I was inspired by Barbara Brown Taylor’s Holy Envy and Huston Smith’s classic World Religions to launch this series I’m calling “Wise Neighbors: What Christians Can Learn from World Religions.” Here are the first three videos:
1: “Primal” and Indigenous Religion
I know the news seems bleak,
and some days seem without hope,
which makes it hard to remember
that everything in the universe is made out of love;
everything is held together by love;
and the end and purpose of everything is love;
and when it’s time to tally the scores,
we will be full of laughter
because the points have always been irrelevant
and the only thing worth keeping track of
In the classic stories, people who make deals with the devil get exactly what they want, but find out later that it’s actually a curse. Midas gets the golden touch but finds out he can’t eat gold. Faust gets the girl but destroys his chance at happiness with her.
This is how it is with oppression. People are fighting to build walls and maintain their positions of privilege in systems of oppression because they have bought into the lie that they have a good deal, as if they are winning something. Like it’s worth ingesting your daily dose of toxic masculinity so you can not go to the doctor and die earlier of heart disease? So you can have fewer friends than the women in your life do? Like it’s worth sucking down your daily dose of white supremacy so you can live in the prison capital of the world? So you can pay billions of dollars a year to disenfranchise people of their vote and maintain de facto segregation? Like it’s worth maintaining sex-negativity and purity culture in order to make LGBTQIA people feel like 2nd-class citizens? As if that’s not going to have an impact on straight folks’ ability to have intimacy and authentic relationships?
There is a cost to maintaining oppression for those who “benefit.” I am deeply suspicious of narratives that make it sound like oppressors are getting what they really want.
They are not. Most of those who think they are thriving are simply succeeding at distracting themselves from the poverty of the hell they are building for themselves. Sure, they may enjoy their net worth, their McVacations, their ability to get praise for mediocrity, and the constant simmer of jealousy or suspicion that someone, somewhere, is getting away with more than they have.
I am not a hellfire and brimstone preacher, but I do think hell is real, and I think a lot of people would prefer it to a heaven they had to share with those they’ve spent a lifetime avoiding or oppressing.
Only those who see through the lie can be free.