"Profiling by the FBI--and by Christians"
By Gerry Hendershot
"At least 117 million Americans have images of their faces in one or more police data bases," reported reported the Washington Post last week. The story reminded me of the Church of the Pilgrims mission statement, which says, in part:
We follow Jesus, seeing God's image in every face,
inviting all people into the circle of God's grace.
Topping the FBI, our data base includes images of every face. "Whoa!" I thought, are we Pilgrims, we Christians, profiling people? Are we pre-judging people—as the FBI might—on the basis of the appearance of their faces? I see your face so I know who you are? Is this the Good News of Jesus Christ?
At about the same time I came across the poem by Mark Jarman reproduced below, which makes Christian profiling clear—thank you Mark Jarman, and thank you Holy Spirit for leading me to this poem!
The poem is in a traditional sonnet form (look it up), with some sprightly variations. I think it's better heard than on the page, but I couldn't find a recording on line, so I made a recording myself— listen here.
Unholy Sonnets (13)
By Mark Jarman
Blessedness—not only in a face
But in the air surrounding everybody,
The charged air that makes me see a body
As blessed just because it has a face.
To feel like that, thoroughly and wholly,
Because someone has just become herself,
Because in seeing I've become myself,
A halved reality completed, wholly.
And then to look at everyone this way,
Like a messenger sending forth a ray
Of gilded light that everywhere announces
That everything is pregnant with itself.
"Rejoice!" I want to say. "You are yourself."
And the mask of meanness turns aside and winces.