Carrier’s Comments for The Catalyst, a UU Newsletter
From time to time I hear I’m “too political.” As a minister, this perplexes me, but I’m willing to listen so I can address your concern and fulfill mine.
Wouldn’t it be ironic to claim Martin Luther King was too political? Or Jesus, or Amos? The Kingdom of Heaven is to be made manifest, incarnated; not constrained to other realms only. Or put humanistically, the world is as much ours as any one else’s. It is not here just for our freedom, but for our responsibility, especially as citizens of a supposed democracy.
For those who say Jesus ‘rendered unto Caesar,’ I would note he was in a tough spot. Neither side of his government, the occupying Romans or their privileged Jews, were being nice to him. Occupiers and their lackey rulers, like many rulers, treat their people like trash. They thrive on victims and victimization. If being spiritual means accepting the cross, I reject that archetype. Allowing innocents to be put on the cross is not religious, not then or now, not here or there, despite how some rulers spin it.
Jesus’ transcendence of the cross came before it by not letting fear keep him from speaking his mind and heart. He was a whole, daring, kind, honest human. Much of humanity has long picked him to be a main spokesperson for the ‘kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.’ Would we utterly give over his and our other prophet’s visions (and our own conscience and prerogatives as citizens) to the K Street lobbyists and the party they have hired?
Our government is inflicting a great evil on an innocent people in our name, while we at home, like many in the world, are driven to debt, scarcity, and strife to fund the infinite appetites of the variously rich running an ecologically suicidal system to their private advantage.
Nowhere are there mechanisms to admit and address these entrenched systemic problems. The Market thrives on whatever sells and pays, the Media keeps the process snazzy and ‘informed,’ and the Church largely blesses the system, blatantly supplying it with victims and votes, chasing us with a shallow morality, allowing little and large hells to persist and magnify, thus confirming their dour belief in our inherent wretchedness.
Kings like George will get away with whatever they can, while kings like Martin Luther and Christ keep reminding us we shouldn’t let them. Especially as relatively affluent, informed, free citizens practicing freedom of belief, speech and assembly, we shouldn’t let them.
So I consider these things out loud in church with you. Some love it that their own private perceptions and anguishes are given voice. (The essence of an organic democracy is that we are never put into intimidated isolation; we tell the truth and seek the good together.) Others might weary of yet another reminder of how hard the world is and how much there is to do. We agree; why be reminded? And if we don’t, why stir up egoic positions? Though we are One, when we have positions it’s easy to forget and forsake our unity if we’re riled. Like life, church isn’t always easy.
Religion takes on nothing less than the All of life. Sometimes that entails prayer, ritual, lofty ideas, and meditation. But part of it is the political situation (for better or worse), here for our responsibility and caring consideration. “There is a time for every purpose under heaven.” If I dwell too much on the political, help me to do it in ways less offensive for you and more effective for us, all of us. There are lots of parts of making this world ‘as it is in heaven,’ including the political.