Author: Vera Soliman

When the ivory tower replaces the throne of God

It’s hard to get through the day without a good bout of consciousness-raising or thirty. You’d have to be an anarcho-primitivist hermit to miss any newspaper, television news program or social network mention of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, or Eric Garner. We’ve heard their names and know their stories.These men of color have changed the way some see police, their own neighbors, and the criminal justice system as a whole. Protests continue to be held around the country; sometimes violent, but generally peaceful. Now, well-meaning whites have armed themselves not with guns, but with hashtags, flooding the #CrimingWhileWhite Twitter feed with righteous confessionals intended to illustrate the disparity between the way whites and blacks are treated by police.

Will these protests, rallies, boycotts or Twitter confessions effect real change at every level of our criminal justice system to the satisfaction of activists? I don’t think anyone can claim to know for sure.

But one thing is certain: Nothing is perfect. These well-crafted and well-intentioned tweets are being hailed as privilege-checking by some and denounced as flaunting white privilege by others. (What a legitimate role for white bodies in civil rights activism, if it exists, would look like is beyond the scope of this essay.) Still, some popular symbols of solidarity expressed range from donning a hoodie and skittles in honor of Trayvon Martin to the (apocryphal) “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” stance in honor of Michael Brown.

Others have taken this opportunity to reflect on other areas of life supposedly affected by current social unrest. The most interesting, to me, is religion. Not surprisingly, Christianity is a major target. Secular piety compels me to throw in a line here like “and I don’t blame them for blaming Christianity one bit, it’s totally reasonable to doubt your faith in light of things like this.” But I will not, because it simply is not true. This is not insensitive or closed-minded, as many would like you to believe.

Fellow Christians, do not allow others to convince you that you should reject your beliefs because they may differ from the worldview of those calling your beliefs into question. We could just as well respond that it is time for those people to reconsider their conception of our beliefs. These agitators’ prejudices are likewise in need of reflection.

Barbra Sostaita, a Masters Student at Yale Divinity School, Young Voices Advocate and Former Students For Liberty Campus Coordinator offers this lamentation on the failure of a grand jury to indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing Michael Brown in self-defense: “As I look around me, I directed my grief to the paintings and statues of Jesus displayed prominently in the room. Where is your justice, My God? You call yourself the Prince of Peace but the blood of my brother cries out to me from the ground and you are astoundingly silent.”

What I find so bothersome about this is not the outright sacrilege of one of the 7 sentences uttered by our Savior in his final hour on earth, it is rather that Barbara has equated her own conception of justice with that of the will of God.