House of Cards and the Psalms
I love the Netflix original series ‘House of Cards’. Last month, the TV streaming service released the fourth season of the dark political drama. This most recent installment did not disappoint as it concluded in fist clenching fashion when one of the series' main characters, Claire Underwood, decides that her manipulative but “incorporative” political approach will not cut it any longer. In a chilling moment, she turns to her husband, Frank, and says, “I’m done trying to win over people’s hearts.” Instead, she decides that in order to achieve her desired political end, she must instill fear and introduce disorder into society. ‘House of Cards’ offers us a grim outlook at how an exclusive mentality and decisions driven by dominance result in terrifying consequences. This point is illustrated by a great exchange between Claire and Frank in an earlier season in which Claire scolds Frank for smoking an e-cigarette on the floor of their living room. After expressing her disapproval for Frank’s smoking, he motions to her with the e-cigarette and says, “You should try it, addiction without the consequences.”
I think many times we are like Frank Underwood in this moment––ever so subtly (or not) enjoying the addiction while claiming there will be no effect. We are the religious leaders in the Gospels, undoubtably defending our domains and clinging tightly to our cultural belief systems. We fall victim to the promises of security and consumerism that perpetuate systems of exclusion and suppression as long as we benefit.
However, our Easter journey describes a very different reality of God’s in-breaking, and gives us a vision for the world that we are to be co-creating as followers of The Way. The poor and widowed are being cared for. People are being healed. Communities are bursting to life with simple acts of love and hospitality.
"Praise God from earth, you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps…"
In this week’s lectionary, the psalmist praises God for every ounce of God’s inclusive universe––cows and birds, mountains and forests, old men and children, hurricanes and sunny skies. Polar-opposites are brought together in God’s universe. Even the sea dragons are called to sing God’s praises?
We worship a very, very inclusive God.
The Creator of the cosmos incorporates both the king and the servant, Fox News and MSNBC. In the book of Acts, we find the early Christian communities opening their doors to more and more people. We too are called by God to be inclusive not exclusive. To love our enemy. To visit our neighbor. To liberate the oppressed. To lay down our addictions to be right, to be consumers, or to be forgetters for the sake of convenience.
May we praise God for creating a large tent and asking us to invite someone to the party, to turn up the Marvin Gaye, and dance.