We Make the Road by Walking
October 16, 2017
In Chapter 6 McLaren talks about Abram and Sara. He writes-
“So the story of Abram and Sara’s unique identity tells us something powerful about God’s identity, too: God is not the tribal deity of one group of “chosen“ people. God is not for us and against all others. God is for us and for them, too. God loves everyone everywhere, no exceptions.
And this story also tells us something about true faith. Faith is stepping off the map of what’s known and making a new road by walking into the unknown. It’s responding to God’s call to adventure, stepping out on a quest for goodness, trusting that the status quo isn’t as good as it gets, believing a promise that a better life is possible.”
I wasn’t expecting the “us” and “them” issues to come up until I arrive in Australia. I should have known better. In American Samoa I went to a small museum on the history of the island. The guide pointed out the portraits of the governors beginning in 1944. They were all European until two years ago when the people were allowed to elect their own governor. That was a Samoan. For centuries the island had functioned well with tribes and chiefs. A deep faith had grown through the generations as stories were passed along explaining nature and creation and life and death. But “us” decided that “them” needed our form of government and our religious traditions. Fiji was much the same with the “us” being the French. Over and over again when the islanders are asked about a tradition or way of life they begin the explanation with, “before the missionaries came” or “that changed when the Europeans arrived”.
It is also clear that when the invaders first arrived on these islands the residents were the “us” and the invaders were the “them”. I talked with a woman about cannibalism which was a common practice and did not completely end until the 1960’s. She was very clear that cannibalism was an act of self-defense that tribes used against enemies. It was an act of war, not a way of life. Most people are very sensitive about this topic. Their explanations remind me of the explanations used to defend enhanced interrogation methods.
McLaren on page 29- “our faith must always be open to correction, enhancement, and new insight. That’s why humility is so essential for all who speak of God.” This is one of my favorite reasons to travel. It is a privilege to hear from people who see the world differently than me, people who experience God in different ways, people who find life and wholeness in ways I have never considered. I thought I was visiting some lovely South Pacific Islands to enjoy the beaches and do some snorkeling. I am blessed by all they have to offer me beyond that.