Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Welcoming Justice

A few thoughts on hospitality and justice, inspired by reading several stories about hate crimes in the past few days, started off the preaching at Clarendon last week.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me.”
What a crock that is.
Jap. Raghead. Kyke. Nigger. Bitch. Dyke. Faggot. Chink.
Tell me again that names can never hurt. Tell me again that names don’t matter.
These slurs and derogatory names slip into our common language and eventually we don’t even realize it.
“Paddy wagon.” It’s the name of the police van that picks up the drunk Irishmen. I’m Scotch-Irish to the core, and I did not know my heritage was being slurred until I found myself in the back of a police van a couple of years ago after being arrested at a peace witness on Capitol Hill.
We really do violate the image of God in others and in ourselves and sometimes we do it so casually that we are not even aware that we are doing it.
But names matter, and the matter of names and naming is profoundly important for an authentically progressive Christian faith. It is not a matter of political correctness; it is a matter of hospitality and it is a matter of justice.
We talk a whole lot about hospitality, about the welcome of strangers, about honoring the outcast and the marginalized. Hospitality is a core values, and a central practices of Christian spirituality, and it is foundational for justice. Hospitality is less Martha Stewart and more Margaret Sanger; hospitality is first about making the table open to all and then about making it beautiful. Hospitality is about justice.