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?
The blunt fact is that scriptures Old and New pronounce a fulsome God damn not on foreign nations but on the prophets’ own land. Stiff-necked Bible-thumpers prefer Micah mounted in museum glass to the real thing. But if we do not take scissors to our scriptures, then those blunt words of Rev. Jeremiah Wright exactly match the purpose of the prophets: to that land which perverts equity through greed and force the word is, God damn!
Jesus always demanded the discipline of diversity from his disciples. More than words, his teaching aid was a table of food and fellowship. His invitation was to any and to all to come together at table and eat. He got specific. Do not invite your friends and family to your feasts. Instead, he said, Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Two questions, now: Why them? And, now that we’re about 100,000 Sundays into the game, How are we doing?
I do not know how you should use your precious hours, but note this. You seek justice and you seek peace. Very often, it will be one or the other, not both: peace or justice. Very often, they do not come together in time. You must work this out for yourself.
Only Tamar is a true agent in this great drama. Judah merely acts on his fears and desires, like any creature. Only Tamar intends the future of all Judah—and she is a Canaanite.
Every week or two for many years, I have spent a couple of hours in conversation and reflection with men in the prisons at Attica or Sing Sing. It has been my privilege to learn with men who are keen to think and feel their way through the possibility of changing their lives. In this, the men I know show more inner freedom than the average person on the outside . . .