The Sins of a Nation

The Sins of a Nation

I’m honored to be part of a new blog series about racial reconciliation, hosted by Alexis Goring, focused on how we as Christians can be the change we want to see in our world. In preparation for this, I’ve been reading a few books to help me better understand the history of the racial tensions in the western world, America in particular—beyond just the obvious. One of the books I’m reading is Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison. It’s a great read in general, and one section in particular has really resonated with me. Especially, I think, because it’s something I hadn’t always understood.

Corporate sin. Corporate grief over it. Corporate repentance.

What do I mean by that?

Well, we all know that our country’s history isn’t exactly stellar when it comes to things like how we treat minorities. I distinctly remember learning about not only slavery but relations with the Native Americans in the first few hundred years of our history and feeling this deep shame. I was probably twelve or so when this hit me. Not because I’d studied it in school, but because I was reading fiction set on the prairie—Christian fiction that showed me so clearly how real people were, no matter their culture or appearance. I was just a kid, but I remember thinking, “Things like this make me ashamed to be white. How could people have treated others so?”

Was it me who committed those atrocities and sins? No. But I firmly believe it’s important that we as individuals grieve, lament, and repent of such things. First because it will keep us from committing the same atrocities and sins—judging people as less than us because of their culture or appearance. Second because it helps us empathize with others who suffered them. Third, because I am still benefiting by the atrocities “my people” committed. And finally because until a group as a whole repents of something a group as a whole did, healing can’t happen.

We see the example for this all through the Bible. Who cried out for mercy on behalf of Israel? Prophets. Are they the ones guilty of the sins for which they’re repenting? Of forsaking God? Of worshipping idols? Of selling out their beliefs for physical things? NO. Of course not. So why was it the prophets taking responsibility for this sin they’d spent their lives warning people against? I’d never taken the time to really consider this.

That it is the RIGHTEOUS who cry out to God on behalf of their nation.

It is the RIGHTEOUS who lament the falling away before the Lord.

It is the RIGHTEOUS who willingly speak for the sinners, who claim that WE have sinned, that WE have angered God, that WE have done wrong, and that WE need forgiveness. Not THEY. WE.

Why we? Because a nation is not just a collection of individuals. A nation is a group that has a shared identity. That rises and falls together.

I find it infinitely curious that American Christians are so quick to identify as a nation in one respect, when it comes to claiming blessings and supremacy…but we largely ignore a corporate claiming of sin. When we’re talking about that part—about our nation’s failings, about the great divide that exists, about the violence and rage running through our core—it’s usually THEY.

THEY who have fallen away. THEY who turn to violence. THEY who cling to hate.

Here’s the thing, my friends. We cannot expect THEM—the unbelievers—to turn to God and repent until WE, the Christ followers, cry out to God on behalf of our nation. Repent on behalf of our nation. Humble OURSELVES on behalf of our nation.

Then—only then—will God heal our land.

I hear so many believers crying out for a change in circumstances. Begging God to put an end to the violence, the racial struggle, to “help them see reason.” What I don’t see nearly enough of is believers seeking a genuine healing. Willing to take responsibility. Willing to change any part of their own lives to help this change happen.

We may march on Washington and pray. But do we ever look at the people historically oppressed and apologize? We may ask God to change things. But do we offer a sacrifice of our own things to help it happen? We may recognize the sin all around us. But do we claim it as our own and fall before Him, begging for atonement?

This nation has a lot to repent of. A lot to atone for. And until we recognize that infection still eating away at our core, we have no hope of true healing. But until we seek HEALING, rather than just relief of symptoms, those symptoms will not—CANNOT—go away. They may quiet for a while, but the infection will erupt again. It’s the nature of the thing.

It rubs us the wrong way to think that we might have to pay for what someone else did. But we found our entire faith on just that, don’t we? That Christ could, should have, and did pay for our sins. He took on the guilt. The responsibility. The punishment.

We are called to be like Christ.

Lord my God, we have sinned. We have fallen away from You. We seek our own instead of our neighbors’, and certainly instead of Yours. We profit from situations founded on sin. We cling to our gods of money and security instead of Your hand. Forgive us, Father. Forgive us. Show us how to love as You love. To reach out as Jesus did. Teach us how to cleanse our own hearts, our families, our communities, and our nations of the foul stench of hatred and greed. Show us how to truly be like Christ. How to #BeBetter. In His precious name, Amen.

Mock Latin Words 4

Mock Latin Words 4

Nearly through our Mock Latin series! I just have one more week of them after this one. 😉

Today we begin with a word I have used all the time, never realizing it was one of these “fake” constructions!

