A Tale of Two Kingdoms, or, Why a Conservative Christian Cried on Election Day

I rubbed tiredness from my eyes as they tapped red and blue-smattered digital maps and now and then cued the dramatic music for the next incoming projection.  A yellow checkmark shone beside the beaming candidate’s triumphal face, claiming another state, another trove of electoral votes.  There was disbelief, conjecture, and momentum towards an outcome radically different than expected.

When it ended I slipped into bed beside my sleeping husband, waking him.

“Trump won.”

“What?  You’re joking.  No way.”

“Yep.  Hillary conceded.  He’s going to be our President.”


Then we lay in silence.

Tears came readily, for me, a pro-life Christian conservative.  Yes, when the power seemed to fall in my peoples’ laps.  The tears weren’t for Hillary, though I did feel sad for her own grief, having worked so hard.  I did not want her as my President, but I felt for her loss and frustration.  I grieved for the people whose hearts felt hope because of her support for the marginalized; I grieved for their fear.  You don’t have to agree to feel.  You can look into the eyes of those with whom you experience profound disagreement and feel compassion for their hurt, their disappointed hopes, their suffering.

No, I didn’t grieve for Clinton; I grieved for the Church.

History has taught me to grieve this; I cannot ignore it.  The government may or may not be improved with Christian morality legislated; this is complex and hard to quantify especially because Christian morality itself is interpreted so differently among Christians! Is it Christian to execute criminals?  Is it Christian to initiate war?  Is it Christian to tell non-Christians whom they can form a civil union with?  And clearly there are certain things that an effectively self-sustaining government must be ready to do that a good Christian could never do; we are constrained by the laws of another Kingdom which are incompatible with any earthly one.  How does a country operate in global relations if its beliefs include loving your enemy, blessing those who hurt you, turning the other cheek, loving your neighbor as you love yourself, not thinking only of your own interests, denying yourself, overcoming evil with good, welcoming the sojourners (immigrants and refugees), honoring them and caring for their needs without qualification?  History shows us that those who have attempted a Christian theocracy have either split their lives into two parts (public life and private life), or they have ignored the merciful and radically-loving commandments and used the Christian name to incite fervor and unity into their subjects.  Both distort Christianity.  When the Church and power hold hands, the Church loses, it loses its very heart and medicine.

Christianity is the path, the way, the hospital where our sin sickness is diagnosed and healed.  It is where we encounter Him, Christ, our very life.  Trying to make people behave like Christians through legislation ignores how each of us really experiences transformational change.  I would argue that we are changed by love, by humility, by joy, by good examples, by beauty, by heroes, by music, by art, by godly grandmothers’ prayers and the lives they led before us, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit’s work within us; not from top-down laws that govern our bodies but not our hearts.

Of course I want abortion to end, but I also don’t fool myself into thinking that true change will come if it’s made illegal.  Theft, perjury, child abuse, and rape are all illegal too, and yet how prevalent they continue to be.  Of course I don’t want to suffer persecution for holding on to God’s sexual ethics, but God never promised me a cost-free faith.  God does not say, “Make sure you don’t have to suffer for Me”; he calls me to suffer well for His sake, enduring.  We are to be the conscience of the nation, not the constable.

Which kingdom are we invested in seeing triumph?  And, importantly, at what cost?

“It has become more evident to me that we are to be given a great popular national Church, whose nature cannot be reconciled with Christianity, and that we must prepare our minds for the entirely new paths which we shall then have to follow.  The question is really:  Christianity or Germanism?  And the sooner the conflict is revealed in the clear light of day the better.”  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor who was executed by the Nazis

When I see that 80% of evangelicals rallied behind a man who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy, and that they’d let him because he’s a “star”, and who laughed at his own failed attempt to seduce a married woman, and who mocked both prisoners of war and a reporter with a disability, I am sickened (especially when I remember how they eviscerated Bill Clinton for his moral failures).  I am also disturbed by Christians who found the life of the unborn an insubstantial reason to not support Clinton.  I’m disturbed that they could so easily brush aside some very real concerns about her integrity.  I have heard all the justifications about voting for a platform rather than a person, about how God uses sinful people for His purposes, and so on, but what the world sees is far different.  They see that our bar is extremely low for the person we want in power and hypocritically high for those we don’t want in power.  Character matters until it doesn’t.

