So who needs a spiritual lift right about now? Or are we focused on snarking/hating on the inauguration? Because that’s cool, too.
Anyway. This Sunday marks the Week of Christian Unity, in which Christians at least try to get along with one another. One of the texts is the start of One Corinthians, as certain short-fingered vulgarians have been known to say.
Paul starts his letter with a frank acknowledgement of the divisions being experienced by the church at Corinth. In this particular passage, he addresses divisions along the lines of baptism. Paul reminds the Corinthians, forcefully, that it doesn’t matter who performed their baptism: it’s that they are baptized into Christ.
Later in the same letter, he looks at other divisions, such as the community providing separate a communion table for poorer members. (That’s bad.)
The overall point Paul drives toward is a call to a literal, physical unity of Christians. If you asked Paul what happened to Christ’s body after the resurrection, he’d point at the members of the church. You are physically Christ’s body, he tells the Corinthians. How can you work against one another? This is why at weddings we read the famous passage on love from 1 Corinthians 13 (love is patient, love is kind). As Christians in the church are united in one body, so too spouses should be united in one flesh. (Technically, as Christ has united himself with the church, but let’s not get into that right now.)
Now think about our current situation by way of analogy. You who are citizens have been baptized into our nation, as it were. It doesn’t matter if you’re a birthright citizen or naturalized. What matters is that you are an American, and filled with the Spirit of America. And yes, just as Christians are baptized into the death of Christ, so too citizens are baptized into America’s violence and repression. As Christ overcame death by submitting to its power, so America will overcome its dark side by accepting it as part of our history.
In any case, there is neither Mexican nor Syrian nor “traditional American” in the US. There is neither black nor white. There are citizens and members of the community, period. There are people who deserve the full benefit of the law. There are people. Just as the members of the church physically make up the body of Christ, so too Americans make up America. A church isn’t a building; it’s a community. America isn’t rocks and soil; it’s the people who live there. And just like the members of a single body cannot work against one another, a house divided against itself cannot stand.1
Which means, dear people, you need one another.
After W. Bush won re-election in 2004, liberals were demoralized. I realized that the nascent netroots movement needed strengthening in part by coming together physically, and establishing the social bonds that can only occur when you put bodies in proximity. That was the genesis of Yearly Kos, now Netroots Nation, and about all the credit I can claim on that regard.
I think the same is true today. I’m not starting any new conventions, but I will encourage you to meet one another, to get together. Particularly if you’re despondent, particularly if you’re sad or lonely or just so pissed off you don’t know what to do. Organizing begins with meeting. Don’t isolate yourself.2 America needs you.
But also as Buber said, all real living is meeting. The powers that be want to isolate you, to break you apart from others. They want, in other words, to break down your humanity. Disobey.
Do you know what will power the defeat of the agenda of hate and callousness being thrust upon us? It’s not the politicians. It’s not the media. It’s not Twitter, or Facebook. It’s not protests. Those are all tools. No, the power will come from a million conversations between citizens, in bars, living rooms, meeting rooms. You have the power to do that, because you have the power to meet with, talk to, and be united with other citizens. That is the power of unity. That is the power of humanity. Don’t ever let anyone take it away from you.+ + +