WE'RE LIVING IN a fearful time, and 2020 has thus far served to amplify and validate many of our fears about the future of the nation, our faith, and the world. What’s at stake this year is perhaps a last chance to decisively reject the overt white nationalism that we’re up against, which is as bold and brazen as at any time in decades.
The racism that has been present in this land since before the founding of this nation, a nation built on the forced labor of kidnapped Africans and the displacement and genocide of Indigenous people, represents America’s original sin. The history of the U.S. is one of halting, tentative steps toward repenting of that sin, juxtaposed against white people doubling down on racist systems, structures, and beliefs. It’s important to note that repentance does not mean feeling bad or sorry but rather stopping, turning around, and going in a new direction. We are at a moment of national decision, between repentance on the one hand and active retreat from that progress on the other, meaning the reaffirmation and reinstitution of America’s original sin.
Lent is traditionally a time for deep reflection, often with prayer, fasting, study, and repentance. Given the crisis we are now facing in both nation and church, such deep Lenten reflection is urgently needed. Answering the questions that Jesus asked during his ministry, as I laid out my book Christ in Crisis, is the best response to our current political, moral, and religious crisis. It’s a response that could set us on a path toward true national repentance from America’s original sin.