I’m weary! My being done in is of the disillusioned and disappointed sort. It’s the same kind of exasperated weariness expressed by Aibileen, a Black maid and nannie in the movie “The Help,” set in Jackson, Mississippi in the sixties. Aibileen after prolonged racist viciousness by one of the town’s socialites, Hilly Holbrook, loses it. Rather than caving in to yet another attack on her dignity, Aibileen cracks and confronts Hilly, “Ain’t you tired, Miss Hilly! All you do is scare and lie to try and get what you want. You a Godless woman. Ain’t you tired, Miss Hilly?”
Those words come to mind each time racist defamation surfaces from among our city’s “leadership.” What boggles me is that the council member in question claims to be a “Christian.” If this is Christianity, then my 46 years of serving as a Christian pastor, my knowledge of scripture and its origins, my seminary degree from Duke and my ordination credentials mean nothing. No wonder church participation is in decline; even people with half a brain look at what supposed Christians espouse as truth, and want none of it.
The hate-filled, warped logic of racist, homophobic and gender-biased individuals completely misrepresents the Jesus way. Our founder’s life and teaching exemplified “Agape,” the kind of love that seeks the welfare of others, no matter who they are. The parables of Jesus, his teachings and life point to the value of all humans who deserve mutual respect and treatment. Time and again, Jesus is portrayed as one whose heart went out to those considered undeserving by the social elites. Indeed, the only places where Jesus condemns people happen when he criticizes the religious and political leaders for their self-serving and fake piety. But notice, he never singles any one of them out for personal attack, but as types of churchy hypocrites, he blisteringly flays them.
Would that the recent social media post by a member of city council had been as considerate. What is it about spreading bullying hate that is so satisfying? Perhaps it stems from unfortunate environmental background or influences, devoid of the kinds of models that present more inclusive, accepting attitudes. Approaches that provide us with enlarged visions of what makes for wholeness in life are described by Christian doctrine as “gifts of grace,” creating more wonder, understanding, and acceptance of all Life.
I have a proposal for city council that may help expand our vision. All of you are intelligent and caring individuals, and do much for the common good. My suggestion is for you to read How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram Kendi. If there are council members upon reading it whose views differ, I, for my part, will read any authority you name that can provide justification for another viewpoint. Then, perhaps, we could assemble some kind of forum to discuss the various views together and explore ways we might be able to achieve more common ground.