It is not too simple to say of the whole human enterprise through thousands of years that at any moment, only one of two things is happening. Either we are cursing and struggling to be seen and loved. Or we are blessing and being peace.
In the days before the inauguration, I viewed a four-hour documentary on PBS. Called “The Divided States of America,” it examined how Americans grew far apart during the presidency of Barack Obama. Grief gripped me as I watched. Frame after frame revealed the unrestrained hatred of countless Americans for our former president. . . What was its source?
Did the dead really come to life at the touch of Elisha? I don’t know. But I know this. If my faith hung on whether these stories are facts, faith would not be faith. If these stories just had to be scientifically so, else I lose my trust in God, then my religion would be thin and brittle and ideological and small. We have these stories not because we know they happened but because, in their extremity of need, people said, Tell us that one again, master . . .
Tto quote rather famously, “Oh Jonah, he lived in a whale [2x] / For he made his home in / That fish’s abdomen . . . but it ain’t necessarily so. Indeed, the story of Jonah is not about that fish. And the book is so easy to read—just four chapters—that we ought to wonder: Has church focused on the unbelievable word in this book in order to not hear the undesirable word from the book?
At two o’clock today, over seven hundred people will gather here at Riverside Church to see the film “The Central Park 5.” This film proclaims release to the captives. It tells the terribly untold story of how in 1989, the City of New York—D.A., police, people, media, mayor, more—convicted five boys of a violent and bloody rape without any evidence except their own deceitfully forced confessions; and how, as grown men, the captives were released and finally exonerated in 2002
We close the series today thinking about racism. As a people, we can barely talk about it, yet it touches virtually everything that has gone wrong in America. The love of war; the love of power by and for the few; the hatred of what is different or foreign; the hatred of real education, real food, real wages, real medicine, real women, and so much more we have considered during these last four months . . .