07 Jul Are Christians Denialists?
“For me, the burning theological question was, how can I reconcile Christianity and black power”- James Cone
I have always felt less Christian than most people. Not because my prayers aren’t long and poetic like the David’s psalms, nor is it because I keep my engagements at church at a scary minimum. I just always knew that if someone were to someday peel apart the boundaries protecting my innermost thoughts, they would find dozens of petrifying questions- questions I’m almost certain Christians aren’t allowed to think, let alone ask.
“What if I can’t submit to men? What if I do believe that the creature whose rib I’m made out of really is trash? Why didn’t I cringe when my friend told me she didn’t believe in God anymore? Why does my heart palpitate when I think about white people and racism? Am I allowed to be a feminist? Is it weird that I think that Jesus is a black, radical activist? And the big one- can I ever marry my faith and my politics or are they inexplicably mutually exclusive?”
Despite the church being unbelievably popular amongst black people, there has always been a silent but heavy judgement hovering over black believers. It seems somewhat odd that the very same race that has been subjected to hell on earth is still the one that looks up to the hills to find peace, restoration and redemption. It’s public knowledge that Christianity was, for centuries, used as an institutionalised shield sustaining and justifying gruesome violence perpetuated against marginalised and oppressed groups across the world. But how do we then account for the millions of people who, in spite of this knowledge, without fail make their way to brick walled buildings with bells to worship God? The same God Europeans believed had made them a super race called to pillage and save the world from its self.
Are Christians denialists or optimists?
Are we denialists because we chose to forgive, forget and deny legacies of injustice in the world or are we optimists because we see these things but choose to remain silent and simply hope in the Kingdom to come?
The answer to this question would perhaps be clearer if churches emerged from their spiritual ivory towers every so often to actually talk to us. Not just to comment on judgements about the possibility of education being completely secularised – we’ve heard their arguments and are quite frankly exhausted by them.
Is it not time for the church to condemn ‘corrective’ rape and murders, racial killings and the inhumane living conditions blacks have been forced to normalise? Would it not be easier being black and having faith, if you knew that your religion allowed you to be black, to be woman, and to be pissed that the world forces you to be constantly conscious of each and every one of your social identities?
If someone would ask me why, in spite of this, I believe my answer would be simple. I can’t imagine living in a world as messy as ours and die believing that my life was all I could have. Poverty, depression, anger, racism, sexism, misogyny and silencing were all I could have. I believe because – like breathing – I need to. I may never quench the questions that bounce around my thoughts like flames of newly birthed fire, but hey, at least I wrote about it. You can decide the rest for yourself.