From Silence to Outrage

Firebird. Photo by Michael Barth on Unsplash.

A response to John Pavlovitz.

I was silent throughout my childhood and through most of my adult life, looking on as my parents supported charismatic leaders with time, money, merchandise sales, and real estate in their entrepreneurial ventures. I was the compliant child, did what I was told, believed what I was told to believe.

Then the evangelical community faced disgrace with the greedy huckstering of their leaders, and the scandals, the affairs, the cynical profiteering, the political campaigning, and the power grabbing.

Later, as an adult, distancing myself from a toxic brand of religion, I found a different expression of faith that was more about collaboration, generosity, and love. But the movement fizzled out because of a power grab that divided the groups.

Forty years have passed since these same old charismatic leaders who once dominated my childhood have resurfaced with large political followings that have inexplicably been able to successfully grab power and wield it like a bludgeon against any who might oppose them.

Fire and Fury

Blinded by their own success, they cannot see what they have devolved into. As in Tolkien’s tale of the struggle for Middle-earth, Smeagol, the once human creature finally possesses the ring of power, yet, having gone through a metamorphosis to become Gollum, his inhumanity is not even a passing consideration, since lust for power consumes his every thought.

That old brand of religion is in free fall. As they say,

The fall is not what kills you.
It is the landing.

So enamoured by power, the fires of Mordor quickly rise to greet the hapless creature.

Firebird. Photo by Michael Barth on Unsplash.

With the realization that those with whom I shared theological discussions could also sympathize with the political movement of our American religious right neighbours, I realized that I was a foreigner in a strange country, and I could no longer believe anything that these people were telling me.

I found myself trying to speak for those who did not have a voice, including myself. I did the opposite of what Pavlovitz describes, turning from silence to outrage, less than a couple weeks after that fateful vote, when the truth came out about what people were willing not only to rationalize, but to fully endorse:

When people cry “racism,” it is revealing when people immediately become defensive rather than coming to the defence of those who have been maligned. By your response, you unconsciously choose sides. That is implicit bias.

Stephen Bau

A Triptych of Outrage

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

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