Here’s a timely collaboration from Sarah Condon and Scott Jones, following up on today’s Mockingcast round table.

President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, greets President-elect Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, greets President-elect Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last week one of our friends (one of Sarah’s to be specific) mentioned how guilty she felt about not attending a women’s march in protest of the inauguration. Apparently a family member had chastised her for not going. “You can’t go to a freaking march,” Sarah barked back, “you are of no use to your small children if somebody blows you up in the street.”

Everyone seems to be looking for a right response to today’s event. There is a right response for women. A right response for conservatives. A right response from liberals. And certainly, a right response for Christians.

Maybe. Our Christian faith tells one of us to pull the covers over their head, have a hot cup of tea, and pray that no one gets hurt. It tells the other to pray the same prayer while drinking bourbon and flipping between MSNBC and FOX News. Doubtless it tells you something different. But those are our plans, as of right now. We’ll probably text each other Joe Biden-Kellyanne Conway memes throughout the day as well.

We don’t want to make light of what is happening. Millions of Americans are finding their healthcare in jeopardy. We have someone taking over the Department of Education who has never taken out a college loan. Just to name a few WashPo news alerts as of late. Of course, you don’t have to share that publication’s ambivalence to admit there are a lot of unknowns here.

And yet, in midst of all sorts of scary potentialities, we are surrounded by yet another round of what the church should be doing–and not just on social media. Which makes both of us want to drink bourbon. Once again, it’s fallen to the church to tear down the walls that divide us by pointing out all the bad people. Once again, the church is going to demand the truth from our politicians. Once again, the church has cast itself as your friendly neighborhood justice league, ready to correct rather than forgive–or correct first, forgive later.

But should we really desire the church to jump into the cesspool and tell people where the cow ate the cabbage? After all, we aren’t good with cesspools. We are decent with baptismal fonts, but at least in that endeavor we don’t go it alone.

During his last press conference President Obama gave a great theology lesson. In response to a reporter’s pessimistic question he said, “the only thing that’s end of the world is the end of the world.” It’s a lesson you can learn from a cursory glance of any of the three versions of the Olivet discourse, or even in a bad catechesis class. But if you’re a glutton for punishment you can get it straight up and neat from St. Augustine.

The world will come to an end one day. Yet God has promised us that the whole thing won’t end with a bang or a whimper. God’s idea of a grand finale is a Sixteen Candles prom dance. The problem with that finale is it involves enduring things like circus clowns and colic to get there. Which is why the church and the world (i.e., we ourselves) are addicted to trying to re-write the script.

In a thoughtful exercise inspired by church history, theologian and author Michael Horton posed the following question:

Imagine you are a Christian living near Rome in the year 411, when the barbarians sacked the seat of the Empire, an empire which had become identified with the City of God upon the earth. For so long the center of the universe for pagan Romans, the city of Rome continued as the center of the universe for the Christians as well. The city of man had at last been converted into the city of God. Here Paul nurtured the small community of Jewish and Gentile Christians, and here Peter was martyred. But now, the City of God had been taken by the heathen and the apparent collapse of the Roman Empire was equivalent in many minds to the fall of the Christian church itself. How could God allow this? How were the Christians to make sense of this catastrophe?

There was one guy who rejected the “narrative” of the day entirely. We know him as Augustine. His mother knew him as the kind of kid who kept you on your knees in prayer. After a dramatic, slow-going adult conversion to Christianity, he became the Western church’s most important thinker, and one of the intellectual parents of the world we now inhabit.

In book 19 of his magnum opus Augustine penned some words which the Church daily forgets at her own peril:

In this unfriendly world, in evil days like these, the Church through the lowliness she now endures is winning the sublime station she is to have in heaven. Meanwhile, the sting of fears and ache of tears, the vexatious toil and hazardous temptations, teach her to rejoice only in the healthy joy of hope. With so many sinners mingled with the saints, all caught in the single fishing net the Gospel mentions, this life on earth is like a sea in which good and bad fishes caught in a net swim about indistinguishably until the net is beached, and the bad ones are separated from the good. Only then does God so reign in the good, as in His temple, that He may be all in all….So it falls out that in this world, in evil days like these, the Church walks onward like a wayfarer stricken by the world’s hostility, but comforted by the mercy of God. Nor does this state of affairs date only from the days of Christ’s and His Apostles’ presence on earth. It was never any different from the days when the first just man, Abel, was slain by his ungodly brother. So it shall be until this world is no more. (5)

Anyone reading their Bible today would do well to turn to 2 Corinthians, which our President-elect famously referred to during the primary season at a renowned Christian university. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is….liberty.” The statement was met with thunderous applause and approval. Indeed, truer words were never spoken. But underlying and animating St. Paul’s powerful prose is another passage from his second missive to the worst adult Sunday school class the world has ever known:

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Death at a protest march. Death under the covers. Death of a comfortable narrative or a painful one. Death no matter who places their hand on a Bible and takes the oath of office. Death which begins and ends on the cross. But death, nonetheless.