Her name is Moriah Wierschem. Christianity Today‘s piece, Liberty Student: Why I Didn’t Cheer for Jerry Falwell Jr, provides a glimpse into the minds of a number of students who do not share their University President’s call to arms amid the thundering applause of the gathered crowd.
Maybe CT thought the story title best represented the sentiment of the guest writer. Facebook Shares indicated the crux of the story rested on the presence of a resistance to Falwell, a protest to be sure. Different re-posts culled a preferred quote from the piece. If you could not find a Tweetable line, you either did not read the piece or were predisposed to thinking the student amiss.
A Genealogy of Missing the Power of the Symbolic
The plot line of the story suggested by the title that calls attention to the young student who objects to the President and dares to speak is worth noting. But, the Season of Advent drew attention, at least mine, to another way to consider the story. It is noteworthy that the student is a girl, a young woman.
Matthew gives a genealogy of Jesus. Luke also offers a genealogy. Most offer a rationale as to why they are not the same exact record. Each tells the story contextually. Matthew subversively includes in his genealogy of Jesus, women. Their stories are the sort that one might exclude, like not telling about your crazy uncle. After all, when was the last time you read the history of a notable figure and the writer took the occasion to include a foreign prostitute where it would have been just as easy to tell the story without doing so?
Or, consider the inclusion of a young widow who played the part of a prostitute. She got back at her Father-in-law for not considering her plight by plotting to take him to bed in order to have a child. Read the genealogy for yourself. Matthew could have easily told the story, like Luke did, without the references to scandalous events in Jesus’ family tree. And, since these are present, many of us grew up with barely a mention as to why these women were included.
Yes, it would be like telling the story of a young girl, a young woman, who dared to speak out against the antics articulations of her University President by just noting, Liberty Student. The power of the story is heightened when one considers the long history of Liberty, Falwell’s Liberty.
A group of friends participated in a group text on the article. At last two commented about the diversity at Liberty. Of course the reference was to the diversity of opinions. Maybe it was that we were all men in the text conversation. But, not one of the Baptists in the group made much of the fact the writer was a she. I realize some would not like the emphasis for it takes away from the story. I disagree. I think it amplifies the story, especially in the Season of Advent.
Celebrating Future Possibilities
The Season of Advent represents hopefulness. An emphasis upon the future bleeds through every Scripture reading. Moriah points to a hope-filled future where Christian talk about valuing life does not allow for cheering the death of other human beings.
There are people at Liberty who believe carrying guns to protect ourselves against attack makes a statement about what our school stands for. As a Christian who values life in all circumstances, I simply cannot agree. The cheers in the stadium that morning contradict our claims to valuing every life on this earth. Applauding while someone speaks about killing anyone—even Islamic terrorists—is unacceptable when we believe that every life is valuable from the point of conception into eternity.
We have plenty of hurdles to overcome. Jerry Falwell Jr. is not the first to whip a crowd into a frenzy with talk of killing the enemy. Robert Jeffress, Pastor of FBC, Dallas, got the same response recently when he took some time to talk with his congregation as if he were pitching for FoxNews. He considers it important to follow Jesus who said to love our enemies but that it is fine for Christians to support bombing our enemies. Moriah’s words consider this unacceptable for those who values life in all circumstances.
That Moriah writes and is published in CT is evidence of an increasing reality of the future become present. Specifically, it is hopeful to see the day where a young woman’s voice is highlighted when male voices dominate. That is why it may be important to revise the title, Female Liberty Student. The double entendre celebrates future possibilities.
Maybe we need to hear the call to love our enemies from a different voice. Could it be we need to hear that call from a voice in a different register, a different position in the cultural landscape, a different perspective outside the dominant discourse?
Time To Trump the Status Quo
Moriah notes that what Falwell said is simply what a majority are thinking. It seems like the more people take aim at Donald Trump the higher his polling numbers go. Maybe his teflon like resiliency in the face of his own version of extremist rhetoric gives us insight into the reality that most of us are terrorists at heart. Given the opportunity to unleash our pent up frustration with a given system we use a war of words to kill others just as lethally as if a real trigger were pulled.
Remember, it was Jesus who said murder begins in the heart. Calling for the death of our enemies exposes our collective heart.
Maybe what Moriah writes is really a call to Trump the status quo. Everyone on the Left and the Right offers extreme rhetoric in the face of our enemies. Her call to another way is the real call to something different. Many like Trump for his plain spoken approach. There is a difference between speaking what everyone else is thinking and offering something new, something different.
Someone in our text group suggested that if Moriah were disciplined for her article, her written expression of her deep convictions, we should have her back. If people will listen to her, maybe she has ours?
The best thing we could do is help pave the way for future possibilities that represent the reality of the future hope we have becoming real in the present. Let’s get busy encouraging Moriah and hundreds and thousands like her who point to a better way.