The Alt-Right Are Zombies. Stay with Me.

Think about it. They are wandering the streets. They want to destroy those who are […]

Sarah Condon / 8.21.17

Think about it. They are wandering the streets. They want to destroy those who are not like them. They are screaming for blood. And they are obviously terrifying.

Christians have put out responses all over the map on this one. Tina Fey (a churchgoing Lutheran) has suggested we yell our anger into sheet cakes. Many of my colleagues have taken to the streets to show great love in the face of hate. Also, word on the street is that Beth Moore is pissed at these guys, too.

Believers are rightly upset. Racism is undeniably a sin. And apparently the alt-right missed the memo that St. Beth is not here to play.

What troubles me, is that we have numerous theologies that we are trying to neatly tuck this terrible situation into. I’ve watched enough zombie movies to know that they are anything but tidy.

There has been a call for Christians to constantly remember Jesus. Okay. I remember him. But I also remember the synagogue in Jackson, Mississippi that was bombed in 1967. Should I just tell my beloved Jewish friends to remember Jesus? Should I just wink and say, “Hey Folks, sorry your Jewish Community Centers keep getting nasty bomb threats! Nothing to worry about, because Jesus!”

I’ve also seen a lot of the whole our-lives-go-on-in-the-face-of-terror idea. Meaning that our promise in Christ is everlasting life. So, in the face of great terror and fear, we should just continue on with life, prayer, and work. This sounds like a spectacular plan for white people. It’s my black friends who must worry every single time they send their black children into the world. I just don’t have it in me to say, “Don’t worry! Life goes on! And then you go to heaven!”

Christians, your platitudes are showing, and they are ugly.

Lastly, I’m over the Victory in Christ claim. I always have to unpack the Christus Victor theology a bit because we seem to haul it out of our theological pantry whenever something needs a roux of self-righteousness. Sure, we have victory in Christ. But we only have that victory in our own deaths. It is way less exciting when you put it that way.

We are not here to deny what is happening or to claim the thrilling victory of defeating evil in the name of moral justice. Instead, we are here to walk among the living dead and to tell them that there is hope beyond their sin. And we don’t do that because we are smarter than them or better than them. We do it because we are them. Maybe we don’t wear our deepest sin in Confederate flags, KKK robes, and weapons. But our rage, self-righteousness, and (let’s be honest) hidden racism are just as bad.

I am not writing to tell you to march. That is between you and the Lord. But I am telling you that the stricken and dying walk among us all the time. And as Christians, we are compelled to tell them the truth. The truth that names us and loves us.

On September 30, 1962, riots broke out in Oxford, Mississippi over the integration of the University of Mississippi. Oxford was a tiny town. Everybody knew everybody else. So when the violence and fury began, the Rev. Duncan Gray went out to greet his zombie neighbors. He went out to remind the living dead about the Living Waters of Jesus.

The apocrypha of that night is this: Gray walked around the streets of Oxford from one angry person to another, called them by their God-given names and told them to simply, “Go home.”

To be a Christian in this moment is daunting and painful. Frankly, it should probably always be both of those things. We are told to turn the other cheek and to pray for those who persecute us. We are asked to look at the zombies wandering our streets carrying rifles in their hands, and to preach mercy and forgiveness to them. Mostly, we are asked to look upon our own sin. We are asked to walk among the zombies and to see ourselves in their dying, lonely, furious wretchedness.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom we are the worst. We must be careful to not leave out the other half of the story. If we only point to our righteous indignation, we miss the cross. We must be willing to die, to lose, and to ask for mercy for this broken, sin sick, hellish world. 

We cannot forget that we too were once the living dead, and Jesus saw fit to die even for us.