Kill Your Masters print

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Printed from a 4x6 lino block on hand-torn 8x10 250 gsm BFK Rives cotton paper.

You might know I think about the Bible and Christianity sometimes. I don't want to practice what Frederick Douglass called "slaveholder religion" and I want to embrace the God that James Baldwin said he conceived of as "a means of liberation and not a means to control others." 

Here are some thoughts that went into this piece, in no particular order:

1. Enslaved people in the US were given Bibles that had lots of the good bits about slave rebellions and such cut out but had that "Slaves, obey your masters," bit still in there. I don't believe slaves should obey their masters.

2. The story of Jael driving a tent peg through Sisera's skull never shows up anywhere in the revised common lectionary. Sisera was the commander of the army of King Jabin, who had enslaved the Israelites. Omissions of texts like this help perpetuate toxic notions of "biblical womanhood" that don't include driving a stake through the brain of your oppressor.

3. There's this notion that "Old Testament" God is bad and mean while New Testament God is nice nice nice. This is antisemitic. There's a reason so many enslaved people in the so-called United States found such solace in the God who led the enslaved out of slavery, who handed a mighty commander of an enslaving army into the hands of a woman. 

4. There's a narrative that no protest, demonstration of power, etc. staged by Black people is legitimate unless it is non-violent, destroys no property, disrupts no commerce, etc. This is racist. The same standards are never applied to the government that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr rightly called "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.

5. Some passages of Scripture just aren't good for us. You can do the little dance of "Oh, in this context, 'Women, remain silent...' really meant..." but heck, why not just say we don't worship a collection of books, waste less of our time doing linguistic gymnastics to defend a tradition we should be repenting for, and join the liberation struggle.

May the Spirit of St John Brown be upon all allies in the justice struggle, and may the God of Jael and Deborah empower all of the oppressed in their struggle for freedom. In the name of Christ our Savior who is present in all who are hungry, downtrodden, imprisoned, and enslaved, we pray. Amen.