Monday, July 15, 2013

Anthea Butler Responds to Zimmerman's Acquittal: "God Ain't Good All of the Time"

And more powerful commentary today on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman verdict--this from Anthea Butler at Religion Dispatches:

God ain’t good all of the time. In fact, sometimes, God is not for us. As a black woman in a nation that has taken too many pains to remind me that I am not a white man, and am not capable of taking care of my reproductive rights, or my voting rights, I know that this American god ain’t my god. As a matter of fact, I think he’s a white racist god with a problem. More importantly, he is carrying a gun and stalking young black men.

What Anthea Butler says powerfully here is what I mean when I say that Jesus still seems dead to me when the powerful continue to trample on the lives of the powerless, and do so with impunity. Through faith, I claim, of course, that Jesus is risen from the dead. But I can't and won't allow that affirmation of faith to silence my cries of anguish at how little that turning point in human history often seems really to change anything at all--and, in large point, because both Nietzsche and Gandhi were absolutely correct when they observed that the body in which Jesus remains incarnate in the world following his historical life, the body of Christ, so badly communicates Jesus, his meaning, his life to the world around that body.

And I include myself in that indictment.

There's no way of getting around the fact that Christianity is an incarnational religion (and, for some of its branches, a sacramental one) in its very constitution. And this means, there's no way of getting around the indictment of me as someone called to incarnate the divine presence in the world, when there's such clear evidence in the world in which I live that the powerful may trample with impunity on the lives of the powerless. Over and over again.

Meanwhile, I'd like to point out that much of the testimony which has moved me following the Zimmerman verdict has come from fellow Catholics like Anthea Butler. Mary Elizabeth Williams, whom I quoted in my first posting today, is a practicing Catholic. Chris Hayes is the son of a former Jesuit priest. Dave Zirin is, I think, Catholic. I suspect Liam O'Donoghue is, too.

But, then, George Zimmerman was raised Catholic and was an altar boy. Mark O'Mara was raised Catholic.

We have a long, long way to go as a Catholic community, it seems to me. And, in a way, that's hardly the point of the discussion about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

But in another way, it's at the very heart of the discussion for people trying to figure out where the hell God is and what it means to talk about God's goodness in a world in which a teenaged boy can go to a convenience store at night, end up lying dead on a sidewalk, and then implicitly be tried for his own murder in a trial that makes a mockery of the most elemental moral principles necessary for the continuance of a humane society. And the armed man who shot that unarmed teenager walks away free of any charge, carrying the gun he used to shoot his victim.

No comments: