God, Racism, and America

By Jane Tawel

March 26, 2021

man in black suit holding white printer paper

My friend got me thinking today about racist policies and systemic racism in this country. Well, how are not we thinking about that — we should not “move on” from incident to incident like lemmings. So I thought I would share some meditations on that here as well (does Jane never get tired of putting targets on her metaphorical back, you ask? No, heaven forbid when so many people of color have not just metaphorical but literal targets on their backs.)

Thank you, Kathleen — Tough conversations on racism in our policies and systems sounds like a good conversation. Especially religious people (and unbelievably sadly those who claim the religion of The Christ) people in this country seem to have totally lost any comprehension that evil, injustice, prejudice, selfishness, lies, false pride, yes, racism, misogyny, ignorance, hate, foolishness — all are not just part of the individual’s human condition, but also part of human created and run systems. How could it not be otherwise and yet we cling to an ignorant understanding that it is only about the morality and ethics of individuals and not communities, businesses, and nations.

By denying systemic racism, or any other ill, we can hide in our closets of self-protected self-denial — the “I’m not racist” argument. Which for Bible readers should make us tremble since it sounds much like the defensive arguments of the goats on Christ’s judgment day. America’s worship of individualism and what makes someone a success is in complete contradiction to the principles of any religion’s idea of God’s mandates, but it is a complete travesty of what Jesus taught and lived. Mea culpa!

Racist policies and a racist history that continues to be a racist present, when not seen as one of America’s great ongoing sins can never be fixed and healed if we don’t even acknowledge our mutual acceptance of “the ways things are”. By continuing to point fingers, we neglect the four pointing back at us. By focusing only on “me”, and whether I think I am racist, I will never see that just because I myself, am not drowning, does not mean I am not flailing about in the same sea of systemic racism. We need to pull everyone up on the raft, and then fix the ship, folks.

Any one who reads the Bible should know better, and yet…. In America, we keep looking at the individual and trying to assess with our excruciatingly self-centered thinking: “is he/ she racist or not?” But that is like looking at a whole forest and picking out one diseased tree that is racist in a forest of disease and racism. We must look to the forest’s diseases as well and join hands and hearts to root out the bad and heal and nurture the good. I must help to make the hard and good and Godly choices for all if I want to be better and good and Godly myself.

God, help me today to do something for someone else and help me to find whatever I can do to use my own little hand, joined with others’, to fight the breakage in the dam continuing to break with the weight of racism in this nation, in our world.

Published by

Jane Tawel

Still not old enough to know better. I root around and explore ideas in philosophy, spirituality, poetry, Judeo-Christian Worldview, family, relationships, and art. Often torn between encouragement & self-directed chastisement, I may sputter, but I still keep trying to move forward.

8 thoughts on “God, Racism, and America”

  1. target
    from plymouth rock
    shout it out
    black and red
    yellow and brown
    i the white male
    yell and frown
    and try not to put other s down
    too much
    and as such
    am seldom self satisfied
    kudos jane~

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This post reminds me of conversations I’ve had with friends about how we like to look towards what they’d call “individual” sins instead of “societal” ones. We have societal sins, and one of those is that of racism.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Brendan Birth — Yes, I have learned only in my most recent years, maybe 5-10 of the huge difference between these concepts and the incredible paradigm shift in my own worldview and small faith has been radically shifted. Still much progress for me to make as there is still so much progress for humans to make on this topic. My most reading of Abraham Joshua Heschel and Richard Rohr are continuing to enlarge this idea you note here. Thank you for your insightful comment. Peace, Jane

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 inset the Meryl Streep meme here.

    Yes, we need to be the vaccine. I hope what Georgia did this week with voting laws and the arrest of Park Cannon wakes up those that still don’t see.

    I work at a Christian University and am part of an anti-racism reading and discussion group. One of the books we read is “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.” I highly recommend it as it looks at how the white church has and still does feed supremacy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sarah David, Thank you for the book recommendation. I am a book learner by heart (and trade 🙂 ). I too learned a lot, and not in the progress forward way in terms of faith, religion, or social ills, in my years at “Christian” institutions. What we have done to the “roots” of our worldview in our desire to protect the branches we prefer, ah…. it breaks my heart for those who don’t see the light and truth and also those who continue to suffer in the world because of a mangled message. Thank you for your comment and again the recommendation. Shalom, Jane

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As a believer in Christ’s unmistakable miracles, I sometimes wonder how many potential Christians have felt repelled from the faith altogether due to the vocal angry-God-condemnation brand of the religion? And could collective human need for retributive justice — regardless of Christ (and great spiritual leaders) having emphasized love/compassion and non-violence — be intrinsically linked to the same terribly flawed aspect of humankind that enables the most horrible acts of violent cruelty to readily occur on this planet (perhaps not all of which we learn about)?

    Too many monotheists have created their God’s nature in their own angry, vengeful image. I personally picture Jesus as being one who’d enjoy a belly-shaking laugh over a good, albeit clean, joke with his disciples, rather than always being the stoically serious type of savior. Imagine a creator who has a great sense of humor rather than a readily infuriated streak!

    Meanwhile, it seems, when a public person openly fantasizes about a world with universal freedom to love, peace, a guaranteed minimum income and/or a clean, pristinely green global environment, many theological fundamentalists immediately react with the presumption that he/she must therefore be Godless and, by extension, evil and/or (far worse) a socialist. Yet, Christ’s teachings epitomize the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth when so very many people have little or nothing.

    That’s just how upside-down (I’m sad to say) so much of institutional Christianity has become.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. fgsjr2015 — Oh, wow, I will be rereading your comment with that incredible mixture of mourning and joy that one feels when connecting to truth that resonates with the soul. A lot to unpack in your insightful, heart-felt, intelligent comment. I agree with, well, every single point you raise. And that idea of “raising a point” suddenly made me understand in metaphoric terms the idea of Moses raising the serpent on a stick. We raise truth on a stick to point to all that is wrong, “sinful”, broken, fearful — but we also raise it to show the way forward to hope, health, love, a better way, a kinder world, a cleaner planet — thank you for being a “Moses”, for raising up the banner of truth in the mystery but simplicity of Christ’s Love, shown and exampled and given for All. Thank you so much for taking the time to add such an incredible post here. Keep walking in The Way, and my your journey be one of joy today, Jane

      Liked by 1 person

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