Recent concern over the end of the world just got real here in Oklahoma. And maybe that is a good thing.
We Told On Ourselves
This is not a reference to the recent agreement with Iran over their nuclear program. It is not that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 States including Oklahoma. It is not because we have experienced another Day of Terror like the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. It is not due to the recent Supreme Court Decision that declared we could not display the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds.
Some string together any number of cultural events to point to the impending end of the world, that the apocalypse is upon us. Reactions to President Obama’s visit to Oklahoma signal that right here in the Red-est State in the Union, with one of the highest percentages of those claiming to be Christian, may be a sign of the end.
Some of our neighbors in Oklahoma waved the Confederate Flag while President Obama visited Durant. For those of you not from Southeast Oklahoma it is pronounced, “Dew-rant.” When I heard about this yesterday, I had hopes that the region known as Little Dixie would do better, would have shown more Oklahoma hospitality than Southern racism. Leave it to the Native Americans to show the President hospitality. Thank you Choctaws!
My next thought turned to how those here in Central Oklahoma, the Metro, would receive the President’s overnight stay. Maybe I was subtly hoping we could attribute what happened in Durant as an anomaly. Sadly I woke to find images of people waving their Confederate Flags outside the President’s hotel. You are correct, not all of them were. But, some were.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 16, 2015
We Cannot Hide Behind Individualism, It’s Not Just Oklahomans
One of my friends already posted on Facebook, directed at his out-of-state friends, that those waving flags represent less than 1% of Oklahomans. I so want to believe that. But, no amount of wishful thinking will convince me. The anti-President Obama sentiment is such an ingrained rhetoric in Oklahoma that even if you found some who voted for the President in either of the last two elections, they might be considered museum pieces.
Those who flew Confederate Flags at either event expressed publicly what many say privately. Only ignorance continues to argue the Confederate Flag is a symbol of historical appreciation, especially in the context of a Presidential visit. Why not fly Britain’s Flag? We inherited far more in terms of the formation of our Country from the other side of the Pond than those who lost in the Civil War. Where do you think we learned how to treat Native Americans? African-Americans? Go read a little British History and their colonizing activities.
What we witnessed is cultural, structural, and systemic.
Just this morning I ran across this quote,
“South African pastor and bishop Peter Storey said, “American preachers have a task more difficult, perhaps, than those faced by us under South Africa’s apartheid, or Christians under Communism. We had obvious evils to engage; you have to unwrap your culture from years of red, white, and blue myth. You have to expose, and confront, the great disconnection between the kindness, compassion, and caring of most American people, and the ruthless way American power is experienced, directly and indirectly, by the poor of the earth. You have to help good people see how they have let their institutions do their sinning for them. This is not easy among people who really believe that their country does nothing but good, but it is necessary, not only for their future, but for us all.” (Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, p.361)
We Waved the Wrong Flag
We need the end of the world. Or, in the words of Walter Brueggemann, we need a Word that redescribes the world. We need to Tweet a “Farewell,” to the day when the character of Christian faith gets trumped by its wedding to ideologies that Jesus exposed in his day as selfish and self-serving, one’s that discount the other as valuable.
My young friend Natalie, an Okie in Chicago, offered this reflection this morning,
Time for a new world . . . and a new flag for Christians to fly under.
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