Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Materialism Robs From The Left

Listening to the second of the videos below, of James Cone's magnificent sermon, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, he says exactly what I've managed to miss saying in so many of my posts.  He explicitly says why it is is that a de-religionized left fails, what materialism steals from the left, the very power that makes change possible in even a hopeless situation.

What I'm talking about is love,  it's not something you can prove empirically or articulate adequately but the truth of it is self-evident in living it. 

I have seen the transforming power of this faith in the cross among many black Christians who struggle especially among the black freedom fighters in the civil rights movement.  Many knew that they were going to be beaten and tortured and possibly even killed. They knew that they were not going to win the obvious way of winning.  But they had to do what they did because the transcendent reality encountered in their fight for justice was more powerful than their opposition,  more meaningful than that which contradicted it. 

People respond to what empowers them inside.  That spirit that lets them know that they are somebody when the world treats them as nobody. When you can act out of that spirit then you know there is a reality in this world bigger than you.  And that is what black religion bears witness to, in all of its flaws,  it bears witness to a spiritual resource that empowers marginalized people to do things that seem impossible 

That is certainly a key, perhaps the key to why the left has failed, continually, why the gains of the Civil Rights movement have been endangered and destroyed in the period since religion has been largely driven out of the left, or at least the white left.   Nothing will happen until we learn that lesson again, until we believe what our eyes saw happen in the successes of the Civil Rights movement until we make the willing choice to believe that our own experience of human history is more to be believed than empty abstractions that don't even deal with that experience.

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