sitting next to strangers

I love how funny people are.  Most Americans from the US have this thing about sitting next to strangers, especially when eating.  It’s not cool.  Sometimes I’ll go to a restaraunt in Center City with Martha and we’ll sit 6″ away from strangers, and it’s kind of weird for a minute.  You see what they are eating, you hear part of their conversation.  You don’t talk to them, though (although I usually will ask them for sugar or something just to break the taboo).

Temple’s campus is the same way.  Generally, even at the picnic tables, if someone is sitting there alone they have the whole thing claimed.  Unless there are Eastern Europeans involved.

One day I was sitting there jammin to tunes and checking my email on the laptop and 6 Polish people practically surrounded me slowly, one every 3 minutes or so.  I was at their table now, but I was still wearing headphones and not paying attention (besides I only understand like 10 words in Polish, sorry Nani!).

Table For One photo by Baerbel Kavanaugh

"Table For One" photo by Baerbel Kavanaugh

Today a guy sat next to me at this table and kept looking over semi-discretely to watch 2 piece rock vidoes that I was checking out while I finished my lunch.  I almost wanted to give him a headphone so he could get a taste, but I didn’t.

We can live in such proximity with others and kind of pretend that they don’t exist.  Other places in the world that I have been to aren’t so much like that.  Why do we have this idea to “respect each other by leaving one another alone”?   I don’t really want to live like that.

State Theology

While finishing up my second book for my History of Southern Africa class, Jesus has been mentioned quite a bit.  Since the beginning of the class, there has been the all-too-familiar notions of those in power using their concepts of God to justify not only their superior social status, exploitation of others, but their ideology of “this is the way it is”.  Notably the Afrikaners using a military victory over the Zulu in the Battle of Blood River (the Ncome River) on Dec 16, 1838 as proof that God prefers the European newcomers over the African inhabitants.

It took some theological unraveling for people to get the idea out of their heads that the State (no matter which one) was ordained by God-to be obeyed and if you rebel against them you are rebelling against God.

A Christian Dirce by Henryk Siemiradzki

I have had hundreds of conversation in my day about how to work with this excerpt from Romans 13 (when Nero was likely emperor) and how to make sense of it-mostly in the modern USA context. Responding to the same rhetoric that we hear in the States about how we are to go along with the governments and how military victories perpetuate our freedom, The Kairos Document was drafted in 1985 by over 150 clergy of all races and denominations.  They helpfully outlined how crazy such arguments to justify the oppressor are.

Continue reading