Worried About Trump? Get Your Holy Spirit On


Time Magazine trumpets Democrats: Divided and Dispirited. Oh, wait. That news story is from February 16, 1970.

Guess what? The struggle for justice and peace in the United States, and around the world, has a long history. As a progressive person of faith, I know well this struggle has taken big hits before. And make no mistake, the election of one of the worst charlatans to ever run for the office of President of the U.S. is an unfolding disaster.

But the holiness of people cannot be denied when they come together to protest injustice and proclaim that a better way is possible.

I know that because I have seen it before.

Don’t call me dispirited, Time. Not in late 1960’s when I was a student protestor against the Vietnam war.


This is an anti-war rally at Smith College. I’m over by the tree.

So many were dying and being grievously injured in a sham of a war, and our government was lying to us about it. It took years and many lives were lost and broken. But we forced it to end.

As the war dragged on, and I entered seminary, my teacher of theology, Dr. Frederick Herzog, translated Paraclete (Holy Spirit) in the Gospel of John as “draft counselor.” Resisting the draft, Fred said, was one of the works of the Holy Spirit. The other was the Civil Rights movement. The money the U.S. spent on Vietnam could have been used for jobs and justice, as Dr. King so rightly proclaimed. The war was robbery of not only lives but of the possibility of real equality.

So don’t call me dispirited now.

Many lives are at risk because of this election. Private prison stocks jumped the day after the election. The incarceration industrial complex will grow, Wall Street told us. Millions will suffer and die because the Affordable Care Act is on the chopping block. Millions more now uninsured have little hope since Medicaid will be next. And then Medicare is will be after that. Schools risk becoming privatized and even “Christianized,” whatever that means. I know it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. The modest gains in LGBTQ equality may be rolled back, and women’s reproductive rights could very well be no more. Muslim Americans are fearful of future persecution, and they are being treated hatefully even now. Immigrants are being demonized and threatened. The first harvest of this newly elected administration is one of hate.

So don’t call me naive either.

The dispirited disciples gathered after the Romans executed Jesus, but their despair was not the last word. As we learn in the aptly titled New Testament book, Acts, they got their Holy Spirit on and built a movement.

You may not have Black Lives, Mr. Trump, because they matter. You may not make money off of putting people in prison. That has to stop. Health Care is a human right, and death is not a profit-center. Tell that to your cabinet. Women’s bodies are their own, not yours, not to assault or manipulate to get a vote margin with the so-called Christian Right. Got it? Full LGBTQ rights are fundamental to a democracy. Immigrants are a strength of this nation, not a threat to it. Religious freedom for all, not just for your prejudiced “Christian” supporters, is the bedrock of this nation.

What I plan to do is get my Holy Spirit on and join with other people of faith, and people of humanist values in saying ‘no’ to any threats to human dignity and worth put forward by a Trump administration, and offer positive alternatives.

We will not be silent. And neither will the Holy Spirit.

And we will win.






About Susan Thistlethwaite

I am President Emerita and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary; I write for the public here and in local papers. I am interested in what I call "public theology," or how deeper meaning is made and contested in the public square.
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