DiscombobulateSo obviously this is a fun word, which is why I use it all the time. But I didn’t realize it was made up to sound Latin! This word dates from 1834 and means “to upset or embarrass. The original form was actual discombobricate, which I didn’t know.

Confusticatethis one is not only mock-Latin, it’s also meant to mock the people saying it, which could open a whole other can of worms. Meant to imitate confound or confuse, this word first appeared in 1852 in a passage of a book as “Negro dialect.” I do find it interesting that this one was meant to make fun by implying that the speaker thought it was a real, intelligent word, while it’s in the pattern of so many other mock-Latin words that were funny because everyone knew they were fanciful and fabricated. Just goes to show how intent matters…

 

Come back next week for the final installment!

Mock Latin Words 3

Mock Latin Words 3

Time for the third installment of the Mock Latin series!

Omnium gatherum ~ So technically, this one is only partly “mock.” 😉 Omnium is indeed a Latin word for “of all things.” Kind of like miscellaneous. In the 1520s (this one is OLD!), people came up with the humorous addition of gatherum to put with it, just from the English “gather.” So of course if you gather all things, you end up with a motley collection, which is exactly what this phrase means. =)

Harum-scarum ~ This phrase actually originated in the 1670s as harum-starum. The harum part is taken from the verb “to harry or harrass,” and then the scarum was added mostly just to rhyme. The -um endings are abbreviations of “them,” the whole phrase meant to be a humurous mock-Latin that would quite literally mean “to harrass and scare them.”

 

Two installments left in my Mock series!

 

 

Throwback Thursday – When History Was Tragedy

Throwback Thursday – When History Was Tragedy

This week…I am taking a MUCH needed vacation. So I pulled something from the archives to share today. Typically, when I pull an archived post, I pull a Thoughtful post…but this one struck me today. Post first published 8/10/2014.

 

Much of my last week has been consumed by Veiled at Midnight, the next book WhiteFire will put out–and the last one this year, other than my A Soft Breath of Wind. I know I already touched briefly on this in my Word of the Week post, but it bears talking about more. Because oh my goodness. This book…
 
In the first book of Christine Lindsay’s Twilight of the British Raj series, I was introduced to India, with all its vastness, its crowds, its spices and colors and dizzying politics. I got a taste of the British Raj (rule) and what it meant to the Indians, and I met a villain who kept the characters on their toes. In the second book, I learned more about the struggle between the Sikhs, the Muslims, the Hindus, and the minority of Christians. About the sweeping epidemics and the lingering effects of World War I.
 
In this book, I saw a nation destroyed by its cry for independence. I saw neighbor turn on neighbor because of their religion, places of peace become fields of battle. The author, in her historical note, says that low estimates of the number of civilians killed in the riots surrounding the Partition that separated India and Pakistan was 20,000. High estimates are close to 1,000,000.
 
This is not a happy backdrop. It’s tragic, it’s suffocating, and it’s…true.
 
So why do I love the book? For the same reason I usually love a book. Because somehow there’s hope amidst the tragedy. Somehow there’s the power of love–our love for each other and Christ’s love for us–overcoming, here and there, the power of hate. Somehow the characters find their true identities, their true worth, their true strength, when the streets are flowing red with blood.
 
That’s one of the themes of the book, actually. Red. Dassah, our Indian heroine, wanted a red sari for her wedding, because red is the color of Joy. But as violence took over her land, red became associated with blood instead. The color of violence, of death, of tragedy. But then, eventually, another thought occurs. Red is also the color of Another’s blood that was shed, and shed to save us.
 
I didn’t know much about the Partition before I read Veiled at Midnight, but wow, did I learn a lot–in that organic way that has always been why I love historical fiction. I got to meet some historical figures, and I got to view the riots through many sets of eyes, all with different views but a shared love for India, a shared pain at her suffering.
 
Best-selling author MaryLu Tyndall had the right of it when she said, “Rarely do I find a book that touches my soul in such a deep place.” This one’s going to stick with me for a long, long time.
Mock Latin Words 2

Mock Latin Words 2

Today we’re continuing our Mock Latin series with a few more totally fabricated, totally joke words that make me smile. =)

CruciverbalistOur first word is actually quite new, dating from 1977. If you look at the parts of the word, we have the roots crux which means “cross” and verbum which means “word.” So…yep. Crossword. A cruciverbalist is someone who creates crossword puzzles! How fun is that?!

Olde – Okay, this isn’t mock Latin per se, but it is mock-archaic. Did you know that this form of “old” was totally made up in the 1880s?? I had no idea! But yep, olde was never actually a spelling of old. People came up with it solely to be cute while imitating archaic spellings.

 

Installment three will come next week!