What's Tony Thinking

O.D.’ed on Politics, Desperate for Grace


With the Iowa Caucuses (where fewer than the number than usually turnout for a Seattle Seahawks game) made Trump “inevitable,” I went into a spiritual tail-spin. The bad cold that so many have had, then dental surgery didn’t help.

Now on the edge of the N.H. Primary, tomorrow, it looks as if Trump will seal the deal. Even if Haley should pull a rabbit out of the hat and win, the odds against anyone-but-Trump look long.

So we trudge, a nation of sleep-walkers, toward a seemingly inevitable and frightening Trump v. Biden rematch, one that I believe a majority of Americans don’t want. How has this come to pass?

I think Biden has done a pretty good job, but I’m terribly worried — as you readers know — that the odds are long against him. And the reality is that we have two de-facto octogenarians running when we, and the world we live in, really need new leadership, not a re-run of 2020.

What is it about so many in politics that they can’t gracefully let-go?

Bemoaning all this, at dinner with friends the other night, one reminded me of what I preach . . . God’s grace. Then I read this from Nadia Bolz-Weber, where she hit the core of her message in her own special way. It spoke to me. Maybe it will to you too? (“Corners” is her Substack site).

“My hope for The Corners is that folks will join me in the all-too-rare celebration of grace and mercy and compassion – not because these things come naturally to me, but because I am in desperate need of them.

“There are enough opportunities out there for the self-righteous, shitty parts of myself to be nurtured and expressed.

“But what I need and what I have always needed, are spaces that challenge my assumptions, open my heart and increase my compassion.

“What I need – and what I have always needed – are spaces where nuance is allowed; where no one is seen as just the worst thing they have done; where the capacity for human beings to be both horrible and beautiful is never underestimated. Where vapid optimism is never mistaken for actual hope.

“Where needing grace and a power greater than myself is not seen as a failing, but perhaps as wisdom. These are the things I am digging for, hoping for, searching for and my desire is to do it with my readers.”

I echo and “amen” to that. All of it. I need frequent, startling reminders of God’s grace and mercy, not because it comes natural to me or I’m so good at it, but because I am in desperate need of it.

And I kind of think our whole weary, divided, acrimonious nation and world are too.

My own explanation for why we are sleep-walking into a re-run of 2020 with two people, one ghastly, one decent — but both too old — is that we are a weary, people in a steady state of grief and spiritual exhaustion.

I know we are not the first to live in a world that overwhelms us. Other generations have, arguably been through worse. But when I consider the 21st century, so far, it seems to me it’s been one overwhelming after another. A recent article considered the upsurge in dangerous driving (which I see on the roads daily) and a new rise in traffic deaths after years of the same going down.

That article points, by way of explanation, to our collective stress. I’m not a big fan of the word “stress.” Too much of a vague, catch-all. I think it’s grief. Grief, fear and spiritual exhaustion. We have been knocked down by serial overwhelmings, dating to 2001 attack, followed by mistaken, never-ending foreign wars, a Great Recession, polarization and meanness, climate change, a pandemic, more terrorism and more wars . . . And we’re encountering it all with our spiritual and moral tanks running on empty, after years of neglecting and diminishing that part of our personal and collective being.

We need grace . . . mercy and compassion, as NBZ, writes. We need to find ways to renew our spiritual foundations. But there is so much out there that offers the opposite, and that fuels “opportunities for the self-righteous and the shitty parts” of ourselves to be nurtured and expressed.

So I cry out for God’s grace and mercy and try to not be over-whelmed by our sad politics, wars and the worst of us. You too?

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