A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Real Bigotry

A couple of years ago I was called to jury duty. I didn't expect to be called, because I had heard that ministers and especially seminary professors would not be chosen. But I was.

But the case and the jury is not the story. After we were chosen and given our instructions, we walked outside, I with a tall, middle aged, urbane and soft-spoken man. We exchanged few pleasantries and he asked me what I did. [A very Western Civiilization question, for we define ourselves by what we do].

I told him that I taught systematic theology at New Geneva Seminary. My next remark would have been been a question about what he did, but I never had the opportunity.

He launched into a bitter, albeit soft-spoken and urbane, tirade against the Bible and Christianity. It did not seem to matter whether or not I believed the things that he attributed to Christianity, because he never attempted to find out what I thought. He without even a ripple in his thought KNEW what I thought and what kind of person I was and what kind of relatives I had and, I suppose, knew what I had had for breakfast. I just looked at him, turned my back and walked away. We had no opportunity to speak again.

He was elected foreman of the jury, and I flatter myself that several times during the deliberations I saved his sorry hide, by helping define the issues, the law, and the facts. The jury could have been deeply divided, but I think I served justice well by what I said, although I did not speak much. He warmed some to me as the proceedings advanced.

His attitude toward Christianity would have been stereotypical of the white male's attitude toward "those people" who had black skin in the thirties and forties of the 20th century.

He was well-educated, well-spoken --did I say that? I hope I get an opportunity to speak to him again someday, but it is doubtful, I suppose. I hope I was a good witness for Christ. I do not feel guilty about turning and walking away at the end of his tirade, for the scripture says to answer a fool according to his folly. It was not the time or place to engage in religious polemics; he would have known that if he were not a fool.

I also feel good about my performance on the jury, for I think I was a good witness for Christ, although I did not quote the Bible or behave in a sanctimonious manner. Others did, for there were some simple Christians on the jury and that is the kind of Christianity they knew. I wanted him to know that even if he was a jerk, I was certainly not one and could behave with discretion and do the job we were called to do. I have a warm feeling that my remarks at a critical time in our discussions were what defined the issues, threw light on the law in terms of the judges instructions, and united us in a fair and just decision. It was an answer to my prayer that I would be a good witness for Christ.

He was the modern bigot. Is his disease curable? Yes, but only by the Christ that he despised.
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