Seeing Through the Eyes of the Marginalized


A couple of weeks ago I was asked to participate in this synchroblog initiated by Kathy Escobar.  Her challenge to us was:

Marginalization results in an individual’s exclusion from meaningful participation in society and it’s source is many. Economic circumstances, illness, disability, geographical location, gender, sexuality, race, religion are all dominant sources of individuals being marginalized. Sometimes it’s easy to see holidays or certain systems from a position of power or privilege. * As God’s people, what does it mean to see the world through the eyes of the marginalized?

What I realize is that it is very difficult for me to see through the eyes of the marginalized because I have never really been in that position.  Yes I have been poor, and yes I have lived simply for most of life but those have been deliberate choices.  I have always had a back door out.  As a physician I could always have found a well paying job and rapidly moved myself back into the upper middle class lifestyle with which I grew up.

I was thinking about this today as I read Sean Gladding’s book The Story of God, The Story of Us, a very powerful story based telling of the Biblical story from creation to the coming of Christ.  Today I was reading about the time of the kings.

Sean begins this chapter with the story of the building of the temple – not as a triumphant worshipful act towards God but as an enslavement of the people of Israel by Solomon who was busily accumulating wealth and power for himself.  So often when we read this story, we filter it through the distorted values of our consumerist, middle class way of life.  But what if like Sean does in his book and like Kathy encourages us to do in her question, we saw Solomon and the building of the temple through the eyes of the marginalized, those who were conscripted to build the temple as forced labour.

Sean comments: if we are to be faithful to the covenant then we must beware of falling into the same three things that marked Solomon’s reign:

an economic affluence in which we become so well off that both the pain around us and the pain we cause others are not noticiced;

a politics of oppression in which the cries of the marginal are not heard or are silenced

a static religion, in which God has no other business than to maintain our standard of living, and whose prophets we try to silence when they speak words we do not want to hear.

To see through the eyes of the marginalized we must first acknowledge our own sin and the indifference and sometimes even hostility with which we confront them.  We benefit so much from the slaves of our society – the illegal immigrants who pick our fruit and staff our restaurants, the minimum wage workers who work 2 or 3 jobs and still don’t earn enough to support their families and those in distant lands who grow our food and sew our clothes.

They too are building our temples and enabling us to accumulate yet more power and prestige.  And on top of that we so often despise them because they can’t accumulate what we have and can’t pull themselves out of the pits that we so often have dug for them.

So how do we see through the eyes of the marginalized?  To be honest I am not sure.  But I do know that I need to begin by constantly reminding myself of those at the margins, talking to them, sharing meals and hospitality with them.  And for those that are more distant I know that I need to encourage them by raising my voice to make sure they are paid a fair wage and given the opportunity to get educated as I have been.

None of us can create a society that is just and fair but we can all take steps that move us in that direction.  The season of Advent and Christmas is a great time to do more than just think about this.  It is a great time to get down and get ourselves involved just as God did with the birth of Christ.

Here are some more posts to check out

Here are a few more posts to check out:

George at the Love Revolution – The Hierarchy of Dirt

Arthur Stewart – The Bank

Sonnie Swenston – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized

Wendy McCaig – An Empty Chair at the Debate

Ellen Haroutunian – Reading the Bible from the Margins

Alan Knox – Naming the Marginalized

Minnow – Just Out of Sight

Kathy Escobar – Sitting At the Rickety Card Table In theFamily Room For Thanksgiving Dinner

Liz Dyer – Stepping Away From the Keyhole

 

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17 Responses

  1. I like this. Our church is focused outward. To be the church who not only comes together for worship but also goes out for service. Pastor asked us to bring food for the needy during the holidays. So we each pulled tags off a wall and brought our abundance. We have enough to put together 100 food baskets for 100 families in the community. It is not the job of just the community leaders to do this the church needs to ‘do something as well.’ This Sunday our church is meeting at 9:00 to have a small worship service. Then we are leaving to go ‘do church’. Do something in the community that requires effort on our part and a service that someone would need. (cards on the wall again for suggestions) Then we are coming back at 11:45 for soup and sandwiches. I think when we think of marginalized people we think of ‘street people’. Or someone living under a bridge. (we do those ministries too) We paid one man’s phone bill so he could receive a phone call so he could go to work. He was once under a bridge, now he is working and has an apartment. Marginalized people sometimes are the ‘rich and comfortable ones sitting beside us.’
    I think when we give ‘with a grateful heart’ it stretches us.
    It is called getting one’s hand and heart dirty.
    It is hard for me personally God is stretching me… and challenging me as I look beyond my own life.
    (sorry this is way too long) You challenged me even more.

  2. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  3. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  4. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  5. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  6. Christine – What you have written goes along very well with a quote that I used in my post… ““People who look through keyholes are apt to get the idea that most things are keyhole shaped.”

    Until we confront our privilege and how it rides on the backs of marginalized and oppressed people it is difficult for us to contribute in a meaningful way to changes that will liberate those on the edges.

    I am ashamed to say that I had never looked at Solomon’s temple from the perspective of the slaves who were forced to build it – thanks for sharing that and helping me take one more step forward in trying to become a good ally to people who are marginalized.

  7. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  8. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  9. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  10. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  11. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  12. christine, i am so glad you were part of this synchroblog. the posts have been so good. i really resonated with what you said about “i have always had a back door out.” both jose and i really feel that way, too. we have our educations & privilege & a host of other things that really keep all of our options open. having friends who really don’t have any is enlightening in a hard and painful way. why i love advent is it’s a reminder that we have a God who was born from below. i always need that reminder. peace, kathy

  13. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  14. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

  15. […] Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized […]

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