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A Word to the White Preacher

Jan Edmiston’s post is called “Preaching While White” and is worth the read. It is timely for me as I am currently reading through the Religious Education Journal issue dedicated to Race and Religious Education.

One thing that I am gleaning from these readings and my continued work in Social Trinity and relational ontology is that the more we are open to the other, the more we can value our own social location. Sometimes people fear listening to the other because it might be perceived as complete agreement or endorsement of values that conflict with ones own. Or, they may fear that openness to the other will somehow dilute the uniqueness of their own self and they will become lost in a great mishmash of Grey.

The opposite is true. It is the embrace of the other that creates our own individuality. The “me” is not absorbed into the “we.” It is created by it.

Think about this. The world, and specifically the United States, is not a melting pot where each individual ingredient is melted away to create a new collective whole. Rather, it is a tossed salad where each ingredient retains its uniqueness, but is interspersed amongst the others. It is the salad dressing of the Spirit–the Spirit of God’s love, Grace and peace–that unifies us into the salad of humanity.

In the salad of humanity, I am a white, middle-class, heterosexual, educated, Christian male. This fact gives me power and privilege that I did not choose or earn. Combine this fact with my position as ordained clergy in a large, suburban congregation who preaches and writes regularly, and that means I have been placed in a position of great power.

What do I do with that?

I think we must turn to the great words of Peter Parker’s uncle Ben,

“with great power comes great responsibility.”

I must both embrace all that God has made me to be with enthusiasm, on the one hand, while continually recognizing that my silence about injustice is complicity by default, on the other. My words carry power, whether I think they do or not. Honestly, this freaks me out and makes  me want to keep silent. Yet, God has called me to speak.

It is within this frame that I share Jan’s reminder to white preachers like me. I pray that I will carry this well. Thanks, Jan.

 

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