Tag Archives: post- racial faith

The Race Pass: A Compromised Faith


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, I introduced the concept of the race pass and through social media continued to unpack the idea.  I often pray for divine insight into the social construct of race with the hope of further revealing its weaknesses and prayerfully, loosening its grip on our faith.  I think this idea of an excused absence from our convictions in order to profess our prejudices is a way to do that.  So, my aim is to unpack the ways in which the race pass works.

Unlike the hall, bathroom, nurse and office passes we received in school and from our teachers, this permission is given to us by our parents and peers.  As adults, we write these passes for our selves.  Every time that we make an excuse for a racialized belief or behavior that contradicts our confession of faith in Jesus Christ, we have given ourselves a race pass.  It is permission to put our faith down in order to practice our racial prejudices.

A few practical examples of how this happens or what this looks like are best offered in questions for your consideration and reflection.

How do we proclaim “salvation to all” while believing that our ‘race’ is God’s choice?

How do we believe in an all- powerful God while claiming our human supremacy, making exceptions to God’s rule?

How do we behave unmercifully to persons who look and live differently than we do while believing in a merciful God?

How do we hate our neighbor and love ourselves?

How do we harbor unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness while claiming God as our refuge?

How do we deny and delay the calling to the ministry of reconciliation?

How do we benefits from the privileges of race while knowing they come at the expense of oppressing other people?

How do we explain, justify and make room for historical disinterest, anger and resentment?

How do we repeat after Jesus and see in stereotypes?

How do we follow Jesus and historical prejudices?

Why do we think that our hatreds our justified– even as we profess our belief in the God of love, compassion and justice?

The answer: the race pass.

We cannot believe in the social construct of race, hold its prejudices and stereotypes and profess faith in Jesus Christ, holding his hand and our cross.  We cannot keep the race pass and carry the cross of Christ too.  We have to put one down.

 

 

This may sound absurd

Sprout_Lightbulb“If at first an idea does not sound absurd, then there is no hope for it.”

~ Albert Einstein

I am not sharing the most popular message.  It has certainly been perceived as naive, misinformed and premature.  I seem to have missed a few steps, be lacking in experience or unable to see the full picture.

But what if I haven’t?  What if I saw the steps and tackled them two by two?  What if I didn’t want any more experience with race, racism, prejudice and stereotypes?  What if I have heard this story before and I know where this is going?  So, let me stop it.

The race-less gospel does not seek to ignore the crimes committed in the name of race.  No, I know that persons believe in race and feel a sense of duty to serve and protect their group based on the social theories of race.   The race-less gospel does not question the accounts of history.  I am informed as to how race came into being and what we have done in devotion to race.  I am aware that persons believe that they are colors, that the social coloring of their skin is the best indicator of their worth and how persons will value them.  But, I don’t.

The race-less gospel is the message of Jesus the Christ, the hope that those who have been baptized with Christ might die to flesh and its social meanings daily.  “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.27-28, NRSV).  There is no longer socially colored beige/ black/ brown/ red/ yellow/ white.  Our categories do not fit into Christ and once we have put on Christ, everything is covered.  We are one body in Christ and it is category-less.

I know that it sounds absurd but I like the way that it sounds.

Unpacking the baggage of race

mood_tim-walker_iris-palmer-and-her-suitcases_italian-vogueThe American racial identity is baggage.  It is a bunch of small containers for our humanity that transport us to the destiny of history.  Race is a round trip backward.

There is so much to race, so much that we have to hold on to and positions that we cannot let go.  Race is cumbersome and gets in the way of who we really are.  It impedes our movement and slows our lives down.

The social construct of race is burdensome and too heavy to carry.  So, we should just put it down.  It is of no benefit and who packed these bags anyway?

Check the tag; where are we going with race?  How much is it going to cost?  Where is race taking us?  And do we really want to continue on this path?

Its history is heavy.  Its convictions are loaded.  Its summaries concerning human life are weighty.  We need to put race down. Being and identifying who we are is not this hard.  It does not take this much strength to be who God created us to be.

We are not what is in those bags?  We are not hatred or prejudice, anger or resentment, bitterness or jealousy, wrath or unforgiveness.  These are feelings not faces.  But, all of these things are folded neatly in the baggage of race, stored just in case we need to wear them.  And this is why our hearts are heavy and our souls are weighted down.  It is because race is a burden not a blessing.

These carry on items do not allow us to carry on with life as God intended but we have to stop and start again every day.  So, let’s unpack the baggage because where we are going, race is not needed.

 

What can we expect of race?

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What do we expect of an unjust system, an unfair practice that bases human value and purpose on the social coloring of skin?  Why do we ask of skin, look to the surface to give our lives and the lives we live with others a deeper meaning?  Why place such an expectation on race?

Why did we think that race could bring us together when it thrives on division, when it calls for separation and segregation?  Race creates categories not circles.

There will be no hand- holding, no singing of “Kumbaya” here.  God is not present in race.

How could it ever make us better when it casts members of our humanity as worse– based solely on looks, appearance, our sight instead of God’s vision?  Why did we ever expect that race would make us see ourselves and others more clearly when it prescribes prejudice and stereotypes?  Why did we give our eyes to it instead of keeping them fixes on Jesus?

What can we expect of race, this social construct that prizes and praises the flesh of some over others?  Nothing.  In the end, it will return to the earth just as our flesh.  It will not rise with us so maybe we should lower our expectation of it.

Dear Body of Christ

Lords-Supper-Church-Stock-Photos-300x200

Dear Body of Christ,

We are the Body of Christ, not the race or races of Christ.  We are not colors but the children of God, not stereotypes but the saints of God, not prejudicial guesses but members of a royal priesthood.  I thought that we were called to walk in the spirit not after the flesh, that we had been called to worship in the spirit not according to our flesh, that we had been commanded to love as Christ does not as our culture requires.

We are the Body of Christ, the Church of the living Christ of which he is the chief cornerstone.  But, Christ did not lay the foundation of race.  Racism was not a part of the blueprint for our being.  Prejudice is not an architect of our humanity. None of this was ever a part of God’s plan for us.

We are the Body of Christ, the bride of Christ, married to one groom.  There has been but one joining, one wedding ceremony, one covenant shared, one vow made.  Christ does not have multiple wives: a Black Church, a White Church, a Red Church, a Brown Church, a Yellow Church, a Beige Church. We are called to be one Body, members of one another. It’s impossible to be a body if we are not.

Sincerely,

A concerned member