Perhaps we’ve barely tried it


A few thoughts from brother Anthony Smith:

“I thought I’d give Mike a listen. I just have one question for when he says that the carnage Newtown experienced this past Friday is due to the systematic removal of Christianity in schools and in the broader society ‘beginning 50 years ago.’  I was struck inwardly by this question: America has always been a violent society; from the near extermination of Native Americans; slavery of blacks; tyranny over woman; and our strong propensity to be exclusionary and violent toward people who do not look like us or live exactly like us.

OK… the question:

“Given your logic Mike is fair to say that given the history of carnage in America and exported by America that America has not really removed Christianity as it has barely tried it?”

Christianity has not been systematically removed, brother Mike. It’s just that we have barely lived it for nearly 300 years, not just the past 50.

_____

And a few later thoughts by Anthony:

“This story is too tragic to become a political handmaiden to a version of Christianity that is nearly almost completely self-deceived [and] amnesiatic about it’s career in the Americas. We need a better story than this. Those small children deserve a better story than this. God have mercy on us.”

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2 thoughts on “Perhaps we’ve barely tried it

  1. The better story that Anthony is asking for might be difficult to generate in a culture already imbedded with stories where ‘might makes might’ and underdogs can win especially when they adopt the very same violent methods their oppressors used to subjugate. However difficult this may be stories are a great place to start, but what really matters is how we tell the stories we already know.

    If God is a divine power broker who makes contacts (covenants) with his people, then those (like Huckabee) who believe we have violated the terms of the contract are urging compliance from the only conceivably guilty party– us.

    2 Chron. 7:14 “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

    Perhaps Christians have misunderstood the requirements of this “deal.” I have heard this passage referenced several times these past few days, but none included verse 13: 

    “When I (Yahweh) shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people…”

    Notice it is God who sends the calamity. The passage seems to indicate that bad things will happen, but the real question is how will humanity respond? Is prayer alone the answer to this test? This seems to be the default setting for most Christians. A few pious words offered up to the Almighty and (with a divine snap of the holy fingers) everything will be all right again. What about humility and turning away from wickedness? Perhaps we too quickly assume that those who would pray have already adopted the posture of humility and repentance so that this list contains nothing more than synonyms. (Despite Jesus’ characterizations of giving to the poor, fasting, and praying where the only reward is misplaced respect from others. Matt. 6) Perhaps the “tests” of 2 Chron. 7:13 were designed in heaven with the same intention as Israel’s journey into the wilderness. Will there be enough when there seems to be so little?

    Most scholars believe that the author of Chronicles is writing from a post-exile perspective. The tremendous loss at the hands of the invading armies of Babylon is still a recent memory and it is in this setting that the Chronicler describes the temple consecration. Here this writer looks back in history and describes God’s warning to the king:

     “But if you (Solomon) turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’”

    All the respect and admiration of the citizens of a growing and thriving city end up being stripped away says the Chronicler. Why? Because Israel has embraced gods of power (read amassing great wealth and military strength) rather than the God of Liberation. I think it’s time to reconsider the environment we create and the allegiances we build in telling stories from Scripture that refuse to indict our own behavior. Let’s face it, there are plenty of narratives that the Israelites wrote down for the express purpose of humiliation and repentance. We need to tell these stories more.

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