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Words of the Week: Epiphany, Ambiguity and the Quest for Beloved Community
By Pastor Kelvin Sauls, Contributing Writer
Published January 12, 2022

Pastor Kelvin Sauls (Courtesy photo)

January 6th on the Christian liturgical calendar is Epiphany! It marks a holy day of invitation to shine the light on the essence of the Christmas message and the mission of Jesus. It is translated from Greek as “the light shines forth” or simply, “the light shines.”

The coup attempt on January 6, 2021, introduced a dark and dangerous translation to this holy day. The treasonous and traumatic acts on that day were not just a threat to the ongoing emergence of a multi-racial democracy in the United States, but a public manifestation of an ongoing jihad fueled by religious nationalism and catalyzed by White supremacist theology.

Banners accompanied a blasphemous open-air worship celebration headlined by several practitioners of White Anglo Saxon Protestantism and promoters of sectarianism at the Ellipse. Worshippers were sent forth to engage in acts that presented a clear and present danger to multi-racial democracy in the United States.

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Moreover, these patriotic jihadists continue to conquer Christianity with, and enslave Jesus through their White supremacist spirituality. January 6th will be historically remembered as a day when the light will always shine forth on the boldly blatant and viciously violent schemes of distortion and deception, denial and destruction. Schemes perniciously perpetuated by a brand of Christianity that is the antithesis to the essence of the Christmas message and the mission of Jesus.

We must boldly shine a bright light on the moral glacier that continues to move the tip of a melting iceberg enveloped by dark clouds of deception, denial, and dehumanization! Robert Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, calls this melting iceberg trifecta “White-supremacy-induced amnesia.” Truth be told, the “big lie” is inextricably connected to the “big religious lie!”

In his book, “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity,” Jones argues that a White supremacist theology continues to inform the spirituality and identity, activity, and destiny of White conservative evangelicalism. Hence, the heightened sense of anxiety about historical truths and cultural fragility has been warped by convenient and callous amnesia.

For Jones, White Christians ― from evangelicals in the South to mainline Protestants in the Midwest to Catholics in the Northeast – were not just complacent spectators to political debates about conquering the lands and cultures of First Nations, enslavement, segregation, and discrimination.
Since 1482, these practitioners of white supremacist theology were key players and torch bearers in shaping the American church from its beginning. Their infection with White supremacist spirituality influenced their worship and works. Their addiction to White privilege shaped their songs and societies. A collusion with White imperialism shaped their methods of evangelism and denominationalism.

In 1619, the economic system of enslavement supported by racial capitalism takes an institutional trajectory that embodied a national identity undergirded by a distorted religious narrative. The long-term sustainable and most destructive impact of white supremacist theology has been on an understanding of salvation itself. Consequently, the trinity of Whiteness, individualism and racial capitalism were lauded as means to salvation!

Until we accept the fact that White supremacist Christianity, religious nationalism and racial capitalism are bedfellows, a precarious and perilous cloud will always hover over any multi-racial democracy in the world, especially in the United States. Until we are willing to reckon with the aforementioned religious history of the United States, these patriotic jihadists will be an ongoing existential threat to the vitality, viability, and security of our emerging multi-racial democracy!

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Epiphany is about the revelation of God’s light of salvation for liberation through the cosmic Christ! It is an invitation for us to be and become light with others to realize a more just, fair, inclusive, and equitable beloved community for all to fully belong.

Such authentic “with-ness,” incubated by an audacious spirituality of mutuality, charges us to stay woke with hands to the plow. Let those who have ears come closer and engage in deep heart listening.

Proximity reveals ubuntu! Let those who have eyes see more clearly the humanity of our kin and the integrity of creation. Sawubona for real!! When we have the faith, fearlessness, and fortitude to do this…to be and become this, the integrity, intentions, and invitation of Epiphany will never elude us.

Now more than ever, keep your lamps trimmed and burning! With heads lifted and eyes opened, “don’t stop prayin’…keep right on prayin’ for our race is almost run.”

And when you pray, move your feet to resist voter suppression and re-imagine mobilization to the ballot box!!

 

Categories: Religion
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