Two pics that got me thinking about white culpability

This, from The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, page 129.  HT to Chris Barna for the sharing this on Facebook.

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And this, whom the good folks over at By Their Strange Fruit posted on their Facebook stream.  The pictures were originally posted here.

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These two are connected.  I am not completely sure I understand the depths by which these two pictures are connected, or the dynamic shalom activist faithfulness it is compelling me to, but I am working on it.  How would you articulate the depth?

An Artist’s Healing Journey

It was a privilege to meet Isadore Charters a few months ago and hear his story.  It is gut wrenching and saturated in the pain of a residential school experience but a pain navigated with humility, reconciliation, joy and brilliant ‘soul formed’ artistic expression.  This is his story.  Well worth the watch.  It’s 3 minutes long.  (HT to Brander McDonald).

What part of Isadore’s story struck you?  How do youexpress yourself when you are on a ‘healing journey’?

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My son Asher, carving the “Healing Pole” Isadore brought to our church. The “Healing Pole” is a way to participate together in reconciliation activity for the atrocities of the Church/State run Residential School’s that were scattered throughout Canada.

Richard Twiss on Indigenous Liturgy

Richard Twiss

As Mennonite Church Canada works toward reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Canada in light of the Residential School brutality, these words by Richard Twiss are all too important.  This video is 4:30 long and well worth your time! 

Click on the link below.

http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/indigenous-liturgy (sorry, it appears that wordpress doesn’t like this embed code… annoying, but the consequence of free blog hosting I guess).

Here is another important video to take a look at in light of the above, it’s about 3 minutes long.

What a great man, and a gift to our generation.

What is unique about your culture, and how your community worships?  What could it look like for multiple cultures to participate in worship together?

Matthew 25: How do we receive Jesus?

Where love is

Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Matthew 25:34-36

This is a classic text!  During a week of service with Mennonite Disaster Service, an organization which rebuilds houses and a bunch of other stuff after disasters, I participated in a bible study based on this text.  At the bible study a gentleman took the liberty to add to end of this text “… I needed a house, and you built one for me.”  It was beautiful.  A stunning moment as this text dynamically engaged my particular time and place.

It has also inspired literary genius.  Leo Tolstoy in his classic “Where love is God is also” shares a story about a cobbler who loses his faith, but finds it again in the service of people, for that is where he found God.

Surely the audience of 1st century Palestine would recognize that Jesus was offering a divine social critique in this story.  He lived a life that embodied this message.  Serve the people of whom our society throws out with the garbage.  Serve and love like Jesus did.  It is a call to follow in Jesus’s footsteps, offering a love that transcends all social boundaries.

It is a call to humility.  To serve those whom are the ‘least of these’ has a guilty by association feel to it.  You love, therefore you are.  Love, and show solidarity with the socially downtrodden and there is a high chance you will indeed share the same fate.

It’s not something we do just because it is nice.  The sacrifice is too great for that.  Nicety can only take us so far.  It therefore can’t be a ’riding in on a white horse’ superman-esque mentality.  This is where Jesus digs a bit deeper.

It stunningly asks us the question, “how will we receive Jesus?”

Martin the cobbler in Tolstoy’s story receives Jesus in humble service of the ‘least of these.’  That is where he encountered God.  Crossing socio-economic boundaries takes a humility.  Without this humility and service, the cobbler would not have seen love, nor encountered the presence of Jesus.

If we are not in the place of humility, we will have a difficult time receiving Jesus.

The apocalyptic element of this story indicates to us that our choices matter.  There are consequences to what we do.  It offers us hope however, that we are ultimately judged by the cross.  But at it’s heart, this story, this text pierces our soul with the bold suggestion that we need humility to receive Jesus and humility looks like ‘the least of these.’

The answer, while relatively simplistic offers a back to the basics in Christian spirituality. Be humble, for there you will find and receive Jesus.  The consequences of such are wholistic, being both spiritual and social.

Like the gentleman who offered an addition to the text “I needed a house and you build one for me…” what would you add to the story?  What does humility look like for you? 

Thinking Out Loud: That Sneaky Idolatry

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when God hates all the same people you do.”

I heard this quote a while back and it reminded me that idolatry is sneaky.  I remember thinking to myself, “I hope I don’t do this.”  Upon further reflection and a severe beating with the humility stick I realized that I do! 

Seriously.

I thought of all the people that I was annoyed with, and sure enough they were the same people that seemed to annoy God.

If we are not careful, the God whom we worship becomes a simplistic representation of who we want to be.  In doing this, we create idols.  We create things that we worship.  It is far easier to be a disciple of our own ideals than of a living God of the Bible who demands a radical faithfulness.

We create a golden calf.

It may sound a little too “Sunday Schooly’ to answer in this way…  but we need Jesus.

Never trust a theology that doesn’t acknowledge human brokenness and a need for Jesus.  Or I would venture a guess and say that it will most likely mirror it’s own baggage, or that of it’s community.  This is the very same reason why communities and faith traditions need to acknowledge past baggage.  Otherwise theological praxis becomes founded on that baggage.

I am reminded of the book on the AA 12 steps and spirituality I am reading.  The first step, acknowledging powerlessness, assumes that we are indeed a broken humanity held powerless to our and our baggage.  It is important to acknowledge this as we seek to practice our faith.  Sometimes we forget.

As we do our theology, or practice our faith may we be reminded that our relationships with others and with God is predicated on a humility that allows the presence of Jesus to radiate in all we do.

Just thinking out loud!

Do you see baggage impact theological praxis in your context?  What are the idols of your community?