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The Earth Is The Lords: Locating A God-Centric Ideology

African American news from Pasadena Journal - Professor Hopkins - Life and ReligionSeek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your  thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9, NRSV)

Against the backdrop of the recent passage of healthcare reform, contention continues to brew among the opposition. It has become increasingly clear that this opposition is reflected in a deep

seated ideology that began when early European-American colonizers settled this land. This ideology which privileges the dominant WASP caste (and wholehearted assimilates) continues to hold to a 16th century hermeneutical understanding of the Declaration of Independence's most famous canto:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

The notion of what constituted the liberties and rights of 'Men' in the 16th century, at the same time vilified and excluded the indigenous natives (considered savages), women, Blacks (considered only 3/5th human), and Asians. Other people like Jews and Mexicans were also marginalized and viewed with contemptuous suspicion.

The battle with, and problems over, universal healthcare in America essentially is an issue over ideology - a clash of ideologies. Who is in charge and who makes societal, cultural and political decisions? The gatekeepers of current social and political policy advocate colonial imperialistic hegemony. The 44th President of the United States (Barack Obama) does not fit into the 16th century ideological notion of 'Men.' Thus his decisions and efforts are vilified by the opposition (evident by the Tea Party's re-problematizing the citizenry and so-called socialist sentiments of this President). Political contention did not just begin with President Obama; however, we do seem to be witnessing a new low.

The problems with not having a universal healthcare became blatantly real when I moved to England in 2000. During my four year stint in England as a graduate student, my family and I received healthcare coverage (at no out of pocket cost) under the National Health Service (NHS), which largely was funded by the government. Like every other citizen and resident, we were assigned (given a right to choose) a general practitioner in the area where we lived.

Healthcare was a duly given right. When my wife was pregnant with our daughter, all of her prenatal care was covered. Her prescription medications were covered. Even her stay at the hospital, both during and after the delivery, was covered. For the first ten days after my wife returned home, a midwife visited our home to check up on mother and baby.

I even remember when I was too sick to go the doctor; he made a special trip to our apartment to check up on me. The NHS was a civil liberty along the lines of other social services (similar to ones already in place in America like free library services, police protection service, public secondary school education, fire safety protection service and certain media programming services – public radio and television). Britain's National Health Service was not without its faults (and there were many), but access to basic healthcare was a universal civil right. As we all continue to search for a God-centric ideology we must remember that, "God's thoughts are not our thoughts neither are God's ways our ways."

[Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins is Scholar-in-Residence at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Atlanta, GA and is a Professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center also in Atlanta. He is the author of "Ecclesiastes" in the African Bible: Reading Israel's Scriptures through Africa and the African Diaspora (Fortress Press), 2009, and "Duty or Responsibility? The African American Evangelical's Identity" in the Journal of African American Christian Thought 1 (2009). Hopkins is available for preaching, lecturing, speaking or conducting workshops or seminars. You may contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .]

 

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