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Well, we have officially arrived at the last week of classes, which also means we have come to the last column that I will write for the Chronicle. And as the school year closes out, I can’t help but notice that the world finds itself in almost exactly the same position that it was in when I decided to take up writing this column.
There’s a term here at Duke that students sometimes use called the oppression olympics. It's an idea that comes from activist movements and stems from various groups sometimes “competing” to show why their oppression is most pertinent. And at Duke this often makes itself present as students sometimes try to highlight their lack of privilege, and show that they have in one way or another come from struggles of one kind or another.
On Tuesday March 16, the lives of
Do you remember when you were a little kid, somewhere between the ages of 4-7, or maybe even a teenager, and your parents or teacher would give you elaborate instructions or explain how you should or shouldn’t do something…then you would go and do exactly the opposite of what it was they had just told you. And when you came back, even though they might help you through it, you got that “I told you so” look or lecture.
Over the past several weeks, I have been working toward composing the next chapter of my thesis, and part of this work was reading some of the essential works of Martin Luther. And as I continued to read, something became increasingly clear to me. In every iteration, the church has had a perpetual fear of change.
Hello, and welcome back to my column.
Welcome, folks, to the Biden Administration.
“Question: Why did God make Jesus white, when the majority of peoples in the world are non-white?
So folks…It’s about that time…the day we have been gearing up for months now. Yes, the election. Tuesday, November 3. Also known as tomorrow.
The United States–most especially the United States political system and religious systems–seems to have a knack for misplaced self-righteousness and a perpetual confusion of the difference between what means to be pious and what it means to embody holiness.
For the longest time, I have wondered how conservative Christians’ staunch certainty that the queer community is sinning against the Lord came to be. After recently watching an episode of "Queer Eye" where the person being made over was a gay pastor–who discussed the presence of gayness in the Bible, citing the story of Jesus healing the slave of a centurion–I did some further research, and began to realize that some of this turmoil was bound to happen. Not simply because of conservative American Biblical interpretation, but also because of erasure combined with injection of intentionally harmful translation into the Bible itself over many centuries.
For the past several weeks, I have stood up on a soapbox and used my Christian faith to rail against various institutions. What I have not done is acknowledge one very important fact: in being Christian, whether or not I like it, I am afforded certain privileges. This failure to accept my privilege is not one unique to me. Most Christians fail to understand the gravity of being “the norm” and of occupying spaces that allows their practices to be dominant. However, as a person who does hold marginalized identities, I realize the importance of naming and grappling with privilege when it is afforded to me. So for this week I am going to step down off my soapbox and endeavor to take a candid look at some of the ways Christianity fails to acknowledge its privileges, as well as the way Christianity sensationalizes itself without recognizing that it shares practices, histories and beliefs with several other faiths.
In some Christian denominations, part of the weekly worship is something called a litany. It is often offered as a time where the congregation can be at its most pious, when members not only listen and reflect but also participate. It is spoken as a call and response–almost a conversational prayer between leader and congregation, if you will. But you see, not all litanies are spoken between the walls of a church. Any series of repeated acts, sounds, movements or words can be a litany.
“The church” often and consistently stands on the wrong side of history. “The church,” in this instance, represents and describes most mainline Protestant Christian denominations, specifically those which are composed of and led by a majority of white clergy and laity. This body has historically and presently failed to do the radical work to “defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!"(Psalms 72:4). Instead, “the church” has often been, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “ a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound” and “so often the arch-supporter of the status quo.” It is for this reason that I do not believe it can truly be called The Church but rather must be seen as “the church.”