This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations I serve.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

People of Faith Unite!

Standing Rock Reflection.1

At Standing Rock, we prayed.  The clergy who showed up were wildly diverse, including nearly all kinds of Christians — Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal — along with leaders from Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and other communities.  And of course, we were all invited by the elders of the Sioux tribe, and led by them in their traditional prayer and worship.  It was a broadly ecumenical and widely interfaith assemblage.
We all prayed together at this barricade across Rt. 1806.  On the other side were uniformed, militarized police, there to guard and escort those constructing an oil pipeline cutting a black scar across the landscape.
The distinction could not have been more stark.  On one side, leaders from the united spiritual traditions of the world.  On the other side, the forces of violence in the name of greed.   First, there is violence against the earth, not just in the pipeline, prone as pipelines are to breaking and poisoning land and water, but in the extractive technologies used to get the oil, and the fact that the whole point is to burn it and aggravate the catastrophic warming of the atmosphere.  Second, there is the violence against the native peoples who have lived on this land for untold generations, and who were promised it in several treaties, which were then casually and cynically broken by the government. 
This is the division in the world today.  Any apparent rivalries between religious traditions is insignificant and irrelevant, compared with the fundamental threat we all face from the regime of wanton destruction in the name of profit that now dominates the planet.  We of different spiritual traditions certainly have our disagreements.  But we have in common a spiritual perspective which understands transcendence, value, beauty, and wholeness in creation.  This is denied by forces which basically reduce creation to “resources” to be exploited in order to make investors rich, with no concern for the degradation of the land, water, air, animals, or people.  
In this conflict, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others are united in prayer with Native peoples on behalf of God’s creation.  The creation binds us together, as does our common faith in a spiritual dimension to life.  The enemies of creation are the enemies of all of us, and of the Creator.  
Christians have already seen their once deadly differences mostly dissolve.  At the very least we allow that we all worship the same Lord Jesus Christ.  The time has now come for Christians to recognize and embrace as well the commonality we share with other faiths.  The various religions of the world have more in common with each other than they have with the funders and builders of pipelines.  Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Native Americans, and Christians are not enemies but allies, on the same side of the barricade, praying together.  The real enemy, the real threat to all spirituality, morality, faith, justice, and life itself, is a rapacious, extractive, predatory economic regime based on greed, gluttony, fear, violence, and hatred. 
This means that an assault on one is an assault on all.  At Standing Rock it is the faith of Native peoples that is being attacked.  But where- and whenever spiritual and religious communities are subjected to unfair regulation or harassment, even by governments, or when churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques are actually attacked and burned, we need to realize that this is aimed at all people of faith.
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