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Category: Empire

American Jesus

American Jesus

Matthew 5:38-45 American Exceptional Version

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not merely resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek (or is even thinking about striking you on the right cheek), strike them down. Strike down their families. Strike down their villages. Strike down their nation, so that even their descendants live in fear. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, take everything they hold dear and laugh; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, force them, by any means necessary, to go one hundred miles. 42 Give to none who beg from you, for that enables laziness, and refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you, for that promotes idleness and entitlement.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 And I say to you, despise your enemies and preemptively bomb or drone those who defy you (or defy your ally or have natural resources vital to your sense of security), 45 so that you may be children of your God; for he makes his sun rise on the good, and sends rain on the righteous while bringing darkness to the wicked and drought to the unrighteous.

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Jesus Hates Islamophobia

Jesus Hates Islamophobia

Every time a Muslim refugee or Muslim citizen commit a violent crime in this country, it gets fed through the right wing media machine. Then hundreds of people, most of them professing Christians, leave hateful comments filled with revenge fantasies and violent rhetoric. Read the comments section of any major media article that even mentions Islam and you’ll see what I mean.

I have three things to say about this phenomenon.

1) This is called confirmation bias. One tends to find what one looks for. One pays attention to those things that support one’s beliefs and tends to ignore those that do not. We all do it. It becomes a problem when a bunch of people do it all at once and allow this collective confirmation bias to drive them towards fear and violence.

If I thought elderly white people were inherently violent, I would tend to notice all the stories about elderly white aggressors and would tweet and post such stories. Everyone else with my same bias would do likewise until there is a torrent of articles about the violence of elderly white folks. It doesn’t matter whether or not statistical data confirms my suspicion, just like the data showing that Muslim refugees aren’t more violent than other groups of people doesn’t matter to bigoted folks.

I get that this comparison is simplistic. But not any more simplistic than attributing all of the violence happening in a region to your superficial understanding of their religion.

2) If you follow Jesus, you have absolutely no justification for revenge. You have no justification for desiring violence against your enemies. Not only does Jesus tell us to love our enemies and lay aside our weapons, we are explicitly told revenge is forbidden.

When you use your Christian faith or evoke Jesus to support violence against your enemies, Jesus (sitting in heaven, I assume) feels phantom pain in his palms, side, and feet.

3) If you are concerned about the rise of anti-Western sentiments in the Middle East, about the rise of violent groups in the Middle East, or about the way in which Islam has been interpreted by those groups with violent intent, then stop scapegoating your Muslim neighbors. Instead of giving into fear, do some proactive research. Learn about the history of colonialism and conflict in the Middle East. Research the way in which global powers (like the US, Russia, China and the EU) use nations and factions in the Middle East and elsewhere like pawns, supporting one group yesterday and then condemning them as terrorists today. Ask yourself “why would we do that?” Look at a map of US military bases around the world, and at a list of drone strikes committed by the US in the past decade and ask, “where does anti-American sentiment come from?”

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A Litany of Lament

A Litany of Lament

We thank you, O God, for the good things we enjoy in our lives.
But lament that our abundance has brought destitution to sisters and brothers throughout the earth.
We thank you, O God, for the justice proclaimed by your Son Jesus Christ.
But we remember that our world is mired in oppression and violence.
We thank you, O God, for the liberty that is ours by the Holy Spirit.
But we confess that we are easily enslaved by petty pursuits and consumer comforts.
We thank you, O God, for the peace that you promise in the midst of strife.
But we mourn over the ways in which we’ve failed to live as peacemakers.

Behold! a shopping mall on a hill, peddling baubles of bondage and trinkets that entangle.
Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the Great!
May we, like camelhair-clothed prophets, lead people out of captivity.
Come out of Babylon my people!
The American Dream is a poor substitute for the Reign of God.
Come out of Babylon my people!
Consumption and Credit are cruel masters.
Enter the wilderness in prayer and fasting!
Emerge into a world that no longer sees us as its own.
For we are a peculiar people. A nation of priests.
Behold, a mighty citadel built upon a hill of bones!
Bring every mountain low, raise up every valley.
A citadel that imprisons the poor and fetters the affluent.
Babylon’s sins are piled up to heaven. God remembers its crimes.
Her war machine offers salvation to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some may trust in chariots, but we will trust in the Lord.
The Reign of God is in our midst.
Your salvation is near those who revere you!
We long for a world where righteousness dwells.
Where your justice and peace kiss.
A people of Jubilee, a where your Spirit is poured out on all flesh!
Not a nation of Debt whose desires smother your Spirit.
Our consumption crushes those cast upon the altar of capitalism.
Consume us, O God.
Forgive us for our waywardness, O God!
We confess our complicity. Restore us, O God!
Make your dwelling among us, Emmanuel.
And guide our steps along the path of peace.

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A Litany of Resistance

A Litany of Resistance

O Holy Spirit, who at the beginning of creation moved over the face of the waters,
Create us anew with your life-giving power.
O Holy Spirit, who inspired the prophets of old to speak boldly to a stiff-necked generation
Empower us to speak prophetically in our day.
O Holy Spirit, who came as a dove at the Baptism of Jesus,
Strengthen us as the Baptized in our life in the world.
O Holy Spirit, who led Jesus into the wilderness and sustained him during his 40 days of temptation,
Help us to resist the will to power as we follow Christ’s humble path.
O Holy Spirit, who on the day of Pentecost put fire into the lives of the early disciples,
Set us aflame to reveal the Risen Christ in our world.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us.
We have been anointed to proclaim good news to the poor.
The Spirit of the Lord is within us.
We have been sent to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned.
The Spirit of the Lord is among us.
We have been sent to proclaim recovery of sight for the blind.
The Spirit of the Lord is before us.
We have been sent to set the oppressed free.
The Spirit of the Lord is behind us.
For we have been sent to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Spirit of God, empower us.
As we struggle against powers of oppression.
Spirit of God, strengthen us.
As we resist the powers of domination.
Spirit of God, dwell among us.
As we seek wholeness in our lives and in our communities.
Spirit of God, guide us.
As we subvert systems of death.
Spirit of God, send us.
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Breathe into us, Spirit of God
Breathe into our mouths
that we might proclaim the Good News
Breathe into our eyes
that we might see your reign in our midst
Breathe onto our hands
so we can build good things,
and tear down things that destroy
Breathe onto our feet
that we might go wherever you send us
Breathe into our hearts so that all of our seeing and speaking and coming and going will be done in love. Amen.

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