Reality check: This is 2013, almost 2014 right? U.S.A., right? Every citizen of a certain age can vote, right? An African-American is governor of our state of Massachusetts. A man with an African father is President. I’ve worked side by side with African -, Latino-, Asian – Americans over the past decades. All true.
So explain to me how high schools in Georgia had their FIRST integrated senior prom this April. Only because a small (integrated) group of students decided segregation is wrong. Up until April 2013, they had a “black prom” and a “white prom.” Is Georgia kidding? This year a number of seniors decided to take matters into their own hands and organized their own integrated senior prom. Georgia governor Nathan Deal refused to endorse it.
Recently I heard Julian Bond say that Barak Obama has had more death threats than any president in U.S. history. I had somehow believed that things had gotten better than when I was a kid.
This is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Tracy Chapman’s first album. As I listened to her songs this week I realized that they are as true now as they were a quarter century ago. From her song “Why?”: “Why do the babies starve/ When there’s enough food to feed the world?… Why is a woman still not safe/ When she’s in her home?” From “Revolution”: “While they’re standing in the welfare lines / Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation / Wasting time in the unemployment lines … Finally the tables are starting to turn /Talkin’ bout a revolution….” Twenty-five years ago I was so hopeful. But now listening to her songs, I started down the slippery slope to apocalyptic thinking. What happened to that revolution? Humans are on an irreversible downward spiral.
Apocalyptic thinking is popular now, as it was in medieval Europe. The world is so bad, goes the story, it’s got to be destroyed before the Kingdom of God can descend on those who are worthy. What are the signs of the End Time? For conservatives, that means same-sex marriage; for liberals, cutting aid for the poor. Still, the “doomed world” view is the same no matter our political / moral opinions.
Apocalyptic thinking, that is, pessimism and helplessness coupled with an us-them view of humanity, is the poison of faith. And I admit, pessimism often lurks beneath my breast.
Given everything, should I be this discouraged? The Georgia high school seniors received support from Korea, Japan and France. DJ’s offered their services for free; others donated lights for the dance. Their school board stated that in the future all events at the school will be integrated. Tracy Chapman was right all along. They did not stand for injustice.
Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit scientist, concluded that humanity is evolving along a moral, spiritual path. I realized this week that my faith is based on that premise, though sometimes events seem to indicate the opposite is true.
Apocalyptic faith is an excuse to not act, but to judge. It takes creating a Kingdom of God out of our hands and delegates action into the hands of a God of destruction.
Alternatively, people are developing de Chardin’s vision of humanity. From the American Teilhard Association: “…developing fresh perspectives on “Teilhard de Chardin’s remarkable evolutionary vision, often in ways that directly relate to an ecologically and spiritually sustainable Earth community.”
De Chardin said, “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
Reality check: Tracy and Teilhard are right. Thank- you, Georgia students Quanesha Wallace, Keela Bloodworth, Mareshia Rucker, Stephanie Sinnot.