Survival of the fittest

Resistance and Survival

The books of Luke, Acts, and 1 Peter dominate the readings this month; Peter and Paul are key players. Passages from Acts replace those from the Hebrew Bible so that the only He­brew content is the Psalms. This leaves us seemingly cut off from the prophetic tradition and the reality of Jesus and his companions as Jews. It also brings into sharp focus the struggles of the early church in the years after the crucifixion.

As Christianity spread from Palestine into other parts of the Roman Empire, the various communities swung between resistance and assimilation. In their quest to survive this hostile environment, they sought both to establish an identity and to present Christianity as nonthreatening to Roman authority and decorum. In this bid for survival, those who were least valued in the Roman patriarchal household—women and slaves—were in some sense abandoned. Unfortunately, the later church, and even modern churches, have read this compromise as a mandate.

In a talk on prophetic religion, Junaid Ahmad, a progressive Muslim, reflected on his many invitations to speak to other faith groups, with the implication that he is to show why Islam is not threatening. He counters with the challenge, “Why is your faith not a threat? In the face of a dehumanizing global economy that is an affront to the divine, why have you abandoned the prophetic call of your tradition?” Is “nonthreatening” the best people of faith can do?

Laurel A. Dykstra is a scripture and justice educator in Vancouver, British Columbia. www.laureldykstra.com

April 6

Heads, Hearts, and Bellies

Acts 2:14, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35

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Sojourners Magazine April 2008
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Who's "Fit"

The November 2007 magazine is the best yet, especially “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” (by Brian McLaren). Our stories are based on the philosophy of “survival of the fittest”: The fittest are the richest and have the right to own it all. The poor are not fit, and therefore deserve their poverty.

Truth is truth, fact is fact, and only God knows how much science fits with God’s own truth. Let’s leave that argument, find what truth we can, and deny this philosophy of “survival of the fittest”—which Hitler appropriated to kill Gypsies, gays and lesbians, handicapped people, as well as Jews as not being “fit” to live and procreate.

Susanne Dabney
Atlanta, Georgia

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Sojourners Magazine January 2008
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