I am beginning a book by Soong-Chan Rah called Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times. It is a series by IVP that does biblical commentary within the application of current cultural commentary. This one is on Lamentations.
His claim is we have no songs of lament in our American Christian culture. We are about victory and triumph. Who has time to cry?
In my early reading I began to think about the things we should lament over nationally as Christians, and then it occurred to me we may not lament at all. We may just be angry. We tend to lament according to our agendas, so are we really lamenting? Or, are we just angry?
For instance, I am still burning over the complete lack of any voice in the “progressive” Christian side of the American Church equation over the Planned Parenthood videos. It’s not about was it “legal” or “illegal” or should we “defund” Planned Parenthood, which is what it has devolved to in our national arguments (as I predicted). Even when I engage with some progressive friends over this, they couldn’t bring themselves to find horror in this. Of course, when all that results is a cry to defund an agency and political agendas are pulled back into the field of play, we then just make it about politics. We haven’t lamented. We’re just angry.
And I then I understand “progressive” Christians anger toward “conservative” Christians when we aren’t moved by racism. When our best response to the Charleston shooting was, “Well, if that pastor had allowed his members to come to church packin’ heat that might not have happened,” and we argued over the Confederate battle flag… it all turned to anger. No lament.
We only cry over our own agendas. We don’t stop to simply feel pain and lament. We need a mourning over some situations and just quit the bickering back and forth. In some settings in cultures there are 7 day and 30 day periods given to mourning. Nothing else is done when a death has happened. The spouse grieves and does nothing else if their loved one has died.
We have nothing in our American Christianity that allows for that space. We are on to victory and triumph.
And we are diminished as people in the process.
Dear Lord… Have mercy on us.