How did I want this election to go?  My hopes weren’t pinned there.  My hopes were that Christians would vote for those who both represented what they cared about AND were capable and experienced people of sound character and integrity, even if they lost.  That they would be kind and warm to those who disagreed with them.  That they wouldn’t vote if there was no one they felt in clear conscience that they could affirm.  That they wouldn’t choose a lesser evil, but would rather choose good always, even if it meant abstaining from voting.  That in all things, that they were more invested in God’s kingdom work than in the power plays of Washington.  I wanted the Church to be the Church, a distinct and beautiful thing that reaches not for power but for the downtrodden and broken, embracing them.

Last night at our local English as a Second Language program I sat down and played a board game with two young Muslim girls, their hijabs framing their playful, beautiful faces.  Their mother was in class, learning the language of her new home.  We laughed together.  I was so glad they’re here, and I hoped that their bright joy wouldn’t be stomped on by the hate and fear of my fellow Americans.  I stopped by the home of one of our Indian students, enjoying their delicious food and warm hospitality, laughing together, hugging them both as I left, saying “May God bless you, Mamagi (Mother, with respect).  May God bless you, Papagi (Father, with respect).”  These experiences were a balm on my raw heart.  Here was the kingdom work that I could be a part of, each connection a vote for love and compassion.burden



Of Dreams

I can fly and there’s nothing I like better.  A big wave is coming, shifting the horizon up a mile into the air; we’ll all die.  I’m in a play and don’t know the lines and a cold panic sweeps on over.  I’m in a school and can’t find my classes, nor my locker, nor remember what the combination is.  I find my childhood toys all scattered in a stream bed and I try to gather them up and save them.  Dreams.

Senseless, terrifying, prophetic, wild.  I think it’s where our hopes, our fears, our thoughts run about in story form in a frolicking subconscious.  Sometimes it feels like an autobiographical comic strip that got cut-up and rearranged in chunks that make no sense next to one another, but in dreams you accept whatever is glued on to that piece of paper.  Continuity is optional.

Other times I feel like I’m not writing the story at all, but I’m seeing something I’m supposed to.  I feel embarrassed to say it, but I’ve had a number of prophetic dreams.  In Chile I had a dark, dark dream.  One of the worst.  In it a woman was giving birth and as the baby was born the mother nodded to the midwife you promptly decapitated it with a knife, then another baby as well.  Dark blood flew and my soul convulsed; awakening me in a cold sweat and wild with horror.  The next day in our town of Puerto Montt, Chile two newborn babies were found dead in a trashcan, umbilical cords still attached.

Another time in a dream I saw a married man among our acquaintances making sexual advances on a woman who was not his wife.  I was shocked and repulsed and heartsick.  One month later he left his wife and children for his mistress.

Why I saw these things I don’t know.  I don’t tell people about them (until now), because there isn’t a neat and tidy way to understand dreams and where, or with whom, they originate.  I only know that they change me and they make me listen hard for the message, if there is any, in the dreams I remember.

This morning a monstrous black snake fixed it’s eyes on me.  Big as a python with a huge head, it coiled itself in moving loops as big as hula hoops and sped across the grass at me, it’s eyes never wavering from mine.  I remember thinking, “Oh no, why me again?”  I must have met this snake before.  And then it’s mouth was on my arm, fangs sinking deep.  Such pain, such deep pain.  With my free hand I dug my nails in and tried to pry that clamped mouth from my arm.  I got the head loose and crushed it against the ground.  It shape-shifted then, became a baby rather than a snake, and I loosened my grip in horror, letting my hands fall away.  I awoke, sweating and scared.


