Friday, July 18, 2014

What is the good news? Conversations in Community, thoughts on the gospel and Isaiah 61:1-3

Awakened and enlightened, I no longer live in the narrative construct of deception for the sake of profit among a people asleep to the good news of the gospel embodied in the deep love of God expressed in the life, ministry and witness of Jesus Christ.  I move as a “disruption” (Isaiah 63:1-3 NRSV) to this narrative and to those who embrace a necessary denial, even ignorance of that good news as a way of life in American Society.  They seek to define me within their limitations, seemingly denying any notion of identities beyond the norms established in support colonizationTheir language, reflecting what they have been indoctrinated in and now believe supports the constructs of limitation and scarcity on which capitalism rests.

Reflecting for a moment on the word disruption, defined here in terms of the Cross, I find that a certain politics of liberation emerges grounded in needs of the soul.  Disruption is a sacred response to the staid narrative embraced as a cradle of empire.  Disruption, as the initial call towards transformation, is received as a violation of empirical notions of socio-cultural, religious, political and theological responsibilities.  It is a violation of the relevant and the practical necessarily encountering the wrath of a people informed only by structures of colonization and profit formerly engaged as a form of the gospel, i.e. the good news, even the truth.  Living openly as an African American Transgender Woman I encounter people who profess Jesus Christ and the good news yet look the other way when I pass or threaten me with violence.  I ask the reader, “What is the good news?” Is the good news about liberation from empire and notions of colonization or is colonization and empire in the name of the Christ the good news?   Does the empire and those who support the empire as a matter of survival somehow see the empire as the embodiment of Jesus Christ and in this sense has the empire become the salvation for the colonized?  Shall the U.S. empire in particular be acknowledged as the "righteous" empire.  I suggest that some may embrace such.

So then, I encounter two narratives in my community regarding the good news.  I encounter those who embrace what I will characterize as a cave mentality, a restricted mental structure defined as normal or traditional in religious, culture and social existence.  The one indoctrinated in this way of being, encountering the “other” or those of critical difference, i.e. ideas, identities and concepts not reflecting the norm,  experience a time of fear, sin and evil inviting notions of the apocalypse.  They shun the “other” or critical difference as a threat to their world view.    They seek to embrace the simple denying the complexity of life.  Their faith, reflecting the exclusive and the normative soon mirrors the hatred they so often reject in the name of Jesus Christ.  On the other hand for the one who lives and embraces a community of liberation for all the good news is about embracing all people where there is no stranger only hospitality, their faith is inclusive, embracing all..  I often ponder how I could possibly translate each narrative so that it might be understood.  What words would I use, what actions?

Thinking further upon the act of translation, I am cognizant that the secular, referring here to the West, emerging out of sacred space beginning in the 16th century[1], now has the primary practicum of existence.  The sacred space, now considered marginal by some, even irrelevant, has become somewhat of a footnote, out of touch with daily human affairs, even considered primitive by some.  What I mean here is that there are multiple conversations regarding the good news which call for translation which must be engaged if a better world is to emerge.  That said, I suggest that the good news of the gospel, even the sure hope of Jesus Christ is more than the secular can hold or even comprehend.  The vast oppressions and hopelessness, a type of disenchantment which tends to define the secular space inhibits the secular making it unable to adequately visualize the good news or its own capability of the good news.  The secular reflects itself and without the sacred there is no hope for the secular.  The good news must not only be a theological discourse only in the sacred space but it must have standing in the secular space?  If we are to build a better world we must somehow embrace structures that embody the good news found in Isaiah 63:1-3 and in the life, ministry and witness of Jesus Christ.

[1] Talal Asad.  Trying to Understand French Secularism in Political Theologies, Pubic Religion in a Post Secular World, eds. Hent de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullivan (New York, NY:  Fordham Press, 2006) p 497.