Category: The Politics of Scripture

As tempting as it might be to assign murderous impulses to so-called former colonial times, Christians would do well to pay attention to how such logic continues to operate today in theological and political thinking.

We love heroism; we may even be addicted to it. But what happens when our addiction breeds a “heroism” that’s twisted, dangerous, and a disease?

For those who are most vulnerable today—those at risk of infection due to socio-economic injustices that put them in greater harm’s way and/or age and immune-deficiencies that leave their bodies more compromised to the most severe effects of the COVID-19 virus, particularly in the United States, the disproportionate numbers of people of color whose communities are being ravaged by this disease—John’s text speaks a word of encouragement and hope.

We must remember that even when the pandemic is over, this nation will still be under threat by people and forces who have declared war on everything and everyone it defines as “other”. We must remain committed to being hospitable to the stranger, and caring for the most vulnerable.

This relativizes politics into a realm that cannot penetrate or disturb the Christian’s faith or take away our salvation and our hope. This is why the real danger for the Christian is not just biopolitics, but also ideologies that provide an alternative salvation through false gods.

How does one turn away from a Lenten desert, so profoundly illustrated in the wastelands of plastic filled beaches, and walk towards the resurrection hope of Easter? Perhaps by remembering that Easter is coming, but its only the middle of the story.

This biblical text—the “trial” and execution of Jesus—is a text that we who are Christians know so well we may be tempted to skim it. In the same way, we think we know and understand climate change—enough that we can skim the science.

We are a people once asleep, now waking to a new world, where our forms of life have done irreparable harm to our earth and helped to unleash a deadly pathogen on ourselves. We must ask, how will these bones live?

We need to recognize that whether we like it or not, the global community is in this crisis together. Our survival depends on learning to share the abundance we have—our natural and financial resources, as well as scientific expertise and creativity—in the fight to combat climate change.

Humans have grown exponentially in our propensity and power to conquer the earth itself. Despite being newcomers relative to neighboring species, humans usually behave as if we owned the place. But Psalm 95 speaks clearly: When we come into God’s presence—and there is no place God is more vividly present to us than in creation’s midst—the psalm says to come with thanksgiving, the polar opposite of greed.

An intertextual reading of Genesis 12 and Psalm 121 demonstrates that, while our faithful relationship with God may be initiated by our willful act of leaving, our ongoing life journey can be sustained by our attention to nature’s ontological testimony of God’s unequal sovereignty. Just as the Hebrew pilgrims were given strength to live out their faith through ecological awareness and mindfulness, let us emulate this life of pilgrimage and boldly leave our anthropocentric lifestyles.

Humans may very well not survive to the end of the century, but in faithfulness to the Creator, between fasting and serving the Garden, hope is alive. The liturgical season of Lent is such a time.