it’s sad, too, because postmodernism is a fascinating concept, and I’m “doing it” in terms of my rejection of absolute truths, grand narratives, and my embrace of diversity and plurality.


It’s all about the professor, you know? A professor makes or breaks a course. A manager makes or breaks the work culture. It’s tragic one person has so much control over the Grand Narrative. HA! But they do. And sadly, many don’t recognize their power and wield it carelessly or heavy-handedly, and those under their power suffer immensely.


The scholastic conditions under Dr. Kang this past semester were no different than what I’ve experienced time and again throughout my life. Power imbalances and those with more power taking their power for granted, not thinking things through, not handling themselves judiciously, not working to ensure those under them are fulfilled enough not to hold them in disdain. It happens in every area of life, in business as much as academics. There is always a hierarchy to contend with.


I’m so thankful for professors and managers who made my life richer and better and who shaped me in ways that made me a better person in every way. There are a multitude of professors who created positive experiences upon which I reflect daily, either in terms of remembering how good I felt under their leadership, or calling forth something specific I learned I can apply to a unique situation today. For those experiences, for those learnings, I am forever grateful. And no matter how painful the experience, we always learn, even if we learn what it is we don’t want. Which is a very postmodern way of looking at growth.


And on to the serious. I was very pleased with my research paper for Postmodern Theology. It addressed the question: “What Would Jesus Deconstruct within Christianity in the 21st Century?” Not surprisingly, I responded to the prompt in terms of the infiltration of White Evangelicalism into U.S. politics. In rereading my closing paragraphs, I see I ended squarely on the issue of political polarization in the U.S. Regardless and in spite of my disdain for Dr. Kang, she provided me an opportunity to really explore a topic that consumes my psyche as of late and has since the infamous descent down that gold escalator in 2015. I’ll leave you with my closing paragraphs:


In an article for the Political Theology Network titled “The Problem of Authoritarian Reactionary Christianity”, author David Gushee says:


“Political authoritarianism in established democracies involves weakening popular sovereignty, centralizing power, undercutting the rule of law, threatening fair elections, limiting freedom of speech, misusing state power to weaken political opposition, manipulating the criminal justice system, and eroding civil rights protections.”


Gushee accurately summarizes the political climate in America today. Regardless of who prevails in the next election, the ultra-conservative backlash against our treasured long-held democratic institutions will take years to unravel. We will be grappling with extreme political polarization well into the future. At this point, we’re way beyond damage control. Even with a Democrat in the Whitehouse, it will take decades to rebuild America’s trust in our government.


I never anticipated that American Democracy would hang in the balance during my lifetime. I pray, I hope, I no longer take my freedoms for granted. I am at a loss for words, I am at a loss for answers. I am learning to live with uncertainty. I am learning to let go of the things I thought would always be true about America. I’m learning to look at our extreme political polarization through a postmodern lens. I fight my tendency to think of the Left as all right and the Right as all wrong. But I’m telling you, it’s hard as hell. And incredibly painful.


In the words of my favorite postmodern author, Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.”

 

Citation: “The Problem of Authoritarian Reactionary Christianity,” Political Theology Network, October 27, 2022, accessed May 5, 2024. https://politicaltheology.com/the-problem-of-authoritarian-reactionary-christianity%ef%bf%bc/.

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