Reflections Following Election 2016

Reflections Following Election 2016

By Leanne Van Dyk, President

Upwards of 60 psalms of the total number of 150 are lament psalms. These psalms give voice to my own deep sadness this morning. The presidential election culminating with last night’s results threw many here in this community of faith and learning that I serve into confusion and fear. I cannot speak for each individual person at Columbia Theological Seminary, but I can give witness to a shared sense of sorrow:

The political campaign was bruising and vicious. We mourn that.

The political campaign uncovered deep cultural divisions. We lament those.

Our new president-elect targeted private citizens including women, persons of color, and those with physical disabilities. We protest that.

And so we link our voices to the lament psalms, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!” says Psalm 130.

I have noticed that some people are able to reach toward comfort and courage quickly in this post-election morning. I am not able to do that. I am singing the songs of lament. But I do have the inner space to recognize that I am responsible for my reaction to what happened yesterday. I am reminded of an old Cherokee story.

The elder is teaching a child about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the child. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, and lies. The other is good – joy, peace, love, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too.”

The young child thought about it for a minute and then asked the elder, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee replied, “The one I feed.”

I will linger – for a while, at least – in lament. It is a true song of faith, well attested in Scripture. But I will also keep guard on my attitude and actions as we walk into an uncertain future, full of peril and possibilities. I pray for the entire community of Columbia Theological Seminary in this day and each day.

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3 thoughts on “Reflections Following Election 2016”

  1. Richard M. Nelson says:

    Thank you Madame President. I have been lamenting and appreciate the encouraging word to feed the wolf that will in time lie down with the Lamb.

  2. Marjorie Thompson says:

    Leanne, I join you in deep lament, and strongly affirm your call to guard against reactive vitriol in our own attitudes and responses to this election. The Cherokee story is a fine teacher. Thanks for your honest words and helpful leadership.

  3. Tim Tyler says:

    Madame President, I am compelled to leave a comment, and I hope it will be helpful to brothers and sisters who are still lamenting.
    Both candidates in this election were deeply flawed; neither presented themselves with the personal character we hope to see in a president. I cannot help but notice that you only mentioned Mr. Trump’s flaws and not a word about Mrs. Clinton’s deficiencies. If we are honest, both have many concerning issues.
    The election can serve as a reminder that the change we need in America begins with the heart. The real hope we hold is embedded in the gospel. The truth is, we are all deeply flawed; as the rioting and other reactions have demonstrated. We need Jesus, and so does the rest of America.
    Our work as Christians is the same as it has been. We must love one another as Christ loves the church, and we must love our neighbor as ourselves. Above all we must abandon ourselves in a fierce love for God. When more Americans have begun to do this, we will see better choices for our elections.

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