A Christmas Gift: Freedom
Callahan's book details the particular resonance of Christianity to slaves -- the Exodus of the slave Jews with God's hand leading them, the firm placement of slave and master on the same spiritual plane, and of course the suffering of Christ.
Dionne ends his column:
Callahan cites the words of an old Negro spiritual:
Poor little Jesus boy
Made him to be born in a manger.
World treated him so mean
Treat me mean, too.
The poor, the outcasts, the slaves: If Jesus spoke to anyone, it was to them, and they have responded to him through the centuries. The African-American religious tradition is a blessing to all because it requires us to remember that Jesus of Nazareth really did revolutionize the world.
Did he ever, right down to the hard, self-indulgent, unthinking soul that used to live in my breast.
But for whatever reason, less than 1000 years after Christ walked the Earth, Islam arose, spreading a belief system that was in many ways antithetical to Christ's teachings and the lessons we learn from the Old Testament.
Why didn't Jesus similarly revolutionize that part of the world?
What a shame He did, because in Libya and Iran and Sudan to elsewhere throughout most of the Arab world, men and women are not at all unlike the old Negro who wrote that spiritual -- treated mean by the unfair, ruthless societies fate born them into. How liberated they could be if Christ transformed them, and Christianity transformed their nations.
There's a big prayer for this Christmas season.