RACISM 101b, White Fragility

Acts 10:34-36 “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.
Matthew 7:12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’
Matthew 25:41-46 ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Racism 101b

WHITE FRAGILITY
©Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

Speaking to the white people, here:
When did you first realize you were “white”?
When did you first realize that “whiteness”
had privilege just on the basis of “whiteness”?
It was May 26, 1966, for me.
My daughter, Shannon,
had been born the day before
and I had gone into a liquor store
to buy a box of cigars to pass out.
I turned away from the register and
saw there were six
black men looking at me,
and I had this overwhelming
sense of “whiteness,”
mixed in with a strong
portion of fear,
and I said,
“Hey, it’s a girl!!!”
and passed out some cigars.
They all grinned shook my hand,
took a cigar
and congratulated me.
I was still white when I walked out,
and they were still black,
but in some small way
I had been transformed by the experience.
I am white.
I am male.
I have a higher-than-average degree.
I have privilege
and access
and entitlement
and class status—
not because of me
but simply
because of the color of my skin.
Everyone
who has whiteness of skin
has this privilege—everyone—
and without really doing anything special,
except just being white.
It’s called “White Privilege,”
and it is something that
white people,
consciously or unconsciously,
feel we need to protect.
I have come to believe
that most white people
are addicted
to their own need
to maintain their white privilege
and the entitlements that
come with that privilege,
and we become nervous
and fearful when they are threatened.
We can all be in denial
about that statement
but let’s see if it is true.
This morning I am going to talk
about what is termed, “White Fragility.”
In her book by the same title,
Robin Diangelo states that it is the dynamic
by which white people control
or shut down
any conversation about race
that makes us uncomfortable
or afraid.
In a conversations
about Affirmative Action,
for example,
many times a white person
will shut it down by claiming
that Affirmative Action is just
another way to cheat the system.
Or a white person will attempt
to use the law to try to get
into a school because, of course,
their whiteness
ought to have a chance, too.
In talks about helping the poor
there are some who will attempt
to stop such talk
by proclaiming that people
of one race or another are
lazy, stupid,
and out to get their (the white person’s) share
in one way or another,
steal as much welfare
as they can from the system,
and claim that people of color
are getting more than their
fair share from the system.
Even not using birth control
and breeding more children
for that very purpose.
Many white people,
when seeing the news about
people of color marching,
or protesting, state
that they should just settle down
and let well enough alone.
I have heard white people say
that the “Black Lives Matter” movement is
just more people of color complaining
and think it should be
“all lives” matter, or
“white lives” matter,
or “blue lives” matter,
because people of color
are no better than whites,
never once understanding the real
issues that underly the protests.
Many people of a white complexion
express anger and confusion
when on Cinco de Mayo some Hispanics
fly Mexican flags,
saying that so doing is unamerican
and the flag-flyers ought to
go back to Mexico where they belong.
These are all expressions of White Fragility.
Again, White Fragility is the dynamic
that some white people use to
manipulate and control the conversations
around race in a way that
effectively shuts them down
so whites can feel safer in their whiteness.
White Fragility as a way to control
conversations about racism
is really about the desperation
of white people
who are afraid of losing their place
at a table that they own lock, stock, and barrel,
have complete control of,
even to the crumbs that fall on the floor,
and are still afraid of losing
even the crumbs.
Psychiatrist Gerald May suggests
that we humans are all true addicts
in every sense of the word,
and that an addiction
is not only about substances,
but is about anything that keeps us
from the grace and the pure love
that God has for us.
In this way we white people
can be understood to be addicted
to our whiteness.
It might be hard to admit
but our addiction to whiteness
is devastating
to us as a nation,
to people of color,
to our souls.
We cannot act out our fear
of losing our place at the table
and keep others from having a place there
without doing significant damage
to our own souls.
I believe that the last two texts
in our readings today,
Matthew 7:21
and
Matthew 25:41-46,
speak directly
to the consequences
of our White Fragility.
Not being recognized
by God is significant
to the health of our souls.
The ones who are the least—
the unentitled and unprivileged—
are the very ones
we whites are so afraid of
and fight so hard against
so we can maintain our white privilege.
In the end it is not about protecting
our privilege
or our entitlements,
but about making sure
we share them
with all who ask us to share.
I have had conversations about race,
where many times the retort
is that the notion of racism
is nothing more
than a liberal/progressive’s attempt
at being politically correct.
Just another
“snowflake whining
and trying to control the lives and freedoms
of true Americans.”
My response to that is this:
What you are so derogatorily terming
Political Correctness is, in actuality
offering another human being grace,
feeling empathy for someone else,
and I understand grace
as the ultimate healing
for our White Fragility.

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WHAT IF GOD IS FEMININE?

Isaiah 66:13 — “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Hosea 11:3-4 — “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”
Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 — “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
Genesis 1:27 — “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them.”
Deuteronomy 32:18 — “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”

What If

What if God Is Feminine?

