Sister Joan is Breaking it All the Way Down

As Trump continues to violate every tenet of the Christian faith with his policies (and tweets), it’s inspiring and refreshing to hear a respected Christian leader speak out about the hypocrisy and “cesspool of silence” within that community.

Here’s a taste of what Sister Joan Chittister, an 83-year old Benedictine nun, was throwing down on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation, spurring a “Preach Sister Preach” from Oprah (and me)!

There’s too much silence going on in this country. Because you see, we’ve been taught this can’t happen to us. We’re waiting for the Vending Machine God to save us or this great constitutional structure to curb it. It’s not curbing anything.

We see ourselves as very Christian people. We love to follow Jesus the Healer. Makes us feel good. Jesus was good to women, raised little kids from the dead, fed whole hungry crowds. [We say] that’s who I am, that’s what I want to do. But that’s only half the Christian dispensation. You turn Jesus the Healer over and what you find is Jesus the Prophet. This is the Jesus who contended, contested, confronted and challenged those who were making it necessary to feed the hungry.

Our world waits for you and me, for spiritual people everywhere to refuse to be pawns in the destruction of a global world for the sake of national self-centeredness. The only question is, will we take up what we know is our moral and spiritual responsibility to make the world a better place for all, to bring to life the fullness of creation for all, to bring about equality, safety, security and compassion for all? That is where the prophet comes in, the prophet is the person who says no to everything that is not of God. No to the abuse of women. No to the rejection of the stranger. No to the crimes against immigrants. No to the rape of the trees. No to the pollution of the skies. No to the poisoning of the oceans. No to the despicable destruction of humankind for the sake of more wealth, more power, more control for a few. 

Even the people who know that they’re doing well right now are also afraid that maybe tomorrow the next shoe is going to drop. There is a low-level anxiety and so nobody gets hysterical, nobody rushes to the streets, very few people speak up even to their families, because we were all trained to be nice, we were never trained to be good. We are very genteel but we are not prophetic. We are not honest. So what you get is the passivity that comes out of anxiety unexpressed and that passivity leads to the silence that we’re seeing now. Everybody knows there’s a storm coming, but hope maybe it won’t hit here. 

We love to talk about living as Jesus lived, but what we mean by that is living as Jesus lived in the first century rather than living as Jesus would be living in this century. Live as Jesus would live in this century. The people who claim to be pro-life are just pro-birth… They don’t want any tax money going to feeding that child, educating that child, housing that child. Just get born and after that, you’re on your own.

Oprah: This is what I don’t understand. The people who claim to be pro-life are also for tearing children from their mother’s arms at the border?

That’s going to come back and bite them, Oprah… God does not punish sin, sin punishes sin. Think about it, if pride is your sin, then you will never have enough adulation on the globe to be satisfied. If lust is your sin, you will never have enough sex to fill up your sense of physical power. If anger is your sin, you’ll die from the ulcers that burn inside because you’re always angry. God does not punish sin, sin punishes sin. This is going to bite the heels out of us, Oprah; this attitude of self-centeredness is going to come back and get us, because self-centeredness simply destroys itself. You don’t want to spend the money in order to take care of the children because you want the tax break. You don’t want to pay for education in this country. Oh, that’s going to come back and bite us. 

After we’ve said our prayers and checked the news, shaken our heads over it and turned off the TV, we suddenly remember someone who needs the help we just read about. Then we ask ourselves what we really stand for and what we’ve done to prove it. At that moment we either become prophets or simply churchgoers. And that is the ultimate question, the question we all must answer. You, what are you going to do about it? It’s that simple. It is not complex.

Preach Sister Preach!

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Todd Heisler photo

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