Weeds, wheat, and Donald Trump

weeds-and-wheatThe parable of the weeds and wheat (Matt. 13:24-30), to which I referred in a reply to my previous post about Christianity under siege by Donald Trump and his minions, recognizes that life is populated by things we label “good” and “evil,” a condition we’re inclined to blame on an “enemy.” Jesus reminds us to be careful of such inclinations. Maybe in telling the parable he recalls Isaiah, who, in a wisdom that stuns me with its transcendent view of reconciliation and wholeness, reported hearing God say, “I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things” (Isa. 45:7).

We mere mortals don’t have the perspective from which to judge what is “good” and “evil” or to speculate why “bad” things happen. (Read the final chapters of Job on this point.) We must leave the final sorting out to God because at this stage of the game we simply can’t make a definitive distinction between weeds and wheat, and the roots of the two are so intertwined we can’t disturb one without disturbing the other.

In her book A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit reminds me that in ancient mythology, Justice, blindfolded and holding the scales, “stood at the gates of Hades deciding who would go in, and to go in was to be chosen for refinement, through suffering, adventure, transformation, a punishing route to the reward that is the transformed self.” And a few days ago I heard someone suggest that the situation we’re in is not the darkness of the tomb but the darkness of the womb.

Is it too much to hope that in the longer arc of history what we’re experiencing today will be seen as part of a course correction, a purification and refinement, labor pains out of which something new will be born – and not the “rough beast” Yeats wondered about? I’ll continue to “resist evil injustice and oppression in whatever form they present themselves,” as my baptismal vows call me to do, and I’ll try my best to get it right. I’ll just do it with more humility, and I won’t worry about getting it wrong.

2 comments

  1. Ember Hilkert · · Reply

    This: “Is it too much to hope that in the longer arc of history what we’re experiencing today will be seen as part of a course correction, a purification and refinement, labor pains out of which something new will be born”

    This is not only my hope, but my firm belief. My partner often reminds me of a quote that has applications in life, love and politics; “when the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, we will change”. Perhaps this is what our country needed in order to reunify. And much like child birth, it won’t be painless but will reap great rewards in the end.

  2. A wise character once said, “The hardest thing about doin’ what’s right is you never know what’s gonna come of it.” The country did what seemed the right thing and elected Trump to be our president. Now we’ll see what’s going to come of it. But I’m with you in believing the final outcome is certain. It’s just the road from here to there we don’t know about and must work to create (“work out our own salvation with fear and trembling,” is the way Paul put it). It’s how we travel the road that defines us and creates “Our bright or muddy star,” as Aldous Huxley put it.

    The choice is always ours. Then, let me choose
    The longest art, the hard Promethean way
    Cherishingly to tend and feed and fan
    That inward fire, whose small precarious flame,
    Kindled or quenched, creates
    The noble or ignoble men we are,
    The worlds we live in and the very fates,
    Our bright or muddy star.

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