Response to Reconcile?
The great thing about this poem, and the conversations I’ve had with Adam about it, is the recognition that injustice and abuse of power is a human issue – it’s neither Western nor Eastern, Capitalist nor Communist, Christian nor Muslim, or (as Will Smith said) “Black, White, Cuban or Asian.”
For the most part I think this was Adam’s point (Adam, in case you’re wondering, that’s your cue to chime in when you get a break from your Hebrews class!).
I realize that at some point we have to remember this is primarily a poem meant to have an overall effect for a specific course content and it is not a general historical theology paper. Since this was a poem for a class that focused on England/Great Britain that undoubtedly influenced the content and presentation. Perhaps that alone answers the majority of these issues, but…in the name of fairness there are a couple sections where I’d like to challenge Adam’s thinking.
The main reason I’m challenging you here is because I do think you’re on to something, but I can also detect the warning signs for developing a despising of white people as the source of all evil. Let’s not replace our ethnocentric superiority complex with an ethnocentric sense of universal guilt. There is plenty of blame to go around!
I think you have the foundation for a strong call to recognition – sin, corruption and injustice is a human condition and not one group of humans have shown themselves immune. Therefore reconciliation should not be about putting a new group in charge…give ’em time and they’ll become corrupted by power as well (historically speaking). Reconciliation must be about shared responsibility and perhaps an expanded definition of “neighbor” which leads us to a new and not just different future.
I believe that the call must be to participate in the Kingdom of God, particularly as Jesus presents this type of life in the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon opens with the beatitudes which present a shocking depiction of who the heralded members of God’s Kingdom will be and how they will live. I DO NOT believe that the Sermon was meant as an unrealistic ideal that we can never actually experience, nor do I believe that it was intended as a preview of life after this life, in heaven.
I believe that the good news that the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (meaning its here now) is primarily a message of hope for reconciliation – to God, to our fellow humans and to creation in general. But, I also believe that the Church has been guilty of using “Kingdom” language to mean something entirely different for a long time and we have to earn the right to speak to people again.
Neither the Church nor the United States (TWO COMPLETELY SEPARATE ENTITIES) should be seen as the ONLY group that has failed to live up to a high calling, but as your poem points out, neither can pretend not to have been ONE such group. For us as Christians (specifically protestants living in the US), pretending that since we’re Protestant or CofC that this story isn’t our story…well that just leads to less credibility in my opinion.
Including my challenges in the body of this post made it too long, so each one is going to be posted as a separate comment. You can feel free to engage with any or all.
Adam, thanks for letting me use your poem – its always a bit unnerving to put something in writing for people to critique. You did a great job.