Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
(See more here.)
The late international hero and Nobel Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel recalled a day in Auschwitz in 1945, when Jews awaiting death in a huge crematoria were praying.
Part of Jewish worship includes a Torah scroll being carried around a synagogue sanctuary as worshipers reach out to touch it. (The Torah is the first five books of what we Christians call the Old Testament.)
Because there obviously was no Torah scroll to pass around, Wiesel recalled how the prisoners lifted a little boy and carried him around the room so older worshipers could touch the child–a living symbol of Jewish faith.
That is a story worth recalling not only because it reminds us so much of the horrors of the Holocaust, but it’s a reminder of what deep, serious faith in God is about.
These kinds of Jesus in the White House memes have been circulating on social media lately.
That such memes are blasphemous seems lost on folks. Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To speak truth to power, not to stand at the right hand of President Trump the Father Almighty.
(This just in to News Central: Jesus wasn’t and isn’t even an American. Or a Canadian. Or a Mexican. Or a Belizean. Or a Syrian. Syria at least gets some serious mention in the Bible, however.)
Were a practicing Jew elected to the White House you would never find the likeness of Moses or David posted by Jews on social media. (Of course, there seems to be an unwritten law in the constitution requiring that a President be Christian, or claim he’s Christian even thinks he believes he’s not in any need of repentance or asking God’s forgiveness for any vile thing he does or says.)
Late last year the governor of Oklahoma proclaimed a Prayer Day for the Oklahoma Oil Industry. Prayers and blessings were heaped on the oil-related companies and oil-related workers that God has so richly blessed in the Sooner state. (More on that here.)
It was a feel-good event, all about praise to God for all things oil-related! And don’t get me wrong–there’s nothing wrong about feel-good prayers of praise and joy.
(There was no mention that scientists have absolutely linked a barrage of earthquakes in Oklahoma felt all the way to Dallas are occurring because of fracking. But scientists don’t get much respect these days.)
Presumably, Oklahoma has arrived at such a blessed state that nobody there is in need of Christian prayer and remembrance for the poor, the abused, the homeless, the sick, the prisoners, and all the people on the margins with whom Jesus stood and walked in solidarity while warning the rich at every turn that wealth and power are corruptive forces.
Presumably Oklahoma is not a land of milk and honey, but a land of oil and natural gas money and prosperity.
Christian theology in America (or the bastardized strain of it I call Trumpianity) runs miles wide and one-inch deep.
Jewish theology has always run miles wide and as equally deep, never flinching from taking the daily realities of suffering, evil, life, and death seriously.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and knew a thing or two about suffering, evil, and the Holocaust–who authored volumes of wise words about the theologies of prayer, worship, praise and wonderment and so much more–wrote:
Prayer must never be a citadel for selfish concerns but rather a place for deepening concern over other people’s plight. Prayer is a privilege. Unless we learn how to be worthy, we forfeit the right and ability to pray.
Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods.
(From Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity by Abraham Joshua Heschel)
God bless America and the whole, big wide world.
*More on Trumpianity here.