Do You Know Why We Are Marching? by Marcia Mount Shoop


When we got into the car to go, I asked my twelve-year-old daughter, “Do you know why we are marching today?”

“To protest Donald Trump?” she replied.

I explained that some people may be going for that reason, but that was not the reason I was going.

“Are there any positive reasons you can think of for why we are marching?” I asked her.

She went on to name several things Donald Trump had said about women. “I guess those are all still anti-Trump things,” she said.

“I am marching because I am a mother, I am a sister, I am a daughter, I am a wife, and I am a survivor. That’s what I am saying if anyone asks me,” I told her.

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I had already thought through this question. As a pastor of a church with people who have diverse political affiliations I am committed to being able to minister to everyone in my congregation. I have served churches in which my political views are in the minority and I have served churches in which my political views are in the majority. Both have challenging aspects, but nothing that I have experienced previously in terms of partisanship feels like it relates to what is happening in the United States right now. Those old partisan dynamics were difficult to navigate—it took discipline, but not one ounce of moral compromise.

The decision to march was not a partisan one, it was a moral one, and it was a spiritual one. If I didn’t march it I would be listening to a frightening interlocutor—and his name is despair.

Party affiliations are not creating the alienation at the root of what is happening. The challenges are much more painful—and if I stay silent or still in the face of this situation I would not be doing my job as a pastor or a mother.

Donald Trump should not be mistaken as the root issue that we face right now, nor should any political party. He is a container for many of the things this country has failed to address for generations. And those things that he refracts in these impulsive first few days in office and all along the campaign trail are plain and simple: patriarchy and white supremacy.

And the dynamics of patriarchy and white supremacy have tentacles that spider through every institution that props this country up: economic, political, religious, and academic. He did not rise to power in a vacuum. He is an American creation—and oh how difficult it is to see ourselves reflected back to us this way.

The challenge in the days ahead is not how to take down Donald Trump (although that may be something that would lower the inflammation of the current moment), the challenge is how to heal a wound that is oozing with a love-resistant infection.

The church got too cozy with political power. Jesus followers got too complacent with materialism. And the United States got too comfortable with the misogyny and racism that we learned to look past, or worse yet, to normalize.

Is it too late to heal these wounds? Is the patient too far gone? Will the scavengers be here to feed on the carcass of liberty and justice for all? That despair is easy to flirt with these days, but that same despair is ready to deprive us of our humanity. It will steal our hope, it will steal our courage, it will rip us out of the human family.

I marched because I believe in resurrection and regeneration—I believe our bodies and our collective body can heal or be loved into something far greater than we have been. This is not a partisan act—this is the act of a hopeful human being. I will not let racism and misogyny tell me how to see the world.

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When I told her why we would march, I could have been more honest with my daughter. But I wanted her to see my resolve and my strength. I wanted her to feel the power of her developing womanhood to create new things and to be a source of life and hope. I wanted to be positive. I did not want her to see the foreboding feelings that are haunting me these days; I did not want her to glimpse the profound sorrow that I feel. My honest answer is too hard to look her in the eye and say. The bottom line is, I marched because I refuse to give up on her future.

 

Marcia Mount Shoop is an author, theologian, and minister. She is the Pastor/Head of Staff at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Asheville, NC. Her newest book, released from Cascade Books in October 2015, is A Body Broken, A Body Betrayed: Race, Memory, and Eucharist in White-Dominant Churches, co-authored with Mary McClintock Fulkerson. Marcia is also the author of Let the Bones Dance: Embodiment and the Body of Christ (WJKP, 2010) and Touchdowns for Jesus and Other Signs of Apocalypse: Lifting the Veil on Big-Time Sports (Cascade, 2014).  Find out more at www.marciamountshoop.com

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Categories: Abuse of Power, Activism, Children, Christianity, General, Healing, Human Rights, Love, Patriarchy, Race and Religion, Sexism

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22 replies

  1. Beautiful. Thank you.

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  2. Love this! Thank you for marching, thank you for writing this, and thank you for being a pastor who can take a stand while also being a unitive presence in your congregation. I too feel the same foreboding feelings and struggle with how to strike the right balance with my daughter of being honest and hopeful. Here is a blog I just wrote for Philanthropy Women which touches on many of the same themes as your post: http://philanthropywomen.org/im-reboarding-feminist-train-build-local-global-sisterhood/

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  3. Thank you, Marcia. You articulate here so much of my own feelings. I’m really struggling with despair.

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  4. A wonderful approach! Pointing out that what is occurring is a reflection of issues which have simmered unchecked for a long time allows me to put everything into perspective. Nothing new and not the doing of this one man. Yet, recent events have served the purpose of a mass, collective uprising of a global nature! I for one have been shaken out of complacency and am finding ways to become involved- as a mother, sister, aunt and human being! Thank You!

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  5. You voiced so much of what I feel Marcia, and recognizing the issues as moral more than political is so important. Thank you for this post.

