When I was a little boy forced by my parents to attend Sunday School at St. Andrews AME Church in Detroit — forced I say because I would have preferred watching cartoons of “Davey and Goliath” instead of listening to old, wizened Black women talk about vague concepts that didn’t matter at all to me or make sense to me then: justice, salvation and mercy— one Bible verse we memorized and often recited now looms large within the context of American politics.
“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
My parents did not own a mansion or a fleet of cars, nor did they have summer cottages in Canada and a boat docked on the Huron River for fishing and water skiing. But we were comfortable, content, blessed and from my vantage point, able to meet all of our needs and many of my desires. Thus, the status of my soul, whatever that meant to an eight-year-old boy, and “profit” did not stand at the top of my list of concerns.
However, I kind of liked the way I sometimes became warm all over — the way I similarly felt after sipping on a marshmallow-topped cup of hot chocolate — when the saints got their shout on. It was pure delight to watch while Mom, Momma Minnie (my godmother), Mrs. Muriel or the choir’s organist, Mrs. Jennings, would belt out of one of those songs whose words even I knew, bringing church members to their feet and making me so excited that all I could was jump up and down with joy.
I watched in awe as tears fell from the eyes of both women and men, some so overwhelmed that they fell limp to the floor. At times I wanted to pretend that I felt what they were feeling — taking my place on stage like a novice thespian. But I knew that wouldn’t be right. Even then I knew that you had to WAIT for the moment, for the Holy Spirit, to come — for your spirit to receive that bolt — that surge of electricity and mysterious energy. And while it would be years until I experienced it at maximum force, even as a little boy I got it.
So, when I watch the steady spiritual decline that seems to be overtaking America, and by choice, among its political leaders and Christian community, I’m shocked to see how so many people, who clearly know the game they’re playing and the price that must be paid in order to “win,” have seemingly thrown caution to the wind. That is, they care so much about gaining more and more power that they could care less about this “soul stuff.”
The recent push to secure Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court and the ease with which so many men, and women, justified their vote with comments like, “I believe something happened to Dr. Blasey Ford, but I’m not convinced that it was Judge Kavanaugh who did it,” or Trump’s ridiculous fear-mongering antics proclaiming that America’s mothers (insert white before mothers) are “afraid for their sons because we have entered a time where men are guilty until proven innocent.”
Power is like a drug to some and it’s highly addictive. That’s why we see people from the White House to the outhouse doing any and everything to get their next fix. As for America and those who currently lead from the White House, state houses and other seats of power, I don’t need a swami, a prophet or a crystal ball to see the future which stands before us — unless those with more insight and determination find a way to put on the brakes.
What worries me most is what happens when the majority of Americans have become “soulless creatures.” What does that picture look like? Is it hell … on earth?