By Minister Marvin K. White
Mark 5: 1-13
Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”
Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Also, he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So, all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea and drowned in the sea.
Today, I am reading Mark, Chapter 5 through a Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter, Father’s Day and Trauma Lens.
George, Chapter 5: 1-13
Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the city of the Minneapolis. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man who the police had been taught, had an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs of the decimated and disinvested and lead waters and COVID-19. And still with all of these cards stacked against him, with the legacy of chattel slavery, like a rigged game of historical bid whist, no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, often had been arrested, often had been beaten and killed off camera, he had often had to work 100 times as hard for 100 times less pay than his white counterpart.
And so, the chains had been pulled apart by him, so the chains had been pulled off by Harriet Tubman. And so, the chains, he decided were not fashioned by him, even though he knew iron first. And so, the chains of slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, racism, and white supremacy, and so, the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces. And now nobody could tell him nothing.
After 401 years of obedience school, neither could anyone tame him. And so, he vigiled, And so, he rallied, And so, he marched, And so, he rioted, And so, he looted, always, night and day, he was in corporate America and in he was in the tombstate of the inner-city, crying out and cutting himself with stones. Cutting himself with self-doubt. Cutting himself with black inferiority. Cutting himself with the Prison Industrial Complex signing his birth certificate as the father. And When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.
Let’s say for the purpose of this dramatic story, Jesus was white, and Jesus was woke, and Jesus read Dismantling White Supremacy, and Jesus understood his white privilege, and Jesus understood that his wealth was not earned but inherited, and Jesus spoke out against hate-filled policies, and Jesus fought for prison reform because you know, Jesus came to free us. And yes, Jesus’ “us’ is all of us. And Jesus knew he couldn’t be neutral when it came to racism, and Jesus knew he couldn’t be complicit. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.
Let’s say for the purpose of this dramatic story, Jesus was white. This thing, this internalized self-hate, the trauma shaped and informed self, the fear that white supremacy had built in him, got scared. And whiteness (I don’t have to do the white people vs. whiteness thing with y’all, do I? Okay, good.) And so, whiteness, who knew because white people started taking to the street calling the names of Ahmaud, George, Breonna, and Tony and the Many Thousand Black People Gone, whiteness got scared. And when whiteness gets scared, it responds with violence. It responds with tear gas, bullets, mass incarnation, stop and frisk, no knock searches, and knees on necks. Then the whiteness, in all its supremacy, cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”
“What have you to do with me?” Jesus asked incredulously. “You have been tormenting people and keeping people in subjugation, and keeping poor white and working-class whites, and poor black and working class black, apart from one another. You have pitted us all against one another. Now that I have crossed the sea and saw how colonialism and patriarchy and white supremacy has not been in my best interest, it has every damn thing to do with me.”
For He said to him, “Come out of the black man, come out of the black woman, come out of the black trans man, come out of the poor white, and the white ally. Come out of the black trans woman, you unclean-dirty-lowdown-confederate flag waving-white sheet wearing-glass ceiling installing-red-line drawing-three-strike legislating-high blood pressure and diabetes inducing- come out spirit!” Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion, but my whole name is Legion of White Supremacy; for we are many.” Also, so Legion of White Supremacy begged Jesus earnestly, look I reinstated affirmative-action and I cut a stimulus check. Legion of White Supremacy begged, that He would not send them out of the country. Jesus said, “What about the Payroll Protection Program not getting to black businesses?!?!?! Huh?!?!?!?”
Now a large battalion of police was feeding off the black people there near the black mountains of corporate America and near the black inner-city. So, all the Legion of White Supremacy begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” Jesus said, “Naw Son, swine ain’t never did nothing to you. I’m giving the pigs their name back. You don’t even get to be called that.” And at once Jesus gave them no body, human or animal, And at once Jesus gave them no systemic racist body, human or animal, and the herd, the Legion of White Supremacy, heard that a change was not only gonna come, but was here, and ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the very same sea where enslaved Africans crossed or drowned in the Middle Passage.
May God add a blessing to the re-readers, the mis-hearers and the DOERS of the True Word of God.
This administration is triggering all kinds of latent, hidden, passive, raw, unattended, sublimated and subconscious trauma. Everybody has a hair pin. Everybody a missle in a silo. Everybody got everybody else launch code. Everybody firing. Feels like everybody ready to come to blows. Everything coming up now. Bubbling. Breaking the surface. Our Christian Witness can be there when the mother collapses after news of her son being shot, the father taking back to the bottle after being laid off, the heart offering itself as confection to anybody, after the last one broke it. The heart is not taffy. It is brittle. We can be there when it breaks. Or we can use our sacred texts to prepare our people for their subconscious rising, by pointing to a bible that also has experienced its own trauma. Has hidden from itself what it has done to itself. Katrina is what Noah changed his name to after watching his people drown and was helpless to do anything. Katrina don’t know why she storms out every time somebody gets to close.