I should state first off
that I do not think for one minute
that God has any gender.
The “It” pronoun is most
efficacious when accurately
speaking to, of, and about God.
Still, humans seem to have
the need to genderize the concept of God
and rely heavily on
making claims about God
that give them most comfort,
and the strongest sense of security.
There is nothing especially wrong with that,
except when we begin to believe
that our comfortable misconceptions
are how it actually is
and try to force others
to hold our own
not too well founded notions
of theology.
So let’s consider
the possibility that if God did have a gender
what it might be like if
that gender is feminine.
There are not many feminine images
for God in the Bible,
but there are some,
a few.
The five texts above
are a few of them —
maybe most of them.
It was a full-on patriarchy,
that ancient Hebrew community,
and it has profoundly
shaped our own culture.
Many of the Gods
they abhorred so deeply were female.
Many of the neighboring
religions expected/demanded
human sacrifice and whether
or not they were in fact
goddess traditions,
they were all conflated into
other/outsider/sinful/bad/abominations.
The writers of the Hebrew scriptures
defined themselves
by what they were not,
and they were not
like anything that they defined as
“other.”
But what if their
patriarchal testosterone packed
outlook on life
wasn’t exactly how it is?
What if they had defined
God as being
of a feminine nature,
instead of masculine?
Understanding that these folks
ran with a rough crowd
we still would get more texts
that read like those above,
and the Isaiah 49:23 reading that goes:
And kings shall
be your nursing fathers,
and their queens
your nursing mothers,
instead of the Hosea 13:16 text that reads:
Samaria shall
bear her guilt,
because she has rebelled against her God;
they shall fall by the sword,
their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,
and their pregnant women ripped open.
Or Psalm 137:9: that reads,
Happy shall they be who take
your little ones
and dash them against the rock!
What would Christianity
look like if
instead of the male god of Abraham
we had the female God of Sarah,
nurturing, wisdom-filled,
forgiving, and loving?
I think it is what Jesus
tried to proclaim when he prayed
he could gather
Jerusalem,
read that humanity,
like a mother hen
gathering her chicks
to protect and nurture,
and was rejected.
Let’s be honest
for a second here,
wouldn’t we all rather
be gathered and held and loved and nurtured
by a loving mother God
than judged and condemned?
I believe we are—
loved and not condemned—by the way.
I also believe it goes against every
warring, violent thought we,
as a patriarchal culture,
hold so dear.
We are,
after all, humans
and we have a deeply embedded
violence as part of our
way of doing business.
Still.
Still.
Maybe if we worshiped a
god portrayed as a god
with a nature
of nurture and forgiveness
rather than a god portrayed as a god
of judgement and retribution
we might be a tad different.
Which is why I titled this
What If God is Feminine?
It is a question…

Ephesians 4:25-5:2 — New Revised Standard Version

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Conversion = Turning Over A New Leaf

Conversion = Turning Over A New Leaf

Conversion
What is it that that we
might/ought
change in our lives?
How would we be different
than say we are now?
We all seem to exist
somewhere
between thinking
we are just as spiffy as all get out
and thinking
we are complete losers.
We might not admit to this,
or we might want
to go to war about it,
or make sure to come
up after the service
to point out how you are not
puffed up
or that you think
you are a loser.
Fine.
OK.
So we don’t really steal.
We don’t really lie.
Or do physical, emotional, or spiritual harm to anyone.
Well, maybe…
But if it is true that we are not like this,
why do we take criticism
so personally?
Why do we hurt
so badly when we are maligned?
My point here,
and I do have a point,
is that
we all need to undergo some
form of conversion.
We all need to change
in some way or another.
To rise up just a little higher
on the spiritual evolutionary scale.
Our work is never complete.
I believe that our journey
is never going to be over.
We can always grow
more into
the image of God
that we were created
to become.
Being angry about anything
over a long period of time
is damaging to our own spirits.
Allowing ourselves
to flair out with a napalm bomb of rage
is damaging
to our own soul
and to anyone around us.
Do you trust yourself
more than you trust God?
Do you allow insecurity
and its attendant anxiety to
destroy your own spirit
by not believing you are ever
good enough?
And we might say
we have not committed murder,
but saying things
that demean another’s character,
even if it is true,
is in and of itself a form of
spiritual assassination.
Where is it in your life
that conversion
needs to take place?
What do you need to
do to
become a better
imitator
of the God of all love?

WONDERS AND GLORY

Wonders and Glory

Psalm 19:1-4 — Common English Bible

Heaven is declaring God’s glory;
the sky is proclaiming his handiwork.
One day gushes the news to the next,
and one night informs another what needs to be known.
Of course, there’s no speech, no words—
their voices can’t be heard—
but their sound extends throughout the world;
their words reach the ends of the earth.

