Tuesday, August 16, 2005

racial reconciliation

A number of years ago, my husband decided that we ought to see Malcolm X on one of our date night outings. We were the only apparently white people in the theater, I say apparently since I am convinced that perhaps I really carry African-American genes in my adoption background.

However, we were uncomfortable as the opening credits rolled and all white people were lumped into one ugly pile of those who discriminated against blacks. "That's right" and "Amen" were spoken throughout the film, causing me to want to crawl under my seat and leaving the room that night, I could feel many eyes on me.

It is not a situation I care to repeat. But it did make me do alot of thinking and soul-searching. And I may have the chance to repeat that experience if this Spike Lee movie comes to central Illinois.

Time has gone on and I have since studied both the southern sympatheziers' views as well as have read writings by historians who have challenged and debunked those views. I have repeatedly heard people say "The Civil War wasn't about slavery, it was about state's rights" but the only conclusion I can come to is that it was about the confederate states wanting to maintain their lifestyles which necessitated the right to own slaves. These same people tell me that had the south won the war, we would have a truly Christian nation. But how can any nation be "truly Christian" when the abominable practice of slavery was at front and center of their way of life?

Since most of those who would like to take us back to the pre-civil war days of the old south are also pro-life, I would like to pose this question: "What if the issue was abortion rather than slavery?" This is an apt analogy I believe given the Dred Scott decision. Would those of us who understand and loathe the institution of abortion in this country stand for one minute for the idea that each state can decide what is right in its own eyes and allow abortion? I think not. We want a national law, a supreme court justice who will overturn Roe v Wade.

Two years ago I attended a PCA Mercy Ministries conference in Atlanta and the highlight of the weekend was the emphasis on racial reconciliation. The presentations were awesome and I ate lunch with a pastor and one of the elders from their church which was in the deep south. I asked them about the wedding of what is called the "truly reformed" or "historical reformed" movement within the PCA with the romanticizing of the days of the old south. They both told me that this enchantment with the Dabney/Hodge days was a huge stumbling block to the racial reconciliation they so desperately wanted to work towards in their own community and within their denomination.

During that same conference, I heard an incredibly moving and convicting example of humility and service to others that should be an example to us all. An elderly woman from an old Presbyterian church, one that has members whose families date back to the early 1800's, shared how she and other ladies in their congregation were stirred into ministry when they heard that a small PCA church plant in the black neighborhoods of their town had recently started a woman's ministries group. They planned a luncheon and invited the women from the church plant to attend. She told of their sense of apprehension, their fear of rejection, but their desire to minister in truly Titus Two fashion.

Then a 30-something black woman came to the platform and talked about the same experience. She said that they were nervous when they received the invitation, but they went anyway, eating strange luncheon foods they had never tasted, chatting with old white women who had little in common with them. But both groups broke through those barriers and addressed their fears and the issues of bitterness that were still under the surface. That day began a friendship and a sisterhood between those two women's groups that extended to both church families.

I have often wondered about that day and how the story could have been different had those Christians who defend the days of the old south been members of that church.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

st. francis of assisi - 13th century


At 9:26 AM, Anonymous mark said...

okay, having read this post, I have to believe you are not your typical central Illini! Having spent a good deal of time in central Illinois (my ex's family is from Decatur), I am pretty sure there are not a lot of people there intested in in racial reconciliation. And I don't know anyone there who would consider going to see the Spike Lee movie, which, incidentally, I think looks like a VERY interesting concept and I can't wait to see.

my other blog may interest you.. it is a poitics/pop culture (and occasionally hockey) blog with a decidedly progressive bent. http://greatwhitebear.blogspot.com

At 1:18 PM, Blogger prairie girl said...

I think the Spike Lee movie sounds interesting, too. I also doubt it will show up around here.

Well, sadly to say, I know a few folk who think that life as we know it should have come to a screetching halt somewhere before the Civil War. :(

A couple years ago I read Uncle Tom's Cabin and have never been the same. So, as far as racial reconciliation goes, I hope I am part of that movement where I live, which is not far from where KKK rallys have been held in recent years. There is much to do, much healing that needs to be done.

Thanks for stopping by.


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