Monday, December 30, 2019

Elephant in the Church

No statement, theological or otherwise, should be made that would not be credible in the presence of burning children. Irving Greenberg 

No statement, theological or otherwise, should be made that would not be credible in the presence of caged children and youth.  

Explaining injustice away:
will we reap its whirlwind?
This quote, which I originally found in Hall, Christian Antisemitism and Paul's Theology, is a timely reminder that silence,  too, is not a credible statement in the presence of the brutal treatment of young children on U.S soil. Texas soil. But silence is no substitute for compassion or justice.

The churches I attend and teaching I hear generally do not mention the brutality we inflict on others, many of whom are also brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. How is our silence helping anyone?  

Tex Sample's cultural analysis of the cultural middle is relevant here. Cultural middle congregations live out of what Sample termed "explanatory theology," a descriptive phrase limiting faith to those problems that can be analyzed, managed, and prevented. Many clergy and congregants in a cultural middle church are managers. They are required to explain. The better they can explain, the more successful they can be. 

The other feature of explanatory theology is avoidance of controversy. If the leader's default is survival, then avoiding the obvious is sometimes the path chosen, even if unwise. 

The explanation of social inequity? Everyone deserves what they get. During the Reagan Era, the terms “truly needy” and “deserving poor" were created to explain severe cuts in social spending. There's a ring of this in Dickens' "grateful poor."

The existence of families forever separated and scattered, held in US custody, the penal colonies of young children and youth are explained by the fact that citizens only deserve humane treatment. Not all are endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Only those who have earned it.  

Everything I know about the Gospel of grace is not about earning anything. All are created in the image and likeness of God and there is nothing that can change or delete that. It isn't love that asks if the recipients are deserving. That's manipulation or guilt. But don't call it love. 

Oldies but Goodies