# # #

Wonders and Glory
Have you ever been absolutely
stunned by God?
I mean
brought-to-your-kneesflabbergasted,
flummoxed,
dumbfounded,
or
come to the abrupt conclusion
that God was in fact — God?
And then looked around yourself
with the realization
that the WOW that is God
dwells in all that is:
every living and breathing creature,
every grain of sand,
fleck of dust,
sparkle of starlight,
breath of life,
gasp of death,
cosmic motion,
lover’s smile,
or dreamer’s tear?
Have you ever
looked at a star,
blade of grass,
morning sunrise,
or heard the
call of a quail,
the breeze through meadow grass,
roll of thunder
and known,
I mean just known
that God is, was, will be
not just God,
but your God — forever?
Have you ever?
Evidently this psalmist did.
If it is possible
that you have never heard
or seen,
or forgotten you have,
I encourage you take the time,
pay more attention,
And let God blow your mind…

A RETELLING

A Place for Retelling

Deuteronomy 5:1 & 18:15-:16

Called to speak.
Called to listen.
Called and answered.
Called and chosen.
Threatened —
by God —
do it right or else!
This book
has an interesting history.
Deuteronomy is purportedly
a “lost” book
found
after the Exile of the
Hebrew people
to Babylon.
It had been hidden,
and turned up mysteriously,
then
“found”
by the new order of ruling priests.
It is full of laws,
holiness codes,
and or-elses from God.
The strong suspicion
by some biblical scholars
is that the
“finders”
actually
wrote it themselves
as a means of establishing their
own power and rightful leadership
in a community torn
apart by being exiled from,
then returned to,
their homes.
Homes that after 60 years
just did not exist anymore.
There is something powerful
here about this
re-construction of hope.
Something worth paying attention to
in the re-telling of old stories.
Remembering that these are the words of priests,
not so much Moses, or God,
we can then see
a desperate attempt by to build hope
and re-construct a sense of place,
of home.
The Hebrew people thought that they
needed these stories to build their
national and personal
self-worth.
This is revisionist history,
and in and if itself
is less than the best way to facilitate healing.
History happened.
Life happened.
Still there is something compelling
in re-telling a story with a different outcome.
Not to actually history,
but to change
how we can change our own outcome
with a different telling.
There is healing in imaging
ourselves surviving trauma
and emerging strong,
not wounded.
I am not promoting denial,
rather exploring a
re-storying where our victimhood
changes into strength and energy
and inner power
and strength.
What stories do we need for this?
How do we need to revision our old stories?
What do we need to hear
that bolster us
in times of distress,
when we feel dispossessed
out of luck,
unloved,
and short on hope?
Who will we listen to
in an age of “false news”?
Who has been called, chosen,
to tell us these stories
we need so desperately to hear?
Do we need stories of conquest?
Are we seeking stories of greatness?
Or,
is it a story of hope,
of love,
of salvation and
fulfilled promise
that we so desperately need to hear?
How would we re-write
our old stories
so they reflect
our own heart’s desire?

TO THE SUN

To conclude my poem-journey this week of a poem a day. I am using past work from around 1972 that was written after a cold night in the Sierra. It indeed infers an inner spiritual movement — awareness of body, awareness of God/Nature/God-in-nature. The awareness of that unknown entity we understand as that-which-cannot-be-named-known-or-described… nonetheless, discovered in unconditional love of small creatures — death, and the sacredness of summer’s sun…

To the Sun

TO THE SUN
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

That which
was not poem
and
death-locked
in ever-winter-earth
now
beats with poet-rhythms
and
heart-heat
of summer-sun blaze.

You have melted me—
Like summer-heat snow-melt,
I seem to no longer stand
inviolate
against a safe winter’s sun.

You have melted me—
I pour,
fluid-like stream
from my ice-high eerie,
and my dissolution
floods stream-hollow channels.

You have melted me—
and I do not recognize
this I have become:
mist to
sky–breeze-blown vapor.
I seek life
in your heat.

You have melted me—
I reach out
to touch
that which was not
yet. and
I feel heart-heat pulse beat
where once
ice-locked
and protected

SEMMETRY

To continue my poem-journey this week of a poem a day. I am pulling from past and new work that infer an inner spiritual movement — awareness of body, awareness of nature/God-in-nature. The awareness of that unknown entity we understand as that-which-cannot-be-named-known-or-described… nonetheless, discovered in unconditional love of small creatures — and death.

In the Ice of Time

SYMMETRY
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

I discovered grim symmetry
in winter’s freeze.
Tangle of
winter-bare willow.
Rabbit,
raptor-killed-gray
on white-frozen earth:
concentric circles of death
with one red eye
staring death
at center of corpse–
this raptor was
neat–and cautious.

Frozen earth,
soil beneath low branches
of bare willow, where still figure
draws me in.
Circle of fur, two-foot diameter,
shaven from rabbit’s belly
Lays out about carcass.
Death in the round,
warmth near-frozen
in fog-white mirror for earth.

One tuft of fur at a time
shaven from belly in
three-hundred degree circle
of wary movement.

Three inch round red plate of red meat
in center of carcass steams off
last remembrance of life.
Blank eye of rabbit looks at nothing,
and at me, as though I too
have blood on my teeth.
As though I too
might lay belly-bare
on frozen ground–
fodder for some raptor.

I thought: “Here is the glorious beauty
and the
symmetry of my own death.
If I could but die in
solidarity with the cosmos…”