Let me begin on the in-car-nate level. Like most I too am waiting. Unlike most, I am waiting for: nothing, anything, something, everything – all at the same time. Most of the advent language and imagery terrify me. I cringe and cower at the overuse and abuse of light and darkness – a reminder of the dark tribes and the heathens, from that place of total darkness in need of that Shining Bright Light. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light! Those who live in darkness and embody darkness need light! Not to mention the fact that me and the darker tribes’ shade have always been a problem and the fact of how easily people of a lighter-hue are privileged over those of a heavier one. Not to mention those laden with long black beards. My terror is compounded by the ritual humiliation that many have to face day in and day out – overtly and subtly – reinforced by the very use of that kind of language and its internalisation in the psyche of the dominant and the dominated.
This is not all, of course: the imagery of the season from readings, liturgies and lyrics of those “holy than other hymns” that dropped out of the mouth of God ring in and cast and recast in concrete the notion of Empire: Lord of Might; Thrones shall rest; King of Kings – Make Way, Make Way; He who Shall by Right all the Nations Possess; Everlasting Seat; The Race that long in darkness pined have seen a Glorious Light; His power increasing shall Spread; Him shall all the Tribes of Earth Obey; The Lord Makes Bare his Arms Through all the Earth Abroad. This was the wine of intoxication that Western Christianity drunk (continue to drink) and then reasoned a God-given right to shackle and lockdown black non-human beings. Scripture, theology, liturgy, lyrics, Empire and Kingdom got on board the holy boat of Christianity. So when the Empire’s priests landed on virgin soil, they fell on their knees, gave thanks to God, ask the natives for their gold and then fell upon them with the might of swords and guns. Today priests of the empire drop freedom leaflets and hand-outs for the natives, then bomb the living daylights out of them. I wonder: has the heart of God become sluggish? Stir up the power of your Love, O God and Come. Come Lover of the dead corners of the earth and the forgotten wretched of the earth!
Is there anybody is the many holy huddles really expecting Jesus to return? Do we think that the Church really wants Jesus to return? How many of us would like to take a “lie detector test on that one? To give up all the power, comfort and security and be no more? I may just manage that lie detector test – but for a totally different spin. Believe it or not – I, Anancy, am waiting for Jesus to return. I have too many troubling questions for Jesus. They are lying like splinters at the tip of my tongue ready to be rolled off. I will start with the simple ones.
How come a people of faith who adore and lavish the “child” of Christmas: with praise of love, joy and hope and canticles of “Unto us a Child is born”; Peace Bearer, Counsellor; O Holy Child; He smiles within his cradle – A babe with face so bright; Infant holy, Infant lowly…. has down the ages, exploited, abused and excluded children from most the life of their community – relegating them to the margins? Look Jesus, we so exploit our children that we need “Child Protection” policies to protect our children from our selves. Why have we missed your insight: Unless you become like a child you cannot enter….What is really your point? Should children become like adults to enter your garden? Or should adults become children – grow down (decrease) emulate the way of the child to stand a leaf of hope for a place in your garden? Is your garden /world one where children are the measure rather than measuring up to adults?
You see Jesus – there is a bigger issue here for me and my tribe(s). When all the nice people who got taken by “your light” came to my part of the world, for our land, under the guise of bringing that light to us [even though we have a lot of lights over there] – they suddenly realised that actually we were/are “religious” people. Some even got interested and taken by our religiosity – but that superior mind-set prevailed in a kind of paternalism that saw us as under-developed children: childish and emotional and they and their ways as the superior intellectual, cultured, macho and reasoned adults. Did they internalise Herod – that one who was afraid of the Child? How locked? How dull? How unimaginative? How adult? – are our liturgies, texts, homilies, lives? Is this why we miss the music in the wilderness? O God please raise up children from these stones?
This brings me to the question of identity – especially yours. Who are you Jesus? Your genealogy is quite impressive. In fact, it counters the ridiculous notion of a “purist” identity: Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and God knows where. So much for the fossilized and shackling ideology of “essentialized identity”. The scandal of particularity sounds very much like hyphenated identities. Are you a hybrid Jesus? Is that why you were very comfortable in traversing and transgressing the worlds of nationality, gender, sexuality, race, and class? Is that why the purists nailed you to the tree? In Christ there is male and female, slave and free, Gentile and Jew, black and white, north and south, east and west – all at the same time!
I am Anancy, the web weaver, a cosmopolitan – an artist at work. I love creative disorder. I am WAIT-ing. I am waiting for: no-thing, any-thing, some-thing, every-thing – all at the same time. There is a THING here. Like those learned visitors who sought to worship the Child – I may be off course by 9 miles. You see – as struggling negotiator of the state of in-between-ness, I have a very faint glimpse of what it means to straddle a paradox: that moving line between the already and the not yet; between hope and the temptation to despair.
For more, read: Christian Worship: A Postcolonial Perspective (2011)
copyright © jagessar Nov 31, 2012