Election musings, 2016

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November 9, 2016, Part 2 - written by Sarah

For the communication teachers that woke up this morning from sleep too little, too futile, praying and weeping, and did not know how to reconcile this moment in their classrooms, for their students; please give yourself permission to grieve, and know that if you decided to stay home today, your decision was not unprofessional.

"If each of you are anything like me, you may have found yourself struggling to sleep last night and into the wee hours of the morning.

I feel an obligation to meet you all today, but I also feel an obligation to my mental health and yours to take this day and make something meaningful from what seems so unfathomable.

In terms of what we have learned together in this course so far about the power of rhetoric, the importance of practicing rhetorical sensitivity and mindful communication, the necessity of privileging persuasion that is open and honest and ethical, of avoiding logical fallacies, of understanding how engaging in the myths of communication will not help you reach communication competency, how upholding stereotypes and mongering fear will not help you reach communication competency, I am not sure how to reconcile that the highest office in the free world will be held by someone who shows a visceral disregard for all of those concepts that we’ve learned help you to achieve what we know to be the most desirable trait in today’s college graduates.

To be clear, I am not attempting to be partisan, my friends, I am citing your textbook.

I would ask that today, in lieu of our in-class meeting time, you find a channel-rich way to engage with your friends and family members who may feel utterly disenfranchised by what took place last night. I would ask that you do what you can to comfort the least of these who may be feeling powerless and hopeless at this specific moment. I would ask that you consider what factors govern communication competency and make that list a lifelong goal for you, regardless of the many contemporary examples point to its futility.

Take care of one another today.

We will resume on Friday,

Your teacher,

Sarah Taylor Mayhak"

November 9, 2016, Part 1 - written by Sarah

Shenandoah-sunset.jpg

To you, who slept soundly last night:

You set down your work bag, and took off the clothes from the day.
You felt the ease and comfort of another long day adjourned settle over you.
You made a meal, or perhaps were served one, you ate with no great anticipation, you enjoyed the food.
You didn't bother with the coverage on the news, as it seems so much noise and so little substance.
You brushed your teeth. You pulled on your pajamas.
You set an alarm for the new work day to come.
You found your sleep like a welcome friend.

On the same sidewalk in different houses in the same city on different streets,
I was awake. She was awake. He/they/them/ were awake. We were awake.

We thought of the morning.

We thought of the walk back to the parking garage at night and the man that followed us to our car.
We thought of what he might grab and hold onto and look at and take.

We thought of what he would say and what it wouldn't mean.

We thought of the woman born to skin so foreign she pleaded for a lifetime to use a restroom with a mirror that reflected her own face.

We thought of the woman shopping for apple juice and oatmeal for her babies with nothing left on her EBT card.

We thought of the two lovers, brought together by time and trust and patience and God and faith who share the same shoe size and the same bed and have for decades and got to vow in front of so many that they would forever.

We thought of the young autistic man who would never be able to leave home, to leave his mamma, because she is what keeps him alive.
We thought of what he might be left to do without her.

We thought of the soldiers fighting to protect us and the ones that never came home.
We thought of the English speaking girls from Ethiopia and their mother, a first generation immigrant.
We thought of the bricks and mortar on the church scarred by flames in Mississippi and the words "VOTE TRUMP" stained on the side.

We thought of the bricks and mortar.

We thought of the walls.

We did not find sleep.

We thought of the morning.

We thought of the mourning.

November 9, 2016 - written by Gideon

To Christians in America: I'm so sorry. It just got a lot harder to share the Gospel in the United States. So many people will now associate us with the fools who elected a man so afraid of people that he wants to build walls and ban whole people groups. We could have had whole new groups of people to reach, and we could have done it without preface. Now, we'll find ourselves often having to clarify, "No, I'm not one of those who voted for that man. I'm not like them; please listen. I'm not an American Christian. I'm a Christian."

To American Christians: May God have mercy on your souls. I know some of you honestly don't realize what you've done, and I sincerely hope you open your eyes while you still have time to repent and help those truly in need. Rise above your traditions and your nation's history, and fear God rather than man. You have treated the United States as something to be prized above the Gospel itself, which has existed and will exist for eternity. Your worthless nation hasn't even reached 250 years. Was it worth the trade? I promise you it wasn't.

Currently meditating on Isaiah 40 and Revelation 21-22.

