By: Kevin Daugherty
I recently visited my mother’s side of the family in Rhode Island. Unlike my father’s side, my maternal family is not your usual white, American Protestant family. For example, while having tea after dinner, my grandparents lectured to my mom about communism, and how authoritarianism is why, sometimes, it goes in the wrong direction. My grandfather compared the communistic endeavors of the early church (Acts 2:44, 4:32), and their eventual failure (Acts 5:1-11), to the failed Bolshevik Revolution. What is interesting about my family is that the day before, a preacher in my family, who happens to wear a Jesus fish belt buckle, was quoting David Barton and talking about America being a “Christian nation.”
In my family, I have experienced all sides of Christianity. I have experienced the radical discipleship of my grandparents, the cultural Christianity of my mother, and the hyper-nationalist evangelicalism of my aunt and cousins. Many, however, are not as fortunate as I have been. When many experience Christianity, it is in the nationalistic and oppressive form. On one hand, some experience these negative expressions of religion and stick to them, and perpetuate them. On the other hand, many of the radicals today outright reject Christianity as oppressive and fundamentalist, and then lump religion in general into that category.
I have especially found this trend in anarchist communities who dismiss religious anarchism as some sort of oxymoronic, recent invention. The truth of the matter, however, is that religious anarchism has always been there, right beside secular anarchism, and some anarchists even recognize its religious roots.
By: Greg Williams
“Lord God, merciful God, our Father, shall we keep silent, or shall we speak? And if we speak, what shall we say?” – Dorothy Day, January 1942
FRIDAY—THE BARE FACTS AND THE CHURCH’S RESPONSE
This is going to be a very difficult piece to write and, in all honesty, I do not know if I am going to do a very good job. The region where I live has, in the past few months, witnessed two very heinous acts of violence that were prominently covered in the mainstream media. On December 14 of last year, twenty children and six teachers were gunned down in a school shooting in Newton, CT. Yesterday, three people were killed and 126 wounded when two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Both of these events are horrific and inexcusable. As followers in Jesus’ way of peacemaking and justice-seeking, I do believe that we are called to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and to “persevere in prayer” (12:8). In this light, how could we, the Church, not respond to tragedies like these by holding services of commemoration to mourn the loss of life involved in these events? How can we not pray for the dead, the injured and those still in harm’s way? These are, on one level, profoundly understandable responses.
Yet, speaking only for myself, I see something else in the response to both of these events in communities to which I belong that I find a lot more troubling.
We are not only commemorating these events, we are collectivizing them. We are going beyond saying that the Newtown school shooting and the Boston marathon bombing are traumas--which they are—to the point of saying that they are our traumas. Facebook memes are abounding encouraging people to hug their kids or drop f-bombs about the levels of evil in the world and the like—things that one would normally do not to sympathize with another person but rather to express grief for one’s own loss. In Church, we are singing songs like “I Want Jesus to Walk with me” and “How Can I Keep from Singing?” songs that express a personal sense of grief and loss.
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