“White privilege is your history being taught as a core class and mine being taught as an elective,” wrote a tumblr user in February of 2014. The post, which went viral, highlights the point that sin is not just personal but also structural.
Structural sin is sustained by our ignorance of it.
I began hearing the question in seminary. It became louder as I started writing. “Who will be the next Reinhold Niebuhr?” In 1948, Niebuhr was on the cover of Time Magazine. He commented on politics, and since his death in 1971, his voice has been missing from popular discourse.
Luke seems to mislead us in his description of the dinner exchange we will read in this Sunday's Gospel lesson. He tells us, "When [Jesus] noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable," but the words that follow aren't really parabolic. They're just good advice.
I recently read about a tourist who was accidentally locked in Milan’s cathedral, called the Duomo, overnight. The American tourist chose to take advantage of his unexpected lock-in and spent the night “among the cathedral’s rooftop spires.”
A few days ago, I took part in a silly Facebook discussion about, among other things, the proper position of the altar in churches. That’s not so interesting, though it was great fun. What struck me was a side comment made by someone about how all of this didn’t matter too much, since the church was meant to be outside, serving the needs of the world.
I’ve heard plenty of people say this, and I never could quite figure out my discomfort.
Christianity isn’t inherently white supremacist. But Christian faith in America has been interpreted in a way that upholds the tenets of white supremacy, which is built on 18th and 19th century Western hegemonic values. These cultural values, which have been intertwined into mainline American Christianity, protect and uphold the system of white supremacy.
“All men are created equal,” claims the Declaration of Independence.