“The Cross and the Molotov Cocktail” – News in recent months has reminded all of us how broken this world is. I’ve seen a variety of responses to the Ferguson tragedy, but I think it’s important for those who are in Christ to understand this perspective from which Christena Cleveland writes:
“Can you see the Imago Dei in these young men? Can you see the suffering Christ in their rage?
“Many Black and/or justice-minded Christians can see the suffering Christ on the lynching tree. Theologian James Cone notes that by seeing the suffering Christ on the lynching tree, lynching-era blacks experienced the presence of God in the midst of unbearable suffering. “In the mystery of God’s revelation, black Christians believed that just knowing that Jesus went through an experience of suffering in a manner similar to theirs gave them faith that God was with them, even in suffering on lynching trees, just as God was present with Jesus in suffering on the cross.”[ii]
It’s not difficult to look at the photo above and see Christ’s powerlessness, suffering, indignity and innocence hanging from the tree. But various theologies of respectability[iii]– theologies that suggest that oppressed people have to act “respectably” (according to middle-class, white standards) in order to be seen as victims — have prevented many people from seeing the suffering Christ in black suffering unless it’s communicated in a “peaceful”, “appropriate”, “respectable”, “non-violent” way.
It’s relatively easy to see the suffering Christ in black men who are already dead and aren’t threatening to hurt anyone. But can you see the suffering Christ in black men who are still alive and might hurt someone? Can you see the suffering Christ in violent responses to injustice? Can you see the cross in the Molotov cocktail?
The Molotov cocktail is born of the rage of the suffering of black men.”
“Can you see the suffering Christ in the oppressed, even the ones who aren’t responding perfectly to society’s oppression? Christ doesn’t just suffer for the innocent, the ones who don’t have the energy to fight back, or the ones who perfectly respond to injustice. He suffers for the ones who suffer now and sin in their suffering.
And make no mistake, our God is a God of justice. The young black men who launch Molotov cocktails at the police are misappropriating God’s justice by taking it into their own hands, but the rage they feel is the rage that God feels towards injustice. In a sense, they are imaging forth God’s justice to an unjust world.
Seeing the suffering Christ in these young men isn’t achieved by theological gymnastics, deep pity, or altruism. It’s done by listening to their stories, sharing life, standing in solidarity with them, and experiencing their rage.”
“Can you learn from the violent protesters as well as the peaceful protesters? Can you see the Imago Dei in both?”
I hope we all can, regardless of gender, regardless of race. I have spent the last four-ish years reading and studying many of these issues in relation to American history and within America present, and I think as I continue to learn more and more, my heart only continues to cry out that the race my skin represents will realize the difficulties that many in our country still face due to skin color. Acknowledging our privilege due to skin color doesn’t mean we are wielding it as club; rather, it often means we are willing to listen with empathy and to use our privilege to speak up for justice when the time comes.
(Related: “A Mother’s White Privilege”
“My boys will carry a burden of privilege with them always. They will be golden boys, inoculated by a lack of melanin and all its social trapping against the problems faced by Black America.
For a mother, white privilege means your heart doesn’t hit your throat when your kids walk out the door. It means you don’t worry that the cops will shoot your sons.
It carries another burden instead. White privilege means that if you don’t school your sons about it, if you don’t insist on its reality and call out oppression, your sons may become something terrifying.”
Entire article here.
“For the Quiet Child (And For Their Parents) … You Can Stop Apologizing for Who You Are” – As the mother of at least two quiet children (verdict’s still out on the third and fourth) and as someone who was a quiet child myself, I can deeply appreciate these words.
One of my biggest public parenting fails came when I tried to force one of my daughters to be something she wasn’t ready for and I tried to do so for the approval of others. My heart aches over that experience and the sorrow it created in our relationship, and I know firsthand how tempting it can be for caregivers, parents, and children to try to “break what God created, while trying to recreate [a child] in some other image.” (This is not at all to say that we aren’t working and teaching towards healthy social interaction!) But for those of us who love children who sometimes get overshadowed, this article is a great reminder to continue to love.
“Maybe we would all see what a deep thinker you are. Maybe we would learn how to listen better. How to enjoy simple moments with paint brushes and pens in quiet rooms. To wring the joy out of this life.
You show us how to embrace the quiet.
Girl, I love how attentive you are, how you scan a room with your soft eyes. I have seen how you find the people who are hurting, and without fanfare, make a way to make them feel safe.”
“My worst fear for us as parents and teachers and caregivers?
That we would accidentally break what God created, while trying to recreate you in some other image.
That we would miss the miracle of you.”
“A few months ago, your sister held a microphone confidently at the front of a church, sharing about our family’s recent trip to Haiti. You sat beside me, and we held hands. I kept squeezing your hand, and pressing my forehead against yours, because I wanted you to know that I was as proud of you as I was of her. You were on that same trip, and you did some amazing things, too, like raising $2,000 for a basketball court at a Haitian school. You simply don’t enjoy telling a big crowd of people about it.
I tucked you in that night, and in the dark, I told God out loud how proud I was of you. (I don’t typically speak for God, but I think it’s safe to say that he agreed with me.)
Daughter, have I told you lately how talented and beautiful and smart and funny and compassionate and humble you are?
You live life more quietly than your sister or most of your friends, but not so quiet that you Dad and I can’t hear who you really are.
For instance, we found out that you stuck up for a little boy at recess last year. Some older girls were calling him names. You told them to stop being so mean, but they didn’t listen. Maybe they didn’t hear. So you quietly pulled the boy aside and encouraged him to tell a teacher. Which he did.
And the next day, you helped that same little boy when he fell off a swing.
Most likely, nobody is going to hand you a microphone to tell that story. And even if they asked, you would probably quietly decline.
And if you did decline the offer? Your mama will be in the front row, with her palm out, waiting to hold your hand in hers.”
“Lord Have Mercy”
“Our God doesn’t bear grudges. He doesn’t hold Himself back to punish us. He doesn’t “teach us a thing or two.” Instead, in the face of unbelievable rejection, even as we turn from Him again and again, He patiently, generously, abundantly extends Himself to us. And when we finally return to Him, and to each other, He faithfully, freely forgives and makes us whole once again.” ~Hannah Anderson, Made for More
***Disclaimer: “Links to Think” is my curation of two to three articles that have caused me to pause and think more deeply about issues or topics. The indented portions are excerpts from these articles, and are neither written by me nor do they contain the entirety of the articles linked to (article titles are hyperlinked to the entire article). These articles or other material written by the authors almost always hold some writing that I disagree with, and it should not be assumed that I agree with either the entirety of an article or everything written by an author I link to. All photos with quotes are mine, unless otherwise stated***