5 thoughts on “The Enemies of Choice?

  1. Intervarsity, the evangelical collegiate organization, used Jonah as the theme for their huge Urbana 87 missions conference. It was the first Urbana I attended, and by far the most transformative missions conference I have attended. Most interestingly though, their theme focused on God’s rebuke to Jonah, “Should I not be concerned about Nineveh?” The story was clearly a rebuke of Jonah’s limited and inadequate practice of faithfulness in the face of God’s ever-steadfast love for each and all.

    Jonah’s problem was not one of misplaced ire against fictional wrongs. No, indeed. The Ninevites were, in fact, horrendous warriors, known for such atrocious practices as stretching the skins of their victims on street walls to dry in reminder and threat. By the time the expositors of the passage were done giving us the socio-historical background of the Ninevites, it was not hard to identify with Jonah’s utter repulsion of that people.

    Nonetheless, this was the message: God was God, too, of the Ninevites. And God was determined to send one who’s calling was to be faithful, to discover the truth of God’s utterly mystifying and profoundly offensive love for the Other, the Unrepentent Unrighteous…I guess one could preach, “the Enemy.”

    What I have further found interesting is that God does not require Jonah to discover empathy or tenderness or gentleness of any kind for his enemies. Isn’t that strange?? Jonah doesn’t have to like his job. He doesn’t have to own any kind of desire for what he is called to do. He does not have to love his enemy in feeling. He does, however, have to give the message.

    It seems clear to me, that you in some ways, y’all represent the sanctified or redeemed Jonah’s to the congregation of Ninevites. Interesting. Very interesting.
    But get yourselves out of there!


  2. Thank you for continuously sharing your thoughts and other posts of quality. I wasn’t sure how much to say “publicly” to your post about religion b/c it can be a sensitive topic, and I could tell you were sharing from deep within. Something you said about your preacher not being able to fully share something without giving up her power may have great truth to it. I’ve often thought of the parallels between counseling (especially group counseling and the systems work some school counselors are often involved in) with ministry-as opposed to the preachers I’m fairly allergic to who come in and “take over”-rather than figuring out where your particular congregation is and working from there. There’s a “plus one” rationale to developmental counseling, and we are looking at this kind of “plus one” reasoning as it comes to advocacy, systems change, and social justice as well.

    Your post about Gay marriage reminded me of a section in a book from the summer _Readings for Diversity and Social Jusitce: An anthology on racism, antisemitism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, and classism_ editors Adams, Blumefield…. (part of this is recommending the book, if you’ve not read it–you’ll love it). Part of things is that it’s impossible to be a true ally if you believe it is a sin…like you said, because it’s an identity, not a lifestyle, and it keeps you from fully embracing the person in an I/thou relationship. There was a section, however, that spoke to my “plus one” reasoning that I’m always looking for in the Christian context. Basically, it was a Black preacher who spoke out against LGBTQ from the pulpit, but embraced them in her personal life, and helped them seek justice (kind of belays the “can’t be an ally if…” but I digress). What struck me, though, was her comment that even though she believed her faith spoke against it, even more important was what Christianity says about oppressions, and how we treat oppressed groups. So, even if you accept the argument/belief (which I don’t) that homosexuality is a sin, the Christian faith still has some strong statements about how we as Christians are to treat other people-and our role in systems of oppression (since there’s no such thing as passive).

    Anyway, just thought I’d share that, and also recommend another book-I just got a copy of _Speaking Treason Fluently_ by Tim Wise. Hopefully, I’ll get to read it soon, but you mentioned something in your post about being seen as unpatriotic, so the title seemed pertinent. My thought is that, if you know our history, disagreeing, and having open debate is one of the MOST patriotic things you can do-not just a right, but a responsibility.

    I hope things don’t stay too uncomfortable for too long at your church-thank you for your courage and example. Thanks also for keeping me thinking-I don’t always respond, but I typically check/read just about everything you post…which is not true for everybody.

    Best to you and your family,

  3. Enjoy this post. Have you considered writing the pastor a note and asking for a church discussion? I believe this can be an effective way of getting to the heart of the matter – what those in the congregation heard when she referenced “enemies” and “Al Queda.”

  4. Thanks for your reply, Beautiful. You know I did consider contacting the pastor about the offensive e-mail my husband received. Honestly, I have lost my sense of ownership for the church. I think I feel so much like no one would be interested in talking about this there. Perhaps the pastors, maybe, but no one else. I feel my spirit disengaging.

  5. since i wind up posting (apparently, whether i want to or not) it’s worth clarifying – now that i see how my last post came out formatted — that the suggestion to leave the congregation was envisioning a future church relationship that was supportive of your fundamental religious convictions (religion never being separated out from history, politics, cultural realities, etc.).
    it was not intended to be related to the prior passage as a critique of your current church.

    i say this because the lack of space between my last comment and the prior exercise of hermeneutical imagination (in another variation, i also have envisioned the U.S as Nineveh, and our “enemies” as Jonah, and found that exercise very compelling for cultivating compassion) could be suggestive of a critique i have no interest in making.

    i find that putting ourselves in various roles for consideration enlarges our capacity to understand nuances in meaning and conviction that would not readily emerge otherwise from some readings of scripture. and the last comparison was such an endeavor: intended to see what feelings and thoughts emerged when seeing possibilities from a different vantage point.

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