Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Confession Is Not Enough

These days I'm struck by the important (and very tricky) distinction between support and solidarity, between dissent and discipleship.  I've been paying attention to colleagues in the Black Lives Matter movement and their insistence on solidarity and justice, even repentance in public life.  They insist that ideological support isn't enough, that the real work before allies in the privileged world involves mobilized mission, crossing boundaries to stand beside new friends and learn from them.  If we're talking about racism, white privilege or even white supremacy, we're necessarily talking about repentance: not a one-time confession, but a lifetime of sustained discipleship and sacrifice.  I kind of think that's the heart of the gospel.  It might also be the heart of Torah.

If we're talking about climate change, earth care and human economy, we're necessarily talking about repentance as well.  It's not unrelated, I think, to our work around racism and privilege. Or our work around sexism and misogyny (see Trump, Donald).  Confession isn't sufficient.  It's a start, and it leads in the right direction.  But it's just a first step, only that.  Discipleship is about practice, dis-location, getting ourselves into new spaces, re-building beloved communities, re-orienting human economies and values. 

Reading tonight's story--the brave nonviolence practiced by 21st century prophets--I'm again reminded how important all this is.  Particularly for privileged believers like me.  Especially for privileged networks of churches like ours.  Support isn't enough.  Even dissent doesn't go far enough.  In the Christian tradition at least, Jesus says, "Come, follow me.  Take my body.  Practice what I practice.  Rise up."  And that means solidarity, justice, repentance, and discipleship.  Really, says Jesus, there's nothing else.  


A Letter to the President: From Five Bold Prophets 

See the letter in its entirety here.

"We have tried every avenue by which engaged citizens might advance such concerns - in this case, ecological – in public policy, and nothing has worked. There is no plausible means or mechanism by which the extraction and burning of coal and tar sands oil from existing mines and fields can be halted on the timeline now required by any ordinary, legal means.

"The only option available to us is to engage in climate direct action, which is why we are acting today to shut down the five pipelines used to transport tar sands oil from Alberta, CA into the US. We stand together with indigenous peoples and Canadians who oppose tar sands exploitation there.

"We are writing to ask that you support our effort by taking these steps:
  1. Invoke the National Emergencies Act and continue the shutdown of the tar sands pipelines we have initiated;
  2. Immediately begin a process for federal closure of all US coal and tar sands oil extraction, and;
  3. Put before Congress a plan for a national mobilization to transfer US energy use from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, maintain and expand natural carbon sinks, and undertake a US-led and financed global campaign to meet the 1.5°C international target.
"We admit that this is a very difficult ask, especially with your limited remaining tenure, but it is an appropriate response consistent with your admitted knowledge. You have a moral and Constitutional obligation to take appropriate steps to safeguard the nation. At the very least you might utilize your few remaining months in office to attempt to wrench reality into the civic hall. If you take no action, you will have presided over the collapse of civilization.
Annette Klapstein, Emily Johnston, Leonard Higgins, Michael Foster, Ken Ward"