Losing place…

I caught myself the other day responding to the cultural zeitgeist of pro- and anti-anything that doesn’t smack of mythical-America (a bucolic rendition of the 1950’s era that centers on male White Anglo-Saxon Protestants and doesn’t consider the plight of anyone not in positions of political, economic, or cultural power – anyone other than male WASP’s). I’m not a liberal, but I am a Christian. That means that my focus is not (or should not be!) on the accumulation of power or wealth or the fear-based need to protect and preserve what I do have.
I’m a male WASP, and I know I have benefited from what some liberals like to call my “skin-privilege,” and I suppose I could add to that my “gender-privilege” or perhaps even my “religion-privilege.” From my tending-towards-libertarian-conservative perspective, I react negatively to notions like “skin privilege” and the politically correct demands that all people of the world have to be uncritically accepted and loved and esteemed regardless of the actual outcomes of their philosophies, beliefs, or actions. (I know that few people, even the most politically-correct minded liberals, do not say that we should be uncritical, but the way it works out in the world suggests this is the end result.)
I believe, in general, that the free-enterprise system and competition help the most people, that Western Civilization despite its flaws is still the best why of conceiving of life in the world, that all cultures are not equal, that the cult of Self-Esteem particularly evident in American educational pedagogies is counter productive, that there are differences in the sexes, and that I don’t have to feel guilty for the atrocities that past generations have perpetrated against the vulnerable – those non-WASP’s who had no power. Oh, and I believe that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God and the only way to the Father, despite the idiocy of many of His followers – myself included.
Okay, so that is my very culturally-current American way of thinking. Shoot fire, we are the greatest thing the world has ever seen and we are God’s very own blessed people and the world – every last human bein’ in the world – should just bend over backwards with gratitude that they can walk on the same planet that we Americans dominate! But, then comes the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Suddenly, this very American way of thinking doesn’t seem so good and right. Hyper-individualism, hyper-materialism, hyper-busyness, hyper-selfishness, the drive for hegemony and empire, the loss of the sense of community, the repudiation of self-reflection and education, the push for banality in our cultural life, and the growing inability to love our neighbors as we certainly love ourselves just doesn’t seem very workable or attractive any longer. Is there any wonder why so many people in the world are rejecting so much of what we have come to represent – contrary to the high-minded ideals we like to think we project to the world?
If I am serious about being a follower of Jesus, then I have to lay aside all these notions. As a Christian whose home is not here, may American identity is irrelevant; my desire to attain and preserve power or privilege is inappropriate; my proclivity to indulge my lusts of whatever sort and be undisciplined is perverse; my selfishness is destructive; and the fear that grips me as those who have traditionally been marginalized gain more power and influence is very sad and dead wrong with regard to the call of Jesus to be a servant to all people. The two greatest Commandments – To love God with my entire being and then to Love my neighbor as myself – are profoundly difficult and profoundly contrary to the present culture in which I find myself.
I am losing my place in this world – that place that has traditionally been granted to male WASP’s. How will I respond? I hope I will respond in the way of Jesus’ example. I caught myself responding with indignation (really out of fear). How will I respond, tomorrow? What opportunities and freedoms will be realized by my loss?