Striker told one of her classes that I’m an anarchist. She’s done this before. I can’t quite figure out if she’s proud of me, or just enjoys the attention that comes from having a mother who’s a freak. A few years ago she got her words mixed up and tried to convince her church youth group that I’m an atheist. That would somewhat limit my options in ministry, if true.
So last night, at about 10:00 o’clock, Striker said, “Oh, mom, I almost forgot. I told my civics class that you’re an anarchist. And Mrs. _______ asked me to explain, but I couldn’t explain it very well. So she wondered if you’d write down your views. Just a paragraph or two is fine. Sorry I forgot to mention it earlier. By tomorrow morning would be good.”
Well, she didn’t get it by this morning. I challenge you to explain and defend Christian anarchism in two paragraphs while drowsily watching “The Daily Show”. It doesn’t work. I did, however, type up and print something today. I hope the teacher doesn’t object to my dragging scripture into it, because it’s unavoidable. I babbled for a few paragraphs and then referred her to smarter people like Jesus, Dorothy Day, Jacques Ellul, John Howard Yoder and William Cavanaugh. The usual suspects. But not Tolstoy, the oft-cited patron saint of Christian anarchism. He was a nut.
Oh, that daughter of mine. As I write this post I am reminded of a quiet Thanksgiving afternoon a year or two ago when Striker spoke up out of the blue and said, “Hey, Grandpa” – the “Grandpa” being my proud Korean War veteran father – “Hey, Grandpa, did you know that Mom is an anarchist?” If you think only teenagers can pull off the exaggerated eye roll, you should have seen my dad.
If you listen to Striker, you’d think that I hold party meetings at our house, or hand out literature on street corners, or give speeches in Union Square. You’d think I never read anyone but Bakunin and Chomsky. I’m really not that interesting. But there are buzz words that are guaranteed to get a reaction and “anarchy” is one of them. I do like to shout it now and then, but usually just when I’m annoyed with some sort of bureaucracy. Remember the line from “Taladega Nights” when the unruly little boys run screaming, “Anarchy! Anarchy! I don’t know what that means, but I LOVE it!”? My real thoughts on the subject have nothing to do with rebellion and chaos. It’s all about recognizing, critiquing and subverting the powers and authorities that try to take our allegiance away from the One to whom it belongs. That’s what I tried to explain to the teacher. In my life, there is no rightful King but Jesus, and He doesn’t rule by power, coercion and violence. His followers shouldn’t either.
I really need to develop a good short answer for the next time that Striker does this to me. Or maybe print up business cards: Sharon Autenrieth, anarchist sympathizer. Not the bomb-throwing kind.