It Crossed My Mind
That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been … ” (Ecclesiastes 3:15).
The beginning of a new year is that time when many of us look back at the year just ended and make note of all that happened in our lives and in our world. We do that here at Dallas Voice with our Year In Review issue, which you now hold in your hand. It’s that time of year when we take account of our lives, marking our mistakes as well as our successes.
It’s also that time of year when we turn our faces to the future, making resolutions to do better in the months to come — whether that means something as personal as going to the gym more often and sticking to our diets, or something on a bigger scale that affects not just us personally, but the world around us.
If you listen to King Solomon, who wrote Ecclesiastes and the scripture quoted above, what we have to look forward to is, well, more of the same. But man, I sure hope Solomon was wrong! I don’t think we can take much more of what we’ve been dealing with for the last couple of years.
I admit, 2018 was — as far as I am concerned — better than 2017 and the end of 2016. From November 2016 through 2017, I really felt like I was losing faith in people, losing hope for our future.
Every time you turned around, there was yet another incident of racism, of bigotry, of hatred. Donald Trump was surrounding himself with a cadre of white supremacists, flat-out Nazis, religious extremists and, to be blunt about it, full-on stupidity in some cases. And people were applauding him for it, cheering him on!
It broke my heart.
But then, as 2017 faded into 2018, I started to see what seemed like a very faint light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Yes, the bigots running Congress for the last couple of years continued to ignore Trump’s blatant lies and misdeeds, and they continued to rubber-stamp his bigotry and disastrously bad policy decisions. They still do.
But the resistance was growing, becoming louder and stronger. Candidates promising to combat regressive tide of Trumpism began flooding in, running in the primaries and then moving on to the general election in November with purpose and determination. The “Blue Wave” was washing over and diluting the red tide.
But there was more. It wasn’t just a “Blue Wave.” It was a “Rainbow Wave.” Some of the best and brightest of the candidates were members of our LGBT community. Members of what my friend Israel Luna calls the Rainbow Family were stepping up and speaking out. And come November, they were making history not just in Congress but in the halls of power at all levels of government, all across the country.
Yes, terrible things happened in our country and around the world in 2018. But we didn’t let those terrible things go unchallenged. In 2018, we began to find our balance again; we started speaking up and then started putting our words into action.
And I can feel my broken heart starting to mend. I can feel my faith and my hope being reborn.
Remember that scripture from Ecclesiastes with which I started this column? There’s more to it. In its entirety, it says: ““That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.”
What does that mean — “God requireth that which is past”? Depends on who you ask. Some “modern” translations of the Bible suggest it means that “God does everything over and over again” (Contemporary English Version). I don’t think that makes any sense at all. I consulted with my on-site Jewish scholar (that’s David Taffet, by the way) and he agrees. Such a translation implies that God keeps making — or at least allowing the same mistakes over and over again. And that’s not reasonable to me.
The English Standard Version Bible translates that phrase as “God seeks what has been driven away.” The Berean Study Bible interprets it as “God will call to account what has passed,” while the New International Version phrases it as “God will call the past to account.”
David and I both agree, those interpretations are much better. And according to those interpretations, those who have committed such horrible wrongs over these last couple of years will, indeed, some day be held accountable for what they have done.
The Christian Standard Bible takes its translation of the phrase a small step further. It says: “However, God seeks justice for the persecuted.”
David says that is stretching the translation a bit. But personally, I like that version best, and I take it as a call to action. God seeks justice for the persecuted, and I believe that we should all strive to do the Lord’s work, and seek that justice, too, as diligently as we possibly can.
That’s my resolution for 2018.
And the congregation said amen.
Tammye Nash is managing editor of Dallas Voice and a recovering Southern Baptist.