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Blinding Light

(Watson Mere, copyright 2017)
Blinding Light
Rev. Jaron S. Green

 

It would appear, today, that the light has blinded some who claim enlightenment. A sort of selective, retrograde amnesia may have removed the memory of the long difficult road that most, including ministers, have had to travel in order to be able to celebrate and proclaim their abundant life.  How can the forgiven be so forgetful, the enlightened so blind?  How can White Evangelicals quickly rush to the defense of a scandalous 45th U.S. President, but eerily remain silent at times of explicit injustice.  It’s hypocrisy.  Such blindness is reminiscent of the criticism and opposition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s very physical presence and activism in Birmingham by Alabaman white clergy in 1963. Clergy who should boldly stand on the right side of justice, having themselves received and preached about mercy, perhaps let the memory of their own bitterness of life before Christ be whitewashed by a watered down message of grace.  However, history is the oil in the lamp that keeps lighting the long path of justice. 
Dorothy Day, Activist, Women’s Suffrage Activist, Religious Figure, Editor, Anti-War Activist, Journalist (1897–1980)
 
Dorothy Day, nonviolent social radical, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, and leader of numerous social justice battles, answered the tug and pull of society’s infirmed. She was being sanctified, completely separated for special use by God. Although her conversion to Catholicism occurred later in life, as a young woman, Day was completely aware of evils, having a keen discernment of human affliction. An insight into such suffering is not common, but a gift, indicative of a divine calling. I believe that God does not show a problem to one who isn’t able to trust Him for a solution.
 

From Dorothy Day’s 1952 book, The Long Loneliness:

“There was a great question in my mind. Why was so much done in remedying social evils instead of avoiding them in the first place? There were day nurseries of children, for instance, but why didn’t fathers get money enough to take care of their families so that mothers would not have to go to work? There were hospitals to take care of the sick and infirm, and of course doctors were doing so much to prevent sickness, but what of occupational diseases, and the diseases, which came from not enough food for the mother and children? What of the disabled workers who received no compensation but only charity for the remainder of their lives? Disabled men, without arms and legs, blind men, consumptive men, exhausted men with all the manhood drained from the by industrialism… Where were the saints to try and change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves but to do away with slavery?”
George Washington Carver, Scientist, Inventor, Chemist, Botanist (c. 1864–1943)
 
Martin Niemöller, Noted theologian and President of the World Council of Churches (1892-1984)
Whose business is it?
 
At times I wonder, are these White Evangelical ministers, the same men and women who have cried so loudly about character in public leadership only to defend a man who has spent his life and presidency reflecting amorality, called by the same God I was?  Few answer the call of God, knowing, partially, and some fully well, that answering will remove comfort, cause endangerment, and cost one’s own reputation and life.
 
The minister, who answers the call, lives the words of George Washington Carver, infamous African-American agricultural scientist, when he said, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”  The minister who refuses responsibility, and does not answer the call is one as guilty as he found in Martin Niemoller’s famous quote: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
 
Final Word
 
Helping to solve widely shared problems and effecting transformation is not the work of one, but many. If ever this work is left to one – one man, one woman, one people group – to suffer and bear the burden of the wronged, that one is at the mercy of the suffering society, tainted by fear and not yet angered enough by the iniquity of inequity. The suffering society, however peaceful and comfortable they may appear, unfairly marks that one an outcast, a radical, a troublemaker, of which may be prophetically suitable. The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, declared and I echo, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come.” Wake up! Take off your blinders. History will teach you.  For, that marked one eventually crosses over from troublemaker to activist, from activist to revered, from revered to legend.  Where will you stand?  How will your name be remembered in annals of history yet to be written?
 
This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine
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