20161109t1043-0372-cns-election-trump-reaction_cropIt has been a long time since I’ve written a blog post here. Close to seven months. I have heard from many people over many months words of encouragement to return to this medium. And I am grateful that there are those who still desire my thoughts and reflections, as well as the sharing of ideas and interesting news items in this space.

The simple truth is that I’ve been busy, more busy than usual. While I could have prioritized writing here, the demands of deadlines for columns, articles, books and, most importantly, my PhD dissertation have understandably occupied my time this past year. On top of that, a full speaking schedule and the start of a new job teaching at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago has only made the limited amount of time available feel all the more limited.

But things have changed.

This week has been unprecedented in the history of the nation I call home. A country that, like a family member or friend, I love but love with the desire for its improvement and to be its “best self.” I do not feel like the US has always lived up to its “best self,” and the election of a candidate who has spoken so openly in disparaging ways about women, immigrants, people of color, disabled persons, Muslims, and so many others is a prime example of that failure to be what we are truly capable of being.

Regardless of what political party with which you are affiliated, the election cycle has been extraordinarily divisive and not accidentally so. The president-elect stirred the pot of discontent, hatred, and violence at nearly every turn. He preyed on the fears of the financially and socially insecure, he tapped into the vein of white supremacist rhetoric. And this is absolutely not acceptable.

The calls for reconciliation and unity are, perhaps generally, an understandable move in the right direction. However, as Blessed Pope Paul VI famously said, “If you want peace, work for Justice.” And justice requires a coming to terms with the condition of the possibility for such division. The hateful campaigning, fear mongering, and discriminatory rhetoric, all of which has frighteningly given the disenfranchised a sense of empowerment to verbally, psychologically, and even physically harm women, men, and children has been the wedge that further fractured an already divided nation.

I am interested in dialogue and reconciliation and unity. But I don’t believe that such things are possible apart from honest accounting for conditions that have led to this divide.

Fear is the enemy of Christian discipleship and we must not be afraid. We must not be afraid to stand with one another against injustice, to speak up when witnessing harassment or violence, to risk the vulnerability that agape love demands of Christians.

Those who may look like me, who identify as white—especially white, male, clerics— we must use our unearned social privilege to empower those whose voices and lives are being silenced and oppressed. It is especially necessary that we do not remain silent ourselves, or retreat into what a Franciscan Sister recently described to me at my lecture this week as “the ghettos of silence,” or become what Thomas Merton famously described as “guilty bystanders.”

This empowerment, the deployment of power that comes with white (or male or clerical) privilege begins with listening, truly listening to our sisters and brothers and not rushing to impose our own agendas and solutions. For those who are educators like me, we can begin by creating safe spaces in our classrooms and in our offices for that listening. For preachers and ministers like me, we can begin by preaching the Gospel that indeed proclaims a Word that “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”

There is so much more to say and I hope to be better about sharing such thoughts and resources here once again.

Photo: Pool


  1. Thank you Dan for saying what has been swirling around in my heart these past few days. I am an SFO and a social worker. Those who stand to be most hurt are who I have dedicated myself to .. to holding space and being present to . I will continue to do this work with more fervor and resolve but it really hurts right now to be facing this.

  2. Thank you Fr. Dan. Those words held comfort and also gave me a course of action. Fear is the enemy of Christianity, I will work to stand up for myself and others. I have great concerns and have already felt the results of this election. As a women of 42 I was surprisingly just visually groped by a man outside my home. My friend from church was recently called the “N” word, which hasn’t happened to her before while living here. I feel that these incidents happened because the people have elected a leader who says it is ok to objectify women and have approved racism. I will work to be brave and not afraid to stand up for others. I will also instruct my teenage children emphasizing, the importance of defending their neighbor. I look forward to hearing more from you Fr. Dan, as a minority women who has a handicapped brother and is married to an immigrant while living in a “red” county, I will need you words and wisdom regularly. Thank you

  3. Thank you for a great reflection. I am sorry to say I believe we have Catholics who felt they had to vote for Mr. Trump because they see him as “pro-life” . I was appalled by reading that one of our Bishops told people they were committing a mortal sin if they vote for Mrs. Clinton.

  4. Thank you for your thoughts on how much better we can be. It is disheartening that nearly half the voters thought their lives would be better with Trump at the helm. I know they will be disappointed and I will pray for them.

    We are working for justice in St. Mary’s (Pompton Lakes, NJ) Social Justice ministry.

    I wish you best of luck in Chicago and with your dissertation.

    Charlie Nunzio

  5. I have really missed your insights on so many issues and totally agreed with your thoughts on Donald Trumps words that have spewed such hatred and violence toward so many. I am appalled that such a person has been elected president of this country in this way. I worry that future elections may followed his lead

  6. Fr. Dan, Your comments bring peace of mind and heart. My morning meditations direct my daily journey, with loving memories of my dearest uncle, Rev. Joseph Doino, OFM. I pray that I shall see him again one day.

  7. Thank you Father. I’ve so often these past months to feel like a stranger in a strange land that’s becoming stranger — thanks for reminding us that there are still islands of sanity out there. We look forward to hearing from you! Blessings.

  8. Welcome back Dan. You and your well written thoughts give me hope and inspiration. I follow you on Facebook but have missed this blog. I forwarded my copy to some friends and the NOVA community. Joe Nangle celebrates with us from time to time. We are an IEC in Arlington, VA. How can others sign up to receive Dating God?

  9. Thank you. A very powerful piece (peace). Especially will hold on to “ghettos of silence” and “guilty bystanders” as they hit home. Praying for peace each day, and recognize that we each must be the change.

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