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More in response to this week's evil

Here is our United Church of Christ minister for Justice and Witness, Traci Blackmon, who was present in Charlottesville, calling out the lies yesterday of President Trump.

Here a Civil War historian writes refutes the President's lies about there existing two legitimate sides as she explains why one side was moral and the other wasn't.  How sad that we must have this conversation, is what I'm thinking.

Here David Brook once again criticizes the President and advocates for the intellectual virtue of modesty.  The column reminded me of Amy Kittelstrom's Religion of Democracy.


McLaren in Charlottesville

Theologian Brian McLaren was present in Charlottesville on Saturday and he has written his observation, reflections, and thoughts going forward, including the urgent practical work we must do.

Here is an excerpt:

We Christians, in particular, need to face the degree to which white Christianity has failed – grievously, tragically, unarguably failed – to teach its white adherents to love their non-white neighbors as themselves. Congregations of all denominations need to make this an urgent priority – to acknowledge the degree to which white American Christianity has been a chaplaincy to white supremacy for centuries, and in that way, has betrayed the gospel.


A Prayer for Charlottesville

Yesterday I borrowed these words for my pastoral prayer.

Sweet Jesus, what has happened to your beloved world? What darkness is on the loose when those who hate their neighbors pray in your name and ask for your blessing?

You have told us, O Lord, what is good: to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with you, and yet there are those among us who wield machine guns to intimidate and chant vitriolic rhetoric to terrorize, and ram cars intentionally into crowds to kill.

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. . . . [Keep reading the rest of the prayer]


Truth Will Rise

Some Willimon quotes from Who Lynched Willie Earle?

Race is a socially constructed, psychologically rooted attempt to name humanity through human designations.  Christians defiantly believe that our identity and our human significance are bestowed upon us not by our culture, family, or skin color but rather given us in baptism.

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The origins of Southern fundamentalist Christianity have their roots in the creation of this disincarnate "empty space" sealed off from theological scrutiny.

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In a critique of how church often functions he writes "church is made into a font of positive feelings, a sabbatical for the soothing of anxiety, healing of stress, a place to receive placid balance, and a retreat where we go to pray for those in the hospital."

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In a society of racial denial, blaming and falsehood, rituals that enable repentance are great gifts that the church offers.  When so many white Americans adamantly maintain our innocence, our guiltlessness, it's a remarkable witness to be in a community where sin is admitted, confessed, and given to God.

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Much of my church family wallows in the mire of anthropological moral, therapeutic deism, a "god" whom the modern world has robbed of agency, an ineffective godlet who allegedly cares but never gets around to doing anything.  Such a "god" is an idol who is inadequate to the challenge of our racism.

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Christians answer to a theological vocation whereby we must demonstrate to an unbelieving world, by our little lives and in our pitiful churches that, in spite of us, nevertheless there is hope because God is able.

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We preach about race as those who believe we have seen as much of God as we hoped to see in his world when we look upon a brown-skinned Jew from Nazareth.

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His critique on much worship and pastoral care is spot on:

Should we be surprised that a racially accommodated church reduces Christian worship to the cultivation of subjectivity and interiority, presenting the Christian faith as a therapeutic technique for acquiring personal, individual meaning and joy in life?

Also,

Though moral, therapeutic deism takes the guts out of preaching, truth, smothered by therapeutic mush and self-pitying theodicy, will rise.

 


Who Lynched Willie Earle? Preaching to Confront Racism

Who Lynched Willie Earle?: Preaching to Confront RacismWho Lynched Willie Earle?: Preaching to Confront Racism by William H. Willimon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I heard Willimon speak on this issue at the Festival of Homiletics in May. He was angry and sassy and is so in the book. This is a vital text for preachers. A clarion call to preaching as God's weapon to defeat white supremacy.

Willimon tells the story of a lynching in his home county when he was one and how one local pastor preached about it. He uses this to explore the ongoing issues of white supremacy and its corruption of the church and gives encouragement and advice for how preachers must respond.

I'll post some quotes and details later.

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