Tuesday, June 12, 2012

june synchroblog: backpack cargo

ocean lotus
For June we're synchroblogging what's in your backpack/knapsack? Unearned gender privilege? Unbought ethnic advantage? Briefly from synchroblog central:
"Invisible Knapsack" is a term coined by Peggy McIntosh in her 1988 essay, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." Her short essay reflected on the unearned privileges that whites could count on each day, but about which they remained oblivious. ... Whether it is white privilege, heterosexual privilege, male privilege, Christian privilege, able-bodied privilege or any other privilege that we enjoy through no effort of our own, we all have a tendency to be blind to our own position of privilege. ... This month's synchroblog asks us to peek inside our own invisible knapsacks and discover what's inside.
My backpack easily stays hoisted on my left shoulder. I knew there would be exceptions to the welcome, inclusion, and opportunities I expectantly prepared for, but I've been surprised more than once. Coming up I basically looked like the majority population cohort, though half my heritage was a little further to the European east than most. Even in this year 2012, New England sees a lot more in- than out-migration [later note: I'm not sure this is so but I'll leave it because of the way it connects with the rest of the sentence], and despite outward appearances, not being from a family who'd lived in that area for several generations turned out to be a major obstacle; being the only kid in my first grade class not born in that city or even in that state caused suspicions. I didn't talk like other kids, either, since my fam hailed from the south and the midwest and had sojourned on the prairie and in the intermountain west. Vocabulary differences? A few. You'd probably think any bright, white, disciplined boy or girl, woman or guy would be noticed, welcomed, and included. But that was then and as an adult, too many of my experiences of exclusion and being pushed away and set aside from the mainstream have had more to do with the nature of the institutional church rather than gender, race, geography, or ethnicity.

Wherever I go, in my sometimes somewhat visible (really, you can see it if you look for it!) backpack I carry a passion for the city along with my own transformative experiences in the urban church. Nature of the institutional church? I have not been popular with pastors and pew sitters who desire only the conventional, the predictable, the same old same old, who themselves have become as institutionalized as the bricks, mortar, velvet, dust, and candlewax they adore.

We're blogging about unearned advantages we tote around with us. By grace I've experienced death by drowning in the Fountain of Life; I am baptized into the unearned privilege of servanthood. By grace alone I've feasted at the Welcome Table, the banquet of "go and do likewise." Wherever you find me I seek justice and healing, preach liberation and hope for all creation. Because of the life of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ that indwells me, would I dare demand or even request anyone else earn any streams in their deserts, any welcome home, any forgiveness, or any justice I could offer?

As testimony to God's everlasting faithfulness, by grace the contents of my backpack are a forever feature: I have been "sealed with the sign of the cross forever."

Other June synchroblog participants:

backpack• Rebecca Trotter at The Upside Down World – The Real Reason the Term “White Privilege” Needs to Die
• Carol Kuniholm at Words Half Heard – What Do You Have That You Didn’t Receive
• Glenn Hager at Glenn Hager – Unjust Justice
• K.W. Leslie at More Christ – Sharing From The Invisible Knapsack
• Jeremy Myers at Till He Comes – My Black Privilege
• Alan Knox at The Assembling Of the Church – Knowing Who You Are and How Others Identify You
• Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – Christian Privilege
• Kathy Escobar at Kathy Escobar – privilege.


  1. that was beautiful, Leah! Thanks for participating. (btw - I have added Kathy's link to the list now)

  2. I love your last two paragraphs. They beautifully reframe the idea of privilege - not something we hold to ourselves, but something we share, spread, pour out to others because God's grace has so generously been poured out on us.

    "Because of the life of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ that indwells me, would I dare demand or even request anyone else earn any streams in their deserts, any welcome home, any forgiveness, or any justice I could offer? "

    Thank you!


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