The Verse and Voice daily emails from Sojourners have been pretty good, kind of like a replacement for the now defunct Bruderhof Daily Dig! They have been challenging, as well. Today's email featured a quote from Howard Thurman:
"Too often the price exacted by society for security and respectability is that the Christian movement in its formal expression must be on the side of the strong against the weak. This is a matter of tremendous significance, for it reveals to what extent a religion that was born of a people acquainted with persecution and suffering has become the cornerstone of a civilization and of nations whose very position in modern life has too often been secured by a ruthless use of power applied to weak and defenseless people."Although I'm sure there are many who would dispute that last part about our “ruthless use of power,” but we HAVE dropped 2 atomic bombs on civilians, and some reports of the civilian death toll in Iraq have been as high as 600,000. Warfare in itself is ruthless, anyway, no matter how noble the cause.
In any case, I think the quote is getting at something that bothers me: reconciling the fact that I am an American and a Christian. I live in a country that is built on a strong, powerful military, with presence in most parts of the world. The Christian faith, on the other hand, subverts what we think is logical (or is supposed to subvert), since we're following the upside-down logic of the kingdom. Jesus could have evoked his power when he was on the cross, but he didn't.
How, then, do we live as citizens of a country that works a lot like an empire? How do we live in a world where we belong to the above-and-beyond most powerful group, while others, including our fellow Christians, do not have the strength and power that we enjoy?
On the God's Politics blog, Brian McLaren wrote a piece on Monday that is along these lines. He shared a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from one of his sermons.
"Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christians should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong."
McLaren talks about the way that we are viewed by Christians who are from Latin America, Europe, Africa, and
A part of my struggle came to light in a conversation the other day. Someone told me that I was ungrateful to the
So the problem is this: it’s not that I’m ungrateful, it’s just that I strive to be a Christian first, and then an American. I guess I’m just trying to express my disagreement with an issue (or with some people, it’s a way of life), while at the same time be tactful and respectful about it. Does anyone else struggle with this, too?
I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses... he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. II Corinthians 12