Faith and Crab Pots | Sojourners

Faith and Crab Pots

The political leaders in place at this time are constructing social policy and vision that is fundamentally destructive of human life and well-being, particularly of those most marginalized by our governmental system.

These policies have been evolving since the early '80s, of course. I have no good answer as to why I challenge them now except to say that we must each choose the moment we step out of the line and take the consequences. For the vast majority of our citizens, that time never comes. They are born into law, follow it, more or less, and die under it.

I decided this past December that for me, the time had come to step out of the process. I can no longer continue with business as normal and watch these policies evolve that offend my faith covenant, as I understand it.

Maybe an illustration will help. I grew up in South Carolina and have spent many afternoons crabbing its low-country marshes and waters. Normally, I cook them by boiling them.

There are two ways to boil crab. The one bound to elicit a battle with the crab is to bring the pot to a rolling boil and then put the crab in. It fights. It grabs at the pot with its large claws. Eventually it succumbs. The alternate method (crueller, I think) is to put the crab in cool water, which it settles into gracefully, and then heat it slowly. It heats so slowly, the crab never figures out when to try to climb out of the pot. It dies calmly huddled at the bottom of the pot.

Public policies and social terms of debate evolve and change slowly, like that water. My step in December was a step to say that the water, which has been gradually changing over more than a decade, was too hot to tolerate. Each one of us-you, myself, our government officials-test the waters. Some of us, one day, will decide that they are changing in ways that threaten life-threaten our integrity and threaten the definition of what we feel it means to be human. Or, in my case, to be faithful.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1996
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