Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm Sending "Smokey" To a Seminar on Dismantling Racism!

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, racism is a belief or ideology that all members of each racial group possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially to distinguish it as being either superior or inferior to another racial group or racial groups. The Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines racism as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular racial group, and that it is also the prejudice based on such a belief. The Macquarie Dictionary defines racism as: "the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate others." --- references in Wikipedia - the Free Encyclopedia as to how various dictionaries define racism

I've been watching him (actually I'm not sure about his gender) for quite some time now and I'm fully convinced that he is deeply infected with prejudice! So I've decided that he needs to go to one of those session that focus on dismantling this ugly thing of racism in our churches and in our culture.

The W. PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church had a series of those events a while back in which all active pastors were REQUIRED to attend and retired pastors were strongly urged to attend also. Maybe they all did -- well, all except one, that is!

But getting back to "Smokey" -- I've got photo proof of his prejudice -- no question about it. Take a look at the hard evidence and see for yourself ----

I call him "Smokey" because he is what we call a smoke bush -- I really don't know what his scientific name is when it comes to bushes, shrubs etc. He's getting his plumes and on a foggy morning he puts on quite a show with the droplets from the fog clinging to the plumes.

But he is very prejudiced -- he doesn't like hemlock trees! See how he has withdrawn from the hemlock to his right? When I planted "Smokey" he was a nice even little round bush. But as he bagan to grow and the neighboring hemlock wanted to be friends as it reached out to him, he concentrated on growing in the opposite direction. He wants nothing to do with "Harry" the hemlock! You see beyond them a couple of different maples and some beech trees -- they don't act like that -- in fact they get along quite well!

So, will a session on racism help "Smokey" get over his problems of being so prejudiced? Not likely, unless somehow you can get to his inner nature and do some changing there. If that happened, he and "Harry" would be the best of friends -- no intentional withdrawing as is now the case!

Actually this is an issue raised in an earlier posting. How is it that within a denomination claiming to be Christian in faith a bunch of bucks is paid to a secular outfit in order to try to solve what is perceived to be racism?

Let's get this straight -- do we not preach and teach that God's grace is sufficient for every need? Is Jesus Christ not powerful enough to heal and transform us in all areas of our lives where we are enslaved to sin and any form of prejudice that is a part of that sin?

What does it mean when we are told in Scripture that if anyone is in Christ that person is a new creature (or creation) with old things passing away and all things becoming new? Does that "being a new creature" apply to everything EXCEPT racial prejudice, so that we have to go to the people of the world -- the so-called "experts" to get delivered from our racism hang-ups?

The apostle Paul was deeply prejudiced against Christians at one time in his life -- so much so that he persecuted them even to the point of death under legal sanction to do so. How do we account for that change in his life wherein he was no longer prejudiced against that group of people? There is no record that he attended some "mandatory" session on racism conducted by some secular organization in the 1st Century!

Maybe it is really so that Paul experienced what a few of us refer to as being "born again!" -- that he knew first hand what it was to be healed of prejudice and to be a new creation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Further, this was solely and totally a miraculous work of God's grace!

Ah, could that be the real church problem? That among some pastors and laity there is no personal experience in being born again? We just ignore that demand issued by Jesus, get upset with anyone who mentions it or talks about it and continue to cling to our prejudices?

By the way, if sometime you are in the Belsano PA area driving through, stop by our place -- we'll provide some refreshments and I'll introduce you to "Smokey" and "Harry" and then we can sit on our comfortable front porch and discuss what is the best way (and only way) to really cure the problem of racism!

Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." --- John 3:3

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. --- 2 Corinthians 5:17

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