The Truth will set us free!

Complete Peace!
May 26, 2023
Being Commissioned!
June 2, 2023
Complete Peace!
May 26, 2023
Being Commissioned!
June 2, 2023

Last week I read a remarkable book entitled:  The Queen is Dead written by Stan Grant, as I was thinking about what to say for this short reflection for the National Reconciliation Week service here in St Mark’s Anglican Church, Buderim.  This is a reflection to speak to the National Reconciliation Week’s theme for 2023:  A Voice for Generations.  Grant’s critique of racism and Whiteness, his extraordinary life and work experiences, his educated and skillful use of English together with words and concepts from his own language and culture and his painful, costly engagement with the White world reaches into the heart of the reader.  I learned about Whiteness and its cost more clearly than I had before.  I offer deeply appreciative thanks to Stan Grant, for his explanations, his stoicism and his faith. 

In his book, he brings together his Christian faith and his critique on Whiteness, on the murderous impulses of racism which haunt this country and the world, and its causes, its true nature.   In the horror of the story, Grant writes about the overpowering obligation to hold fast to love in the face of genocide, murder, racism, whiteness and the deliberate obliteration and rewriting of history by the Australian white powers.  He refers to one of my favourite Christian theologians, Miroslav Volf, saying:

Miroslav Volf is a man who knows about love and forgiveness, who lived and suffered through the wars of Yugoslavia.  He knows the bitter hatred that exists between Serb and Croat.  He was once asked if he could embrace a Serbian.  In spite of all the conflict and hatred, could he forgive?  No, he said.  But then he said he must.  And it starts with knowing we are each morally divided.  There is a rot deep in our souls, a prowling beast of exclusion.  This inhumanity gave Whiteness its divine purpose in the first place.  It allowed the horrors of invasion and genocide.  But when do we say stop?  When do we forgive?  Forgiveness is not absolution.  Forgiveness is earned.  And if my people offer their forgiveness, the perpetrators must face what they have done.  We must embrace, across our history, across our pain – because in that embrace, Volf tells us, is the struggle for the truth of humanity.  (2023:212)

Grant continued:

Australia has tried to hide from its past.  But my people know the truth.  We were invaded, our ancestors were shot, poisoned, decapitated, and raped.  We were excluded, segregated and locked into missions and reserves where it was assumed we would die out.  Can a nation with such a dark history be redeemed?  Are some things beyond forgiveness?  My faith tells me we should forgive those as we ourselves seek forgiveness.  But God also says there is eternal sin.  There are crimes against man and then there are crimes against God.  God dies where his people die.  God died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.  God died in exterminating wars against Native Americans.  And God died here in the Frontier Wars against my people.  These are crimes against God.  These are eternal sins.  (2023:213-214)

I have included these two lengthy quotes because, as I think about what ‘A Voice for Generations’ means for First Nations peoples in this year of 2023; and in our engagement with The Voice referendum and The Uluru Statement from the Heart, I hear God’s voice, the Word spoken before the universe was created.  ‘Christ is the firstborn of all creation.  For in him all things were created: in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…. The Word is before all things and in the Word, all things hold together.’ (Col.1:15-20)

God spoke and created humanity in God’s image.  God’s Word gave life, not death.  We know also there is no such thing as racial difference based on colour.  Genetics and science have shown us this truth which is still denied by many.  What we have, rather than a supposed difference between white and black, of superiority and inferiority, is rather a history of Whiteness defining White power over others to the most egregious extreme across the world.  The consequent moral injury, on those who have been hurt and also on those who inflict the wounds, is profound and intergenerational.  Simone Weil, a Jewish mystic said only the afflicted know the truth – and the truth is love.   Jesus told us before he died, there was more he had to say, except we could not bear it.  We cannot bear love in all its depth and glory as shown in God’s love for God’s Son and for all God’s People.  Our version of love has continued to kill throughout the two millennia since Christ showed us the Way.

Our non-white Jesus spoke directly about love into the hearts of the afflicted, not to the powers and dominions of the world.  It is this truth about love which had him killed in state-sanctioned murder.  As I listen to our discussions about love and our capacity to express it without limits like God, I know such love is sadly, profoundly political. Only God’s loves give us the necessary strength to go forward in the middle of heartbreak and misery, in the face of ongoing, persistence dispossession of land, genocide, war, terror and man’s persistent inhumanity towards man.   Unless we acknowledge our chosen, deliberate decision to be separate from God on this grim, insidious, overwhelming hatred of the black ‘other’, the Voice to Generations will continue to be one of sorrow, anger, unforgiveness and death; an ongoing moral injury for all of us with no way out – except through God’s love.

Isaiah 65:17-25 offers us the prophetic hope of a new creation.  After more than 200 years of white settlement in Australia, it is time let the Voice of this Generation speak to future generations with love.   We share Grant’s dedication of his book and our own repentant hearts: ‘To Baiame, my Creator, To Jesus Christ, my saviour, To Yindyamarra, the Spirit’.  We know, God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.  May we rekindle the gift of God within us.  (2 Tim.1:6-7)


The Lord be with you.

Bibliography

Grant, S. 2023.  The Queen is Dead.  HarperCollinsPublishers.  Australia Pty Ltd. Sydney, Australia.

Lucy Morris
Lucy Morris
Anglican Priest, International Speaker, Published Author, Social Justice Advocate and Activist.

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