November 2, 2016 - written by Gideon

He said, "Most certainly I tell you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But truly I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land. Elijah was sent to none of them, except to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed, except Naaman, the Syrian." They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things. They rose up, threw him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill that their city was built on, that they might throw him off the cliff. But he, passing through the middle of them, went his way. - Luke 4:24-30, WEB

I am deeply troubled. There are those who call themselves my brothers and sisters who have been greatly deceived. Jesus' ministry was to the alien, the outcast. In Luke 4, we see him state a fact about Old Testament prophets, and the people wanted to throw him off a cliff. Why? He simply suggested that God cared about those outside of Israel, including those in Sidon and Syria, people despised by the Jews. The Pharisees were outraged at facts, bare truth, about God's character. They sought to murder the Son of God for suggesting that God cares about more than just them and their nation.

We are approaching a turning point in America, and so many have been blinded by the law as the Pharisees were. If I may put it so plainly to even open the eyes of one blind brother or sister this election season: If you are planning to vote for Donald Trump, you are a blind Pharisee who cares more about laws and party lines than the Gospel. There are no two ways about this, my brothers and sisters: Donald Trump is an antichrist (see 1 John 2:18-29 for a definition), a man whose campaign rests on the promise to destroy lives and throw away the alien and the outcast instead of help them. Do you still not see? Look to Jesus Christ, God Almighty, Savior: you're getting ready to vote for a man who doesn't want to help the oppressed Syrian refugees, when Jesus Christ himself pointed out that Elisha went to one, a Syrian, instead of all those in Israel. Trump wants to lead the country with fear, when we could instead have countless new opportunities to share the Gospel. He wants to build a wall along Mexico to keep out an entire people group, when we should instead be longing to help them in the love of Christ.

America is not God's nation, if it ever has been. We are desperately sick, but we don't see our need for the Great Physician. Because we are so blind, do not expect God to bring blessing; expect him to rain fire upon this cursed nation. If we continue to turn our backs on the poor and oppressed, supporting a candidate and political party who specifically want to hurt countless people based on their ethnicity and status, favoring the wealthy and comfortable, God will turn his back on us. You need only look at James to see what God has to say to the wealthy and comfortable.

Do not be deceived. This election is not about abortion, or gay rights, or terrorism. This election is about standing with the Lord Jesus Christ above all else. I'll say it again: If you vote for Donald Trump, you are the Pharisees who stoned Jesus Christ. You are the blind Pharisees clinging to laws and moral codes instead of taking the Gospel of Peace to the downtrodden. Repent, therefore, and turn from your wickedness. You don't have to vote for Hillary Clinton, though I wouldn't fault you if you did. You can write in someone who truly upholds the love and justice of Jesus Christ. Or recognize that God has given you, through our government, the legal right to abstain from voting. Don't vote based on "the issues". Vote based on a person's character and the character of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As for me, I will pass through the ravenous crowd and sit this one out. It's not the sinners who need to repent this election season, it's those who call themselves by the name of Christ and yet still believe in voting Republican above all else. If you're going to vote, really look at what each candidate stands for and hold their policies and personal character up to God's Word.

(And perhaps I should clarify: I do care very much about upholding God's perfect law and preaching the whole counsel of his Word, but we have to realize that we're not going to stop people from sinning by taking away social welfare programs that give them options beyond having abortions. We're not going to stop people from sinning by showing them hatred. We're not going to stop people from sinning, but Jesus can. Let us first cry out to him to help us stop our own sinning. And then let us take the Gospel to all our new friends who are here because we didn't run away from them in fear.)

October 21, 2016 - written by Sarah

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be so. - James 3:10, ESV+NIV

That feeling when a presidential candidate says "nobody respects women more than I do" and calls the Opposition a "nasty woman" in the same breath. I'm sorry folks, but if your response to this election season is "they are both terrible options" I'm gonna have to disagree. One candidate has made some big mistakes in her 30 year run, has some imperfect policies, hardly flawless argumentation, and could not possibly perfectly represent each of our unique desires in a candidate. The other option treats women, people of color, and immigrants like flank steak and thinks a late term abortion, an impossibly painful decision resulting from a medical emergency, means "ripping a baby out on the last day," advocates that we build a wall blocking out other human beings, has referred to Latinos as "bad hombres" and makes light of grabbing women's private parts without their consent.

The thing about rhetoric is, as I taught my freshman this week, it is never just words. Words have power. I believe that God made us to be symbol using creatures, to make meaning of our thoughts and expressions with language. That doesn't mean we are inherently good at communicating those thoughts, but it does speak to what pours out of the abundance of our hearts.

I realize this isn't the most articulate of my musings, and I haven't particularly taken care to avoid a divisive tone here, but seriously, staying your party lines this season is NOT more important than the Gospel or, I dunno, common human decency. Do all things with love this election season. Make a choice that will at least in some way help to protect the least of these (perhaps through the fair funding of social programs that have historically decreased the rate of abortion) and work to BUILD one another up, with helping hands and open hearts, not with bricks and mortar.

PS, for those following along at home, my husband and I wrote this together!

Love, Sarah and Gideon

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