Lenten Reflections

Week 2 – Repentance: Changing my mind

“Repent” has been given a bum rap—the word “repent” doesn’t come from Latin roots (paenitere – to feel sorry). Repent has Greek roots and comes from metanoia—to change perspective, to change world view.

 

How am I privileged, and how do I treat others who aren’t?

Hidden Figures is a brilliant film.  Not only does it introduce us to some amazing people who helped accomplish quite remarkable things, it shows how they contributed significantly to NASA’s space program while struggling against race and gender barriers.

 

Often we don’t know we are privileged.  After all, we don’t have billions or even millions of dollars.  We don’t have servants, and we have to work daily in order to live.  But privileges we are afforded can be invisible to us.  For instance, people generally aren’t skeptical when we say something witty or intelligent because education and the ability to think and express ourselves is a right.  Right?

– Jamila Lyiscott, educator and poet, does a brilliant TED Talk on language and how people stereotype us based on language:

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/14/362372282/what-does-it-mean-to-be-articulate

But not everyone is treated with respect.  You might feel you bear the entire weight of your ancestral history on your shoulders.  Stigma may even be attached to you because of a family member’s actions.  And if the people in power don’t share your color of skin, you, as a minority, may be rebuffed.  Or attacked.  

In an interview with Peggy McIntosh, founder of the National SEED Project, Joshua Rothman asks about privilege:

PM: But what I believe is that everybody has a combination of unearned advantage and unearned disadvantage in life. Whiteness is just one of the many variables that one can look at, starting with, for example, one’s place in the birth order, or your body type, or your athletic abilities, or your relationship to written and spoken words, or your parents’ places of origin, or your parents’ relationship to education and to English, or what is projected onto your religious or ethnic background. We’re all put ahead and behind by the circumstances of our birth. We all have a combination of both. And it changes minute by minute, depending on where we are, who we’re seeing, or what we’re required to do.

JR: You seem to relate to the idea of privilege in a very compassionate way. But isn’t that hard, since the effects of privilege are so unjust? Isn’t it natural for privilege to make people angry, rather than openhearted? I imagine Tal Fortgang in a college seminar, and the rancor that must accompany conversations about privilege in the classroom. How do you defeat that?

PM: The key thing is to let people testify to their own experience. Then they’ll stop fighting with each other. One of my colleagues at seed says, “Unless you let the students testify to what they know, which schools usually don’t let them do, they will continue to do just what the dominant society wants them to do, which is to tear each other apart.” The students who are sitting there fighting with one another aren’t allowed to have their lives become the source for their own growth and development. Adrienne Rich wrote, at the beginning of women’s studies, “Nobody told us we have to study our lives, make of our lives a study.”

—Joshua Rothman, May 12, 2014

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-origins-of-privilege

 

Tell Me Your Story  (words and music by Glyn Lehmann)

Verse 1
Tell me your story
The places you have been
I’ll tell you about me
The things that I’ve seen
Verse 2
Where do you come from
What is your history
Were you born here
Or somewhere across the sea?
Bridge
We can learn about each other
Let’s make a start today
What do we have in common?
We might find we’re not so different anyway
CHORUS
Tell me your story
We all have a story to tell
I’ll tell you my story
Then I’ll be part of yours
And you’ll be part of mine
We’ll write a new story together
© 2011 Glyn Lehmann
www.glynlehmann.com (for rest of the song)

 

A people with many secrets

You are the God from whom no secret can be hid,
and we are a people with many secrets,
that we want to tell for the sake of our lives,
that we dare not tell because they are deep and painful.
But they are our secrets… and they count for much;
they are our truth… rooted deep in our lives.
You are the God of all truth,
and now we bid you heed our truth,
about which we will not bear false witness…
The trust of grief unresolved,
the truth of pain unacknowledged,
the truth of fear too child-like,
the truth of hate, as powerful as it is deep,
the truth of being taken advantage of,
and being used,
and being manipulated,
and slandered.
We trust the great truth of your wondrous love,
but we will not sit still for it,
UNTIL you hear us.
Our truth—heard by you—will make us free.
So be the God of all truth, even ours,
we pray in the name of Jesus,
who is your best kept secret of hurt.  Amen.
—Walter Brueggemann, January 14, 1999, from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth