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After the presidential election, a call to be prophetic and pastoral

Bishop Mark Beckwith at the Cathedral the day after Election Day. NINA NICHOLSON PHOTO

Bishop Mark Beckwith at the Cathedral the day after Election Day. NINA NICHOLSON PHOTO

The outcome was unexpected. And for me, unwanted. I anticipated that a lot of people would feel hurt, confused and angry on November 9, but I didn’t figure I would be one of them.

That said, beneath all the swirling feelings, I feel called – in two distinct but related ways.

First, I feel the call to be prophetic. Over the past months during the Presidential campaign, veiled threats have been made to African Americans, open threats to Muslims, sexist references to women, denial of civil rights to transgendered people, verbal eviction notices issued to Hispanics, gun access to almost anyone and on and on and on. It is a time-worn practice of “Othering,” which inevitably generates fear and resentment. Jesus wouldn’t stand for it, and neither should we. It is said by some that the accusations and insinuations were just campaign hype, but the passion with which they were made – and the exhilaration with which they were often received, suggest otherwise. To be prophetic is to expose “othering,” to stand up with and for those being “othered” – and, to paraphrase a claim made in an old hymn, “In Christ there is no East or West” – there is no othering, because we are one in Christ.

The second call is to be pastoral. For generations, if not for centuries, the “othered” groups have not been heard, but instead have been marginalized, forgotten or ignored. In recent decades, a relatively new group of Americans have had the disorienting and disturbing experience of feeling pushed from the center of American life into the shadows. They have not been adequately heard, if they have been heard at all. The pastoral call is to listen. To listen – not with the intent of countering with an argument, but to hear the pain and confusion. Listening builds relationships. Listening is form of reconciliation.

It turns out that listening is a foundation practice in our diocese as we join God in shaping our future.

Being prophetic and pastoral. At the same time. And involving everyone – Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Jesus has had the corner on the prophetic/pastoral market. Let’s join him.


This is the best thing I have read this morning - from any source. Being prophetic and pastoral should be a goal for everyone - of all lines of thought. LISTEN should be a motto for each of us.


Good morning Bishop. Your message is, as always, hopeful and helpful. Your compassion for people, and immediate instinct to bring together and go forward, is one of the things I have always loved about you as a person, and as our Bishop. However, sometimes listening is not enough. There are dangerous people out there. People who not only refuse to hear any other point of view, but who feel that their view is the only "right" view, and that this fact gives them the right not only to impose those views on others, but also to enforce or defend their views through violence and intimidation. As a person whose heritage is both African and Native American, I see just how wrong things can go when people believe that their God given rights trump (no pun intended) everyone else's. My Black male son is apprehensive. My friends who are legal immigrants of Hispanic origins are in tears, fearing for their lives and the lives of their children (who have already had to deal with bullies at school telling them that after Trump is elected they will all have to go back where they came from). My LGBT friends are confused and afraid, and rightfully so given the wave of anti-LGBT laws already popping up around the country and the violence committed against people who are, or are perceived to be LGBT. Listening is a wonderful thing if those on the other side are at least willing to come to the table. But how does one reconcile with a group of people whose idea of reconciliation is "you give me everything I want, and bow to my demands, or leave "my" country?" And don't get me started on the whole take America back and "my country" thing from a bunch of people who came over of ships and took the country from its rightful owners in the first place.

Judy, Thank you for your honest comments. I was taught that the strength of grassroots movements lies in relationships and numbers. In my opinion, mindful listening supports both, especially when I listen to people wiser than I am. Now is the time for us to listen to people with different experiences, perspectives and beliefs. If I'm disappointed in or angry with others, I can ask myself; "Am I projecting my own, disowned parts on them?" If so, I have work to do. "If you're coming from the right place, it's hard to do it wrong." "We are ministers, not messiahs." At some point, my principles need to be put into action. I like; "Show Up, Pay Attention, Tell The Truth, High Intention, Low Attachment." If I keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, maybe I need to change my approach. Valerie Batts advises us to exercise self-care and not to try to do this alone; we need stamina to keep going. "Soul in the Computer: The Story of a Corporate Revolutionary" by Barbara Waugh is an interesting read; my takeaway is "Play with whoever shows up." We need each other now more than ever.

I came upon the Bishop's blog by a non-election related event.  I read your response to it and I found a total grasp of the situation; especially now that the election is a month past.  I have lived all my life (69 years) in this country and I NEVER, NEVER would have forseen what has happened to it and its people.  The contrast of the outgoing and the incoming presidents is glaring.  Such a clearly intelligent man as Obama and such a clearly unknowledgeable, crass, and a hundred other negative adjectives I could give to Trump, should be obvious to anyone with any ability to think and to see.  However, it saddens me beyond comprehension to see what my fellow citizens, such as the Florida women who harassed the Sandy Hook parent, and dozens of other like incidents have done to the country that I never thought was perfect, but now has sunk to a level that is deserving of God's wrath.

Should you truly have a heart for Christ you will seek the scriptures and learn Gods heart. Trump has Gods heart. God has spoken with divine intervention. Move forward and lead Gods people to truth, honoring God in word and action.

What if we heard our pastoral call was to go beyond the parish community to listen to everyone of the marginalized? It is a good beginning that we understand that one group of the least, lost, and left behind is the white family, probably without a college degree, who have felt and have been unheard and neglected. What if we sought those people out and listened to them. This would be a step on the way to reconciliation and healing.

Your response to the pain in our country warms my heart. It is so important to love everybody, to lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ. Just like everybody needs hugs, everybody needs to be heard, to be truly listened to. Thank you so much.

I was stunned by the massive defeat of Hillary Clinton! People are really fed up with Washington, that their government has failed them. Donald Trump's election will mean abundant, profound changes in America. Mr.Trump,in his victory statement, says he wants to unit the country. We shall see! Those of us that voted against him must continue on with our commitment to our country, to continue to work for freedom & social justice for all. While I don't see how this will happen at this time, maybe some good will come out of this, if we practice the principles of peace & love that Christ preached. Just maybe... There has got to be some hope! Never,ever,give up hope!

Now,after the election, church people can take a look at how the vote went in the areas where their members live. Seeing how many people voted for each presidential nominee will hint at possible community divisions between perceived winners and losers. The fact that people voted differently means that they had a different view of, at least, their government, let alone the society that they’re in, and the feeling that they were not being heard. How do you go forward in a nation divided when those divisions are not immediately showing up at your doorstep? One way is for churches to host conversations with people across the political spectrum in a somewhat public and safe space. Invite people in; they might come and they might not come, but give it a go so that people know the church is a place to which they can all come. Such hosting might be very new for most congregations. Everybody who wants to engage in reconciliation around this particular time in our history has to know that they’re all going to be on the cutting edge. See--

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