Even got me thinking about why I, at 54, let things go untreated, unpaid, and unchecked. Why I think a cry for help might be met with a physical, systemic, professional, emotional or intimate belt lashes, but let’s call them “feels”, and be up in them. Let’s soften the blows of years of believing we are the reason for what happened to us and the reason who happened to us and why it look and sound like and walk like a duck, but that quacking, you’re being convinced, is in your head. So, for 401 years, Let’s call ourselves undisciplined, then disorganized, then stupid, then silly, flaky, then worthless, then unlovable, but never between 8 to 54, stop to think about having learned not to make a peep. To cry without sound. To look away, disassociate and disembody. To not say anything when someone is hurting you or you are hurting yourself in the same way that you did the first time somebody asked you, after you got the instructions, the math problem, the directions wrong, “Are you stupid?” And you looked at your soul and said, “Yes.”
And now here we are on Facebook, in our offices, at the gym, in our cars, on the hamster wheel, finally saying abolish policing as we know it or reform it and redeem it from its racist roots. And now we can say molestation, abandonment, alcoholism, religious violence, intellectual violence, academic violence, shame, blame or secrecy. And now we no longer convince ourselves that our phones, lap- and desktops keeps the trauma in proportion to the size of our electronic devices and not to the actual size of the generations of snowballing that have passed that pain down for centuries. And now we no longer let emoticons and GIFs express our rage, our dumbfoundedness, our helplessness and hopelessness in the face of manmade climate change, nuclear war, militarization of police, inadequate or elimination of healthcare, gentrification, walls and border patrols. And now we no longer are blind to how racism, patriarchy, homophobia, misogyny, ageism, anti-poorness, anti-artist, impacts everybody, black or white, equally.
And now we no longer can ask, “Is really happening?” or “Is this really happening to me?” Because it is! Dominant culture, white supremacy, patriarch and empire, expects us to come undone when we discover that we are survivors of sexual, domestic, academic, creative abuse, of toxic masculinities, toxic femininities, toxic queerness’s, toxic creatives, and toxic families, that were forced to work and raise us in the residue of their toxic paychecks and toxic on the job treatments, if they had jobs. But they didn’t see that there was a knee, a no knock warrant, a deputized father and son, a last straw. So, I’m reading Mark, Chapter 5 through a Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter, Father’s Day and Trauma Lens. And while yes, Mark Chapter 5 points us to miracles, I wonder if it allows us to overlook the causes of the conditions from which these three people were healed?
Can we think that Jesus as not just pimple cream, that we dab on the spot of the bump, but The One who has come to address the condition, the historical, the systemic, the dysfunctional family systems, the enabling, the shame, blame and secrecy, that every person who shows up in the bible needing healing is not just healed of “the thing” but is healed of the generational curse? Can we absolve black people of crimes that they did not commit or at least admit to the mitigating circumstances that were a part of their crimes, and how miseducation and history denying, added to the impact of the amount of love or lovelessness in their childhoods? And can we hold them as they have held their families’ secrets, which now they have made their own? What must have happened to them? They just didn’t “go crazy” one day, start bleeding one day, decide to play dead one day.
I mean, what would you have had to overcome to allow you to stand up to a man, like so many other men, and a system, like so many other systems, to whom you knew you were powerless to? If you had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but found a strength to break them but free from them, and you were in a cycle of incarceration and freedom, incarceration and freedom, what could you do? Why are you every Night among the dead howling and bruising yourself? When did this start? Why does help look like your tormentors?If everyone one of your disappointments and hurts and pains had a name, what would they be? Why do we bargain with our trauma as if it has our best interest at heart? When we are delivered or healed and left in the same spot of our hurt, how do we maintain our freedom? What if you took your healing into your own hands, got healed, got caught, and the person from whom you got healed, instilled fear and trembling in you, triggered you? Yes, you are healed but still triggered?
As we read Mark Chapter 5, let us think about how the Christ was is an ally and not a savior. How the Christ would be seen as unclean and unworthy too. How the Christ would be, prepared to know about grace, and disparities of COVID-19 disease and bloodborne pathogens? How the Christ would be out in these streets. I’m reading Mark, Chapter 5 through a Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter, Father’s Day and Trauma Lens. And it all about making sure that not the word of freedom, but actual freedom reaches the ones most deeply entrenched in enslavement. And its about legislative and cultural shifts to know all lives can’t matter until BLACK LIVES Matter, And it’s about releasing ourselves from the fatherhood of white supremacy, And it’s about trauma, and reading the bible, and living the living bible, in such a way that it doesn’t just making us stop hurting, but we are actually freed of our pain calcifying and fossilizing in our bones and bodies.