Thursday, August 8, 2019
Dear All of Us,
Lots of blood spilled in the past two weeks -
Gilroy - El Paso - Dayton -
streets of Brooklyn, Chicago, Boston, Orange County and more.
Lots of words about it - yet again.
What to do?
Well, even with a cataract, this old man sees better than ever,
and it isn't necessarily "better."
I see that yes indeed it's "America the Beautiful."
I see that yes indeed it's "America the Violent."
The place called America is beautiful and plentiful
"from sea to shining sea" - a treasure.
Americans enjoy free elections, travel, education,
inventive entrepreneurship, lots of food, cars, private homes,
credit cards, excellent medical care, vacations - for some sometimes.
We people called American are a living contradiction.
We treasure freedom and equality, but not at all equally for all -
Native Americans, African Americans, other people of color,
the poor, LBGTQ folks, Muslims, Jews and any religious minorities,
legal immigrants - folks that are different than the majority.
Americans can be incredibly generous, and incredibly selfish -
think Katrina relief,
think 99% and 1% wealth distribution.
Americans go to church a lot, and those churches do a lot of good.
Yet, hear the words of Jesus -
the least is the greatest,
do unto others as you would have them do unto you,
love God, neighbor, self
what you do to the least you do unto me
love your enemies,
those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword
beware the yeast of the Pharisees
the 126 times the Kingdom of God is mentioned,
and it is painfully clear we aren't any closer to Jesus and His Kingdom
than the earth is to the farthest star.
Rather, a poor parody of patriotism has become our national religion.
The flag has replaced the cross.
Gross income replaces grace.
The church has failed to be a clear channel for Jesus and The Kingdom.
We have religion but not Kingdom Living -ideas, words, rituals, programs plus,
but not honest to God Jesus living and that
in real, close, serving community.
Church leadership's example, practice and teaching are a muddle.
They have not addressed head on violence and inequality
in an unabashed, straight up, practical way in our country and culture.
They have not led the church to a life of real, unequivocal non-violence
and warm, wide open equality.
How many "odd ducks," minority, street/homeless people, "poor things,"
are really welcomed, never mind recruited, for our churches?
Platitude for performance.
Play it safe and don't ruffle things up and diminish
the church numbers and income.
Yes, some clergy and laity did sacrifice a lot to get advancements
for justice during the Civil Rights Movement.
They were the exception that proved the rule.
Overall, though, lots of statements, nothing effective.
I confess that in my pastoral practice I was a failure here too often.
Example: I caved under the pressure of another pastor with whom I served
and his insistence that our large church not have a Latino/a Ministry
in an area with a significant Latino/a population.
Passive violence, calculating exclusion.
Happily, I did have a vigorous Migrant Ministry at another church
I served in the farm land of central Indiana.
In America there's the now routine call for gun control.
It's like cars.
The more on the road the more fatalities there will be.
The math works for guns.
Yes, there is a manic madness about having lots of guns across the land.
We need to get over it.
But gun control, political and legal acts will not remedy
the violence and inequality that permeates
the American psyche and experience.
Only redemption will.
That's because this country wove violence and inequality
into it's make up, it's history and it's very constitution from the start.
White Europeans came here and brutalized the Native Americans,
taking their land and forcing them to uncivilized confinements.
Native Americans were exported for profit as slaves
out from the port of Charleston.
We raided and captured Africans, importing them as slaves
through Charleston and other ports.
We took human beings, created that way by God,
and treated them not as God created them,
but as animals to be bought and sold.
While affirming a Declaration of Independence,
"We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all Men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain inalienable Rights,
that among them are Life, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Happiness",
slavery became American law and God's law was denied at our founding.
We killed over half a million of us in a national war about freedom and equality.
Those guns, the violence, all that carnage didn't do it, didn't remedy.
We give preference to violence - be that physical, social, political, economic,
digital, litigious - to address/redress problems.
Then there's video games!!!
And to say nothing of the politicians and governmental leaders
who say way too much, way too often, way too far from truth or civility.
And oh, the out of control social media.
When it isn't trite and trivial it is sadly often incendiary.
To wit, Toni Morrison:
"Oppressive language does more
than represent violence.
It is violence."
By the Numbers:
MASS SHOOTINGS USA
2017 - 32 - 225 dead
2018 - 25 - 140 dead
2019 - 23 - 131 dead (so far-little more than half a year)
( Associated Press 08-07-19 )
CERTIFIABLE ACTIVE HATE GROUPS USA
51 Klu Klux Klan
148 White Nationalist
63 Racist Skinhead
17 Christian Identity
264 Black Nationalist
163 General Hate
( Southern Poverty Law Center )
See www.splcenter.org/hate map
for state by state numbers
Remember the persecution heaped upon immigrant/religious groups
when they came to "the land of the free."
Muslims from many lands
Count the wars in our short history.
How many could be justified before God?
Do politicians and corporate America need war and armaments -
violence and inequality -
as their power and profit source?
Remember Dwight Eisenhower - the military/industrial complex?
How can so few control so much to the detriment of so many?
Currently we are mired in a massive cultural conflict here in America,
and there's a lot of anger boiling over.
Violence and inequality.
America, for all its good and its strengths, has a deadly cancer.
It is racism, violence and inequality in a lethal combination.
Nothing short of radical surgery will save us.
We need a profound and honest rethink of who and how we are.
We need to correct our faulty foundation.
We need to see and confess our sin.
We need a conversion, a redemption.
It needs to be real and really spiritual.
We need to see, honor and rejoice in the equality of all people
and their basic freedom as children of God.
We need to look at others and see God.
We need to look at others and see ourselves.
God is indeed love and in God's love we are all one
with wondrous diversity.
That's God's idea and gift - not something to be violated.
When violated, it ruptures our country.
We need to focus on The Common Good,
not the priority and privilege of the powerful few.
If our shared American Soul can be redeemed,
we will live out genuine freedom and equality for all,
and do so from our hearts.
Our social structure will then embody them both.
Peace will flow from the rightness of it all.
We can't legislate our way to this.
We need to corporately get on our knees and repent.
That will lift us free from our shared lie and sin.
It will purify and enlighten.
It will open to a glorious future of freedom and equality in peace
for us, and I bet, for much of the world.
It will take open minded, large hearted, courageous people,
to go through a national confession, repentance and redemption.
Til then, more violence and inequality.
In the meantime, and it is mean right now,
what can we do, how should we be?
Well, each of us can go through our own spiritual cleansing,
one that will invigorate us for a life of peace lived in freedom
and with an equality shared with all.
To do that we will need to seek Soul Mates, people with whom
we can be and live as a genuine community,
one rooted in real and practical love of God, neighbor and self.
That means we need to be proactive in seeking, inviting and responding.
A leaven in the dough can raise it to a new fresh fullness.
Nothing short of right will make things right.
Paradoxically we Americans are slaves,
slaves to violence and inequality.
May our emancipation come soon.
"Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled,
and do not let them be afraid."
( John 14:27 )
Peace be with you!
BEGINNING WITH HIS POSTING
WILL BE POSTED THURSDAY EVENINGS
EAST COAST USA TIME.
Welcome and greetings
to first time participation
How wonderful to be together here.
Please share "frankly speaking" with others.
at 8:09 PM