Ebert: On Festering Anger

Yup, I'm really enjoying Roger Ebert.

In this post, he talks about the dangers of growing, seething social anger on the fringes of the conservative right.

What are we to make of the recent suggestion on the "respected" right-wing site NewsMax, later withdrawn, that "it might not be such a bad thing" if the U. S. military rose up and overthrew Obama in a coup? That sort of talk belongs on a password-protected neo-Nazi or Klan site, not in a place where ostensibly intelligent people look for information. Where were the editors? What did they think? If they're "conservatives," do they support the overthrow of our government by a coup?


I don't really think so. But I believe they will stoop to almost anything to fan the flames of their cause. And they have created a timidity in the mainstream Republican party, afraid to alienate a "base" it should be ashamed of. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he is said to have observed that with one signature he had lost his Democrats the South. It took moral courage to sign that bill. He did indeed lose the Southern racists, who were to its shame embraced by the GOP -- a poisoned pill, it is becoming obvious...

Click here to read more.

Ebert: On Healthcare...

I recently discovered Roger Ebert's blog, and have been enjoying it immensely...

Here's his treatise on Health Care Reform.

Gang Rape

Some of my online readers don't believe in evil. And I respect that belief, though I can't comprehend it. It's idealistic (as am I). But I've seen too much to allow myself to keep believing that people function merely in ignorance, but not in true evil.

Police: As many as 20 present at gang rape outside school dance
"This just gets worse and worse the more you dig into it," Lt. Mark Gagan said. "It was like a horror movie after looking at the evidence. I can't believe not one person felt compelled to help her."

You can call it ignorance, but brutality and dehumanization at this level are troubling reminders that social and cultural evolution are often facades propped up by habit and fear rather than genuine progress ("progress..." ah, what is that?).

We have not progressed so much as we (I) would like to think. Third World atrocities mirror our own potential for darkness, rather than reflecting some obscure premodern "other." The wars of the 20th (and 21st) Century demonstrate our capacity to continually devolve in the midst of technogical improvement.

Does the news media play up this sort of exceptional behavior? Absolutely. But I'm concerned that it's "exceptional" only because of the power and complexity imbued into our contemporary social systems. Take away structure, and what sort animal are we?

France: on Scientology

Is this good or bad for religious people, and religion, in general?

Paris, France (CNN) -- A French court's verdict against the Church of Scientology amounts to a "modern Inquisition" and threatens freedom of religion in France, a senior Scientologist said Tuesday
A three-judge panel at the Correctional Court in Paris convicted the church and six of its members of organized fraud, but stopped short of banning the church, as prosecutors had asked...

Maybe more religious sects and individual churches (and other so-called "non-profits") should be fined for their bad behavior. Maybe a lot of people have been fed a lot of false advertising for a long time. Sure, religion relies on intangibles like "hope" and "faith" so I wouldn't advocate holding them accountable for those. But promises of healing and/or material wealth and benefits? Even certain intangibles… I remember something about the selling of indulgences… a slippery slope? Am I just asking for persecution (another painfully-obvious manifestation of my White Guilt?) or should morally-conscious people advocate for justice and sensibility, even when it condemns their own temples?

Religion gets tenuous when it enters the business sales. And that convicts an awful lot of us.

What is "Neo-Liberalism"?

I found this video embedded at www.JesusRadicals.com (Irritable, thanks for the reminder about this site) and thought you might enjoy. Give it a chance, it's a little long - 8 minutes-ish.

So, not to grossly oversimplify, but: is neo-liberalism modern libertarianism? Yes, yes, I'm sure it's far more subtle...

Desperation on the Reservation...

It's EASY for me to talk about suffering and injustice. Truly. I'm a hypocrite - comfortable, employed, empowered... and I'm scared to death of giving it all up. I am. I whine (like Kierkegaard) that Christians twist the Gospel into their own comfortable making - downplaying the story of the Rich Young Ruler, among others. Well so do I. And so did Kierkegaard, for that matter. He was independently wealthy before he ever began writing. Being a self-aware sinner probably isn't any better than being an ignorant one. In fact, it's probably worse.

I could blog day after day about things I have no personal connection to. Instead, here's a testimony. In it, you'll find convicting things about American imperialism. You'll also find a bit or two about Christian families who have tried to help through adoption. Both of these are realities. Both of these are our realities. I've chopped bits and pieces - I don't want to steal from this website's (or this writer's) much deserved credit. I hope you'll click through to read the whole thing.

