Tuesday, July 19, 2016


I'm up early, with the television on mute as I listen to Bach cantatas for the eighth Sunday after Trinity (this past Sunday). The TV is muted because I want to know the news but I can hardly stand the mudslinging political ads for Missouri candidates, mostly particularly the attorney general and gubernatorial races. The conservative candidates play on people's anxieties about gun rights, foreigners, and other social topics. (Here is a piece about all that.) One ad, blatantly xenophobic, has two Chinese men speaking in Chinese about purchasing up American farms. Regarding the GOP convention, I agree with this article about the party and Trump's candidacy, and the news this morning, among others, is that Mrs. Trump's speech seems to have been plagiarized from a speech by Michelle Obama, and that the opening prayer at the convention was very inappropriately partisan.

Back to Bach's cantatas, which I wrote about a couple years ago. The cantata "Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält” (BWV 178, “If God the Lord is not on our side”) warns against hypocrisy and the scheming of evil people, especially those who call themselves Christians. In one of the cantata's songs, the word "Schweig" ("be quiet") is repeated by the baritone several times--the idea that we need to calm ourselves, persevere, and trust in the Lord. The Lord will vindicate his people.

It's a tricky balance: when to speak and when to be quiet. We are in an historical moment of calls for justice for black lives, when violence is also happening to police officers. A Navajo colleague on FB has reminded her friends that police violence against Native Americans is a similar problem, getting much less press. Though I disagree with them, some of my FB friends are outraged that Hillary Clinton hasn't been indicted in the email controversy. Others, like me, decry the bad state of the GOP. When do you speak up and when you do stay silent? (And to whom do you speak up; posting articles online isn't necessarily bringing about justice, either.)

I think the silence---the call to "Schweig"---refers to our trust in God, who after all is still in charge and is faithful in all things. Of course, we can complain to God and express our worries, outrage, and frustrations to God. But as distressed as we may be about social topics, we still remember that God is the Lord and is never inactive on behalf of those who suffer.

(Here is another good piece, reflecting on Trump's take-over of the GOP: https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-exposes-gop-weakness-more-000000674.html)

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