“F*** that S***”

This week I watched a webinar organised by the Asian Theological Academy (ATA) and the Asian Forum of Theological Movements, titled ‘I Can’t Breathe: Why We Can’t Hear The Cries And What To Do About It?’

It talked about two Lutheran pastors who had led a lament on racial injustice using the words ‘F*** that S***’, thereby using the language that was around them as part of a service.

The discussion speaks to the outrage of the margins, and the discomfort and offense felt by those occupying the privilege of the centre space.

The final contribution goes as follows –

“Let me firstly introduce myself, my name is Maina Talia, from Tuvalu, a small island to the north of Fiji in the Pacific. I study under Professor MP Joseph. Thank you for your profound presentation, indeed, it was great to listen to you, especially from that part of the world.

This is not a question but it’s just a comment to go along with what you have said in line with what we have said about speaking about the underprivileged, especially coming from a low-lying country, a low-lying island, which is highly affected by climate change.

And this is the response that I normally receive from the West when I tell them at conferences, church conferences, and so forth:

“We will remember Tuvalu in our prayers”

I think it’s about time that we should stand up and hold our hands together, and have the courage to say to them “F your prayers, it’s time to act now”

Thank you very much.

Why does the language of “F*** that S***” generate a more visceral reaction than injustice itself?

We are socialised into politeness, we find anger uncomfortable, unpalatable. But as Jeremy Kidwell remarked at the YCCN launch, “rage is an appropriate reaction to sustained inaction on matters of injustice”.

I hope that I can let myself be disquieted by the anger and pain of others in a way which moves me onwards into that pain in a meaningful way (definitely read Hannah Malcolm on Grief and Power).

Something else that has really made me think this week is pondering on how much of my decision-making is pain avoidance? What motivates me? Is it love? Can I say that it is love while I shrink from the anger and hurt of others?

Big thoughts for a Saturday morning.