#SubversiveJesus — Chapter 6

The story of the repainting of their neighbour’s commemorative pentagram stands out in this chapter. It’s one of the most subversive actions that could have taken place. It’s true that images have power. It’s not something you take lightly — not only because of the spiritual battles you might have to face but also due to the misrepresentation that you might cause.

But it’s also equally true that God is stronger than the devil. And if you believe in that, you’ll know that He is able to break the power of the images they repainted, even as they did it with hearts of love and worship. Still, it’s not something I foresee many Christians being comfortable with.

Success in this world is often defined by rich, white, heteronormal, cisgender men, who often identify (or are identified) as Christians because that is what Americans and British are (or were) by default.

And it’s a losing battle for everyone else — poor, people of colour, LGBTQA, women — just to be heard. And, if they are heard, not to be put down and accused of not working hard enough, or just wanting handouts.

It seems easy to a person of privilege — just do what you love, put it out there and you’ll make it. Look for opportunities and grab them! Not so easy when your name and your appearance works against you even before you get a chance to show what you can do. And even if you get the chance, like Paula in the comic, you’re constantly being watched so that when you fail or mess up, people can feel justified about the stereotype that they had of you.

The crazy conversations/debates/fights happening around us about gender, sexuality, and race are because of this balance of power — or rather, imbalance. And we often make it worse by not listening, choosing instead to say “but the Bible says this” and condemning people without knowing the whys. Or we turn it back and say “but not all…” as if just because it’s not 100% true in every circumstance, therefore it cannot be true in their specific circumstance.

Amid my mental crusade for justice, I often slipped into an us-versus-them mentality, where I was on the side of the right and good, and anyone who opposed me was wrong and evil. — Subversive Jesus; Craig Greenfield.

We’re not always right. They’re not always wrong. The reasons someone might do something you disagree with are full of nuances, both cultural and emotional. What people need are better options (and help to get there) instead of ultimatums and closed doors.

Because a LOTR quote is highly appropriate in this circumstance:

“But I have so little of any of these things! You are wise and powerful. Will you not take the Ring?”
“No!” cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. “With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.” His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.” — JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Later on, Frodo offers the ring to Galadriel, one of the most powerful elves left on Middle Earth.

Source: http://middleearthquotations.tumblr.com/post/19063955075/galadriel-to-frodo-and-sam-the-fellowship-of

Galadriel refused to take it because she knew that she too would ultimately be tempted to misuse that power and all they would be doing is changing the current Dark Lord with someone new — someone who would have started out with good intentions and would then (probably) cite all the good she had previously done to justify herself.

It isn’t power that we should be looking for.

What I’m looking for instead is the ability to speak into lives; that opening that comes because I have been open enough to listen and to empathise, even if I may not always understand. To add to the conversation, instead of shutting it up as the church has tended to do throughout history.

Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.” — JRR Tolkien

(It is unclear if the quote above, which apparently appears in the Hobbit movie, is from the book itself [because I can’t find my copy now] or is a direct quote from Tolkien. I have found a source which says it’s actually an insert from Peter Jackson and/or his screenwriters)