Flights of Faith

Monday, January 22, 2007

God As Liberatator (Part 3): Everyone's Gift

But who then claims such a contested place like America? Perhaps, this resistance and struggle to redefine the dominant narrative is our collective claim. Each piece of legislation wraps a new tale of incorporation or exclusion while artists try to dismantle the structure further and opt for bigger societal pushes. Although petitioners to the dominant narrative need to respect those who don’t follow its normative paths (either Christianity or the Constitution), it is also important to recognize claims like Laura Tohe’s only attack the oppressor (in this case, Richard Henry Pratt). This makes the claim distant to future populations while the silent apathetic population that let those atrocities happen in the past remains the problem in the present day (ix). Instead, scholars need to actively identify oppressors while also excavating the silent populations from their time period. In this way, we can examine how populations of color challenged their actions through the dominant discourse to reach the widest audience. J.W.C. Pennigton’s account of slavery demonstrates the urgency and fury he had over these people with “lesser problems” whose beliefs somehow absolved them of responsibility. Frustrated by the notion of “kind” and “Christian masters,” Pennigton pointed out that no matter how well they treated their slaves their efforts allowed slavery to exist as a successful economic model. Despite any outward signs of redemption, “[Kind and Christian masters were] not masters of the system. The system [was] a master of them” (Johnson 218).

If Fredrickson’s quote goes uncontested, then so do the countless voices that have negotiated the dominant culture whether it be by attaching personal experience to their religious beliefs, finding “truth” in an artform, or by banding together to claim a space. Western racism is unique; therefore, it invites a unique response that allows populations of color to challenge the dominant discourse by appealing to a mainstream experience and convincing those followers that the dominant discourse, itself, is an illusion unless it contains their voice. This process combines a shared experience with an eventual subversion that acts as a form of resistance the dominant culture can either accept or reject. For Christians, it means “to defend [themselves] against [their] enemy but…also defend [their] faith within the revolutionary process” by never letting the religion become co-opted by colonization or corrupt principalities (Menchu 246). Like the dominant narrative, Christianity should remain the people’s. All people’s.

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