Did you know that when St Francis of Assisi got serious about his ministry, he left the Church?
Francis was a young man born to wealth and privilege in Assisi. At the urging of his father, he pursued glory for himself and his family. Then one day he found himself in a crumbling church outside the walls of Assisi, called San Damiano. The Christ on the Cross spoke to Francis, calling him to “rebuild his church”. Francis of course thought it was a call to rebuild San Damiano, which he did before realizing that the call was about something much bigger.
During Francis’ life, the Catholic Church was overrun by greed and power. Francis, once consumed with greed and power himself, founded an order of friars who believed that poverty was sacred and necessary.
He never stood actively against his beloved church.
But his order stood in stark contrast to the opulent church culture in a way that was unmistakable. He founded his community outside the walls of Assisi—outside the traditional ways and protections. And he held to it, even after criticism from the people of Assisi, even after questions from the Vatican, who worried his order was too simple, too spare, too poor. And eventually, the people came to him.
It was a revolution. It was one man’s attempt to make his church great again.
But it wasn’t like revolutions before and since, too many of which operated within the existing structures and served only, as Richard Rohr says, to “rearrange the furniture on the deck of the Titanic”.
Instead, Francis worked after Jesus’ example and “built a new boat”.
And that’s the key to any revolution—it has to look and sound like Jesus building a new boat.
If it doesn’t, then it isn’t.
So I want to share with you how our family is set to handle this election.
Like Francis, we’re going outside the walls.
We’re going to vote, because our church tells us to vote. But we’re not going to become our vote. It will not define us. It certainly doesn’t need to be defended. It’s ours. It’s ok.
We already know for whom we’re voting, so we’re going to cut down on our exposure to the talking heads. God bless them, but they make money off our emotions. If we aren’t scared or outraged or spiteful they aren’t making money. We get it. We just aren’t going to play.
We’re not going to let the data tells us anything about our friends, neighbors and countrymen and women. We’re going to remember that we don’t know what we don’t know, and at the top of that list is what is in someone else’s heart.
We’re going to keep doing what we do, which is loving and living and praying and meeting God in all the places we see Him.
We aren’t going to lose faith. Outside the walls is a more peaceful place. It’s grass roots. It’s people helping people. It’s simple. It’s less. It’s easier to see what really matters here.
It’s not ignorance, or blindness. We’re participating. We’re just not being loud about it. Plus, we can see the walls from here. We can hear the noise.
We just don’t need the noise. We don’t need the spectacle.
Can you imagine what would happen if everyone walked away? If everyone said “We’ve had enough. We’re good. We’ll just be over here getting back to real life”? What would happen then, if people left their seats at the circus and came outside the walls?
That would be a revolution.