Everything is Canceled
Out of the depths I cry to you, God;
God, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, God, kept a record of sins,
who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for God, my whole being waits,
and in God’s word I put my hope.
– Psalm 130:1-5 (NIV, adapted)
Thanks to the Me Too movement and the movement for Black Lives, it’s common now to say that people or organizations that do terrible things are canceled. Louis C.K. Garrison Keillor. Hobby Lobby. Canceled.
It’s also common to hear people (especially people like me) bemoaning “cancel culture.” Denying the allegations against their favorite celebrities. Sticking up for racism in the guise of free speech. Defending their decision to keep listening to the music, watching the show, ordering from the company anyway.
I’m guilty of all of these. I’m guilty, with the authors of innumerable op-eds, blogposts, and think pieces, of wringing my hands and asking, “Has cancel culture gone too far?”
But Psalm 130 reminds me: it cannot go far enough.
“If you, God, kept record of sins, God, who could stand?”
Psalm 130 reminds me that I too am canceled.
For my participation in and benefit from systems of injustice and oppression. For my participation in and benefit from the degradation of creation. For even the angry, impatient way I parented a stubborn child this weekend.
Psalm 130 reminds me that rather than denying and defending, I am called to confront and repent. To seek forgiveness and then to wait with my whole being on the merciful one.
Jesus Christ, child of God, have mercy on me.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.