This past November (2007) there was an article in The Economist titled “Faith and politics: The New Wars of Religion. “that religion has re-emerged in public life is to some extent an illusion. It never really went away…religion has returned to the stage as a much more democratic, individualistic affair: a bottom-up marketing success, surprisingly in tune with globalization”
I think about this article often as I am on the way out of seminary and possibly entering ministry. Sometime in the future I shall be called to shepherd a congregation. I enter this vocation with the conviction that I am called to serve, accept, and love everyone. It may be difficult to uphold this at times. Even in the most difficult of times I am never excused from the obligation to serve, accept, and love all. To look into the face of the other. To be in proximity to Gods wonderful creation.
In the recent past I have been part of inter-faith dialogue and have been benefactor of its wisdom. A lesson I learned in these discussions is, we must condemn violence in our neighborhoods, in our country, and in our world. There is not place for violence in the Gospel message that Christianity is rooted in. We are not immune to the apathy and blank stares of inaction. We slow down to see the train wreck and gawk at its carnage, making sure not to get involved.
We will protest the dehumanizing slave labor in foreign land and stand idly by as millions of people [legal and illegal] next door to you struggle to exist. They live hand to mouth, where the slightest emergency wreaks havoc in their fragile balance of work and life.
Religious leaders in this country are poised to be the visionaries/prophets of a new America. An America where one is not identified and divided by what they own or possess.
Possessions bind us to this world. Why is it that when faced with difficulty we go shopping or seek to own or consume things? We fear to be intimately woven to this created world. We are uncomfortable with intimacy, especially the intimacy that is involved with being human. Stuff cannot come between any citizen of this world.
Religious practice is on a rise. The southern hemisphere is now the center of the Christian practice. We are witnessing the power base of Christendom with black, brown, and yellow faces.
We must continue to work towards reconciliation with each other. This is not possible as we point fingers and look at each other in mistrust. Pride only breeds another generation of violence and bloodshed.
A lasting peace cannot be reached in the oppression or marginalization of any group. Look to the colonizing efforts of Great Britain, France, and Belgium in the early 1900’s. Division leads to resent and resent breeds anger. Anger, if left unresolved, begets violence.
It is my hope that my fellow colleagues in ministry, of all faiths, will commit to dialogue. We must set the example of tolerance and understanding. We must sit together and denounce this violence. It is my understanding prophesying or teaching ought to denounce violence as the way to exist.
If we can set together at the table and talk, then we can live together in a culture that is not fearful of the unknown. We must invest in each other as a people, as a society. If one is scared, than we all are scared. Dominance and power are not a place to be peaceful.
All the “Red Campaigns”, relief efforts, and “storms” will never achieve peace until they emerge from an invested seat as we speak up for each other.