Every time I reflect back on the events we know as the Civil Rights Movement, I think about how people with Bible in hand, coming from their respective Christian churches, went out to spew racial hatred. How does that happen?
We know how it happens. No child is born prejudiced. Prejudice is taught, either by the mouth or by actions. Sometimes unintentional (and intentional) standards are set. There can be subtle insinuations that one color is better than another. Is the white, driven snow actually pure? The idea that the bride wears white to represent her purity, according to research, started around the 20th century. Historically, in some countries, brides wore white as a sign of wealth.
Biblically speaking, “dark” or “black” is beautiful and mysterious. In the “Song of Songs” (The Song of Solomon, which is not about the church), the exotic lover is dark skinned. Likewise, the list of dark-skinned people in the Bible is notable, and there is no noticeable disparagement of them due to color. Anyone interested in such a list can find an abundance of material on the internet.
The various historical ideas about the origin of black being associated with evil are too involved to go into here. However, that there is discrimination based on feelings of superiority and inferiority based on culture or color, is deeply and insidiously imbedded in human history. It is still very much part of the present. Think the University of Oklahoma fraternity.
One of the troubling things about the history of segregation in the US is how long it took (and takes) to really work on it, as well as Christian (?) opposition to it. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed the bill to integrate the public school system. It would be three years before any action was taken in segregated areas. Then, in 1957, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas saw, under federal protection, its first black students.
Meanwhile, in states like Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, to name the more notable ones, nothing was done. This, along with the general unrest among the black population of those states, led by such men as Martin Luther King Jr., caused a movement for to be born.
As I watched the memorial ceremony at the Edmund Pettus Bridge last week, I remembered one of the things I heard said during those years, while being many miles away.
If you happen to be in Selma, there is only one memorial to a person involved in the Civil Rights Movement there. It is to Viola Gregg Liuzzo. You can read her story on any internet encyclopedia. In short, she was a thirty-nine year old white woman who went to Selma to shuttle those who would take part in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. While doing that, she was seen with a black marcher in her car by four members of the KKK. They chased her down and shot and killed her. She was married, and a mother of five children.
Here’s what I heard about her from those around me. She got what she deserved because she should have stayed in Detroit. She went there to sleep with black men. As a woman she had no business being a Civil Rights activist, especially since she was from the north. I never heard one good word about her from Christian and non-Christian alike. Her death was her own fault.
However, had she gone to Africa with a religious group and was murdered by the locals for interfering with their way of life by educating girls, she would have been considered by most, a martyr. Some, of course, would say she was not wise taking such a risk, especially if she were the mother of children. Such decisions made by those who are called to take such risks always causes the cautious to wonder. And I admit to being one of them. But I thank God for such people. They are the world changers.
At the Selma bridge, speeches were made about how far we have come since Bloody Sunday. Those advances are thankfully obvious. But even without the speeches saying the work is not finished, we see it on the news media every day. It is a sad truth, that the deaths of those of color, does not resonate the same in the world as do those considered white. (Let each one examine themselves.)
The stress I feel for history, is the place the religious of all kinds have had in it. It is easy to point the finger at any radical group. The problem is to me, that each one of them may be reading from the same (spiritual) guide book. For those of us from a Judo/Christian background, we see people reading the same words and arriving at different conclusions. The Jewish leaders who rejected Jesus’ teaching read from the same works as did he. In some ways, this may be expected, and even understood, at least in some areas. However, when the discussion evolves around the worth of the person or persons, there can be little room for differences. The Bible makes that very clear. Except for some, the clarity is still not the same as it is for others
How could the black race be tied to the curse of Ham? I heard that in my early life and I suspect that it is still around. A close look at the text from Genesis 9:25 shows that it was not Ham, but his son, Canaan, who was cursed. That did not keep an early body of Jewish writings from saying the black race was the cursed race. (See various internet sites)
The constant issue for followers of Jesus is to be as sure as we can, that what he taught is not lost in our own prejudices and presuppositions. Just take the Sermon on the Mount and discuss each teaching and see how easy it is to water them down to fit our own interests. At any time in any discussion about the ethics and teachings of Jesus, the explanations can be worlds apart. And yet, for most, Paul saying that everyone should submit to the governing authorities, (Rom. 13:1) is crystal clear. But that’s what the Selma marchers didn’t do, and those troopers who beat them did. Which do you think was doing the will of God?
CONCERNS: Betty Billings (Keith’s sister) is in Raleigh Court Health & Rehabilitation Center. She is in room 112, bed A. Bill Branch had successful heart surgery and is now home recovering. Bill Albert’s son, David, is now at home, and is on a kidney transplant list. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, (leukemia) Kim Hall’s friend, Mary (MS) Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood, Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs Mataro and Todd Baumgardner.
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 16-21
Monday: Jeremiah 31:23-34
Tuesday: I Corinthians 11:17-34
Wednesday: ACTS 6:1-7
Thursday: Matthew 5:21-48
Friday: Psalm 119:129-152
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-7
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 23-28
Monday: Psalm 40
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20
Joel Pack will make a short presentation about the work of the Gideons International as they place Bible throughout the world. Those who wish to contribute to that may do so in the foyer after the service.
Today is also Super Sunday. This once a month fellowship meal brings us even closer together as a family. Plan to stay. A special invitation is extended if you are visiting with us today.
Occasionally we are told when people will be away for more than just a weekend. Vivian Dugan will be with her daughter on the coast for the rest of the month while Kathy and Jeff are in Italy.
Jeff Forsyth will be in Boone NC for the a few weeks as part of his training. Karissa is there this weekend.
THE SUNDAY MORNING BIBLE STUDY
We are nearing the end of reading the New Testament in book form and out of the traditional order. If you have not been part of it and have the book, come and share what you learned.
You may have noticed that someone took out a section of our fence. This was a dumb thing that had nothing to do with the snow.
Wayne Flora, who installed it way back when, says we can repair it ourselves. He can purchase the needed material when the weather warms and we will plan a day when it can be fixed.
With the approaching of warmer weather, Erma likes to use natural light for the directory pictures. She will be asking you on nice days if you will have your new picture taken. Once the process starts, if you want to wear something special for the picture, just know that from now on, on nice Sundays, you may have the directory picture taken.
ALSO: Erma needs some help with a program she is putting on here in the annex. If you can help see her for the date and details.