My weekday morning routine is to get up at 6:30 and make it to the desk in my office where I read the Bible some and pray a little, before doing some other reading or writing. And every morning at 7:30, my routine is interrupted by a trumpet bleating reveille being blasted from loudspeakers at the Air Force base 800 yards west of me.
It’s then that I often stop whatever I’m doing to pray against the spirit of militarism that grips so much of American life, including the church, by praying for the failure of all militaries—whose objectives are simply, as conservatives always tell us, to kill people and break things—and for the failure of the political and financial interests that derive their power and wealth from the business of war—using money stolen from today’s taxpayers and “borrowed” from taxpayers not yet born.
When the trumpet sounded the morning of Inauguration Day, I prayed and then wrote down these thoughts:
The trumpet of empire just sounded while I was reading the sixth chapter of John—which includes verse 15: “When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.” What a sweet contrast of Jesus— who served everyone and then escaped when they wanted to give him political power—on one hand, and the orgy of oppression about to be celebrated later today is humbling.
I’m really good at expressing outrage and contempt for the evil that is done in the world by the powerful in the name of all those false idols—national security, patriotism, equality, fairness, economic growth, respect for the office, etc.
And though I believe that it’s right to call attention to that stuff, to mock them, I want to get better at living like Jesus and telling people what he is like.
Not only did he refuse power when it was offered to him by the people—the same people who had disobeyed God by asking for a king in the first place (1 Samuel 8:10-22), but he refused power when offered it by Satan (Matthew 4:8-11).
Instead, he pursued his obsessive love for us by choosing the indignity of being human, then spending a lifetime serving and loving others, then choosing a death in which he gave his life and his body as the fuel for us to have eternal life—all the while having, but not using, the power and authority to save his life and become king.
That’s the reason why I pray for the failure of all the Trumps and Clintons and Obamas and Bushes—because their morality and their means of pursuing it is rebellion to God’s way for mankind to relate to one another. He has made each of us in his own image, and because he cannot be ruled, none of us should be ruled.
Someone recently said to me, “Do you want the pilot to crash the plane we’re all on?”
Well, that plane crashes in a new and horrible way every day, and I’m not on it anyway.