Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: The Cross and the Lynching Tree

The Cross and the Lynching Tree

breathless morning sky
fiery orange shades of red
light pierces darkness

Often we live and die in self-imposed darkness. Not the dark of night, but the darkness of our understanding, our motives and our ignorance.

For several weeks I’ve been reading James Cones’ latest book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. It’s a tough read. Cone challenges my white understanding of the role too many Christian churches and politicians have played in the history of lynching.

When I grew up, Jesus’ death was all about appeasing God’s anger for our sin. Dying as an innocent on an ordinary criminal’s cross was payment for our sin. Yes, we deserve to die, but Jesus died for all of us, so that God’s anger toward us wouldn’t be our undoing.

If, however, Jesus’ death was a lynching, what does that mean for Christianity in the USA?

According to our history of lynching, white Christians have managed to do to black women, men, children and unborn babies what Roman and Jewish leaders did to Jesus of Nazareth. Yes, it was death on a Roman cross/tree. Yes, it was death on a White cross/tree.

Now, in our supposedly more enlightened age, we think we’re beyond lynching. After all, Jim Crow style lynching is illegal.

Is it? Really? Look around. We’ve developed neat, more anonymous ways of doing the deed. Out of sight and out of mind, except for the occasional uproar over what’s been happening for decades.

White fear and a deeply ingrained false sense of superiority lie at the heart of our White problem. It isn’t about God’s anger at sin, so-called “Christian” values, or even our own wellbeing.

Each morning, like clockwork, we’re invited to let light pierce the darkness of our understanding. It doesn’t take much light. Just a candle here and there in a window will do. That, plus time to appreciate the light we’re offered each day, and a trustworthy guide to prick our consciences and challenge our sight.

Thanks for listening.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 November 2020
Photo found at unsplash.com

Chains

Chains of fearful submission
Rattle through the nighttime
Terrorizing citizens caught
In the act of looking the other way

This simple act caught on screen and
Controlled by centuries of false freedom
Binds tongues and stokes the proud
In these days of wine and funerals

Whiteness permeates communal air
Contaminating the atmosphere
Dripping with the stench of refuse
From centuries of proud fear

Sunday church comes just in time
For another needle of painkiller
Soothing hard hearts and closed minds
Ready for another week of denial

This is my personal statement, based on a lifetime of church service and membership. Both conservative and not so conservative.  

Ever since this nation’s founding, independent and denominational white churches in the USA have enabled the war against full citizenship for people of color, American Indians, and many immigrants. How did churches do this? Chiefly by staying within so-called safe “non-political’ bounds, and practicing forms of charity that required sacrifice without causing a political ruckus.

Denial has a way of becoming deadly. It’s a downward slope leading to disaster. Many white churches in the USA are in denial. Some may talk about change. Others who care deeply about these things read books and get involved personally.

Rarely, however, is there difficult institutional change. The kind that’s visible, that stirs up uncomfortable controversy and leads to even more difficult change. Yet that’s what it means to follow Jesus the Jew on his way to death. He was crucified (hung on a cross/tree) for living the Good News for All and telling it like it is. Not with rancor, yet without mincing words or minimizing the cost to him or to his followers.

I’m praying for visible changes of heart and habits of life. We’re in this for the long haul, no matter how the upcoming election plays out. 

Thanks for visiting, and for doing what you can where you are. As for me, I’m reading James Cones’ book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 October 2020
Book cover image from amazon.com

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