Putting The World Back Together

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Posted 19 Feb 2007 in Jesus, Light, News, Social Justice, Spirituality, Videos

I’ve been listening to a provocatively titled teaching series by Rob Bell lately – Jesus Wants to Save Christians – given last fall at his church Mars Hill. I downloaded it then and it has since become unavailable online in order to make room for more recent teachings. While listening this weekend I heard Rob describe his Church as

“Counter cultural insurgency who actually believes the world can be put back together because we think that’s what Jesus has in mind.”

I find this description delightful – it pulled to the front of my mind the University of Illinois Board of Trustees decision last week to end the tradition of Chief Illiniwek. While the Board of Trustees doesn’t serve as a group of Jesus followers we can still celebrate the putting-back-togetherness of the world in such instances of social justice. Part of seeing the world put back together involves hearing the voice of the marginalized, fighting for equality and righting the wronged.

This decision is no doubt controversial – the debate has been raging for decades. Prior to arriving on campus in ’01 I had decided to reside on the “anti-chief” side of the issue (how we refer to those not supportive of Chief Illiniwek). I attribute the heartache and sensitivity to this issue to a work God did in my heart on a missions trip to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the summer of ’01. This is the location of the Oglala Sioux Nation whom the University received a set of Chief Regalia from and argues that it is in part honoring in the Chief’s Tradition. A recent quote from the Native American House at the University of Illinois in reference to the January 17, 2007 Oglala Sioux Resolution concerning Chief Illiniwek speaks to the level of “honor” these people feel:

There can be no misreading of the Oglala Sioux Resolution—those to whom the Lakota regalia belongs and whom the Board of Trustees claims to be honoring have clearly requested that the performance and charade of “chief illiniwek” end.

Just one month later they found their request granted. Further thoughts and press releases form the NAH on this issue can be found here.

Simply put I find it hard to follow Jesus and support the oppression and degradation of another people group and I believe it naive to claim the Chief an honoring symbol of a living -breathing people. I don’t believe this issue stops with Chief Illiniwek, how about the Spartans, the Fighting Irish?

Do you have thoughts on the issue, I’d love to hear them? Never seen the Chief dance: click here

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