How does someone fearful of what four years of a Trump presidency may bring respond to this Inauguration Day? For me, it offers an opportunity to literally practice what I’ve been preaching.
In my book Paradox Lost: Rediscovering the Mystery of God I wrote this about living within tensions:
Dare we suggest that truth might sometimes reside within the tension created by opposing polarities? Dare we propose that the best policy choices may reside somewhere between Democrats and Republicans, left and right, MSNBC and Fox News? Have we lost our ability to live within (or even recognize) such tensions because we spend most of our time in echo chambers reverberating with the predispositions of people just like us?
My premise that the Christian faith is paradoxical because many of our major truths can only grasped only by living within tensions:
These tensions must not be resolved, for, as any church historian will attest, the major heresies of the past two millennia involve emphasizing one side of these paradoxes to the detriment of the other. Jesus just a little more divine than human, or just a tiny bit more human than divine, is heresy; the true Jesus is the grand paradox, equally and indivisibly God and human. Both practically and doctrinally, Christians must live within such tensions if we are to remain faithful to the biblical revelation, which is far more paradoxical than we sometimes admit.
Practically, this means believing that often reality is more complicated than can be defined by one or another of competing absolutes, i.e. Trump is 100% good or 100% bad.
To get in touch with reality, Trump supporters must admit he is not a savior or messiah. To get in touch with reality, I must admit that something good could conceivably come from this.
How do I live in this tension and not see Trump as an absolute calamity? I must be searchingly honest and admit this election has expanded my view of reality.
A primary example for me is the primal scream of pain felt by many Americans who voted for Trump as their protest against globalization, social change, over-wrought political correctness, etc. Like many Americans, I had no idea of the level of this pain. I will try to be more sensitive in the future. In some ways, I already agree with them.
While in my judgment Trump’s actual policies may make their lives worse, not better, if their primal scream turns into somehow lessening the growing inequality between classes and lifts up the forgotten, it will be a positive outcome. As our nation embarks on this new era, here is one area where I can live in the tension.
Whatever of view of President Trump and whichever side we are on, we can each refuse to accept that reality is all black or all white and admit that tensions exist. In some small way, this may help us address our deep divisions as a nation.
Question: What does living in the tension mean for you? Or do you find it even possible? Please share a comment below.