It’s the type of headline I would normally skim over — “Myanmar’s Leader Is Detained Amid Coup” — because I don’t closely follow Asian politics. But this recent headline grabbed me, and I read the article twice, searching for how the military overthrow of a civilian government might affect religious practice in Myanmar. Why now? Because Peter Mang, a Christian pastor in Myanmar, was part of a recent class of Faith and Money Network’s online course, “Money, Faith and You,” connected from across the world.
Over the weeks of the course, Mang was “very affirming of each participant in the process,” said FMN director Mike Little. “He is humble with his depth and so kind.” Little continued, “He understands where the people in his church are coming from, and in his own way he is really on fire for his community.” The course meant so much to Mang that he has asked to translate the study materials into Burmese to share with other pastors in his house-church network.
The hope of faith is to move from partial solidarity—“I see you”–to total solidarity—“I am working to make your life equal to mine because we are both beloved people of God.”
Solidarity is one of those words that has been overused to the point of having little meaning. Some people use it to mean something closer to charity. Others use it to mean engagement or deep connection. I heard a speaker recently who accompanies Palestinians through dangerous zones, literally putting her life on the line alongside them, and still doesn’t consider that genuine solidarity because she is not working to change the structures that create the danger itself.
I cannot resolve the question of definition to scholarly satisfaction. For me, the day I responded to the headline about Myanmar, my glimpse of solidarity was an opening of the heart–the smallest of first steps toward that deep solidarity to which we are called.
Susan Taylor | February 23, 2021
Susan Taylor is vice-president of the Faith and Money Network Board of Directors.