Do you follow Lent? If yes, what do you usually give up? According to its lawn sign, which was targeted by Turning Point USA (TPA), a church in Chicago has found a rather carnal aspect to avoid while celebrating the “true” meaning of Easter. To commemorate the 40 days during which Jesus fasted, the First United Church of Oak Park is “Fasting from Whiteness.”
On the worship center's website, a “Statement on Lent 2022 Theme” is available. “Our Lenten theme has spurred considerable discussion, with some people questioning the message.”
But they explain their intentions: “As we practiced the Lenten spiritual discipline of fasting, the goal was to put aside our traditional frameworks of reference and to allow ourselves to hear and absorb the Gospel gospel through the voice of Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Color.”
Inclusion of all people, excluding white people, will result in the following: “Our services of worship during Lent were diverse and beautiful. We ask that God seals the doors of our heart's hinges, so that they may open with grace to be able to experience the joy of Christ's resurrection that we all anticipate as we near the end of Lent.”
According to TPA, the church has pledged to avoid music scores and liturgical elements in worship services “written or composed by white people” during the 40-day period of Lent.
On its website and according to a notice posted at the front of its property, the First United Church of Oak Park is “Fasting from Whiteness” by featuring worship songs that “will be drawn from the African American spirituals tradition, from South African freedom songs, from Native American traditions, and many, many more.”
This situation is reminiscent of a recent talk given at Pittsburgh's Catholic Carlow University, during which the speaker urged Christians to “crucify their whiteness.”
Over the past couple of years, we've all been warned about the corruption that's the Present Caucasian Quality through content such as “Political Science: Academics Defend the ‘Whiteness' of Introductory Physics,” “A Whistleblower Provides a Racial Justice Leçon from Coca-Cola: ‘Try to be less white',” “BYU Professor Orders Students to take photos of their campus ‘Whiteness’” and so on.
With such a large number of white Americans, one can only imagine a sweep based on extreme, savage methods. This may not be far from the truth. Mental Health Journal's article on “Parasitic Whiteness” laments that there's “Not Yet an End-to-End Cure.” And then there was the UC Berkeley professor who told students that removing whiteness meant wiping out white people.
When America's Christian churches begin to smack at the “pale pandemic,” they're officially confirming that whiteness and wickedness are the same. In the case of oppression, First United has taken a strong stand. Based on a photo supplied through Turning Point, a March 29th “evotional” (electronic devotional?) is a sermon that indicates that as the church seeks to celebrate this holiday celebration, “we celebrate our break [with] whiteness during this Lent by emphasizing… the voices of Pastor and Chief of Staff Bruce Reyes-Chow in the pages of his book ‘In Defense of Kindness’…”
Pastor Bruce discusses the lessons he learned after witnessing the selfishness of a high-status person caught in a traffic jam caused by Black Lives Matter protestors. “The manner in which we act with kindness is contingent on our social environment and experiences, our culture and even privilege. Also, it's not a good idea to say that someone dissident and angry [should] not behave ‘civil’ or ‘appropriate’… If acts of kindness and demands for civility are motivated by economic, social, or racial advantages, these acts are usually focused on doing what is necessary to preserve the status quo, not about making a difference for those in need… This call for civility is dangerous.”
According to this viewpoint, there have been insufficient protections and safeguards with respect to the rights and civil liberties of those of color, women or LGBTQIA+ individuals and countless other groups who have taken to the streets to protest against injustice and unfair practices that they feel need to be recognized. The expressions of kindness during times of social change and public protests should be focused on those looking for justice and freedom–not on the people who are privileged and whose lives will be altered by the leveling of the playing field or corrections to the disparities in access and power.
The conclusion: Say “no” to privilege. Also, say “no” to whiteness.