Whenever a movement happens and whites happen to dominate it, that means purposeful, intentional exclusion of others — every time! It couldn’t be that minorities simply weren’t interested, could it? No! We know that those racist bigots — erm, I mean our brothers and sisters in Christ — are out there, burning crosses in their bedrooms, don’t we? Your bigotry disgusts me. Get on your knees and repent.
It is comments like this that remind me exactly why it is so important that as followers of Jesus, we move beyond the sugarcoated juvenile issues and ask the tough questions. But even more important is that we challenge the framework in which we ask those questions. In this particular case I was intentional in framing the issue of race and new monasticism within the framework of White Privilege. This was not done in an accusatory way, but as a way to expose a given pattern that otherwise would not be contested. The equation of use of the concept of white privilege with bigotry is typical way in which to force silence, by intent of inflicting social fear. The reality of this comment and others not as violent, is no other than an intent to censor those who dare critique the unconsidered assumptions and patterns that inform the way those in power experience and interpret life. This response is not a surprising one. This is not the first time such crude accusation have been made when I’ve brought up the questions of privilege. Same and worst accusation have been imputed to other sisters and brother whom have dared to challenge the given scripts.
If the church is to be a real place of radical hospitality and transformative relationships, it needs to deal with the social constructs in which it inhabit. The social expression of the church and individual Christians does not happen outside the artificial modes of thinking about the actuality of power and privilege. We will do more damage than good if we keep addressing the issues of faith and social justice without questioning the given frameworks of racism, patriarchy, hetero/sexism, classism and elitism. It is by pushing further passed the strings and paradigm by which the church function that we as followers of Jesus can be honestly bring a healing alternative and prophetic voice. It is by rendering visible these chains of affliction that we can move from hollow cosmetic corrections and into real salvation and transformation. Given that we are blind to our own complicity and that we have the tendency to describe things to our advantage, we need the voice of the other for a broader expression of God’s goodness and liberation .
Communities and movements undertaking the revolutionary work of reconciliation and radical change must allow for a space of serious critique and non-conformity if we are to truly move beyond the systems of pain and oppression we oppose. This space for dissent and challenge is needed if we are to build up true relationships of oneness and growth.