Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Least of These

     The picture shows her looking up to the heavens, hands outstretched as if in supplication, a semi-smile on her face, as though a prayer has been answered.  She is quoted as saying one word.  "Hallelujah."  This is Ann Coulter's one word response to the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.  Yesterday, a Florida jury found him not guilty in the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

     There are others far more knowledgeable in the law than I who can speak to the legalities of this case. So I'd like to address the word choice of Ms. Coulter.  I don't presume that my vocation as a minister makes me an expert on God; far from it.  But I do know a little.  My masters degree includes the word "divinity," so I have done some study on the subject.

     "Hallelujah" is from Hebrew.  In grammatical terms it is an interjection.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, some of its synonyms are "glory be," "huzzah," "hooray," or "wahoo."  The actual definition is "Praise the Lord."  Ms. Coulter, perhaps you thought that you were merely offering a "wahoo" at the outcome of the trial.  Or maybe you actually were thanking God for what you consider an answered prayer.  I don't know.  But do you think that God and all the heavens are rejoicing that a grown man can kill a teenage boy with no consequences?  Praise God, praise the Lord?  Really?  

     In case you haven't read scripture (and I'm assuming that the scripture you would turn to, if you turn to it at all, is the Christian Bible) the God that I find there doesn't condone acts of oppression by the rich and the powerful against the innocent.  God sent prophets to warn the rich and the powerful that they were harming, destroying, the least powerful and the most marginalized in their world.  They didn't listen.  It didn't end well.  Not for them anyway.  

     Then remember that Jesus guy.  He spent a lot of time telling those in power that it was how they treated the "least of these" that mattered.  Their piety, their fancy prayers, their religiously right but spiritually empty rituals didn't mean anything if the least of these were allowed to suffer.  It was all loss if the least of these were oppressed, taken advantage of, or suffered violence just because those who made the rules thought their well-being mattered more than the least of these in their midst.  

     My faith tells me that Jesus was God incarnate.  But was Jesus rich or powerful?  Did Jesus have the advantage of belonging to the uppercrust of his society?  No.  Jesus was one of the least of these. He was born and lived and healed and taught and preached from the margins.  So God became flesh not as one who was powerful or at the top of society's ladder, but as one who was poor, homeless, at the bottom, the least.  

     Maybe, Ms. Coulter, you feel that as a white Conservative you now occupy the least of these status.  But as one white woman, who knows that the color of her skin gives her advantages over those of a different hue, to another, I say you're wrong.  Facts and statistics don't support that opinion.  Basic morality and decency doesn't support it.  Maybe your "hallelujah" means you think God has answered your prayer.  But I think God is grieving.  Grieving for the harm we cause one another.  Grieving at the violence we inflict without thought.  Grieving that the least of these still suffer while the powerful offer praise.

1 comment:

  1. I wrote a long comment but lost it! Suffice it to say our defense of the 14th amendment is also a defence of Christian ethics. You took on the latter; will DOJ take on the former? And on Ann, Anita Bryant and Phyllis Schlafly have their ideological clones and we have ours.