By Melanie McBee

I am a 27 yr. old Oglala Lakota woman, originally from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I was fortunate enough to have been adopted by a stable, Christian family who had my best interests at heart. Most children from Pine Ridge are not so blessed... The unemployment rate is 85% and 97% of the population are living below the federal poverty level. The infant mortality rate is five times the United States national average, and has among the shortest life expectancies of any group in the western hemisphere. Alcoholism, addiction, violence, and suicide predominate in this once tranquil place. Although my family educated me on the statistics, I was hardly prepared when in 1997-98, I went to live there. I was mortified by the alcoholism. These people...MY PEOPLE were committing a slow suicide by the huge amounts of alcohol they were consuming...

I know of children 5years old, molesting 3 month old babies--fathers molesting children, mothers molesting children--every form of incest there is, has, and will continue to take place there-- I have watched family members die of alcohol poisoning, or cirrhosis--I've watched them have to have limbs removed because of their irresponsibility in taking care of their diabetic needs--because they would rather concentrate on where their next beer is coming from, or who can get meth, or a gun...

You see this month is black history month, and other times, you see that there is some “awareness day” for something but, Native American Day goes widely ignored, and there is no awareness day, or month, or even a second for the plight of the Native Americans. This is my mission, to educate people about the reservation, and to let my voice be heard, to be the voice for the suffering children on the reservation, for my noble ancestors, and to start doing something about the desolation which is Pine Ridge Indian Reservation...

So when we read something like this, there are a couple of ways we can react. Self defense - self validation - is always the easiest reaction. But there has to be a constructive, humble, repentant response. Just not sure what that is, or needs to be. Keep in mind, we are living on a continent that First Nations peoples still call their own. It belongs to them. Any ideas?

Churches denounce African children as "witches"

This is a problem. Now, I'm not one to say that churches are the problem...

Yes I am.

Nigeria (AP) --

The nine-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall.

His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him — Mount Zion Lighthouse.

A month later, he died.

Nwanaokwo Edet was one of an increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of "witch children" reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files.


Churches outnumber schools, clinics and banks put together. Many promise to solve parishioner's material worries as well as spiritual ones — eight out of ten Nigerians struggle by on less than $2 a day.

"Poverty must catch fire," insists the Born 2 Rule Crusade on one of Uyo's main streets.

"Where little shots become big shots in a short time," promises the Winner's Chapel down the road.

"Pray your way to riches," advises Embassy of Christ a few blocks away.

It's hard for churches to carve out a congregation with so much competition. So some pastors establish their credentials by accusing children of witchcraft.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/10/17/international/i080426D17.DTL#ixzz0Udg0JbWc

Are You Good Without God?

Been quite a few "heavy" subjects lately. I'm afraid I can't apologize for too much - I feel convicted. I have a good-old-fashioned-Mormon "burning in my bosom." And it won't go away with Pepto.

I'll try to intersperse some more lighthearted posts from time to time. Like this one. But the name of this site - Emerging Christian - may be less and less accurate, at least from a merchandising standpoint. I'm less interested in how to "do church" in hip new ways. But I still think "emerging" is an accurate description for someone who is [at least] trying to evolve - to grow - to deconstruct and self-analyze. It may not always seem like I'm being self-critical when I talk about the failings of Western Christianity, but I really do see all of it as my own failings.

And so it goes.

Read this today - thought it was great!

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Some New Yorkers may want to reconsider exclaiming "Thank God" when arriving at their destination subway station beginning Monday. Or at least that's what a coalition of eight atheist organizations are hoping, having purchased a month-long campaign that will place their posters in a dozen busy subway stations throughout Manhattan.

The advertisements ask the question, written simply over an image of a blue sky with wispy white clouds: "A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?"

On October 26, a dozen bustling New York City subway stations will be adorned with the ads as "part of a coordinated multi-organizational advertising campaign designed to raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god", according to a statement from the group, the Big Apple Coalition of Reason.

I think it's ironic that atheists are actually lagging behind Christians... in the fundamentalist department. It's so natural (and sad) to mirror your "enemy" - to become what they are.

