Dr. Bowler is a Duke Divinity School professor who specializes in The Prosperity Gospel. She went to Texas to hear an inspirational speaker give a talk during Lent last year, and it was the kind of theological talk that makes Christians like me crazy. (Sort of like the preacher I heard during Lent a few years ago whose sermon was part of a series called “Don’t Worry. Be Happy.”)
The speaker was a perfect 30-something woman with good hair and a tiny waistline who confessed that suburban moms hate her because she never has to wash her hair and life is pretty crazy because baristas mess up her order. She also confessed that she is afraid of death and she’d rather not hear you talk about it either.
“Everyone is trying to Easter the crap out of my Lent,” Bowler said later to a friend in response to hearing this speaker.
I’m with her.
I’m not dying of cancer like Kate Bowler, although that possibility is a perennially looming mist through which I live. But I would like to talk about death.
I am angry. I am shaking-my-fist-like-the-Psalmist angry.
I am angry that my friends’ child is tortured by cancer. I am angry that 18 year olds in Florida can buy assault weapons and shoot other teenagers with them. I am angry that the world has forgotten Syria. I am angry that there is still no power in every corner of Puerto Rico.
I am really angry that a lot of people believe in Prosperity Gospel and subsequently blame illness, poverty, and desperation on the sick, the poor, and the desperate. I believe God is going to jolt us all when we realize that the Holy One who walked alongside us expects us to walk alongside the sick, the poor, and the desperate too – unless we already understand that part of the Gospel.
Please don’t Easter my Lent. Or anybody’s Lent.
This is the season when we remember that death is part of life and we are called to notice it. We are called to face it. We are called to let the reality of death re-prioritize our lives.
This is the time when it becomes less important to talk about how hard I have worked for all my toys than it is to work so that others get toys.
This is the time to embrace activities that not only give me life, but they give others life too. As Denise Anderson asked in social media last week, “Are our baptisms doing anybody any good besides ourselves?”
If we take our baptisms seriously and our baptisms transform us, we are called to transform the world for good in Jesus’ name.
Lent reminds us that there is a world of suffering out there. How are we offering ourselves to stand with those who suffer? (It’s not a rhetorical question.)
Also, read Kate Bowler’s book.