Thursday, October 30, 2008

Politics of hatred . . .

Recently a member of the congregation here suggested that she had been hearing more racist comments in the last six months that she had in the whole previous year . . . her comment made my ears more sensitive . . . although I hate to I have to agree with her.
Having grown up in the deep south white, middle-class I realize I grew up a child of privilege . . . I don't know the reason that this is my life, but it is and I am thankful . . . but it also means that I have a responsibility . . . a responsibility not only as a child of privilege, but a responsibility as a child of God.
Three are a couple of vivid memories about race that stand out for me:
The first was when I was about six . . . we moved to the small Southern town where I grew up . . . driving along the main drag (Jeff Davis!) we pasted the laundry . . . "Mama why would you bring whites only to wash?" . . . my Mama had to tell me that the sign meant that black people couldn't use the washing machines . . . I remember thinking that this was odd.
The second was about 13 years later when I was attending a small liberal arts church related college . . . primarily white students, but a handful of African-Americans . . . several who were friends . . . I night one of the women in my dorm asked if I would drive her and a couple of her friends (women I didn't know) over to the historically African-American universities in town . . . "sure" . . . for the first time I realized how it felt to be a minority . . . it wasn't a comfortable experience for any of us, but it got better as we talked.
Then while I was doing an internship, again in the South, a co-worker and I went to lunch . . . he was an African American Captain in the USAF . . . the restaurant we chose refused to serve us . . . I was shocked and wanted to protest . . . to speak to the manger . . . he wanted to leave, go somewhere else . . . we did.
With the comments I have been hearing since my ears have perked up I realize that we are still living in a country that is deeply divided . . . along color lines -- not just racial color lines, but red and blue lines . . . economic lines -- the haves and the have-nots . . . and among so many other lines of our own making . . . what does this say about having been made in the Image of God? What does it say about Scripture like the Golden Rule and the Matthew 25 text where the sheep and the goats are divided . . . "Lord, when did we see you . . . Truly, I tell you when you did it to the least of these you did it unto me."

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