One of the key motives of this group is to raise awareness among the general public about atheism itself: that it's a viable option. And I think this is a healthy thing. Too many people subscribe to religion because it somehow equates to being a good person, being a patriotic American, being a savvy politician... these are not good reasons to call oneself Christian or any other religion for that matter. The sooner "religion" means something more than cultural affiliation or family ties, the sooner religions can be free to identify themselves by what they are rather than where they are.

Peggy McIntosh on Male Priviledge

In discussing the worldviews and theologies of the powerful, and demonstrating how counterintuitive they are to Jesus' subversive ministry in Mark, Ched Myers introduces feminist scholar Peggy McIntosh, who writes: "I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was 'meant' to remain oblivious." (16)

Are you oblivious to your privilege? Am I? Do you even know what you have, that others don't? Do I? Do you recognize your culturally-inherited luxuries, or are they so numbingly prevalent that they've become a constant white noise?

McIntosh lists "special circumstances and conditions" that fall under our heading of social/cultural privilege:

  • I can arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time
  • If I should need to move I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing a dwelling in an area Ican afford and in which I would want to live
  • I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented
  • When I am told aboutour national heritage or about "civilization" I am shown that people of my color made it what it is
  • I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race
  • Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability
  • I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race
  • I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race
  • I am never asked to speak for all people of my racial group
  • I can remain oblivious to the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion
  • I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having coworkers on the job suspect I got it because of my race

These race-oriented bullets compliment well the gender-focus of D.A. Carson's poem "Male Privilege"...

Privilege is simple.
Going for a pleasant stroll after dark.
Not checking the back of your car as you get in,
sleeping soundly,
Speaking without interruption
and not remembering dreams of rape, that follow you all day,

that woke you crying,
and Privilege is not seeing your stripped, humiliated body

plastered in celebration
across every magazine rack.

It's the American Way to want to protect and fight for our privilege
- that's the "Dream." But it's the uniquely American Christian Way to pretend that privilege doesn't exist - to moan and wail and mourn the atrocities and injustices of the world, blind to the truth: we are the inheritors of the Empire. And we don't want any new taxes...

Listen for the Marginalized...

In Who Will Roll Away the Stone, Myers writes:

For Christian theology, the privileged space of entitlement is first and foremost problematized by the gospel itself, which contends that its truth is better perceived by those on the margins than by those at the center. This stands to reason: Those who have been dispossessed by a social system are by definition less possessed by that system's illusions about itself. (17)

This goes right to the heart of talking about things like Universal Health Care. If we are in a position of power (e.g. white, middle/upper class, educated, male, heterosexual, employed, insured...) we are - by definition - "POSSESSED" by the social system that has so-benefited us. How could we not be? Of course, if I believe the uniquely-American myth that I am a "self-made-man," who did not benefit from history, or and geographical luck in my birth, then I'm going to view those on the margins to be there, somehow, by their own making. Or, at the very least, not through my OWN making.

But it is of my own making. And yours. Because 20% of the world's richest population cannot sustainably consume 80% of the world's resources. There are consequences. Poverty, disease, illiteracy and hunger are primary consequences. Secondary consequences are state instability, crime, war and human rights violations, and - yes - terrorism.

And we have the audacity of whining about higher taxes. And if we're not whining about higher taxes - if we're just quietly complicit in the machinations of empire - we're still as much to blame.

Myers quotes theologian and protester Robert M. Brown:

Some sectors of the Church align themselves with the status quo and defend it passionately, while others align themselves with the oppressed and struggle for change. There are yet others who claim to be neutral. In fact neutrality plays into the hands of those in power because it enables them to continue, and to discredit the Christians who oppose them. (21)

We don't have the luxury of playing the neutrality card or quietly sitting on the fence. I was convicted of that over the summer. We don't get to say, "I'm not in that fight." We're all in ALL the fights. And if we don't "pick a side," we've had the choice made for us by the principalities and powers of this world.