I thought while I showered, while I tried to rinse off the horror and terror of that dream.  The snake was evil incarnate, I knew that; evil has a stare like no other.  I’ve come through many attacks in my spiritual life, thus the sense of repetition.  And evil does shape-shift, when you’ve almost gained victory over a certain sin, it can suddenly seem not so bad after all, almost a pitiable thing, like the baby, maybe even in need of protection.  That’s my best attempt; time will give it layers.  I don’t easily forget dreams like that.

It may seem a strange catalyst, but the dream about the two babies fueled my passion for fighting infanticide, exposing abortion for what it really is, an unspeakable horror.  It gave me a gut-level, marrow-deep conviction about the sanctity of life.

Dreams about others falling into sin (and later seeing those things come to pass) have given me an alertness and vigilance in my own spiritual life which otherwise may not have been there.  I have a feel of how close we are to the ditches on the path and how attentive we must be to where we place our steps.

I don’t claim that all dreams have meaning.  I think some are just the subconscious colorfully breaking wind.  But there are others that leave a mark, give a message, reveal something to us.

What about you?  Has a dream ever changed you?  Have you dreamed prophetically?  Do you have a recurring dream that you’ve figured out?


For The Love


I had just put my boat away and changed into dry clothes; another day at the rowing club in Chile.  I’m sure my back was sore, my knuckles bleeding, and that I had a salty crust of sweat and sea water on my face.  It was summer in Chile, and I stood with my fellow rowers in easy companionship until someone mentioned un balde de cachorros (a bucket of puppies).  And there it was; a five-gallon bucket full of lab puppies, sitting in the hot sun, abandoned at the door of our rowing club.

This is an all too common occurrence in Chile and no one was shocked, there were no authorities to appeal to, no local media to descend upon the situation.  I knew none of them could take them home; their parents would just dump them back on the curb.



This happened.

On the bus ride home, with four puppies in a bucket at my feet, I mentally rehearsed the speech I’d make to my husband.  I am a word smith by trade, but no combination of words seem to soften the blow of “Honey, I have four puppies in this here bucket”.


The children were thrilled.  They love being a halfway house for street pups.  First we warm them up, then bathe them with flea wash.  Then come the anti-parasite drops, then food and water.  Then we take them to the street pup adoptions downtown and try to find them good homes (new owners being held to a sterilization contract).

Many animals came through our doors…


Hotel Gingrich quite full.


This one above I plucked right from the hands of a boy who was viciously abusing him.  I gave that little boy a stern lecture; I’m sure he’s still terrified of the angry gringa who told him off and took away his toy.

Don’t you feel it, that righteous indignation that anyone would be so callous and cruel as to hurt-abandon-kill-torture such a helpless little creature?

Now, look at me, right in the old blue eyeballs a minute…..I want your attention.


54,559,615.  As of January 23, 2012, that’s how many babies have been killed by abortion since Roe vs. Wade.  (http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/shock-estimated-54559615-abortions-since-roe-v.-wade)


Photo credit:  (http://www.flickr.com/photos/74896762@N00/3167352760/)

They feel it, you know, the pain of dismemberment.  Where is the righteous indignation that a bucket of pups can evoke?  Where is the horror that babies are being chopped up daily, hourly, endlessly?  Why all this compassion for animals and none for these dear ones?

If you have had an abortion, I do not hate you.  I cry for your baby, and I cry for you.  They didn’t tell you that your heart would be dismembered too; that part of you would be carried away without words, out of sight.  That it wouldn’t ever stop hurting.

Please, never do it again.  Please know that God loves you intensely and nothing is beyond forgiveness.  He wants nothing more than to bring you close, forgive you, and heal you.

If you are considering an abortion, please, no.  We would love to adopt your baby and love them as our own.  They’d have three big brothers and one big sister and a mama and papa head-over-heels in love with them.  We know amazing couples who cannot have their own children, who ache to be mommy and daddy.  Your baby is a treasure, your baby is a gift.