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Republicans and the Right need to Remember it’s Advent

by on December 11, 2022

I’ve read that some Republicans and those on The Right are criticizing the prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia which brought Brittney Griner home. Griner is a professional basketball player charged with drug possession who was serving a nine-year sentence. Those familiar with the circumstances widely agree that the charge and the sentence were unreasonable.

Those on The Right are critical because of who else participated in the exchange, and who didn’t. Griner was exchanged for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving time for smuggling. Paul Whelan, a former United States Marine serving time for espionage, was not in the exchange. From the first I heard of it, both Griner and Whelan were part of the negotiation. It ended up with only Griner. Those on The Right are critical because the exchange involved the wrong, or one too few, American.

I ask myself, Why can’t The Right celebrate Griner’s release? Of course it is to be expected in our hyper-partisan political environment. Part of me also wonders if it’s because she’s a she. Moreover, she’s a she who’s married to a woman. Maybe The Right is upset because she’s a professional athlete who went to a Communist country to address the income disparity with her male counterparts in her Capitalist country. Could her being black have anything to do with it? These all represent stark contrasts with Whelan and may contribute to the reaction of The Right.

The Christian theologian in me answers that The Right doesn’t remember that it’s Advent. Advent is that season in the church calendar which reminds us of the promises God has begun to deliver in the presence of Jesus. Prophets of ages past proclaimed a society in which injustices were rectified. This would include vindication of the wrongly accused, deliverance of the oppressed, and the liberation of captives. Jewish Prophets cast this longed-for society as a Divine promise, and the hope of God’s faithfulness to these promises sustain weary people of faith still today. This is why Christians celebrate Advent.

What surprises me is that, while so many of the Republicans and The Right claim the religion of Christianity, they seem to have forgotten the foundation of Christian hope. While it is hard to imagine a just society this side of death, Jesus didn’t simply offer a vision of the afterlife. He proclaimed the “Kingdom of God” already present with himself. And for those who believe in the Resurrection and the Divine Spirit—tenets of Christianity—that presence remains.

The righting of any injustice, the deliverance of any who suffer, the release of any prisoner, are all revelations of God’s faithfulness to Divine promise. They should cause all people to rejoice, and for religious folk to praise God. At least part of the reason Republicans and The Right aren’t rejoicing and praising God this week is because they don’t remember that it is Advent.


From → In the News

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