Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Dark Times as Advent Draws Near

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Dark Times as Advent Draws Near

Article excerpt

As Advent draws near, there's little doubt that we are a people walking in deep darkness. Fears of war, acts of terrorism and revelations of sexual misconduct across the spectrum of society tint the season with hues of purple.

The ever-growing lists of men accused of sexual harassment is prompting a national conversation that happens to collide with the Christian observation of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent is a time of preparation and waiting, a season of clearing out the spiritual clutter of our lives so that the light of Christ might once again shine.

In this season of growing darkness, when hope seems scarce, we dare to light candles, praying, "Come, Lord Jesus Christ." We heed again John the Baptist's cry to repent and change. We listen for the soft murmuring of Mary's song, and yearn for God's hope to illumine the world. This is the pattern we repeat every year, though this year seems astonishingly bleak.

Our national conversation about sexual misconduct and abusive relationships leaves us reeling. The accusations fly across the cultural and political spectrum: journalists, entertainers, politicians, clergy and so many others. The #metoo campaign has quickly devolved into #allofus, because in one way or another, these abusive actions impact every one.

It's an example, a friend of mine wrote, of cross contamination. We are all touched by the virus-like actions of persons whose abuse of power weaponized sexual expression. It is hard not to let the darkness of this moment creep into our lives. I am sickened by the stories I have read: powerful men inviting young women to hotel rooms; bosses telling associates to wait in bathrooms as they shower; adults preying on youth; celebrities locking office doors; the systemic silencing of accusers.

Beyond all of that is our own complicity. The current conversations are an opportunity to think about the times when we have ignored the jokes or brushed aside locker room banter. It is no longer acceptable to pretend abuse does not happen.

"We have all become like one who is unclean," Isaiah instructs us. We live in distorted relationships. …

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