Tag Archives: rebellion

Six reasons why we don’t care about Palestine

Why can’t we care about much of anything beyond getting through this week?

I suppose a few of us feel some crushing guilt when we hear such a question. A few of us effectively screened out questions like “Why don’t you care?” a long time ago. We exempted ourselves, because we don’t want to feel guilt anymore. It crushes us.

Ideally, we think of ourselves as caring people. If we are Jesus followers there is quite a bit of pressure to care about others. I think most of us think we are doing OK at meeting the standards. We are probably more caring than other people — especially Israelis who are creating an apartheid system in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinians like Hamas who would sacrifice their whole people for their ideology.

college gilr

You probably are more caring than they are, and I like to think I am too. But let’s face it. When it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian tragedy the vast majority of us have just barely heard about what is going on — that’s true even though our own church people have been talking about it regularly for over two years.  We didn’t read a blog post, we didn’t go to the movie, we didn’t read a newspaper or listen to a broadcast. What’s more, we did not pray about it; we did not figure out how to give money to help suffering people; we did not support others who care more than we do; we did not protest to our elected officials who fund the whole thing; we did not demand an end to weapons production and distribution, etc. If we care at all, why don’t we do something?

I think there are a lot more reasons for not caring about Palestine than we are just wicked, guilt-resistant, pseudo-Christians.

I think we may be dramatically underestimating just how powerful and demanding the powers that be really are, and way underestimating just how damaging it is to buy the philosophy of self-reliance and “freedom” capitalism keeps selling.

Here are some good reasons you don’t care, or at least don’t do much to show that you do:

1) You’ve got student loan debt that must be paid off.

It is the all-purpose excuse millions of people have for tunneling into their careers and keeping whatever job they have at all costs, working whatever hours are required to do so.

2) You either have high rent or you are stuck with a high mortgage.

Nationally, 50% all renters are now spending more than 30% of their income on housing, according to a comprehensive Harvard study, up from 38% of renters in 2000. In PA the average renter needs to bring in about $17.21 an hour to make the average rent for a two-bedroom. The stats show that the phenomenon of twentysomethings living with mom and dad is proven by more than anecdotal evidence; the few who have ventured into their own homes spend all their hours making money to make the payments.

3) You need to pay for private school for your kids.

This is mainly because people do not want to pay taxes or sensibly elevate standards for public education. The average private school tuition in the U.S. for a non-sectarian elementary school is $15,945 a year, and $27,302 a year for secondary school. Catholic elementary school will run you on average $4,944 for elementary school and $7,826 for secondary school; other religious schools average $6,576 for elementary and $10,493 for secondary. Everywhere we turn, some giant institution is costing a lot!

4) You have to master the insurance system and might need to pay exorbitant rates.

This is mainly because people do not want to share in each other’s well-being. In PA the average monthly health insurance cost for a single person is $271 but could be as high as $1200. If you actually go to the doctor, be prepared to take the day off as the system tries to frustrate any use of it.


5) You have to master technology that is too complex to master.

That is just in order to participate in the society. Plus, you have to pay a fee to do so at every step: internet, phone, TV, security systems. And those are just the systems we can see. Behind every institution from law to transit, the complexity is increasing exponentially. Many of us would love to respond to injustice if we could get our computer to work.

6) You have to master consumer capitalism.

We did a kitchen in our home a few years back. We already replaced the dishwasher. Last week we paid $350 to fix the fridge. Our beloved repairman told us there were no better machines available. They all have the same problems and they are all junk because people have learned to expect them to fail and to change them like they are fashion, not utilities. Such obsolescence is a business strategy. To stay on the treadmill takes economic staying power. Which means a lot of time on the treadmill, which does not leave a lot of time for Palestinians.

I still ask for outrage

I sometimes ask my favorite twentysomethings why they are not more rebellious. A lot of them gave it a whirl with the Occupy movement — and some are still engaged in the aftermath of that. Some are implementing beautiful responses to the traps the culture has set for them. But most of them are just too busy and tired to do anything. I feel their plight. It is hard to be an agent of transformation when the powers that be are so damnably well-outfitted. For instance, whatever one might try to do just might be filmed and analyzed by some faceless authority  That alone could make you want to hunker down with a good video game. If anyone is choked by the cares of the world, the transformers are. If they complain, they get, “You’re free. Make any changes they want. Just DIY. You’re special and your country is exceptional,” shoved down their throat.

