Religion Fails

My little church hasn’t met in person since last March. We’ve had no communication among ourselves about yesterday’s attempted coup. I can’t decide: is this isolation the worst that could happen, or would it be worse to go to church and hear conversation and a sermon that gently, mournfully, put the events into a manageable spiritual perspective. We might be counseled to ask ourselves what we can do to make the world a better place. We might be told that God wants us to make a difference. We might be encouraged to ask ourselves one ethically introspective question or another. And then that would be that.

I think that the rioters in Washington were, basically, reacting to the decentering of the world in which the descendants of northern European countries dominated the life of the United States. The braying about freedom is a cover.

I further think that northern European heritage, while it established the founding principles of this country — a debt we must acknowledge — also sinned unspeakably against the enslaved Africans and their descendants who powered our economy. This primal sin is horrible to contemplate. It is impossible to reduce. It fuels the craziness of white people today.

Reparations, big ones, are the right response. White Christians can struggle to improve ourselves — engaging in the circular firing squad of progressive purity culture as exemplified by mutual accusation and moral evisceration — until the end times, but not much is going to change because we are saddled with human nature. We are not going to overcome our sinfulness. It didn’t happen with my generation, even though we were the children of the Civil Rights movement, and we were supposed to be qualitatively changed forever. It’s not going to happen.

Money and the political might to push back: that is what will make things better for people of color who look at the white rioters who walked away unscathed. So I donate to reparations funds and political organizers.

That’s my prayer. That’s all the introspection I need. God already knows I’m a screw-up.

January 6, 2021 COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

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