Racism and Theology
In the past two years many have asked me if we can do a deeper study to look at racism and our theology. Some of our parishioners joined with our deanery for My Work To Do. The format "worked" for some and not for others. The Episcopal Church has written a curriculum expressly for this purpose.
You may agree that the church needs to acknowledge where racism has touched our own history, or you may disagree with idea. To be clear, no such work is designed or intended to put shame on any one group. Jesus doesn't speak the language of shame and blame. The curriculum put forth by the Episcopal church is for those who want to do this work. Not a mandate that one HAS to do this work to be a good Episcopalian. I especially like this line from the training outline " – there’s plenty of listening needed in all directions, along with true collective thinking." If you have been reading any Anglican news, you will see at Lambeth there is yet again great disagreement among the Anglican communion. And yet, just like at St. Cross we all come to the table together, acknowledging our dependence on God alone, and how our community grounded in Jesus supports us no matter our political views.
Christianity worldwide is beginning to look at how former generations (and sometimes even the current generation) have fallen short of our Christian values. Last week the Pope travelled through Canada with the express purpose of acknowledging the harm that was caused by the Catholic Schools that separated Native American children from their families. The Episcopal Church doesn't have a history quite as blatantly tied to such schools as the Roman Catholic Church, but we did indeed support them. In our most recent General Convention there were many resolutions passed to encourage Episcopalians to acknowledge our past, and where maybe we haven't been the Christians that we hoped we would be. In fact, Bishop Taylor has said that the diocese would undertake study this coming year to do just this. The seminary that Rev. Josh, Rev. Stephen and myself all attended has started a fund to support the families of the slaves that build our seminary.
To that end we are forming a Sacred Ground Circle (or two), hopefully with parishioners from neighboring groups. This curriculum put out by the Episcopal Church is to explore our roots in racism. I know this program is not for everyone. I don't expect it to be. If this is too long to read, you can skip to the preview of the curriculum in the link at the bottom of the email.
This program was put together at a national level. It is written from the perspective of a white person. Here are two talking points for the program:
- Some may think, “Buying into this series means I must believe (or someone thinks) I’m racist and a bad person. I treat everyone with respect. Only bad racists need to be in a dialogue series designed for whites.” We have not created this resource with a good/bad binary as the orientation. The vast majority of white Americans have forsworn intentional racism. The challenge is to look at how good, well-intentioned people still can have unconscious habits of mind and emotion that reproduce bias, can have systemic advantages in terms of life prospects that others don’t have, and can be looking the other way as harms are reproduced.
- If you’re a white American who is sympathetic to the idea that various forms of racial inequality are still prevalent, then arguably it is for you to be in dialogue with white Americans who disagree with that, not for people of color to have that primary responsibility. And such efforts are not for the sake of one group of white people self-righteously “schooling” another – there’s plenty of listening needed in all directions, along with true collective thinking.
This program has an eleven session commitment. We ask that you miss no more than one or two sessions at the most. The dates are listed below, though they may be adjusted once the circle is formed. There is about 1-2 hours of homework every week that is required before we come to the circle/group to discuss, digest, and listen for God in our conversations. I do believe in all directions we do need to be listening to one another, rather than talking at each other, which is what most of us would agree has begun to happen. Below is a preview link. The first two videos will give you an idea of what will be explored.
Please respond to me at [email protected] if you would like to participate.
Calendar of Dates:
- Sept 7
- Sept 21
- Oct 5
- Oct 19
- Nov 2
- Nov 16
- Nov 30
- Jan 4
- Jan 18
- Feb 1
- Feb 8