Howard Thurman’s book Jesus and the Disinherited, published in 1949, is still a prophetic voice into our current world. It is time for change.
Thurman walks through the fear that keeps the oppressed “in their place.” Fear of violent action causes the oppressed to fall into an “unremitting status of inferiority.”
But Thurman also demonstrates how fear works in the lives of the oppressors:
“This fear insulates the conscience against a sense of wrongdoing in carrying out a policy of segregation. (NOTE: Now think of this in terms of our current disastrous immigration policies.) For it counsels that if there were no segregation, there would be no protection against invasion of the home, the church, the school. (Also think of the knee jerk reaction to the phrase: “Defund the Police”.) This fear perpetrates the Jewish ghettos in Western civilization, the restrictive covenants in California and other states, the Chinatowns, the Little Tokyos, and the Street of the Untouchables in Hindu lands.”
Those in power and privilege fear losing that power and privilege and it drives policy, ordinances, laws, and actions. You have to stay in power so you create an enemy.
I confess. I cry a lot of tears walking through this little book.
The language is already being changed… so here we go (again).
Everyone who wants nice clean lines to play and color in have ceased distinguishing between “rioters” and “protesters.” It’s so much easier with nice neat categories to say “rioters.” You know… looters… thugs… etc.
I am walking through a study of Acts because our men’s Bible study is there. In working ahead, I am in Acts 16 and Paul at Philippi. This time through the story I was directed by the Spirit to look at the story through the view of the slave girl.
There is a lot to keep on being aware of in our lives and culture. This kairos moment is an opportunity for more folks to see what has been going on around us… and for a very long time.
I am a baseball guy so I love baseball movies. A classic for me is “Field of Dreams.” It’s the story of a guy in Iowa who plows up part of his cornfield to build a baseball field so Shoeless Joe Jackson can come and find some rest or reprieve in his soul after being banned from baseball decades before. It has the famous phrase: “If you build it, he will come.”
I subscribe to Christianity Today and I’ve listened to CT Podcasts (Quick to Listen) for quite awhile. The last few months have seen a bold shift for them. This time it is a piece from the president of CT calling for a major step in justice: reparations. A loaded word that when people hear it they often just shut down.