Advent Reflection: Taxes and Waiting for a Savior
We're all longing for salvation.
All of us crave the day when relief will come, when things will get better, when we'll be free of these burdens, free of this shame, freed into loving relationship, free to abundant life.
These past few weeks, the universal search for salvation played out in Congress over a tax bill as dueling visions fought for their own messiah.
One salvation narrative came from Republican officeholders, who held up the Market as panacea benefactor-savior. Their liturgy was a simple mantra: Growth and Jobs, Growth and Jobs. Strip off the predatory weight of Taxation and the Invisible Hand will once again take the reigns, guiding our national chariot toward prosperity.
Classically, Democrats offer an alternative protagonist in their own version of the salvation story: Government can solve our troubles, protect our environment, and safeguard our poor. More recently, however, they latched onto the same fundamental narrative as their conservative counterparts, becoming increasingly agnostic, bordering on nihilistic, when asked who their savior really is.
The final steps are still in process, and some unforeseen happening (to which I will give my utmost support) could still disrupt the flow of bill reconciliation. But by all accounts it appears we've already crossed the threshold. We've been swept up by the story of the Market, disgusted by the antagonist Taxation (who sometimes goes by Obama), and now look expectantly toward Growth and Jobs to save the day.
The logic or lie of the Republican story isn't my interest here. Faith says a messiah will come, and I share this belief. I long for salvation and hold to the hope of salvation.
But as the first Sunday of Advent comes to a close, I do not wait for Growth. Nor do I hope for Government's return on a white steed.
I wait for a liberator who's logic is incomprehensible to the partisan binaries, outside the self-reliant ways of men with a will to power. Markets and governments aren't irrelevant to his plan, but they're repositioned, made means not ends, and located within a much different picture. The mantra changes too, and places responsibility back on our shoulders: love your God, love your neighbor, love your enemies. The liberator I wait for already put skin in the game, already planted his flag alongside the outsiders and dispossessed, already sacrificed his own self to transform places within history, restore bodies, and reweave communities.
We're all waiting for a savior. But those who look the wrong way may miss the arrival.
Now is the time to prepare.