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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dangerous Texts

     Recently I have been confronted by two "dangerous" texts in scripture. One I heard in class, the other was preached today.
Romans 5:3-5a
let us rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance; character and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us...

     This often quoted text is dangerous because it has been used to "keep people in their place." Abused women are told to suffer because eventually they will receive the hope that does not disappoint. The marginalized are told that they gain character by learning how to withstand injustice. The poor are told they can persevere if they would really just try harder.
     Hopefully you can see the how that may be dangerous. It gets--not to be too dramatic--deadly when we point to our Savior on the cross and say, see what Christ has done, now take up your cross, submit, suffer and die.
     If we are not careful with how we use our words regarding Christ's sacrifice and our call to submission--which I do think is a valid and necessary call--we could turn the transformative and radical Gospel into deadly propaganda that keeps things as status quo.
     The same can be said about the sermon text I heard preached today: Matthew 6:25-34. Granted the audience was white, mid-to-upper class Americans.
[--stepping upon soapbox--]
     But my concern is that it is precisely these folks, the ones with the resources and the tools to help, who are failing to help feed and clothe the hungry in Africa, in Haiti, in our freakin' backyards!
     Therefore, how can we expect those who do not have the luxury of going to a grocery store not to worry about what they will eat.
     Instead we use this text to tell us not feel pressured about deadlines or homework or what our friends may think of us, and instead we should be prioritizing God on our to-do lists. Which is great and an occasionally needed message, but by ceasing our own self-worry we better start worrying about our brothers and sisters whose lives are lacking because we live in excess
(Irony-honesty alert: I type this on my laptop, ten feet from my second computer, while eating a bowl of ice-cream, with a $100 plane voucher before me, in the subsidized seminary housing the married students all bitch about...)
     Therefore both of these texts can be very dangerous if we--the safe, the established, the empowered, the white, the wealthy, the male--do not stop and take some self inventory and recognize the tremendous damage we can/are causing.
[--exiting soapbox--]

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