With a bit more intellectual curiosity now... Last night’s events showed me something I’d not seen or felt so clearly before: White Evangelical-Pentecostal masculinized Christianity is so drawn to the Global South because it touches unresolved griefs.
The speaking last night was all about the need for revival in God’s church here in the States. “God do it again!” came the fervent desire from both speaker and congregational voices. International experiences of mission are the traditional fodder for this vein of proclamation, describing huge numbers of Christians in Brazil, in Zimbabwe, in South Korea who worship together in the thousands. Highly affective worship styles, overwhelming numbers. Given that I teach interreligious-intercultural learning in our institution’s curriculum, I have appreciated this Pentecostal stream coming into our midst, mirroring different ways of expressing Christian faith for our largely rural, increasingly conservative student body.
Maybe it was the forty-five minutes of non-stop white male speaking, or the trigger of my own tenderness as a woman newly returned to that space, but I had simply never seen how perfectly the Global South’s Christianity soothes the white Evangelical-Pentecostal grief here in secularized North America.
Hand in glove.
The Global South drives this “return to revival” that so many white Evangelicals wish were the case here in the States. Experiencing a Christianity deep in their own DNA, in these large numbers and affective styles, touches a deep yearning, sadness, grief. Then the unresolved griefs of losing prominence in North America, losing children from small town communities to urbanized cities, losing the presumed vibrancy of 1970’s socialized-civic Christianity--all push grieving (white) Christians to double-down on the traditions that were, the historic Christianity in early America…revivalism. The Global South promises that “return to their previous Sacred." In my pastor-husband’s words last night, as he reeled with his own partner’s tears he could not understand: “They’d rather run away to the Global South, the expressions and numbers they used to know, than face the no-status challenges of faithfulness here in “secularized America.”"
In the Global South, these Evangelical-Pentecostal eyes can see the God they know, they expect, “proving that the Spirit is alive and well there, if not here.” God has abandoned the North American Church, so their judgment suggests.
I don’t traditionally get into any of these kinds of conversations about God's judgment. Scripture proclaims God abandons some, favors others, but predicting or naming any of that is hubris, foolish folly of men. And I do mean men. Or masculinized women. Grappling the best they know how in a world with less and less control.
We’ve never actually had control, the Buddhists remind us. Only illusions we hang onto out of fear and attachment.
But now that I’ve seen this hand-in-glove, this unresolved grief that can be postponed by focusing on the Global South, I suspect once-again the colonial and neo-imperialist refusal of surrender to what-is, in the location Godde has planted us/me, here.
Oh how we resist the pathway of awakening to the energies of Love…trusting all is within us, closer than we could ever imagine.
Paradoxically, in touch with my own deep grief this morning, I can appreciate the depth of their grieving too.
May we both, all, stay with what-is, right here.