january 20 . 2021

_SFAD 585_Journal Entries_1/20/21
 
Color.
Color me.
Color me confused, sad, concerned.
Color me upset.
 
Color me upset because I was never exposed to a colored person’s perspective; narrative; experience; interpretation.

White.

White is all I saw, growing up in white Clackamas county in purposefully-settled-this-way-white-Oregon, white evangelical church, white-washed religion, white Jesus in my children’s Bible, white privileged. White.
 
“…as you look at the Bible and the way that you read and connect with the Bible, are there ways that you notice social justice being a theme…?”
“Absolutely…I see the connections, I see them everywhere. I mean, I don’t think you can read the Bible without seeing that, even whether you are using that filter, that hermeneutic, or not.”*  
 
Everywhere?
 
What Bible is she reading?
 
And then she highlights specifics: poverty, child labor, human trafficking. From the creation of Eve, the equal companion to co-steward the earth alongside the first created human; to the Levitical laws that protected the vulnerable, the stranger, the poor, those who don’t belong; to Jesus inverting systems and paradigms, in which some humans were deemed more worthy than others.
 
Oh. Yes. When you put it that way, I see it now.
How did I not see it before?

 
But, of course I couldn’t see it before. I was white-washed into the white lens, the white frame, the white perspective.
 
“I cannot see the Bible without seeing [social justice].”*
 



I began this journey of getting woke about five years ago. I joined a book club in my workplace that was reading the book “Waking Up White”. I was moved, intrigued, and humbled; I couldn’t change my upbringing, I couldn’t control the formation I’d had, but I was persuaded to seek out and expose myself to another narrative of history, of experience, of perspective. I read more books, listened to podcasts, I watched documentaries and interviews, and had conversations with my small handful of Black, Asian, Latina, and East Indian friends. The exposure hasn’t stopped, but I’m shocked that it’s taken five years for me to understand the fact that my faith and my understanding of the Bible is also white-washed.
 
I’ve known for a few years now that my Jesus wasn’t white.
But the implications of that, I’m beginning to see now, go so much further than just his cultural identity.
 
I’ve got such a long way to go – to see and experience my God as a social justice Advocate, Activist, Champion, Deliverer, Legislator, Judge. To see through another lens, through a different frame, from the perspective of those who know oppression in ways that are simply impossible for me to empathize with.
 
This is only the second week of class. Bring it on.
 

 

*Professor Cherise Bock Interview with Gaby Viesca, for SFAD 585 Spirituality and Social Justice, Portland Seminary, 2021.

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