Sunday, May 13, 2012

In 1963 Bob Dylan sang "Only a Pawn in Their Game" about the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Mississippi by the Klan. Though it is a protest song, what is important to note is that Dylan astutely blames not the shooter, nor even the Klan, but "they" who run and rule the "game" of how society is structured and for whose benefit. He's put his finger on what the Bible calls "the principalities and powers."

These mysterious beings/powers (however we describe/define them)were created by God to establish and maintain conditions for the flourishing of human life. These powers rebelled against God thus diminishing and damaging the very conditions and structures under which we were to live and sought to acculturate us to these diminished/damaged conditions as the normal conditions of life, just the "way things are." The church's job, according to Paul in Ephesians 3:11 is to announce to these powers that with the death and resurrection of Jesus, God's new creation has dawned victorious over them and that their reign or terror and error is defeated and doomed. These powers are the shadowy and unidentifiable forces we call "they" by which we usually mean not simply an aggregate of human actors but also a "something more" under whose influence people and groups will consent to and/or actively participate in actions that they might well not usually countenance doing without such influence.

This accounts in large measure for the mystifying incorrigibility of problems that seem to be amenable to solution (e.g. we have the resources, both material and financial, to solve the problem of hunger in world within a relatively short time, but it just never seems to happen no matter how much good will or intentions are mustered to get it done).

It is striking that this early in his career Dylan was singing a song like this. What this does it range both Dylan and the Klan killer on the same side in the struggle against "their game." It completely reframes the way we grasp and approach what we need to do. Reflect on this in light of our struggles over sexuality both in the church and the world. Are we really opponents of one another? Or is there some other "game" being played around these issues in which our apparent opposition is a smokescreen to hide other dynamics that are really at work? This may be the single most important questions the church needs to ask itself as we continue to "gut" ourselves over this issue.

Give a listen to Dylan's song as you reflect:

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