Letter from America – February 2016

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

Letter from America – February 2016

Just thought that you and some of the St. A’s folks might appreciate this letter I submitted to our hometown newspaper, here in Sedona.

What is going on with our political scene here is absurd, and I am sure that most Kiwis would agree.

JOHN BIGGERS

Editor:  (SEDONA, AZ, RED ROCK NEWS)

This topic may appear to some as one found only to be relevant in far-away places or in different communities than Sedona; but I feel it is just as important to our area, here in the relative “safety” of our famous Red Rocks, as it is in New York, San Bernardino, or wherever.

The tragic animosities that are being fostered today, those resulting from questionable spokespersons, especially loud political figures, are driving wedges in American society that should have been long gone. I am referring to this provocative rhetoric, which says, “It’s us against them.”

I am referring to the crucial controversies surrounding the terrorist activities of some fanatical and criminal persons claiming to be Muslim; but, obviously, who are perpetrators of fear and death, and do not represent the authentic followers of an ancient faith that has found its place in our modern society, along with Christianity, Judaism and many other religious belief systems.

Yes, there are major differences, theological, social and otherwise, among religious groups and individuals, but for some of “us” to heap scorn upon or lack of trust in “them” is not a part of a genuine American understanding of faith and all that it stands for.

Of course, we are a nation that enjoys competition and “rivals” in much of our American lifestyle. And, as a retired member of the legal profession, I understand the use of adversarial pursuit; this means it is “A” vs. “B”, with each side having its advocates and positions that were presented as “we are right”, and “they are wrong.” It goes with the living in an orderly society based on fair and equitable laws. We do have judges (or, referees and umpires) who tell us when either “side” is making mistakes (fouls), and any decisions are to be respected, as are our adversaries.      

Surely, if we read and know about major historical events over the centuries, we are aware that some forebears of Christianity and other faiths pulled out all the stops in their efforts to dominate or destroy religious ideals and practices that differed from their own. All with some presumptuous pronouncement of being “the only true religion.”

Not too many decades ago, the Ku Klux Klan claimed to be “Christian” as the basis for many destructive actions and deaths that were perpetrated in the name of religion. Even a major symbol of that particular faith, a burning cross, was employed at the site of vicious criminal acts, like public lynchings.  

Likewise, many centuries ago, so-called “Christian” leaders and self-appointed “soldiers” in the name of Jesus Christ, waged terrible wars and devastation that pursued pompous causes called “the Crusades.” Not to overlook that children were exploited to carry out these provocative events.

But, now in today’s diverse society in our “great” country that welcomes the stranger with the Lady in New York Harbor, with a Constitution that provides “equal protection under the law” for ALL persons, sadly we are once again finding some of “us” deciding that there is no room for “them”.

As with the Crusades, we now feel we need to conger up reasons to search for and destroy those others among us in a world of division and diversity; and no wonder that some of “them”, whoever they might be, are finding ways to vent their frustrations in a world society that more and more keeps a few at the top and the many at the bottom. We might rationalize that the top spot is reserved for the clever and hard-working lot of “us”; yes, we who ‘deserve’ our exalted position. And we will be very certain to keep it this way, but if only the members of “they” would stop “their” misdeeds or move on to other spots on this old globe!

When we sing joyfully, “God Bless America” can we find reason to ask, whose God are we referring to? Why, of course, it’s “Ours,” not “Theirs!”

John Biggers