Monday, January 25, 2016

Being Church

I just listened to a Huffington Post interview with Jim Wallis, the liberal evangelical (yes. you read that right--a 'liberal evangelical) who founded the Sojourners community in Washington, DC, and has a new book called something about 'original sin'.

I've admired Jim Wallis for decades for his principles and  'stand fast' morality and his voice in the wilderness of what most people think of when they hear the term 'evangelical'.

Much of what Wallis said in the interview was akin to my contention that the church needs to 'clean the sh*t off everything'. The original sin he is talking about is that the US stole the land of the indigenous people of North America and built our economy by kidnapping Africans and using them as slaves.

"White privilege", Wallis contends, is a sin that separates white Christians from God.

Powerful and troubling words.

Until we can come face to face with our history and slavery and Jim Crow America and the plight of blacks in our culture today, we can never move forward into the future that God calls us to live into.

Cleaning the stuff off all that might take a generation--but, it needs to be done.

There was a hill we would pass driving into Waiteville, West Virginia, where the Bradley family came from, that my Uncle Russell and my father would tell me, held the graves of the Bradley slaves.

Now, the Bradley family were poor dirt farmers, but I was told they had a few slaves. And I remember that on Memorial Day, when there was a big dinner in Waiteville to support the local cemetery, my great aunt Arbana would put Confederate flags on the graves of my ancestors and Uncle Russell would pull them up.

I've never truly wrestled with all that in a meaningful way. I've never faced into my 'white privilege' in a way that makes a difference.

Before everything can be beautiful, I (and I suggest 'we') have a nasty clean up job to do.

Something to ponder about what it means to be white in America. Something worth the effort if we want to truly 'be Church' in our time....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.