Cancel Culture and the Cross
I've been thinking a lot about the Cross and the ways in which our contemporary form of Cancel Culture has echos thought out history. The attempts by the White Christian Nationalist GOP to erase all of the gains in civil and human rights from the 20th century is nothing more than Cancel Culture writ large.
Golgotha, by Romare Bearden American Artist, 1945, Metropolitan Museum of Art
With each passing day we see laws being passed that eliminate reproductive choice, gender affirming care, American history, Affirmative Action, disability rights, voting rights, women's rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, educational rights, and every other right that could be folded into DEI and Critical Theory as a means to cancel anything other than the Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian worldview that looks more like Sharia Law and less like the modern multi-cultural pluralistic democracy that I thought I was living in.
How does this echo the historic forms of Cancel Culture, you might be asking? And what does this have to do with the cross? Well, I've been thinking about the way Rome used crucifixion as a tool to suppress revolt and how this very gruesome, public, shameful form of torture and death was used to terrorize those with little or no power. I've been thinking about how the power brokers of Jerusalem colluded with the Roman Empire to cancel anyone who dared speak or act against the dominant worldview of the time. I've been thinking about how Jesus, a man with a different perspective on his faith and the Law, was cancelled by both those in power and the mob.
I've been thinking about this, not just because it is Holy Week and tonight, we will mark both the second night of Passover and Maundy Thursday, but because the Resurrection is the ultimate answer to the world's penchant to cancel, through terror, anyone who would speak to a better world. I find this comforting even as I feel the intensity of the times in which we live.
I do not personally believe in a Sacrificial Atonement Theology which believes Jesus died for my sins. I do not believe in a God who would murder the Beloved just to prove a point. However, I do believe that the Cross has an enduring purpose and that we are invited to reflect upon and reaffirm that purpose each year. For me, the Cross is that moment when I can accept our human condition and trust that God can and will redeem us in some miraculous way. It reminds me that I have the opportunity to participate in this redemption, to reaffirm my commitment to a ministry of reconciliation, and the hard work of resurrection in everyday life.
It is also the gift of knowing I am not alone! No matter how Cancel Culture, in its current form, desires to say my theology, my way of loving, my gender and my belief in a world that is just and peaceful is heretical to the god of their understanding, I remain convicted that...
"... nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39
And that Cancel Culture has no power over the God of Love and Justice, Mercy and Peace.
As you prepare to celebrate the Risen Christ again this year, I encourage you to reflect on the meaning of the Cross in your life. I invite you to wonder how the mystery of the Resurrection lives in you. May the darkness of the Tomb lead you to the brilliance of renewal as uniquely beautiful Beloved of God.