Monday, October 26, 2015
What Do Racism & Progressive Christianity Have To Do With Each Other? Timothy Murphy at Progressive Christianity
While liberal Christianity has been driven for 200 years by questions like, “How can Christian faith make sense in a modern world,” a more compelling question for me is “When people are being dehumanized, and their neighbors feel nothing, what does that say about people’s capacity for transformation?”
The latter question points to the nature of sin, how we stand complicit in one another’s suffering, and how salvation must include the liberation of bodies as much as the redemption of souls. While that feels compelling, it pains me when my community gets stuck on feeling personally attacked when issues of race come up.
But here’s the thing: 9 times out of 10 it is not about explicit individual prejudice. It’s fundamentally not about you as an individual, nor is it about feeling guilty for being “racist” as a white person. It’s about principalities and powers, systems so deeply rooted in us that they shape our very way of life. And those dynamics are built to remain invisible to all those are advantaged by them. Now that’s sin!
But it’s so hard to express this in ways white people can hear without feeling like they are under attack (If you feel that way even now, please read this).
Addressing exploitation, violence, powerlessness, and oppression with a gospel of radical solidarity and an affirmation of the beauty and fortitude of what the systems of this world call worthless is the central thrust of Christian faith, whether it calls itself “progressive” or not.
In a world where the violence done to others is more often hidden from our eyes than in plain, even horrific, view, may each of us ask questions that help us better love our sisters and brothers as ourselves.