Friday, September 19, 2008

Brokenness Owned: Cracks in the Code Words of Culture

[a bit more from Brennan Manning]:

I grew up in a lily-white neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, where code words in our Christian culture routinely included "nigger, spic, kike, wop, sheeny, faggot, swish, and queer." . . . it was the language of stereotype, the American shorthand still raging today--Willie Horton, law and order, welfare cheats--that whips up fear, ignorance, and votes and keeps discussion, dialogue, and minorities circumscribed.

Since my childhood, prejudice, bigotry, false beliefs, racist and homophobic feelings and attitudes have been programmed into the computer of my brain along with orthodox Christian beliefs. They are all defense mechanisms against loving.

The wounds of racism and homophobia from my childhood have not vanished through intellectual enlightenment and spiritual maturity. They are still in me, as complex and deep in my flesh as blood and nerves. I have borne them all my life with varying degrees of consciousness but always carefully, always with the most delicate consideration for the pain I would feel if I were somehow forced to acknowledge them. But now I am increasingly aware of the opposite compulsion. I want to know as fully and exactly as I can what the wounds are and how much I am suffering from them. And I want to be healed. I want to be free of the wounds myself, and I do not want to pass them on to my children.

I have tried to deny, ignore, or repress racist and homophobic prejudices as utterly unworthy of a minister of the gospel. Moreover, I felt that to acknowledge their existence would give them power. Ironically, denial and repression are in fact what gives them power.

The impostor starts to shrink only when he is acknowledged, embraced, and accepted. The self-acceptance that flows from embracing my core identity as Abba's child enables me to encounter my utter brokenness with uncompromising honesty and complete abandon to the mercy of God. As my friend Sister Barbara Fiand said, "Wholeness is brokenness owned and thereby healed."


Bob MacDonald said...

Well done thank you. I am also approaching this topic but not as directly. Maybe some day I will finish the short essay on law that I have been meditating on for several years.

J. K. Gayle said...

Thank you for reading, Bob. Look forward to seeing your essay; might you show us parts of it soon, or share your meditations?