“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass
Greetings Church. It’s been a little bit and so much has happened. First #decolonize16 has happened. For all those who attended, watched online, supported in spirit, or donated, thank you. You have my heartfelt gratitude. Often I have felt the urging of the Holy Spirit, but I have ignored Her urgings. Y’all didn’t. Simply put you are my hero’s.
Second, during #decolonize16 we proposed 11 mid-term goals for the movement. I must be honest I’m loathe to propose midterm goals because liberation is not a check list. Also, often with a check list its easy for the dominant culture to write you off after all is “accomplished.”
Here is a link if you haven’t seen them yet.
Third, we announced that #decolonize17 will be at United Seminary. That’s the artist formerly known as The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia to you. Here is a Link to that.
Today I want to address something that has been happening since the beginning. Since the birth of this movement within our beloved church. Resistance. At first it was blatant and easy to dismiss.
“A bunch of social justice warriors.”
As someone who has experienced first-hand most the things I write, preach or talk about, that one is the worse. I advocate for the prisoner because I was one. I advocate for the poor and marginalized because I spent years in West Philly praying for a meal at night and over a decade homeless. I talk about #blacklives because I’m living one. I’m doing this in a country where it has little to no worth attributed to large portions of the population. I could go on, but I always find it disingenuous in the extreme when it comes from mostly white pastors. These same folks who would lock their car doors in the neighborhood I grew up in. Lower their eyes as they drove through scared to make eye contact with folks. Cowards. Even the POC ones who have something to say negative. Comments like this dismiss my lived experience as some political platform rather than the bloodied and bruised body of Christ my experience is.
Or the communal experience of millions like me stretching back to the Atlantic slave trade.
It is the language of white supremacy couched in church polity.
It is the boot of oppression painted to look like an altar rail.
It is the self-inflicted wounds of other marginalized folks who have come to accept the dominant culture as the only one they have ever known or is right.
This doesn’t mean I don’t think critique is critical. We are discussing something else here, but I’ll get to that.
“Why are you Lutheran then?”
It’s funny you know we are so proud of being the first to protest the Church and survive. To thrive. But 500 years later we have become the people who sell indulgences to get butts in the pew. The indulgences look different. They may be shaped like an LBW and a church bully we refuse to battle because of how much they tithe. It may be our portico retirement we aren’t willing to risk by “preaching about another thug’s death.”
“This seems like a bunch of seminarians whining”
Let me translate this for you. You mean the future of the Church, you claim to love. By the way, so was Seminex. We are also PHD’s and Rostered Leaders, and even have the interest and support of a few Bishops but don’t let that stop you. Ageism looks good on you.
I could go on but these are examples of blatant resistance. I can only relate this next thing to my lived experience with liberation but the next step will be subtler. It is theological gas lighting, and ecclesiastical dog whistling.
It will perhaps look like this. “When was the Gospel about diversity?”
This statement is so intellectually dishonest I’m not even going give it a go. I would suggest this person read about Jesus. Or Acts. Or anything Paul wrote. I mean its stunning in its lack of hermeneutical understanding.
This is the next stage, seemingly innocent comments that don’t mention #decolonize directly but get to the heart of it. Why? Why dog whistle now?
The edifice is falling. We are rooted in the Gospel, the Augsburg Confessions and the liturgical calendar. Our deep love and abiding respect for the Church is clear to anyone who cares to be honest with themselves and all that is left is fear. Fear that the brown folk maybe taking over. Fear that the queer folk you have lambasted from the pulpit may be your Bishop. Fear that the changes reflected in an ever increasingly diverse and richly beautiful society may be happening in your congregation.
You have been begging for the millennials, and the nones, and the unchurched to show up.
They are here.
They are the most interconnected, inclusive generation this country has ever seen and they have seen through your thinly veiled hatred and scriptural warping.
They will be the candidacy committee. They are already on your synod council. They have been elected to Church wide positions.
I think the real fear is they may actually let Jesus in the door.