Meryl, The Mountain and the Madness

Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all these, if you fall at my feet and do me homage.’ Then Jesus replied, ‘Away with you, Satan! For scripture says: The Lord your God is the one to whom you must do homage, him alone you must serve.’

At the recent Golden Globes, Meryl Streep spoke to a very receptive audience about the need for kindness and civility in those who hold high, visible office. While she never named him, she was obviously referring to President-Elect Donald Trump.

What an uproar that caused among the evangelical Christians who, to the tune of 80%, voted for Mr. Trump, identifying him as God’s choice for President. Nevermind that many other candidates laid claim to Christianity while Trump never did, the evangelical horde insisted he was the Christian candidate. They actually turned away from every Christian candidate to support one who never claimed to be a Christian.

Mr. Trump took the entire evangelical movement, a demographic which mirrors the more conservative part of the Republican party, up to the highest pinnacle of the country. He promised them respect. He offered them an illusion of power. He promised to fight their enemies for them. He offered them the kingdoms of the world if only they would jettison their principles, morals and core beliefs to follow him.

The catch here is, of course, that Christians are not to seek power of their own. Scripture tells us that in our weakness we are made strong. We are, as Christians, to be ready to be mocked and ridiculed for following our Lord.  Jesus, Himself was mocked, scorned and ridiculed by the Roman soldiers before His crucifixion. If He didn’t insist on respect, how do we? And our enemies?  Is there any more well known Bible principle than love for our enemies?

The Christian isn’t called to shut off help to the needy. The Christian is called to help the marginalized. The Christian is not called to build walls. He is called to open welcoming doors. The Christian doesn’t subject families to terrifying deportation raids. She is called to welcome the stranger in her land.

While I don’t agree with everything Ms. Streep has done (the Polanski standing ovation comes quickly to mind), I do agree with what she said at the Globes. She said, in part, “Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

All people are made in the image of God. That’s a basic tenet of the faith. Anytime you disrespect someone, anytime you are dismissive of another person, anytime you step on the marginalized or look the other way, you are wrong. You are wrong. You are wrong.

I’m grateful to Meryl Streep for saying it so beautifully.