I had an interesting experience in class today. The topic for our discussion today was, in essence: Is the cross evil, a grace, or both? In the preparation for the class, in the writing of my paper, I realized that it was really hard for me to talk about the cross. I have been lucky enough to live abroad. And after living in Bolivia for two months (and having spent time in El Salvador as well), when theologians talk about “the crucified peoples” of the world, they are not just a theory or a pretty theological expression. I know that many of us who have lived in Latin America and other places in the developing have had a similar experience. For me, the crucified peoples of the world have names and faces and stories. I could tell you about Gabriel, the four-month-old baby, dying of AIDS, who stole my heart in an orphanage nursery. Or the story of Maria, who lost 41 members of her extended family in the massacre of El Mozote.
In our discussion this morning, which was really good, we talked about the fact that it’s easy to qualify the cross of Jesus as both evil and a grace, but it is far more difficult to talk about the cross of the crucified peoples as a grace without it seeming like God requires their suffering in order to grace our lives. As for me, I’m still struggling to figure that out, so I leave you with two videos which will hopefully encourage your own reflections. I’m putting them together because I think there is a great danger when we speak of the cross without discussing the kin-dom, and so this is some small attempt on my part to try and keep these two things together. Both of the songs are by an incredible singer-songwriter in the Boston area named Dave Turnbloom (check out his music on MySpace!). He graciously allowed me to use both songs for presentations I’ve done in classes. The photographs are from a variety of folks who have spent time or lived in Latin America. And here is my disclaimer: please don’t hold my thoughts against them (or, indeed, the thoughts of anyone else on this blog). While I think it is important that folks see these videos, nothing said in this forum by me or anyone else should be construed as their thoughts.