The Politics of Scapegoating (John 12:20-33)








The politics of Scapegoating or “Scapegoating, Treyvon Martin and Seeds Falling” // The message I gave on March 25, 2012 (John 12:20-33)

_Headlines of a Scapegoat

There are a lot of things happening that have caught my attention in the news recently:

One of the recent news pieces that has captured us all had a headline that read: US Army Sergeant Kills 16 In Afghan Villages (Link). “U.S. officials said the shooter, identified as an Army staff sergeant, acted alone, leaving his base in southern Afghanistan and opening fire on sleeping families in two villages.”

Alabama followed Arizona’s lead by passing a law last year aimed at making everyday life difficult for the state’s estimated 120,000 illegal immigrants. The Alabama law, known as H.B. 56, allowed local police to check the immigration status of people stopped for other crimes, required public school officials to collect data on the number of illegal immigrants enrolling, and forbade illegal immigrants from entering into private contracts or conducting any business with the state (There was a recent This American Life episode on the unintended consequences this is having in AL).

Detroit Free Press headline read: Unhappy public not sure who to blame for high gas

We’re all very familiar with the Sandra Fluke contraception hearing and Rush Limbaugh’s demeaning and hurtful comments.

OneGeorgeFox is a group of LGBTQ students who have recently written a letter to George Fox asking to not be discriminated against any longer. They want to be allowed to have an open conversation about homosexuality on the campus of George Fox, and want discrimination ended. This has created a stir in local churches and is (hopefully) prompting healthy discussions around these things. Right alongside this the new headline runs – Ex-Student Convicted In Rutgers Spying Case: ‘I’m Very Sorry About Tyler (Clementi)’ (Link).

And Most strikingly, and heartbreakingly was the murder of Treyvon Martin, a 17 yr-old African-American who was shot in the chest while walking home from a convenience store. He was killed by a man who was on neighborhood watch. Treyvon was armed only with skittles and a can of iced tea (Link).

What do we notice about all of these things? Each of these recent news stories share a common thread and a modern tendency, and that tendency is to find a scapegoat for our problems. Our subject today is “the politics of scapegoating” and how to address it.


We Must Awaken to Hope…


We must awaken to hope, resisting the temptation to despair that history cannot be any different, that another world is not in fact possible. Here we must remember our sisters Shiphrah and Purah [Hebrew midwives who disobeyed the king of Egypt] and all who have danced defiantly in their footsteps through the ages – women like Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day and Guatemalan poet and Presbyterian human rights activist Julia Esquivel, like Methodist pastor Myrna Bethke, who responded to the loss of her brother in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York by travelling to Afghanistan to stand with civilian victims of U.S. retaliatory bombing; or like Catholic lay woman Marietta Jaeger, who responded to the brutal murder of her daughter by campaigning against the death penalty. -Ched Myers (From Geez Magazine Spring 2012)


They Have Threatened Us With Resurrection (1980) By Julia Esquivel

A powerful and challenging poem I came across this week.

They Have Threatened Us With Resurrection (1980)
by Julia Esquivel; translated by Ann Woehrle

It isn’t the noise in the streets
that keeps us from resting, my friend,
nor is it the shouts of the young people
coming out drunk from the “St. Pauli,”
nor is it the tumult of those who pass by excitedly
on their way to the mountains.

It is something within us that doesn’t let us sleep,
that doesn’t let us rest,
that won’t stop pounding
deep inside,
it is the silent, warm weeping
of Indian women without their husbands,
it is the sad gaze of the children
fixed somewhere beyond memory,
precious in our eyes
which during sleep,
though closed, keep watch,

Now six have left us,
and nine in Rabinal,* and two, plus two, plus two,
and ten, a hundred, a thousand,
a whole army
witness to our pain,
our fear,
our courage,
our hope!

Blog Entries

Historical Dictionary of the Friends (Quakers) Second Edition

 There’s a new edition of the Historical Dictionary of Friends, which I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to write two articles for: one on convergent Friends and one on Freedom Friends Church.

The Dictionary is especially helpful for those working on academic areas of Quakerism, though it would be nice to have something like this in every Quaker meeting house just to help keep terms and people straight. Unfortunately, the way it is currently priced it is geared more towards institutions and libraries. If you want a cheaper version of something very similar see if you can pick up a used copy of A To Z Of The Friends (quakers), which is the first edition of the dictionary.


To Change the World Enough by Alice Walker

To change the world enough

you must cease to be afraid

of the poor.

We experience your fear as the least pardonable of

humiliations; in the past

it has sent us scurrying off

daunted and ashamed

into the shadows.


the world ending

the only one all of us have known

we seek the same

fresh light

you do:

the same high place

and ample table.

The poor always believe

there is room enough

for all of us;

the very rich never seem to have heard

of this.

In us there is wisdom of how to share

loaves and fishes

however few;

we do this everyday.

Learn from us,

we ask you.

We enter now

the dreaded location

of Earth’s reckoning;

no longer far


or hidden in books

that claim to disclose


it is here.

We must walk together without fear.

There is no path without us.

Find more on Alice Walker’s website.