Timothy Wotring is a graduate of Eastern University in Saint David’s, PA. He lives in West Philadelphia and is a member of the Episcopal Church. He keeps a blog (blackflagtheology.com) and is interested in political, liberation, feminist, and postcolonial theologies.
The Israelites no longer needed God to provide manna for nourishment, but had their own land. The manna, in one sense, represents charity work. It is helpful and gives immediate attention to the person in need. Yet, if we are not advocating for the Promise Land where housing is affordable, jobs are of plenty, oppression is repressed, etc, then we need to have a reality check.
God chose to speak through a wild man known as John the Baptizer who dressed in animal skins, ate wild honey, and probably had the most unruly hair. The biblical description of his dress and style resembled the prophet Elijah found early in Second Kings. Why then do we ignore God’s trend of speaking through those who diverge from the status quo?
Are we not the Gentiles who have leaders ruling over us? Are we not the ones who obey the rules that are placed upon us? Isn’t it true that we have tyrants that are more concerned the upper class and middle class than with those struggling to get by, living paycheck to paycheck? Jesus demands a non-leadership leadership from his disciples. Something more topsy-turvy than the world’s standards that resemble social Darwinism….
Ideological State Apparatuses, a phrase made famous by Louis Althusser, function in society to keep the bourgeoisie culture dominate. This is done through institutional establishments, such as the church, family, etc. In the US, the American Dream has been a dominant ideology that gives hope to the unprivileged that they too have a chance to thrive in a higher economic status. Unfortunately, this myth rarely comes to fruition for the lower class or the immigrant because achieving upward social mobility is nearly impossible. The American Dream thus represents a master-signifier. Something present in our culture that one must believe to be a welcomed person in society. This week’s lectionary readings could be related to the ISA that penetrate societies. From the Hebrew Scriptures passage it speaks of the beginning of David’s career as King surrounded by a religious ISA. In the Christian Scripture, Jesus speaks a parable of how everything shall eventually become God’s Kingdom. These Scriptures are both politically driven, one speaking of an earthly kingdom ruled by a king chosen by God, and the other concerning the Kingdom of God.
Emma Goldman once said “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” Goldman was speaking of the bourgeoisie democracy that upholds the status quo of US society. Her words have rung true for many of us progressives who voted for President Obama. We have and grown increasingly frustrated as his administration has leaned toward the status quo rather than the oppressed and poor. This week’s lectionary reading tells of a man who was part of the status quo in his society, high in power and authority in Ethiopia, yet God’s Spirit had something else in mind for him, an apostle named Philip….