Part Two of an essay published in: Theology and the Crisis of Engagement: Essays in Honor of Lee Cormie, edited by J. Nowers and N. Medina (Eugene:Pickwick Publications, 2013). 11 pp.
We live in a world in which the social architecture of functional segregation and inequality persists. Divisions of race, class and gender have become so deep that they threaten the structural integrity of the “House,” whether this is understood in terms of a Church, the nation as a whole, or our entire globalized civilization. The question is whether we have the courage to take down walls that divide—even if they are bearing walls—in order to save the house.
The specter of the American House collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions has long haunted U.S. leaders. “A house divided cannot stand” warned Abraham Lincoln, appropriating the ancient verdict of Jesus (Mk 3:25) to describe the economic, social and political crisis that led to the War Between the States in the 1860s. This historical ultimatum keeps recurring in the American political unconscious:
- invoked by Martin Luther King in his famous August, 1963 speech about racial justice, delivered standing in front of the Lincoln memorial in Washington, DC;
- implied in the slogan of the 1992 Los Angeles urban uprising, the largest episode of civil unrest in the U.S. since the Civil War: “No justice, no peace!”;
- confronted again as a global truth with the dramatic collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on Sept 11th, 2001.