Recently on Facebook, I asked a couple of questions about God, the Acknowledgements of country, and the Promised Land on this platform.
Stan Grant in the excerpt from his new book The Queen is Dead (HarperCollins, $34.99), on sale May 3., in todays Australian, encapsulates my experience and why I see no place for God in any acknowledgment, and I ignore the concept of a promised land, or one we discover and steal because somehow God said it was ok. Unfortunately for those who are apologists for the church in this discussion ignore the role the church of Western Christendom was a key player in race, slavery, and colonialism.
I can not sit with the idea that, as some Christians state in their theology and their acknowledgments, that God gifted this country to us to care for and he also invited others to come here. Is that god a monster?
God is not sovereign here. Especially the Western European white colonial god who dispossessed us, and as Stan clearly states in confronting language killed us willy-nilly. Where was god when the entire local people in the area I grew up in were eradicated between 1825 and 1876 through poisoning flour and water, weekend hunting trips, stirupping, and shooting? My schoolmates tell stories of their ancestors in that project. Even in the ‘60’s my father warned us regularly about not drinking or eating anything we did not where it came from.
I asked those questions because I wanted to see what the attitude of Christians is. I had reviewed countless church-based Acknowledgements and was dismayed at the disrespect inherent in many. Their God comes first and is often followed by what is basically a theological statement before giving a muted acknowledgment of First Peoples.
This is white possessiveness at work. Not only did those who came possess our land, language, and people they now possess our hope through reworking our traditional practices for their own purposes. It must own us and this is inherent in the opposition to the Voice and ignorance of why this needs to happen. As I was told this week Australia is no longer a white country so it is implied the Voice is redundant, that children of mixed immigrant and white Australian marriages will be denied a Voice so the Vice is racist and more. Even our deficit is the object of white possessiveness.
In my work of engaging with predominantly white Christian’s, I am constantly reminded of the deep divide between the self-awareness of Western Christians and the reality that Christendom is no more and there is a need to rethink the myths we have manufactured from the Scriptures to support our worldwide white supremacy. In this week I have to reply to people who ask, is the Statement from the Heart and Voice a Biblical model? As of somehow, it has to be to be just, right, and supportable.
Let’s not think that those who claim no religion are exempt. They are the product of Christendom, the Enlightenment and its companion, coloniality. They grew up in the same place, breathing the same theological air and benefiting from the Christian myth which permeated the whole world from 1492. Their response to our modest ask and their failure to say yes is based on religion as that of those within the church.
What happened to the broken body of Jesus? In Christianity, it is the only image that is real for me. Like him, all I have to protest the continuing destruction of our people is my body. It is the only thing our people have to protest their placelessness in our land. It is the only thing that echoes with the broken body of country, for my body is my country and my country is my body. I have no belief in doctrine, biblical models, biblical imperatives, or concepts like an eternity, be it in heaven or hell.
I despair that those who make up the church have abandoned broken bodies, concealing them behind religion and belief.
I only have faith in a broken body. Jesus. Wiradjuri.
As my favorite theologian, Tom Waits states in his song, Georgia Lee:
Why wasn’t God watching?
Why wasn’t God listening?
Why wasn’t God there
For Georgia Lee?