A Mirror

Reflecting on the American reality

A mirror. Photo by Emil Vilsek on Unsplash.

45 is holding up a mirror to the American people to show them what is wrong with their institutions: the government, the corporation and the church. The people are reflecting on the nation’s history and how that foundation led to the current reality.

apocalypse: an unveiling to reveal the truth behind the façade.

Current events are a reflection of the abuses of power that maintain a system designed centuries ago. The old hierarchies could be perpetuated in an environment that was built to control the histories, the myths, and the stories that guided the imaginations of the people.

Technology has undermined the control that the powerful have over the narrative. What we are witnessing is the fear and panic that results from the realization that the foundations — the founding histories, myths and stories — of this ancient empire are crumbling.

Washed White as Snow

The following is a transcript of a conversation on the Almost Heretical podcast: Episode 27: Connecting #churchtoo, Kaepernick and Christian nationalism.

One of the points where I reached my emotional overload — and this is a slight side trail — is Harriet Beecher Stowe, you probably know, she is the one who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a white woman, but, as a young woman, wanted to abolish slavery, or at least work with the abolitionists. More than any other example, so much of Kendi’s work is: we have used this idea that since we got rid of slavery, we got rid of racism. All of the data and all of the facts just show that the story is completely the opposite, that even most of the vehemently anti-slavery people literally used white supremacy as the argument to get rid of slavery. Very few people — white people — very few were anti-racist and were actively fighting racism. Harriet Beecher Stowe writes this fiction book — supposedly her aim is to basically show how atrocious the life of a slave is so that people would feel emotionally compelled to get on board with the abolitionist movement. Of course, in the book itself are these totally racist stereotypes of black slaves and what slavery does to those black people, and she is perpetuating all of these racist ideas, but it wasn’t until I found out that one of the other Beechers, one of her family members, is literally the first person that we know of who created and dispensed white Jesus in the United States, in the world, through these tracts.

Again, this is not pro-slavery Southerners. These are pro-abolition Northerners, but who had so bought in to and wanted to hold on to this idea of the glory of whiteness, that it was all this entitlement, light, white language mapped onto Jesus and God and Christianity. So, you have this darkness versus light, you’re getting saved from darkness — and this would get stated explicitly in other places — the goal was conversion, to convert people from being black to being white, but in this slightly more subtle form in this tract by this guy in the Beecher family. The gift is this possibility of enlightenment and paired it with — the first time that we know of in history — these pictures of a white, Caucasian Jesus.

There are so many data points along this story. Again, the thing that stands out for me all the time is I think the way so many of us have internalized, both in church and in our country, the way that we have internalized this idolization and reverence for power and the powerful is this expectation of gratitude. So, you talk about the Colin Kaepernick protest…

He’s just supposed to be grateful that — “I mean, just look at him. He’s got millions of dollars. He’s got to be grateful that he can live in a country like this. If he doesn’t like it, he can get out.” Isn’t that Trump’s language?

Exactly. Trump’s tweeted multiple times this nonsense of, we’re just all supposed to be grateful. He even did this sing-along at the White House. Instead of protesting, let’s be really grateful for all that we have and sing our national anthem and remember how great it is to be American.

So, link back to the conversation we were having about abuse in the church, what is the attitude of a person in the church supposed to be for this spiritual authority, this anointed pastor? I look back at my experience, it’s gratitude. The language is used all the time from the pulpit and I think it is something that everyday Christians internalize. The idea is that we are to be so grateful for this pastor’s work in our lives, this sacrificial ministry, that to even consider that he might have abused that woman, that would go against what we owe him. We owe him this debt of gratitude. We are supposed to be so grateful for the church. To be willing to break up the church over an abuse scandal, that’s not being grateful for the church.

That’s what patriotism is. That’s this expectation of patriotism. We are all supposed to get around every time a football game starts and declare how grateful we are to be living in this country by, essentially, declaring our loyalty to this country, as is, being willing to defend it, as is, and its status quo.

To protest and say, “There are things that are totally wrong here. People are getting killed in the streets. Our own police officers are killing people.”

It’s what I hear a lot with Colin Kaepernick is, “We agree with you, but it’s the wrong protest. You’re doing it wrong. You’re being too divisive. You’re offending people.” The reality is that it’s never the right protest. They don’t want protest. “You’re supposed to be” — and I hear this a lot with Colin Kaepernick — “You’re a millionaire. Look at what you have. Look at how good this country has been to you. You have no business protesting. Stand for the songs. Sing the songs. Place your hand on your heart. Get in line. Be grateful that you’re an American.”


Designer, writer, educator, social architect, founder, Builders Collective, Leading with Design. https://stephenbau.com

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