by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
I really didn’t mean to be controversial last Sunday. I inadvertently used some language that wasn’t polite, for which I am sorry. But the force of the scripture is consistent: ‘those in power run roughshod over the poor and voiceless.’ As Christ followers our identity is always (default) with the voiceless. “Identity” does not mean agreement or consent – Jesus did not agree with extortion or prostitution. Identity means compassion – even for those who hate us (“turn the other check,” the Good Samaritan… etc). This identity with the marginalized is reflective of Jesus’ community, and his own journey to the cross. I am not in favor of killing by anyone. I am very close to being an unwilling pacifist. And I believe that Americanism goes to the violent too quickly. It is my role and office to speak out against such things even if they are unpopular and it costs me and all of us popularity. Each minister (and you as well) is prophet, poet and priest. As preacher my job is is to ‘comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.’ It is usually difficult to do both at once.
There is a reason why terrorism exists and more so why it is aimed at America. And it isn’t because the terrorists (and I do choose that word) are innately evil. I believe they are desperate. That said, they have chosen the absolutely most unChrist-like response, and they will/do reap the consequence – and so shall/does America for its own response. I am overwhelmed by own personal complicity within the hegemony. This cannot continue. I must act out my faith. You too.
I am thankful this Memorial Day weekend for the American military, which keeps us free, so I am able to critique the militarism of our culture. Anything else is fascism. Only fascism expects submission of the church to the military because it offers protection to the church. This is nothing less than state religion. We must remember originally we had separation of church and state because the church did not want the state interfering or imposing a religion upon the people (and not the other way around as is thought these days).
At much risk I quote Lewis Sinclair (1930s): “I love America. I just don’t like it.”
I love the Chesterton quote sent to me today: “I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.” Thanks, and I will use it, hopefully often.
I have one more quote. This one comes from a modern Carmelite monk outside Jerusalem at Mt. Carmel. Given their vulnerable location, the Carmelites are often overrun and beaten and killed by thieves, terrorists and radical Jews and Muslims. When the monk was asked how they felt about so many people treating them so poorly, the monk replied, “We are monks. We have no enemies.”
We are Christians. We have no enemies.
Peace, Pastor Dan Wilburn, A.M.O.