Touched by the Scandalous Hand

By Dr. Matt Farlow

Knowledge is power. The problem for the many in this country is that the one holding power knows the infectious truth of knowledge. The one in power seeks not to promote the many in their quest for knowledge, but actively presses against so to destroy any attempts of growth, because growth in knowledge of the many threatens the systemic power of the one

Let us be mindful, however, that power is not evil. “O! it is excellent To have a giant’s strength,” as to heal, help, and restore we must have power. But, as Shakespeare continues, “it is tyrannous to use it [power] like a giant.”

When our power is of a giant’s strength, the mountains that can be moved are endless. Shakespeare’s sentiments must also be coupled with Sir John Acton’s thoughts: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

When we fail to recognize the potentially insidious, infectious, and poisonous truth of power, we come to live out the Orwellian mantra: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

When we live out our freedom as a freedom against the other—in protest of the other as opposed to protest for the other—we become cannibalistic—animals devouring the one before us so to elevate my way, and my truth, and my power. In this consumption of power, which inevitably becomes consumption of the other, we lose sight of the fundamental beauty of the human.

But how can we be surprised when we look at the reality of today? Without the truth, the way, and the life of Jesus, the power of love is tainted, distorted, stained by the push towards humanistic creations. This does not have to be our truth.

In Christ and through the Spirit, we are drawn into a revelation that is the offense of creation’s beauty in the face of the present foundation of society’s individualistic orientation. That is, our truth, the human truth—our created imago Dei—is a relational image that is offensive to a world steeped in individualistic desires and consumption. We live with the truth of me in opposition of we. In light of God’s displacement by humanity and the onslaught of individualism, the current stage of reality is engulfed in blindness as the players of the stage continue to crash into one another rather than consuming one another in love.

For weeks we have been front row witnesses to the tragic crash scenes of today. The outrage, the pain, the confusion, the determination of those who know our system of governing and policing needs transformation is real; it is palpable, but is it enough?

Enough? Yes, is it enough, will it bring about any change? Why the timidity? Because tragically, George Floyd was not the first George to die mercilessly and the hands of those in power. And both Georges are not alone in their tragic deaths…

Before reading further, if you have no desire to grow, no want of a better tomorrow, and no care or concern for the other, you should click back or close this tab. But if you are willing to risk the shaking of your foundation… If you are willing to press in against the jihad warring inside of you… If you are tired of the sanitized version of reality they have been pedaling you… join me by pressing on so to be stretched…

Join me in our pursuit of knowledge through our pursuit of the other through dialogue and understanding. For the result of true dialogue can only be personally experienced, not explained, as it is through intentional dialogue and learning that we will find the truth of we—a truth that is consumed in the beauty: “I met the “other,” and they were me.[1]

If you want truly to gain power then keep reading and in doing so, your heart, your soul, your truth will step into a small piece of the tragic and painful knowledge of our past—and in this turmoil you will find the power to fight. For you will be embraced by the spirit of all those love warriors who have gone before us… you will be caught up in the tempest… the revolution of men and women like George Jackson. For “George Jackson cannot and will not ever leave. His life and thoughts serve as the message—George himself is the revolution.”[2]

George Jackson died because he cared too much about the prisoner—George Jackson was a political prisoner and a black freedom fighter who died at the hands of the enemy. Mind you though, the enemy is not the other, for when we allow evil to be the person in front of us, we de-humanize them and in so doing, de-humanize ourselves. The evil of our system to be fought against is the evil of sin. An evil so many do not want to talk about, hoping that if we simply see, hear, and do no evil then evil will not exist. To neglect recognizing sin is to die a slow suicide.

And so how do we combat sin, and thus, confront systemic evil? We follow the One leader of the many… We have compassion on the crowd…

 “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” -Mark 6:34

“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” – Matthew 20:34

So why do we care about George Jackson (and the others)? Because the years, months, weeks, and days of past clearly indicate that not only is his blood (and so many others) on our hands, but—and more importantly—we have failed to see the crowd, to receive the crowd, to have compassion on the crowd.

Nothing has changed since that tragic day in 1971 when a 29-year-old black man was gunned down, shot in the back by a San Quentin prison guard. Nothing has changed nearly 50 years later when a 46-year-old man was pinned down, choked out by the ones sworn to protect and serve. Nothing has changed when a black woman sleeping in her own home, is gunned down by intruders who are supposed to be preventing such break-ins. Nothing has changed when a black man in a fast food parking lot takes two to the back. Nothing has changed… This is not okay.

Knowledge is power when the knowledge gained stands up against corruption, injustice, systemic evil. But such power is risky because as the song goes: “When a leader speaks, that leader dies.”[3]

To repent of past wrongs so as to stand up and for the other is risky. Yes it takes courage, integrity, and grit to be willing to lead, to question, to push against the absolute powers of corruption, but for those swimming in the waters of Bethesda’s pool, who have been touched by the scandalous hand of the ultimate revolution, such a stand is the bare minimum.

Might we dare to ask, as followers of Christ, how can we see and receive the other if we are not willing to embrace the truth of today? That is, how can I say that I love Jesus and not be willing to step outside of my comfort zone so to embody or incarnate the pain, suffering, and injustice of those who have continued to take two to the back?

Jesus took beyond two to the back when, in becoming my sin, your sin, our sin, He was pulverized. His back turned into shredded meat so to set us free from sin in order that we might be free for each other…

At this very moment followers of Christ most likely feel as if they are between Scylla and Charybdis, and truth be told, this is how it has, is, and will be until the day we sit down with Jesus at His table of communion. This is why we need dialogue. First with Christ and then with each other.

We can only overcome the six-headed monster of injustice while navigating through the cesspool (whirlpool) of evil when we are willing to receive the other as we have been received by the One who became the sin of the many. And in this reception of love we will find that the power of the One has come to stretch us so to set the many free in order to be unified in our One love for the sake of we

[1] Many thanks for work previously done with Domyo Sater of Dharma Rain Zen Center who illumined this phraseology. See Cultural Encounters, Winter 2006, Vol 3. Num 1, pgs 71-74.

[2] Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, ix. Retrieved from , June 12th 2020.

[3] Living Colour, Cult of Personality, from Vivid (1988).