Thursday, September 11, 2008

Barack and Joe or John and Sarah?

"Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?" - Confucius

As the presidential campaign heats up, our real feelings about race and gender and leadership are boiling to the surface. Some people seem very positive, believing that our country has moved beyond racism and bigotry in this context. Others are much more pessimistic, fearful that some segments of our culture have progressed very little. And regrettably, we have not yet been able to exorcise all of these ugly forms of prejudice from within our churches. I still sometimes hear political discussions among "Christian" people with thinly veiled racism and sexism expressed in the guise of just talking politics.

The African Bishop, Desmond Tutu, was once asked why he became an Anglican rather than joining some other denomination. He replied that in the days of apartheid, when a black person and a white person met while walking on a footpath, the black person was expected to step into the gutter to allow the white person to pass and nod their head as a gesture of respect.

"One day" Tutu says, "when I was just a little boy, my mother and I were walking down the street when a tall white man, dressed in a black suit, came toward us. Before my mother and I could step off the sidewalk, as was expected of us, this man stepped off the sidewalk and, as my mother and I passed, tipped his hat in a gesture of respect to her! I was more than surprised at what had happened and I asked my mother, ‘Why did that white man do that?’ My mother explained, ‘He’s an Anglican priest. He’s a man of God, that’s why he did it.’ When she told me that he was an Anglican priest I decided there and then that I wanted to be an Anglican priest too. And what is more, I wanted to be a man of God."

May we all grow up to become men and women of God, respecting the dignity and worth of every person for whom Christ died.

3 comments:

Michael Ruffin said...

Well said, Drew. I'm linking to this on my blog.

Drew Hill said...

Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the dialogue. These are interesting days, perhaps the most intriguing presidential campaign I can remember. I trust we can all behave ourselves.

Shane Vander Hart said...

Great story about Desmond Tutu I had not heard that. I'm linking her as well.