Sympathize or demonize?
Loving the other?
Common place and space
Intention of time and talent
New forms of riches
Lisa Sharon Harper is a black female theologian and she reflects on the fact that confession is contrary to power... let's let that sit with us for a moment... When we are vulnerable, open to sharing that which makes us broken or disconnected, society tells us we are weak and have no power.
In Alberta, an energy rich and producing province, resource extraction brings power and influence.
Recently there was a report that threats to political figures making decisions about this industry, were once again spiking; largely against women. That is crazy! We need women to lead around the next bend in the path, we need a new perspective in a power dynamic that has been predominantly white male for the past half century. I don't know who they are going to be in Alberta but there are theologians, speakers and writers like Lisa Sharon Harper, Erna Hackett and Sandra Maria Van Opstal, who are forging fearlessly ahead.
... let's go back... Vulnerability, love and humble service is contrary to power. One of the big reasons I believe that is true is because the openness and giving up, the sharing of our brokenness, is not weakness, it's what brings us freedom. It is what makes us know we are human and in need of living in community with others who can walk a path of healing together. The thing that causes the power inbalance is when the one listening to the confession passes judgement. Time and time again, individuals play the role of judge within our cultures, communities, churches and even our own physicality. But how many times are we told not to judge in the Bible? Who has Jesus taught us is the ultimate confessional listener? And even He is quick to forget and move on.
This power imbalance plays out in our spiritual lives and to become more spiritual is to become more human in community. God did it when he because human, born of flesh and blood in the lowest position of power possible (both physically and culturally). One way to explore power dynamics and power shifts, is a concept called decolonizing the Bible, our faith and other aspects of our lives. Would we even consider what decolonizing our tithes and offerings might mean? Give money to Indigenous led, Indigenous focused service agencies? The power balance also plays out in the physical world, so we need to learn how it affects our bodies, the environment and the systems that control everything from education, health care, resource extraction and food production.
In the words of Brenda Salter McNeil, most of the imbalance of power has negatively affected women around the world and when examining country after country, those left to heal the broken communities devastated by injustice; are the women. They will lead our communities to healing and growth, if we can only open our ears, minds and heart to follow them.