I hope my honesty about what it is like for many people also sounds like sympathy. We want to care about Palestine and much more. But a lot of us are pretty busy just trying to get through this week. Even saying “Jesus will give you strength,” just sounds like there will be another duty to perform if he does! But Jesus is the master of overcoming gigantic powers. If you are doomed to some kind of slavery, He’s your savior.

Brokenness: Does peace precede or follow rebellion?

Sometimes I feel like a Buick on a broken road

I have been pondering a quote from Gene Edwards in Celtic Daily Prayer for the last few days. It is about being broken. I took the word “broken” to mean being “useless,” like being broken down at the side of the road, or being broken off from the vine, like Jesus warns us not to be.

Is it possible to know if there is true brokenness in a man? [sic – sorry women] I think so.
Such a man is not in rebellion toward anything:
1) nothing in his circumstances,
2) nothing that has to do with what other people inflict upon him,
3) and certainly not anything that God chooses to lay within his life.
He is at peace in all three circumstances.

Not rebellious?

Edwards says that the broken man is not rebellious. He is at peace with his circumstances, not rebelling against what other people do to him and certainly not rebelling against what God has brought to him.

As a result of pondering this, I have been feeling more rebellious.

  • I recognize that I have felt constrained by those who have adapted to my appalling circumstances to be as quiet as they are about what is appalling: gun proliferation, casinos, unbridled greed, the unjust justice system, horrible school leadership, rampant immorality, weak Christian leaders, my own laziness and lack of humble service, the list goes on.
  • I have been pondering what I have not dared to rebel against in what other people are teaching me through what they do or don’t do as my friend or comrade in covenant — when the price of their love is faithlessness, I need to rebel.
  • I also realized that I really need to listen to what God is asking of me. I don’t think I am really listening unless something in me needs to change, which inevitably causes me to rebel, at least initially. I have been reminded of James 4:4 – “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

If something in us is not rebelling against the oppression of sin and death in the world, in our relationships, between us and God, we must be broken. If we are alive and operating, we are inevitably struggling against something.

Or needing brokenness?

At least that is how I was reading Edwards quote until I went back to revisit it again. I think I actually may have read it the opposite way from what was intended!

Is it possible to know if there is true brokenness in a man? [sic – sorry women] I think so.
Such a man is not in rebellion toward anything:
1) nothing in his circumstances,
2) nothing that has to do with what other people inflict upon him,
3) and certainly not anything that God chooses to lay within his life.
He is at peace in all three circumstances.

I think I have never really understood seeking “brokenness.” I suppose I understand the feeling of brokenness so innately that I don’t relate to being rebellious against God and needing to be broken. This may be a spiritual disadvantage, since it seems that so many people are having a perpetual negotiation with God about whether they want to be saved! One of our teams often offers a song during worship about “longing” for brokenness because they need it. Or maybe I don’t know this brokenness as well as I think I do, and I am hanging on to a lot of rebellion I need to get rid of!

What Edwards was really trying to say is that a person who has accepted his or her life from God and has chosen to trust the Lord in every circumstance no longer needs to fight what is going on as if they need to conquer it and control it. For a broken person, rebellion against the circumstances has lost its importance. Such rebellion no longer creates an identity or demonstrates value. Rebellion no longer means survival or shows power. A former rebel has inner peace, even if the world is raging in rebellion around her.

Or is it both?

As it turns out I think my original and my more accurate interpretations are “right.” In my case, I think the truth Edwards really meant to convey is the place to start. The love of Christ has broken our resistance. Resistance is futile. A life of trust is the only true option. To a large degree, I think I am experiencing the brokenness he prescribes; that’s where I met Jesus. But I hardly think a person can stay in a perpetual aspiration for brokenness.

If followers live in such peace with God, it means they will become well-known rebels in the world. Jesus has peace in his circumstances — he is peace; but everyone knows he is a rebel. He was killed as one. Jesus is at peace in any social setting, but when he shows up in one, his peace upends them. Even when Jesus is absorbing what people inflict on him, it is to the end of utter transformation. And though he ultimately does whatever his Father asks, it is not without exasperation and struggle. The peace that comes with our brokenness is, by its nature, a rebellion against what is broken.

It is always a little shocking to find out you saw something completely different than what was intended. But then, maybe not.