I have been thinking a lot about what I believe. Perhaps, that I may hide from my convictions that I am a wolf in Christian clothing. For all intensive purposes, I have no right to be in ministry.
I hold so many biases that one could open a bizarre with my prejudices and misgivings of people. I clam to be a pretty open fellow. The more I question this idea that more I realize that I am a messed up mucky muck kind of guy.
The middle of last year Mere and I moved to Louisville, in an area that has a large African-American population. Our building had ten apartments with two occupied by Caucasian families [us included], two were vacant, and the rest were occupied by African-Americans.
I grew up with Hispanics, Asians, and Caucasians. I had very little exposure to African-Americans. Elementary school I had no African-American friends. In middle school I had a few African-American friends, none of whom came to my house nor did they live in my neighborhood. In high school I had maybe a dozen close friends that where Africa-American that I played football with and spent quite a bit of time with. I never went to there homes. I never entered their neighborhoods. I never entered their world. It was always on my terms, my space. I was at advantage in the relationship.
College, university, and seminary I had a sparse encounter with Africa-Americans. It may have a lot to do with the institutions I attended. They were largely Anglo funded and fueled, geared towards Anglo institutions.
I would not have identified as racist in any of the above situations. I kept my nose clean. I made sure what I thought was never used to impact a situation or event. I made sure to seek out quality friends and meet quotas so that I could not be accused of racism. I jogged on in life blissfully unaware that I am a much larger part of the problem that I imagined.
I arrived here with my partner, my new life, my new chance at life. We arrived excited and ready to forge ahead and claim our stake in the American dream. Only one snag…we live in a totally foreign context from what either of us are used to. We arrived in that building and we were surrounded by booming hip-hop music, tricked out cars with giant rims, and a sea of black faces.
With all of this “difference” surrounding me here I begin to question my reactions. Would I feel safer if all of the music, clothing, language, and relationships involved a white face? I am afraid my gut reaction would be, yes. If I saw a sea of faces that looked like me I would feel safer. I write this realizing that my every move is routed in classism, racism, sexism, and elitism. I am deeply part of the problem and it hurts.
I am part of this problem even if I have never actively subjected others to injustice. Systemic injustice takes from some to give to others. Systemic injustice perverts the beauty of Gods creation as it creates “us” and “them.” Systemic injustice can only be destroyed when we all become aware of its presence and are moved to act. This is at the core of the gospel message.
We cannot begin to understand the radical nature of the Gospel until we understand the insurmountable action it demands from us. St. Francis of Assisi said “Proclaim the Gospel always, and use words when you must.” It is my conviction that I far to often speak when I should be or do. It is my prayer that one day I may be gloriously silent as injustice retreats from the light of the gospel proclaimed.