Prayer of St. Francis

St. Francis of Assisi

Image by dawnzy58 via Flickr

It seems fear of the stranger and justification for it are all around us. The Christian Gospel calls for something else. St. Francis understood this  Here is a prayer attributed to him. May it be our prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

.

O Divine Master,

grant that I my 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

(United Methodist Hymnal # 481)

When others allow fear of the stranger to gain a foothold in their spirits, and anger directed at others to define them, let us not forget who we are and to whom we belong.

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Dialogue on Racism

I enjoy watching the news and I do have an interest in politics. I generally keep it to myself (which is probably where it belongs; I am far from well informed on most of this). But from time to time what is happening seems to require a more public stance.

The events surrounding the racist signs and gestures that appear at some Tea Party gatherings, the response from the NAACP, and the response from Mark Williams, a prominant Tea Party spokesperson have prompted me to place this post on my blog. Additionally, since St. Paul’s mission statement takes a stance against racism, I thought this to be appropriate.

I am amazed that the kind of blatant racist postures have become more acceptable and are gaining prominence in our public discourse. One of the dynamics making this possible is the shifting nature of racism. The older in your face kind of racism is still real for sure. But more often now people who would never publicly disparage a person of a different racial or ethnic heritage, who would be deeply offended to be called a racist, are amazingly blind to, or in denial of, the racism that inhabits the ideology and systems that they otherwise defend. They would say: “I am not a racist, but…”

It strikes me that this is what is underneath the comments by Mark Williams in the dialogue that has been ongoing around issues of race and the Tea Party.

Here are three links for you to go to, if you would like to read some of that dialogue:

http://www.naacp.org/news/entry/naacp-delegates-vote-to-repudiate-racist-elements-within-the-tea-pary/ will bring you to the NAACP web page that speaks to the resolution. (please copy and paste, or write this address in your browser. I do not know why it is not providing a direct link)

http://www.marktalk.com/blog/?p=10387 will bring you to Mark Wiilliams’ blog, in which he responds to the NAACP and tries to explain his position. He is one of the spokespersons for the Tea Party. To what degree he represents them, I do  not know. I read it as his opinions and statements.

http://www.patheos.com/community/mainlineportal/ will link you to what I think is a solid response to Mark Williams by Philip Clayton, a Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Claremont Graduate University and Ingraham Professor at Claremont School of Theology. He is primarily known for his work in constructive theology and the religion-science debate.  He is the author or editor of over 100 articles and eighteen books, most recently The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science, Adventures in the Spirit, In Quest of Freedom, and Transforming Christian Theology.

I think you will find these links very interesting. I hope you read them.

As Christian people we cannot and should not accept racism in any form. We need to be clear and public about that. And I am proud to be a pastor in a church that has made breaking down the walls of racism part of its missional identity.

Pastor Bill