So which side are you on? What does it tell about you? Of course, I'm not just asking about health care. This is about everything. Jesus asks, "Who do the people say that I am?" (Mark 8:27) He asks the Pharisees, "John's baptism, was it from heaven or from men?" (Mark 11:29) What does your answer reveal about you? Myers writes, "Those in power recognize no authority they have not defined, brokered, or mediated." (14)

Film Coming Soon: "Oh My God"

Really looking forward to this documentary, that comes out next month:

Apple's trailer page for Oh My God reads:
In every corner of the world, there’s one question that can never be definitively answered, yet stirs up equal parts passion, curiosity, self-reflection and often wild imagination: “What is God?” Filmmaker Peter Rodger explores this profound, age-old query in the provocative non-fiction feature “Oh My God.” This visual odyssey travels the globe with a revealing lens examining the idea of God through the minds and eyes of various religions and cultures, everyday people, spiritual leaders and celebrities. His goal: to give the viewer the personal, visceral experience of some kind of reasonable, meaningful definition of one of the most used—some might say overused—words in most every language. Rodger’s quest takes him from the United States to Africa, from the Middle East to the Far East, where such fundamental issues as: “Did God create man or did man create God?, “Is there one God for all religions?” and “If God exists, why does he allow so much suffering?” are explored in candid discussions...

"Universal Health Care isn't in the Constitution!" So what?

The other day an acquaintance, a man in his 60s, approached me: "You still a liberal?"

I smiled. "Yes, I'm afraid so."

"What's it going to take to change your mind?!"

"I don't think there's anything that's going to change my mind," I answered.

"And you support Universal Health Care?" He asked. I nodded. "We don't need Universal Health Care! Anybody in the country can go into the emergency room and get treated!"

I said, "I'm not going to argue about this. I've got a migraine. You win." I didn't argue that the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in America is from uninsured medical expenses. Or that I believe medical care is a human right. Or that my entire worldview is intertwined with my faith in Jesus Christ, and in his example and teaching.

He said, "Health care isn't in the Constitution!"

"I don't care what's in the Constitution," I answered truthfully.

He said, "I do. Oh well, I'm just giving you a hard time," and that was the end of the conversation.

But really, what IS it about this whole CONSTITUTION thing? It's a lot like biblical inerrantism, isn't it? That "if we could just get back to the original text" ... "the original intentions" of the "original writers" ...

It's kind of comforting or cathartic, isn't it? To believe that we have a magic document that would solve all the world's problems if we just FOLLOWED IT VERBATIM! It gives us an answer for... well... everything! Why is there suffering in the world? Why is there poverty? Why can't I make enough money? Or protect my family? Or stop people with other beliefs from polluting my community? Well the answer is simple: we're not following the fundamental teachings of the Bible. Or of the Constitution.

I feel even more strongly about the Constitution than I do about scripture: why in the world have we (Americans) put our faith in a 200 year old document written by white, male, slave-owning, American Indian-killing revolutionaries? How have they earned our unflagging allegiance? Many were geniuses, I'll give them that. And many where perhaps better than the social norms of their day. A few of them freed their slaves - after they died (I mean, no use sacrificing convenience while you're still breathing). And most probably never killed an American Indian with their own hands... I guess that's something.

I don't care what's in the Constitution (sorry, new crop of hipster-Libertarians). I care about what's good. I care about what's kind. I care about what will most benefit the poorest and most vulnerable in our society... Yes, even if that means I have to pay higher taxes (God forbid!). I'm not debating the efficacy of government programs. I know "good enough for government" is a tired joke that's rarely funny because it's so often true. But that argument, too often, becomes a sleazy tactic to avoid compassion completely.

This is right in line with an older post about "truth and goodness." If goodness somehow conflicts, head on, with biblical teaching, then I'll choose goodness. Jesus did the same.

Dylan Movie: "I'm Not There" - Reality in Negative Space

I finally watched director Todd Hayne's I'm Not There last night. The movie, a so-called biopic on the life of Bob Dylan, is astonishing and brilliant. It follows six different actors playing six different characters - and none of them is named "Bob Dylan"...

Is Bob Dylan the young black boy ironically named "Woodie Guthrie?" Is Dylan an aging 19th Century "Billy the Kid?" Is he the effeminate [only slightly] folk-rebel-iteration played by Cate Blanchett? Like Dylan's aptly-titled song, the answer Dylan himself would offer us is "I'm not there."

None of these creations is Dylan. But when you look just slightly to the side of each persona, you might see a glimpse of the real Dylan out of the corner of your eye. Like trying to see faint stars in the night sky.

This film reminds me of Peter Rollins' discussion of "negative space" in How(not) to speak of God. I don't have it right in front of me, but I remember a discussion about how Scripture doesn't show us God: it fills the space around God - so that the space remaining in the middle is where God actually is. Looking directly at that space, we see only white margins. Not God. But when we look slightly to the side (so to speak), we see a glimpse of the shape of God - faint and fleeting - truth hiding in the paradox and impermanence of negative space.

