My friend Kevin O’Brien is a mensch with a good heart. He writes:
I subscribe to a newsletter that features lots of former Republicans who have taken a stand against Trump. (“The Triad” at the Bulwark) Today, their main writer posted about 1-6, and (for the first time) opened the post to comments. He asked how we all felt on 1-6 and thereafter. Here is my comment:
Some of the commenters have lamented what the attempted coup did to their faith – or at least to their membership in a church community. I can certainly relate to that.
I was an atheist for much of my life, but eventually became Catholic, and not only Catholic, but seriously Catholic, and steeped in the whole “Super Catholic” world. In fact, I did quite a bit of work at EWTN, the global Catholic television network, which was started by Mother Angelica. I knew that the Network was shilling more and more to the Christofascists, but it wasn’t until 1-6 that I realized I had to make the break. As the riots were going on, I emailed my contacts at EWTN and told them I would no longer be involved in filming anything at the Network. After all, they had been involved in creating this disaster.
Meanwhile, men I used to admire – some of them very prominent figures in the Catholic Right – all showed their hands. 2020 was the Great Unmasking (literally and figuratively) for these guys; and 2021 was Epiphany (Jan. 6 is the Feast of the Epiphany) – the revelation of who we all really were. We were all put to the test. And many of us failed.
And since then, my (now former) friends have denied the severity of the coup, rationalized it away and gaslighted me, telling me I’m the crazy one for thinking a line has been crossed. It’s business as usual, after all!
And I’m wondering if the rest of you have felt the guilt I have felt. I contributed to this. I thought my friends were devout Christians. One of them was pro-confederacy and hated Abraham Lincoln; I thought that was a quirk, an eccentricity. One of them made excuses for Jew haters. They all denied the science behind the pandemic. One of them publicly tweeted that COVID would magically go away after the election, since it would no longer serve the interests of the liberal media to promote it – and he left that tweet up even after another 500,000 or more people died. One of them was furious at the BLM protests and laughed at police brutality. All of these things I thought were bugs, not features.
But they were features. They were the elements of what was revealed to be a lust for power and a longing for unrestrained hatred and violence. Which, of course, we’re all capable of if we give ourselves over to it.
To conclude: I had a friend who was married for 24 years until his wife suddenly left him for another man. He was devastated, but everyone who knew them both knew she was a bitch. But he couldn’t see it until she “came out”. Was my fellowship with these Super Catholics of the Right Wing the same sort of thing? Was I blinding myself to what they more and more showed themselves to be, especially from 2016 – and from March 2020 on? Was Christ to them no more than an excuse to hate and lie and dominate?
God have mercy on us all. Show us, Lord, our self-delusion and help us to repent.
I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. – Jesus of Nazareth
It is altogether fitting that the Insurrection occurred on the traditional date of Epiphany, because that is what it was.
Epiphany marks the Manifestation to the Magi, emblematic of Christ’s revelation of himself to all the Gentile peoples: all those hailing from outside the Chosen People of Israel. It marks a literal “Oh my God!” moment in which Outsiders are granted insight to See What’s Going On and realizing the shock of truth in the revelation of God Incarnate, Crucified, and Risen. In the light of such revelation, the falsity of what they had worshiped and served in the kingdoms of this world was exposed.
That is precisely what occurred on Epiphany 2021 as Normals who were excluded by self-proclaimed Real Christians[TM] saw with extreme clarity what the Righteous in the MAGA cult had blinded themselves to as they betrayed Christ and worshiped an orange antichrist who had offered them all the kingdoms of the earth and all their empty promises, and all their cheap glamour for a grab at raw nihilist power.
What Kevin records is a clear epiphany of the contrast between the gospel of Jesus Christ and the antichrist MAGA gospel that far too many self-proclaimed Christians have sold their soul for and are still fighting for a year on.
That good news is that Jesus forgives even this betrayal and always offer us a way back to him. Kevin seeks to be a disciple of Jesus and his reward will not be denied him. It will not be the reward of money, pleasure, power and honor that MAGA seek, but the reward of the love of God and a share in Christ’s sufferings.
Well done, good and faithful!