A public statement was released from the seminary that awarded me the title of Master–of Divinity. As a “master” it’s important for me to let all my masterlings know when I smell nonsense. . .kind of a musty smell. It reminds me of sneaking down into the archives of the old library among the fragile vellum and faded leather volumes.
The statement was by the faculty of this school of higher learning and was sent out in response to the election of Mr. Trumpery–CEO in Chief of the United States of Citizens United.
In part, the professors wrote,
“[We] are left with an outcome that wounds the most vulnerable. The President-elect has made hostile comments about marginalized communities that have opened the flood gates for the hate speech and hate crimes that we are witnessing in the aftermath of the election. As a result, many are experiencing a season of fear, division, chaos, and lament.”
Certainly no argument with that. No problem saying “Secular Amen!”
But then, I guess to no surprise, old musty language is dragged out to validate their concerns–they quote the Book of Lamentations in the Hebrew Bible, chapter 2:
“What can I take as witness or liken to you, O Fair Jerusalem? What can I match with you to console you, O Fair Maiden Zion? For your ruin is vast as the sea: Who can heal you?”
So, apparently there’s some kind of correlation between God’s City (Jerusalem) and God’s Country (USA). Now, I’m pretty sure these teachers don’t mean that, but it seems at least implied.
“The book of Lamentations represents the voices of a people living on the other side of destruction. . . . We, at [this seminary], see the depths of your pain even as we experience our own as individuals and as a community.”
I understand what’s being said, and I appreciate the deeply felt emotion, but it’s very unfortunate that ancient texts from the Near East are used to show a concern for wounded or marginalized people, while actually further marginalizing millions who truly don’t need to hear more ancient words–or any other words, frankly–spoken in “solidarity.”
What would be much more effective would be to “speak truth to power” and not just speak but stand with people shoved out to the edges of America. This would include millions of non-Christians and non-believers.
Could we maybe let the Bibles (and all other Holy Books) crumble in the archives and work for justice, listening to the “prophetic voice” (raw, natural and secular as that is) in the people here and now?
Let the lamentation and mourning–and the leadership moving forward– be done without the need for words from other times, other places, other people. . .
That might be, perhaps, almost divine.