Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The making of kings

To be on the winning side. This is what is important in today’s world, and when has it not been? As a Christian I notice this emotion rising in me when I hear of some new outrage being perpetrated in the social or political sphere. I temporarily forget that I am a follower of Jesus who says ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and spitefully use you.’ I join the bandwagon inwardly, even if I don’t express my indignation outwardly.

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, at the time not yet an integral part of the United States, just a convenient colony where we could muster our naval resources, after the initial shock of having been attacked, something we hadn’t experienced since the War of 1812, the country turned its collective eyes on States-side Japanese and Americans of Japanese descent, and took action. They were rounded up and relocated to internment camps.

My guess in retrospect is that very few, if any, Japanese in America were actually rooting for and collaborating with the Empire of Japan’s plans to create a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere 大東亞共榮圏 Dai-to-a Kyo-ei-ken. The Japanese attack was never intended to be a first step in taking over the United States, only an ill-advised puppy nip at a big baby’s face that resulted in that big baby dropping the biggest bomb ever on that pup.

If I had been alive then, would I have gone along with the internment order and watched my Japanese grocer or next door neighbor have to close up shop, board up his house, and leave with his family and a few suitcases to live somewhere far away for who knows how long? As a Christian, judging by what other Christians did at the time, my guess is, yes, I probably would’ve accepted it, trusting that the American government knew best how to keep me safe.

I am alive now, and a danger of far greater magnitude has encroached on the safety not only of America but of the whole world. That danger is not a gentle genii that we awoke from its slumber by rubbing its lamp, though it was asleep. It hasn’t emerged to grant us our wishes, but exactly the opposite. It emerged from a religious community which, more than any other, has had a history of violence both internal and external, and now that violence is directed against me.

No, my next door neighbor doesn’t belong to this religion, but I see its adherents everywhere I go in my neighborhood and my town. In fact, I possibly only notice the females of the species that go out only in full body covering, and many of them don’t. I’ve never personally been threatened by any of them, at least in recent times. A fellow student when I was in college said he’d kill me if ever I said the name of his prophet again in a disrespectful manner. I can’t remember the context.

That fellow student stayed in America. I met him online after over forty years. He married a co-religionist, raised a family, and is now a retired grandfather. After meeting me again, he backed off, or maybe just couldn’t see the point of really being friends after so many years. I have felt the same way. I think, though, that he is the same person I knew back then, just as I think I’m the same person who must’ve mentioned the prophet too lightheartedly. People don’t really change.

Now the menace we’re faced with is, in my opinion, far greater than that posed by Japan’s imperialist ambitions, and people are being roused to take measures. I find myself agreeing with their proposals, because in this situation, my Christianity retreats to the paper it’s written out on and which I avoid reading, but I can’t keep from hearing the voice. That voice speaks the words of Jesus, even if spoken to ears that are deaf to it, but mine aren’t, and I grieve.

I grieve because I too want to be on the winning side, so easily forgetting that I am already on the only winning side that wins permanently—the side of Christ. That side not only endured all the sins of every human creature from first to last who walked, walks, or ever shall walk the earth, as the lance was plunged into His suffering flesh, but the wound we opened in it became our refuge from our crimes, and the entrance to a new life that has neither beginning nor end.

Above and beyond the half-measures we take to save ourselves from our enemies in this world, He who in enduring all our fears along with all our self-inflicted punishments as He hung on the Tree, reigned, reigns, and shall always reign, King and, yes, God, by being, by becoming everything that for us in our human weakness is unthinkable, unimaginable, unendurable, yet which is also for us, the making of the new humanity, in us and in all people, the making of kings.

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