No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
(Matthew 6:24 CEB)
In the Christian calendar, January 6th is the Epiphany. The word itself means to enlighten or, perhaps, to reveal. One common story that is associated with this holiday is the coming of the Magi from the east following a star. And within this complicated narrative is a narcissistic king, Herod the Great, who becomes so enraged at the possibility of losing power that he unleashes chaos and violence against his own people. This is a revealing of the contrasting ways of empire and compassion. Herod is the epitome of power, wealth, violence, chaos, and fear. Whereas the one born Jesus is the epitome of gentleness, compassion, love, and justice.
January 6, 2021, was an Epiphany of a nationalism merged with the Christian tradition. Christian language, symbols, and imagery was used in the most profane and unacceptable way. A way that defames the very essence of the bright and morning star, Jesus Christ, who was revealed to the Magi. It has morphed into a religion that values allegiance and loyalty to a vision of an America rooted in misogyny, racism, homophobia, and capitalistic greed. It is a religion that has nothing to do with the way of Christ. This is the religion of Herod the Great. A religion based on power, prestige, and privilege.
An Epiphany does not mean that this is something new. An Epiphany is bringing to light something that has always been there. It was people within the Christian tradition that traded slaves and fought violently for the right to keep those slaves. It was people in the Christian tradition that created Jim Crow laws, sanctioned the lynching of black men, and dawned white robes to fight for the supremacy of white skin. It was people in the Christian tradition that unashamedly supported and praised a man who bragged about grabbing women’s private parts whenever he wanted, stole money from people donating to his non-profit entity, gassed peaceful protesters to stand for a photo-op with the Bible, who consistently used racist words, and encouraged white supremacists to stand by.
And it is now people in this “Neo-Christian tradition” who listened to those in charge on Wednesday morning, January 6, 2021, tell them to march on the capitol, “to get rid of the weak Congress people,” that it is “the time for strength,” and that “we will never concede.” And in allegiance and loyalty to a distorted version of reality, they did just that. They violently took over the capitol in the name of nationalism, chaos, fear, and in the name of their constructed Jesus.
I lament this brand of Christianity that is now synonymous with separatist behavior and fear. I lament that just by being associated with the Christian tradition that I am in some way complicit. I lament the pain, the fear, the violence, the trauma, and the hatred that is spread in the name of Jesus. I lament that we may have lost our place in the world that centers around gentleness, compassion, love, and justice.