The preacher rattled off, with quasi-liturgical precision, John 3:16, Romans 3:23, and Romans 6:23, verses that long ago became nearly void of meaning to me, and almost was I tempted to judge him for his rigid devotion to "the plan of salvation" as he explained it by rote. But it occurred to me that this was not a barrier to healing in the U.S. Fine for the preacher to preach about how he thought someone could get to heaven as long as he (and it still is always a "he" in the Southern Baptist church) also pounded the pulpit once in a while about sharing the wealth and doing unto others. I am not asking for a full-on Christian-Marxist dialogue, although that would be nice, but how about a little love for all of our neighbors in the world in the here and now.
The pallbearer standing across from me was an African-American southerner. I am a half-brown southerner. The dear old woman in the casket had been a white southern "belle" to the extreme. We all learned to love each other and to work well and equally together. So I am convinced that southern fundamentalism has made and can continue to make some progress about race. But why won't they "let their people go" to union meetings, support the food stamp program, get health care before they qualify for Medicare, and recognize that race prejudice and history is bound up with economic disparity? Because that would start an avalanche that could really change our world. (Just like perhaps having women in more pulpits and priestly robes could lead to better respect for women's rights.)
I am not holding my breath. We will not wait on the fundamentalists of the world to "give" us what is ours by virtue of our humanity--liberty and justice for all. But we would have a much stronger coalition in the U.S. if they would join us. Sad that in the U.S. "we" shall have to overcome the church of my childhood instead of it embracing liberty and justice for all, causes demanded by chapter and verse in its sacred text.
UPDATE (11/26/13): WOWSY. This is an edited version of a comment that I just made at ahumbleopinion's piece on Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation issued today:
The writings of the late Father Jean Yves Calvez, a Jesuit, are invaluable for insights into the Jesuit analysis of liberation theology, Marxism, and other related matters that has greatly influenced Pope Francis. (See also the similar non-Jesuit views of the late Bishop Paulose Mar Paulose of the Chaldian Syrian Church in Kerala, India.)
In a nutshell, the legalists of this world have turned matters upside down. Love is to inspire our understanding of justice, and this expanded understanding of justice is to lead to revisions to our laws to catch up to love. Instead, under capitalism, we virtually worship the laws given to us by (often racist) founding fathers and further impressed upon legislatures by the powerful, these laws become fixed against the powerless, our understanding of justice is stilted and mostly that of the powerful, and the poor are unloved.
One must watch out for the limitations of democracy, eloquently described by the protestant Reinhold Niebuhr.
Pope Francis, unlike many clerics, is keenly aware that, as Billy Bragg sings, "the third world is just around the corner."
SECOND UPDATE (11/26/13): And who can forget this timeless End-Times classic?: