soccer moms" of the 2016 election. Commentators appear to be using the term "angry white men" to refer to white male blue collar workers who are "frustrated that the social contract they felt entitled to has been broken and that they have been forgotten." I looked in the mirror this morning and realized that I'm white and male and angry, so I feel like I'm going to put my feelings out there for the world to hear. I'm an employed minister in Kansas City and not a laid off steel mill worker from Ohio, but dang it, I'm angry too! (Apologies for the salty language.) Just because I'm white and male, however doesn't mean I'm angry at immigrants and black people. Here's what I'm angry about:
1. I'm Angry at Angry White Men--I get it. This country was made by white men for white men or at least it was made by rich white men for other rich white men. We had an understanding that if we were born white and male, then we got to be on top of the social hierarchy. It's a bummer that we don't get to rule over women and oppress ethnic and sexual minorities anymore. Well, actually, we still get to do all the oppression stuff, but thanks to the advent of cell phone cameras we just may occasionally be caught doing so nowadays. To all my fellow angry white men mad because you actually have to share the spotlight with people who aren't white, straight and male, get over it! Quit your whining. Isn't 300+ years ruling the roost enough for you? In the end, the idea that each human being is "created in the image of God" (see Genesis 1:27) has to mean that white men should let somebody else be lineleader.
2. I'm Angry at Climate Change Deniers--I love being a wasteful American just as much as anybody. I want to drive what I want, eat what I want, consume what I want and keep buying, more, more more, without having to think about the consequences. This is getting ridiculous, however. You've got to really have your aluminum foil hat screwed on tightly to ignore the overwhelming evidence that human consumption of fossil fuels is changing the climate in devastating ways. It's not like NASA has laid out the evidence for humans causing climate change in an easy to understand web site, right? Oh wait, they have. I miss the days when McDonald's would serve me my Big Mac in those Styrofoam containers too--those were good times, but c'mon, enough is enough. At some point sane people have to admit climate change is real, and if God created our planet and it belongs to God (see Psalm 24:1 and 1 Corinthians 10:26), maybe we shouldn't freaking destroy it!
3. I'm Angry at People Scapegoating Immigrants--I know, I know, it's so much easier to blame undocumented immigrants for taking our jobs than to blame faceless corporations using lower wage laborers overseas or the steady advance of technology that automates many jobs. It's just not as satisfying to demonize a robot as it is a guy who fled poverty and violence in his own country to work a low hourly wage to send money back to feed his family all the while living in fear of being caught and deported. That guy you can hate on, but hating on a robot or a corporate board just isn't very satisfying. Scapegoating just feels better, doesn't it? Nevermind those undocumented workers are held prisoner by the same economic forces that we are or that they pay billions into Social Security which they will never collect. At some point, however, the feeling of hating on another ethnic group begins to feel a little empty. Besides, there is all that stuff in the Bible about "caring for the stranger in your land." (see Deuteronomy 10:17-19 and a whole bunch of other verses) It kind of takes the fun out of scapegoating immigrants when you consider God may be on their side.
4. I'm Angry at the Entire Criminal Justice System--I used to sleep well at night knowing that American culture works just like one of those hour-long police procedural TV shows. Bad guys get caught, tried fairly and sentenced appropriately for their crimes. Then I came across Michelle Alexander and her book The New Jim Crow, and suddenly the statistics were everywhere about how differently white and black people along with rich and poor people are treated by every part of our criminal justice system--from traffic stops to death penalty sentences. Thanks a lot criminal justice system! I would have gladly kept my delusion that everything is fair out there. I suppose I could just holler "reverse racism" or accuse protesters of "hating white people," but then God does seem to have this thing about "fairness" (see Isaiah 56:1) and "condemning the innocent" (Proverbs 17:15), not to mention that whole thing about when we care for people in prison it's just like we are caring for Jesus. (see Matthew 25:36).
5. I'm Angry at all the Patriots Out There--Hey all you flag wavers out there, I'm with you. Let's support the troops and respect the flag. Explain to me again, however, why it's somehow disrespectful to the troops to question our nation's record of using military force in recent decades? From my view, it's more disrespectful to sing along to Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud to Be an American" while sending our troops off to fight and potentially get gravely wounded or dead for some misguided foreign policy thought up by lobbyists. If we really want to care for out troops shouldn't we stop sending them to fight misguided wars that never seem to end? Why is it more patriotic to unquestioningly support bombing the hell out of some place than to question it? I know it feels all nice and manly to go to war, but when the Bible speaks of God's ideal for humanity it says, "they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not make war against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (see Isaiah 2:4)
6. I'm Angry at Christians--I'm a Christian and even I assume that when I meet someone new who says they are a Christian that they must think being gay is a sin, vote only for Republicans, anti-science and generally no fun. Congratulations Christians, you've succeeded in making pretty much everybody understanding the gracious sacrificial love of Jesus as essentially getting to be the playground bully. I'm not just talking to conservative evangelicals either. Progressive Christians have sat back and let it happen. (I should know I am one.) We've allowed the selfless love of Jesus to be turned into the blessing of violence and oppression. Then when some Christians get pushback, they have the nerve to whine that they are being oppressed by heathen secularists. Cry me a river! Wouldn't it be great if when people thought of Christians they actually thought of love and grace rather than bullying? (If you're wondering what that looks like, see Philippians 2:1-11)
Well, that's about as close as I come to doing a Lewis Black imitation. I feel much better now that I've gotten all my white male anger out of my system--at least for now. It's a good thing that Jesus said I only have to spout off about things that make me angry instead of letting my anger motivate me to actually make the world a better place.
Grace and Peace,