This may be a stretch, but in some ways, I think Jesus' parables were practices in exploring negative space. Jesus didn't give easy answers. He didn't offer bullet-points to truth. He offered pictures of things that involved truth, that abided near truth or in truth, he showed us what to look at (and what to look like) to begin understanding the negative space truth abides in.

Negative space is difficult to discuss, and so it's difficult to defend. Bob Dylan was never a twelve year old black boy. He certainly wasn't Billy the Kid. But that's not the point, is it? In one scene, Blanchett's character takes the stage with several band members. Simultaneously, they all pull out machine guns and shoot into the audience. In real life, that never happened. But for those who followed Dylan's music, and saw that concert? "Yeah... it was kinda like that..."

Working things out: Authentic or too Self Aware?

Something I'm trying to process and have been discussing with my friend, Bo: is it possible to be "authentic" and genuine in our intentions when we're fully self-aware of what we're doing? I think the self-examined life is the only life, but the practical results of being self aware AND experimental or exploratory in matters of faith seems a sort of detached "wink-wink-nudge-nudge-look-at-me-I'm-Donald-Miller-and-I'm-not-aware-of-my-unspoken-inferences-but-really-I-am" coolness that is far too self-obsessed for its own good.

As am I.

But that's my frustration with Emergent. It's WAY too into itself as it tries to incorporate the ambiance and liturgies of Orthodoxy without BEING Orthodox. That's one of my professor's points that's really stuck with me: "Christians are way too concerned with being relevant."

But if I join a so-called "Orthodox" church, aren't I just playing the same Emergent-hipster game in a different way? Aren't I winking and self-conscious about that decision?

And can anyone with an existential/postmodern worldview really, genuinely participate in Orthodoxy without that detached "awareness" undermining the whole process?

All right, I'm starting to write in circles. Not sure if this makes sense...

"We are in Denial"

I haven't been avoiding this blog, but life (and its inevitable drama) and school have been taking an awful lot of time lately.

I'm slowly reading Ched Myers' Who Will Roll Away the Stone? and it's really wrecking me.

Actually, that's not entirely true: reading Myers has been like reading Sweet and McLaren for the first time: exhilarating. After each chapter, I want to go run laps to work off the adrenaline! It's challenging, stretching, frustrating, and in some ways totally tragic.

In Chapter 1 Myers writes:

We are in Denial about our present. Ours is perhaps the most indebted, stratified, and violent society in the world today. As the U.S. empire, unrivaled in its global reach and military strength, has come to full flower in the second half of the twentieth century, our duplicity has become increasingly evident. Evident, that is, to those viewing the world from the killing fields of Guatemala or Mozambique or East Timor, or from the housing projects of south Los Angeles ganglands or the refugee trails through Sonora borderlands or the health clinics in Lakota badlands. It is not evident, however, to those of us who by reason of race, class, and/or gender are inheritors of the imperial system. And it is certainly not evident in our official narratives about ourselves... And yet any suggestions of imperial hubris are ruthlessly dismissed in our public discourse. Has any people ever been as convinced of its own benevolence and innocence? (Myers, p. 7-8, Orbis Books 1994)

This is the kind of book that makes one ask, "How in God's name can I keep living in ways that - both actively and passively - perpetuate empire?" This is a precursor to McLaren's concept of "Suicide Machine" in Everything Must Change.

As Kierkegaard's quotation suggests in my previous post, we've done an awfully good job of distracting ourselves from this question, because it's too painful - too terrifying. What if following Jesus literally means abandoning the Western model of living? Not to the [almost inevitable] lauding of the East, but rather to an alternative that looks like neither. Or perhaps like models that Western Empire has demonized and dismissed for lack of potentially exponential profits.

Trust me, I'm nowhere near praxis, but it's an idea that feels simultaneously liberating, convicting, agonizing and invigorating. Myers asks: "Will our generation face Denial and struggle to bring the imperial Zeitgeist to an end, or will we join the imperial celebration of a new beginning to a very old world order?" (p. 10) Many have already chosen, and many have chosen without choosing...

Kierkegaard: We pretend to be unable to understand...

I was again reminded of this quotation in conversation today, and am convicted every time I read it:

Soren Kierkegaard:

“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”

It's so true. We spend so much time trying to avoid the obvious...

Ownership of Me?

