On the last day of NAINConnect 2016 in Guadalajara, we went on a tour of Tlaquepaque, a tourist-y area known for its decorative arts and crafts. A highlight was the Museo Regional de la Cerámica, representing the various indigenous cultures of Mexico.
At one point, a friend pointed out this piece entitled “Infierno,” the artist’s rendition of Hell and declared that was where I’d be going.
I joked back that it was good I didn’t believe in Hell, at least not in that version of it. However, I had to admit that there were times I wish I did because there are certain people who deserve a place in it, notably George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.
Do I actually want to consign these criminals to the fires of Hell? OK, maybe not. Still I’d sure like to see some kind of punishment meted out and am frustrated by the lack of accountability for their actions.
I’m feeling the same kind of anger and frustration as I get reports from the Republican convention (I can’t bear to watch it). In the opening “prayer,” Pastor Mark Burns, an evangelical prosperity gospel televangelist from South Carolina, declared that “our enemy is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party” and that Donald Trump is the one to whom God is giving the words to “unite this party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united. Because we are the United States of America, and we are the conservative party under God.”
I confess: I am tempted to respond to Mark Burns with “Go to Hell!”
Then there’s Rudy Giuliani, ranting about President Obama’s so-called failures and touting the virtues of Trump. He’s either delusional or intentionally lying for is own political reasons. Either way, I want to say, “Rudy, go to Hell!”
Next up is Chris Christie, who auditioned for the job of attorney general by conducting a mock prosecution of Hillary Clinton. In the process, he worked the crowd into a frenzy, shouting “Guilty!” and “Lock her up!” For a truly frightening look at the mob scene, watch Stephen Colbert’s opening monologue on The Late Show (start at 5:30 if you don’t want to watch the whole things – but why wouldn’t you?). Governor Christie, for your part in shutting down the George Washington Bridge at rush hour and for your collusion in the coronation of Trump, I say “Go to Hell!”
And as amusing as the Melania Trump plagiarizing scandal has been, it’s got nothing on these characters. Even Donald Trump himself can be excused in a way. He is what he is. From the beginning, The Huffington Post has been adding this paragraph at the end of each Trump story:
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.
So, while I don’t make excuses for him, he’s only the harvest of the seeds that the Republican Party has been sowing since Obama’s election. And as disgusted as I am by him, I put more blame on those who – for whatever their reasons – have jumped onto his bandwagon. It’s to them I direct my own rant of “Go to Hell!”
And now, having vented, I’m feeling chastened by my lack of charity, my straying from the path of my own belief in every person as a child of God, and from Martin Luther’s explanation of the 8th Commandment:
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray them, slander them, or hurt their reputation, but defend them, speak well of them, and explain everything in the kindest way.
But oh, how hard these people are making it! What’s a progressive Christian to do? If I can’t count on the fires of Hell to give them their comeuppance, where can I go for justice and accountability?
I don’t have any answers other than to participate in the democratic process, vote according to the teachings of Rabbi Jesus, and work for justice however we can. It’s too easy to shout “Go to Hell!” The work is – and always will be – harder than that.
Still, I confess: it felt good to rant, at least for just a little while.
PS – Check out my other blog, The INTRAfaith Conversation at https://intrafaithconversation.com