If someone didn’t pick it up from reading the bible, all one would need to do is look around (or inward) to see that we are comprehensively cracked and broken people. We are so distant and apathetic toward God, that it is embarrassing. Then of course, there a many of us who disregard God’s existence and imprint on all creation all together.
Our relationships with others is fractured as well. We lie, steal, commit adultery, become jealous, divide, hate, and kill one another. For those that do not commit those more outwardly vicious acts, let it play out inwardly with their thoughts and emotions. The damage we do to one another is clear evidence of our broken state.
Of course, we do not only do things to others, but we also have things done to us as well. We are betrayed, picked on, lied to, abused, mistrusted, and manipulated by others, leaving us even more damaged than we already were. Not to mention the harm that we do to ourselves as well, self hatred and self deceit, insecurities and fear, pride and ego, laziness, gluttony, and the list can go on and on. In the end we are left like a self contained island of disaster.
I would be wrong to ignore how we relate communally and globally as well. Because as messed up people, we make decisions that affect whole communities and other people groups all around the world. We are greedy, hoarding for ourselves and leaving little to nothing for others, we are apathetic towards others sufferings, we step on the powerless for our own gain. We stereotype others into villains, so that we might justify our actions against them, and we make distinctions from our own group, so that some can receive special privileges. All of this leaves our society systemically and structurally impaired.
We are comprehensively cracked and broken in every possible way and dimension. This is not a Calvinist piece on our total depravity, so we can sit around in a circle and dis on ourselves as a form of religious piety. Rather, I wonder how many places there are available for cracked and broken people to come together. My experience is that sadly the church is the last place where people can come together honestly and authentically, sharing their vulnerabilities and weak points. In church, we would rather put on a show as though we are perfect and deal with every situation with ease and grace because we are too blessed to be stressed.
How might we begin creating space where people can be transparent and authentic with one another in our brokenness. How might we lead others into cracked community, so that healing might take place? Freestyle with me…
Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD
Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well.
Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance.
His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign.
Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today.
His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action.
Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo.
Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.
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2 thoughts on “Cracked… Part 1”
Great question and post.
The answer to your question is prayer.
It seems too easy of answer, but I believe true authentic prayer with other believers is the answer.
The church provides a space and opportunity where we can gather together and pray for each other. If the church can create this space, I believe in the promises of God that He will be in that space. If people have the courage to be able to share their thanksgivings, praise, requests, brokenness and sorrows to name a few, the church will be amazed how great our God is. If we as a church prayer together, we all would be first hand witness of how God heals our brokenness and creates a community of loving people.
I would encourage every church to begin to think how they can incorporate prayer into their body’s life. Although it seems very basic, sometime we have to go back 2 the basics.
I agree that communal prayer is the starting point, especially since communication with God is critical for spiritual healing. But it would be a bit misleading to suggest that all of our problems are a result of spiritual or moral depravity. There are also structural forces, such as class exploitation, gender subordination, systemic racism, to name but a few, that does considerable damage to our souls.
So in addition to prayer, I would counsel folks to be active in making our circumstances better so that we create the conditions necessary for our spirits to flourish and blossom. Building in communities that are mired in poverty is qualitatively different than building community in an area where resources abound. This is not to say that great things have not been accomplished by people and communities that have been marginalized, quite the opposite. But we need to take action (dismantling injustices) so that we can be in a better position to better ourselves and the communities in which we inhabit.