An Old Dinka Proverb

Like Anne Lamott, I've been a yellow dog Democrat for most of my life, and have never once voted for a Republican. Ever.

So I was suprised this week when, in an email exhange, someone accused me of being a Bush supporter. It's probaby because of my concerns about stem cells, and my self-admitted prejudice against Kerry--he's the kind of elitist, "I know what's best for you," I care about the poor but spend my off-days skiing in Aspen kind of Bostonian that I couldn't stand when I lived in Massachussets, and can't stomach now.

OK, so I've admitted all that. Let me also say that my politics, and my religion, resonate with what Ron Sider told the Nation in an article entitled "Closing the Religion Gap"

"I don't think God is a Marxist, but frequently the Bible suggests that people get rich by oppression or are rich and don't share what they have--and in both cases, God is furious."

I also worry, that my Evangelical tribe has stopped reading the Bible. Or at least the parts that don't have to do with homosexuality. In the gay marriage debate, the story of S&G (Sodom and Gommorah is often used to show the Bible's view on homosexuality. (Hence the word, sodomy).

Fair enough. But here's what the Bible also says about S&G, from the few verses ahead of Isaiah 1:18, the beloved passage that reads, "though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow":

Isaiah 1: 10-18

Hear the word of the LORD , you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!

"The multitude of your sacrifices- what are they to me?" says the LORD . "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations- I cannot bear your evil assemblies.

Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.

Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD . "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Here's how I read that -- ignoring the plight of the poor, the hungry, the oppressed, the widow-- really ticks God off. It wasn't just a few gay men trying to rape Lot that brought down God's wrath on Sodom. It was economic injustice as well. And that's the third rail of Evangelical Christianity. God's not just concerned about charity--justice matters. And an economy (like the US economy) where CEOs make 300 times what their lowest paid workers make, is not one that pleases God. It's an economy that is likely to get God really irate. It's definitely not in our country's best interests to get God irate.

This whole post, started as a way to explain this story from the Christian Science Monitor, about a reporter's encounter with Ghazi Suleiman – "a devout Muslim and one of Sudan’s top human-rights lawyers"

After starting off with "“Ah, you are from America. Thank God for George Bush!” Suleiman gives his take on the war on Iraq, and why he loves Bush.

A few of of his key points:
    The ouster of Saddam Hussein has "put pressure on leaders all over the Muslim world to loosen political and religious strictures". In Sudan, that means the government has started to "lessen its enforcement of sharia law and its harassment of political dissidents, he says. “I have more freedom because of the war in Iraq.”
  • Bush "understands the problem with Islam”--since good Muslims are not supposed to "raise arms against the state"--the faith is used "as a machine gun politically to suppress the masses.”
  • "Islam is a good religion," he adds, “but it must be watched. It must be caged.”

Then there this interpretation of the war from a friend of Suleiman, based on a proverb from the Dinka tribe, (one of Sudan's largest people groups.)

There’s an old Dinka saying, he says: “If you do something wrong to me, I forgive you. But I know that someday God will make you hit the son of a chief on the head. Then the chief will punish you.” Some Dinkas believe, he says, “that the Islamic world has hit the son of the chief on the head – and now they’re seeing the wrath of George Bush.”

Don't know if he's right, but it's certainly an interesting perspective.


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