Open hand, clenched fist …

I was in an airplane today when President Obama gave his speech in Egypt, but I’m one of many catching it online. Here’s a link.
Just a few days ago, I wrote a song which has some strong resonances with the President’s words today. Hopefully I can get a scratch recording of it together at some point to share. Here are the lyrics.
Clenching fist and open hand
Sometimes we wonder whether God really does exist,
And if God’s way is of the open hand or clenching fist.
And while some preachers argue over doctrines and demands,
Their followers are making clenching fists of open hands.
Open up your hands.
So is religion killing us? Is it tearing us apart?
Does it open space to reconcile, or shrink the heart?
Two paths lie before us. One constricts and one expands.
One is the way of clenching fists; the other, open hands.
Stretch your open hands.
What we hold in mind and heart flows down through the wrist
And is expressed in open hand or in clenching fist
And so we build on solid rock, or else unstable sand;
And so we live by clenching fist or by the open hand.
Reach out open hands.
If we fight and fear and hate, our conflicts will persist
Until we trust the open hand more than the clenching fist
In church and mosque and synagogue, how many understand
The living God is the loving God of the open hand?
Join your open hands.
There were hands that blessed the children, touched and healed and fed
Hands that poured a cup of wine, hands that broke the bread
Hands that remained open even when the hammer fell
Hands that hold us and that open through our hands as well.
Raise your open hands.
(more after the jump)

A gospel of peace means all the more against the backdrop of the violence we see around us. Today I’m in Canada with Native Peoples/First Nations, discussing, among other things, the ways the Christian message was warped and distorted to justify atrocities committed against the original Americans. Similar distortions are happening every day … often against immigrants, Muslims, gay people, and others … and often supported by Bible verses wrenched from their context.
If you haven’t read Franky Schaeffer’s powerful piece on how religion – including Christianity – contributes to violence (albeit unintentionally), please catch it here. This is a time for soul-searching and fresh thinking for all of us. It truly is the time for a new kind of Christianity.