I've been thinking quite a bit about Tom Fox.
I thought about him last week when the lection was: Take up your cross and follow me. Oddly enough, you can put his name in a cross:
He made his point by being in the way --
The early Christians called their movement "the way"
I've been thinking about him this week, as the lection is based on Jesus' outrage in the temple.
Maybe it's putting too fine a point on it, but...
Is not what Tom Fox did much the same as Jesus in the Temple?
Jesus took no weapon into the Temple -- he made a whip from cords, probably from tethers from the animals. He did not whip the moneychangers themselves, but used the whip to drive the animals from the temple. His anger is from outrage -- outrage at the moneychangers cheating the people out of their wages/money. Outrage at the corruption. "Why are we here?" -- isn't this Jesus' question as well?
I have read that the word in the Greek Bible that is translated as "love" is the word "agape." Again, I have read that this word is best expressed as a profound respect for all human beings simply for the fact that they are all God's children. I would state that idea in a somewhat different way, as "never thinking or doing anything that would dehumanize one of my fellow human beings."
It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death.
"Why are we here?" We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization that exist within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.
-- Tom Fox
And a quote from MLK jr:
Civil disobedience, "does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had."
And what does this have to do with a part-time pastor in Suburban Gwinnett County? Are there tables that need to be overturned here? Are there oppressed people who need an advocate? Am I standing in solidarity with the downtrodden? Who am I dehumanizing?
And then: Is this (my own neighborhoods) not a brutal environment? Especially when the headlines read: Police Shoot a Man Beating a Child; Woman Slain in Fight Over a Car; Bomb Sniffing Dogs React; Woman Indicted on Sex with Teen Charges.
Why are we here? How can I stand with God's children? Where do I start?