I've been going through some internal emotional-work (family-of-origin type of stuff) lately, and it's got me asking myself this question: have I unwittingly given ownership of myself to other people? Do I continue to do so? And is that my obligation, as a Christian and as a sympathetic human being?

The answer to the first two questions is 'yes.' I don't know that I ever did it purposefully, and I'm certain it's not always bad. As "family," we belong to one-another, don't we? At least, within healthy moderation. As a spiritual "body," aren't we united? Shouldn't there be some mutual obligation in community?

I'm just not sure what "healthy" looks like.

I'll certainly take responsibility for giving a certain ownership of myself to my wife. That is an ongoing, conscious choice. And even that can mean different things - I don't mean it in some creepy fundamentalist way. I believe in separate personal identities, even in marriage. But there is a personal surrender of ego-driven self-sufficiency and survivalism that can be really beautiful (again, I'm aware there are perverted, co-dependent or abusive manifestations of all this, but that's not my focus here...) and very freeing.

But I've got a real problem with feeling emotionally obligated to the people who love me. I think that because they're emotionally reliant on me in some way, I think that means I have to work tirelessly to validate and care for those individuals - even when their needs and emotions may be destructive to me. In fact, the expectations I place on myself intensify my own feelings of betrayal and outrage when others don't choose to live the same way.

I'm no saint. I know this. I've been a lousy friend, and I've been a lousy family member. But even when I have managed to create necessary boundaries, limits or distance in the hopes of getting healthier, I find myself continually (chronically) obsessing over the effect of my decisions on those other people. Guilt. Inevitably, shame.

And I think a barely-conscious part of me, I'm embarrassed to admit, thinks I'm a better person for obsessing in these ways. If I felt truly FREE... well, then I'd be a real asshole. So I keep caring, keep obsessing, and keep validating what a good and sympathetic person I am. And the anxiety builds up in my chest and the ulcer burns in my gut and I'm not much good to myself or anyone else.

I don't use this blog to "journal" much in traditional ways, but I think that's what this is... I'll try to think of something interesting soon...

More Post-Colonial Deconstruction...

A recent comment here said "I see the Christians as individual people, all in their own stage of maturity," in argument to the idea of Christianity - as a global organism - repenting and owning its sins and atrocities through history.

The problem is, this is a hyper-western concept: Christians as individual people.

The third world doesn't view individualism the way wealthy Americans do (and really, always have). Africa, Asia, South America... even Western Europeans don't carry this attitude. It's the reason the conservative base continues to demonize a political agenda that values providing universal health care. "If there isn't something in it for me..."

And that's what I hear when Christians say things like, "I never owned slaves," or "I never beat up a queer," or "I didn't kill Native Americans/First Nations people. That was THEM!"

But WE are them.

And I would argue, based on New Testament attitudes in Scripture, that writers like Paul wouldn't have spent much time differentiating their actions from those of the catholic Church. The Body of Christ is the BODY of Christ. Singular. We are one in Christ. Which means your sins are on my hands, and so are Jerry Falwell's and James Dobson's and Emperor Constantine's. And mine are on yours. And this is a far more global vantage than our American one - it's more than just me here: I am white, I am a man, I am an American, I am a Christian, a heterosexual, educated, middle-class, and all of those identifiers carry tragic histories of pain and violence... and in whatever ways are helpful, I'm willing to repent of each of those, each day, to as many people as may heal by hearing it.

Healing DOES come from repentance. Sharing responsibility IS human. And entire communities DO bear shared guilt (and thankfully, redemption), even in the Biblical narrative.

The only thing self defense leads to is hardened hearts - on all sides. One of my heros, Desmond Tutu, has helped to literally transform a society raped and desecrated by apartheid, through the power of repentance and reconciliation. Watch some beautiful clips of him speaking HERE.

A year ago a good friend told me, "Walker, the only reason you're voting for Barack Obama is WHITE GUILT."

That wasn't true - I like his politics, his worldview, and I like him (but this post isn't about that). But my friend WAS right: I DO carry a lot of white guilt. And I realize that can be a very hollow thing. In fact, I've heard multiple black thinkers - recently - say that white guilt is often just a waste of time. It's a waste of time when it doesn't LEAD to something. Guilt and repentance are two different things - we know this as Christians. Repentance leads to something. I believe my guilt, my confession, and my repentance are leading to something. For one, they've led to a lot of new and exciting relationships that literally began with me saying, "I'm so very sorry..."

Popular Posts