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  6. Hello Marcia……am sending a million thanks—no, make that two million–for writing about taking a stand against misogyny and racism. PLUS taking your daughter with you to witness what it means to stand up for values to honor women with courage and bravery. Rev. Amy Heinrich also took her daughter Emma to the Women’s March. But when Amy announced at the end of her sermon what she intended to do with her daughter, there was mixed reaction. I wanted to stand up and applaud her decision but thought I had better not…..until most of the women at worship spontaneously stood up and applauded her loudly (and that’s when I stood up and applauded also!) It was a beautiful thing to experience. However, following worship and walking through the hallways, there was vocal dissent….mostly from women: “That should not have happened in church!” Letters have been written to Session….a man has dropped his membership…..and you can imagine the rest of the turmoil. Meanwhile, I have been digging back into my notes from studying with Howard Rice and his Reformed Spirituality, part of my work learning to be a spiritual director. Howard wrote about some of the traps of the roles of activist and pietist: Prayer and Social Action should be kept separate in the church’s life vs. Prayer and Social Action are inseparable in the life of the church. On pages 166-168, Howard makes a distinction between acts of face-to-face compassion (traditionally thought of as acts of mercy) and working in order to change oppressive social structures (traditionally thought of as acts of justice). The purpose of his exercise is to learn–not to establish the truth. Personally, as a follower of Jesus, my understanding of discipleship brings the two roles together, hand in hand: both/and. My prayers are ascending with joy for your many ministries, and long may you continue to employ them with courage and bravery to honor Jesus. Hi to John for me…..every blessing, Barbara Peter

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    • Dear Barbara,
      Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear that Amy has had to deal with hostility after her sermon. I know that can be tough, even as it is part of the what comes with biblical and prophetic preaching. People make decisions about what they need to do in terms of their church home (e.g. the man who decided to leave). I trust people to know when they can’t handle things or need to make another choice. So, I hope people are not letting his choice be about Amy!
      It is great to hear from you. We send our love from NC. Blessings to you in this difficult chapter in our country.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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  7. Thanks, Maria, for this deeply personal post. Its depth resonates with me. But as you, I refuse despair. And the easiest way to do that is to be active. I’m writing letters to the editor; I’m making telephone calls; and I’m ready for the next demonstration. Because the Washington Women’s March energized me, and I believe the next rally will do the same thing.

    Although it makes for a powerful paragraph, I have difficulty with what you wrote when you said: “[Trump] is a container for many of the things this country has failed to address for generations. And those things that he refracts in these impulsive first few days in office and all along the campaign trail are plain and simple: patriarchy and white supremacy.” When you say our country has failed to address patriarchy and white supremacy, I have to disagree. I, and many of the other people who blog here, have spent a lot of time addressing — i.e. resisting and protesting — patriarchy and white supremacy. “And ain’t I an American?” to paraphrase Sojourner Truth. It’s a big country and not everyone is on the same page about patriarchy and white supremacy. But we have made progress since the 1970s on both fronts. What we’re experiencing now is the backlash against that progress. We just need to hold firm and continue pushing the “arc of justice, which bends towards freedom,” as Martin Luther King said. This kind of perspective makes despair less likely.

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    • Thank you for sharing your feelings, Nancy. I, too, have been working on these issues for decades now. I hear your point about many people addressing these issues in their lives for a long, long time.

      I do believe, however, that the collective, systemic responses have been inadequate and have avoided many root issues. The persistent systems of disadvantage mean that we have not addressed them the way they needed to be addressed.

      I assert that what we are experiencing now is not simply a backlash, it is a reckoning. I have a lot of continued work to do myself as a white person, for instance, on how I have internalized white supremacy culture even though I consider myself a progressive, enlightened person. And as a woman, the intersections of race and gender and sexuality make me a complicated reflection of both some of the promise and some of the distortions of our culture(s).

      Our systems remain afflicted, too, with disadvantage that cuts along lines of race, gender identity, and other normative measures that generate advantage and privilege in this country. We have a lot of work to do–and the WE includes everyone, not just people who haven’t done the work on race, etc. that some of us have spent most of our lives doing.

      Thank you, again, for sharing your feelings. These are important times for us to dig even deeper within ourselves to do the healing work that will help our world find a new way and a new day. I am grateful for a growing will to do that.

      Peace,
      Marcia

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  8. And I just found out about a boycott of 32 retailers that sell Trump products. It was written bout in “Business Insider” online on 11/15/16, if you want the information.

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  9. From my perspective, I would say explore your own creativity to the full, or whatever matters most to you. Never mind the barriers out there. Just do your own thing, and do it as magnificently as you possibly can.

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    • Thank you, Sarah. I appreciate you sharing your approach. In an interdependent world, doing “your own thing” can have lots of connotations. I agree that when we live out of our uniqueness and our gifts that we give the world just what is asked of us and vitality unfolds from there. I am less clear on how that happens without beings in-formed by everything we experience, including barriers and difficulties.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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  10. Wonderful post! I love what you said about “the challenge is how to heal a wound that is oozing with a love-resistant infection.” I have been encouraged by the marches. I had a breakthrough last night and realized that I create unity in all of my college classrooms. No matter my students beliefs, my aim is to educate, unite, and awaken them. Now, I have to interact with the rest of the world in this way. It is hard and a bit of a jump, but I am going to try. I’m so glad to see other voices like yours speaking out. Here’s my post if you are interested. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/27030/posts/1320312442

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  11. Oops…Wrong link…I also love your lines, “Is it too late to heal these wounds? Is the patient too far gone? Will the scavengers be here to feed on the carcass of liberty and justice for all? That despair is easy to flirt with these days, but that same despair is ready to deprive us of our humanity. It will steal our hope, it will steal our courage, it will rip us out of the human family.” I am doing my best not to despair and to walk into the world with love, a lot of information, and courage.

    https://triciabarkernde.com/2017/01/31/i-stand-for-love-compassion-unity-and-community/

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  12. Just read your post (a little late) and wanted to send a BIg Thank You for putting the truth of the problem into words so beautifully. It is truly the abandonment of love for the Earth and all Her creatures which started long ago that has brought us to this moment of hate yet again. And I was so happy to see that many, many people have read this.

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    • Thank you, Judith. I am so thankful to know we’re all in this together–there is strength in numbers, now we just need to keep each other engaged and motivated as these challenges keep coming! Blessings to you as you spread love in this love starved world.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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