Sacred Duplicity

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I offered this poem I wrote to our church as a lament during our Race Relations Sunday service. And here I offer it again, understanding the role of lament and an honest examination of our current reality – and our history – to move us forward. 

Sacred Duplicity
America!
The proverbial land flowing with milk and honey
Cookie cutter of Rome’s eternal city
God’s dwelling place now that the temple has been destroyed
Anointed and Chosen
To wreak havoc upon the earth

You defame the name of God
The way you treat God’s people
Stealing some, killing others, marginalizing all
For the sake of your sacred dollar

The annals of history are full
With names and faces who you have crushed to have your own way
Escaping your own hell
You’ve created it for others
No need for seven years of tribulation
Evil is alive and well right here

You exonerate yourselves with pious language
Hiding behind pretentious platitudes and prayers
As if God would look past your misdeeds of racism and white supremacy if you put his name on it
As if God wouldn’t care about the stolen lands and stolen bodies
And hungry bellies
And polluted waters
If you shouted and danced hard enough
Like the prophets of Baal

But God can’t hear you over the harrowing screams of black and brown folks
Whose sons and daughters lay dead in the streets
And whose mothers they cannot afford to feed
And whose fathers are dying because they don’t have health insurance
And whose family is being deported unless 45 gets his wall
And whose sisters and brothers and play cousins live under the constant threat of death and destruction because their very bodies testify against the misdeeds of a country that claims to love God so much while hating God’s people

And still you have the sheer audacity to get upset when we grow indignant
When football players take a knee
When we march through the streets chanting and screaming
And burn down your cities

You come up out of yourselves when we block freeways
Call us thugs when we shut down malls
Shoot rubber bullets at us when we protest your building projects
Arrest us when we protest their laws

As if we should take the violence
And constant degradation
And just roll over
And let massa hit us once more
As if silence is more godly than resistance
As if complancey will get us closer to freedom than demanding liberation

America, not beautiful
You have always been hell to me
We see through your ruse and find you wanting
We see through the lies and find you deeply scarred

Won’t you consider for just a moment
God’s imminent judgment
Won’t you repent
Put on sackcloth and ashes
Wedge yourself in between the altar
And lament over all that you have done

Won’t you turn from your evil ways
And loose the chains of slavery that you have been holding onto so tightly
And make amends with those you have destroyed
And provide food, housing, and water to those you have ripped off

This is what repentance looks like
You see, this is what religion consists of
This is the sacrifice that pleases God
Everything else, well everything else, is nothing more than sacred duplicity

 

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