This week in church we talked about racism.
I am at my parents' place this weekend, and so I watched their church online with them. It was the first message in a series called The Race We're In, responding to current events and racial injustice.
Honestly? At first, I was skeptical at how they would handle it. This an overwhelmingly white, suburban, middle-class church where the members are mostly conservative in their values. The pastor, however, may not have gotten everything "right" from a social justice perspective, but he speaks directly to the problem and his (and the church's) role in it.
He describes the blindspots of those at the top of the privilege chain, names white supremacy, and recognizes that he has benefitted from these things. He names Canadian and American victims of police violence. He does all of this simply, without drowning in guilt or justifications.
This week in church we talked about where to place yourself in a story.
We looked at the story of The Good Samaritan. If you've never heard of it, it's one of Jesus' parables. It tells of a man who gets attacked and left for dead on a road. After that, three mean encounter him: first, a religious leader and a prominent member of the upper classes, both of whom ignore him and continue on. The third person is the Samaritan, a member of the lower classes and a race that was despised by the dominant Jewish culture in the area. The Samaritan helps him.
Usually, when this story is told, we are meant to place ourselves in the position of the Samaritan and use this as a call to help those in need. This time, the pastor suggests we (we being people who are part of the predominant, white society in Canada) place ourselves as the dying person in the ditch, needing to be saved.
Now, there are some issues with this image: white folks as innocent victims who need saving instead of perpetrators of harm, needing the very people we oppress to do the work to save us. That's not right. However, I believe the point that the pastor was trying to make is that we need to first listen to the voices of those who have been oppressed. We are broken and need to take in what has been said by Black and Indigenous people, really integrate it, and let that be the first step in lifting ourselves out of this oppressive role and making real change.
Since their church services are on Youtube, you can actually watch it if you want!
(If you do choose to watch the video, I HIGHLY suggest skipping to about 5:27, unless you want to watch a really eye-rolling skit about how men can't talk about their feelings on Father's Day and a prayer for fathers that only sort of recognizes that not everyone has a great experience with their dad.)
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