Monthly Archives: October 2016

Standing Rock, Racial Injustice & This Presidential Election.

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Let me start this in the most honest way I know how.  I really want you to read it.  Not only do I want you to read it, I want you to be so touched/challenged/empowered by it that you share it.  You see, I had this crazy experience over the summer where A LOT of people engaged with something I wrote and for a brief moment I felt like I had a window into other peoples lives: their celebrations and their pain. And for that moment, I felt like I was making a difference. It was a very personal and very powerful experience that I will always hold dear to my heart.  However, every time I have sat down at my keyboard since then I have had to fight the urge to write simply so that I could experience it again.  And I am afraid that I never will.  That fear has made it difficult for me to simply share my heart, which is likely the very thing people responded to the first time.  Ironic, huh?

That’s the thing about fear though, it keeps us trapped; holds us hostage to its demands.  Before you start thinking of that time that your fear of failure motivated you to achieve let me show you what I mean by looking at three things that have a lot more in common than you might think:

Standing Rock, Racial Injustice and this Presidential Election.

Each one of these issues, all of which break my heart on a daily basis, are driven by fear. I think it’s fair to say that we can call out the bottom line of each of one quickly and simply:

Standing Rock– Private interests before the common good.

Racial Injustice– Personal perspective before empathy and compassion

Presidential Election– Political agenda before national well-being.

In every one of these instances one group or person is focused on themselves, their interests.  That’s not a judgement, it’s an observation. It’s human nature to think about ourselves first.  I know fearsthis all too well.  I’m a Christian.  What’s more, I believe in the Church.  And we (the Church) know from fear: fear of change, fear of loosing control, fear of losing all we hold dear.  I also happen to be white.  There’s a whole other set of fears.  Fear that I am going to find out that I’m the bad guy, fear that I may realize that the happy little world I thought I lived in is an illusion.  And I am an American.  One who loves this country dearly but can’t help be see the cracks in the wall.  There is so much too fear.  You might argue that I just need a little courage, but courage is a side-effect.  The opposite of fear isn’t courage, its kindnesslove.  The kind of love that is willing to get dirty and take risks; the kind that sees what could be instead of what is or was; that kind of love will trump fear any day of the week.  You see, fear is about me and love is about you.  As long as I live my life focused on myself, my interests, my perspective, my agenda, I will always be ruled by fear.  But when my
focus shifts, when I put others first, I become free to engage the world for what it really is: scary and terrible, but beautiful beyond compare.  Then and only then can I become a part of the solution.  That’s when I can effect change, the kind that actually matters.

 

So I will care more about the health and well-being of people and less about how much I pay for gas; I will continue to learn what it is to not be white in America and call BS when I see it; and I will pray like crazy for my country and those people who are trying to lead it.  What will you do?

An Open Letter To My Christian Self

Dear Me,

I know you are frustrated; I know you are sad; I know you are worried.  Everything you have come to believe is important seems to be less and less important to everyone else.  People at large think you are arrogant, judgmental and hypocritical.  It seems like even your own “brothers and sisters in Christ” can’t do anything but rip on you and each other.  It almost seems like half of your time needs to be spent defending the reality that your faith is not the same thing as your politics and the other half of your time is spent trying to figure out if you are reaching people for Jesus or selling out to popular culture.  You often feel like you have more in common with the people you are serving than you do with the “body of Christ”.  You are tired, you are scared and you feel alone.

I am here to tell you that you are in good company.  Don’t loose heart.  There is nothing in this world that ever came easy and there is no reason to think that will change now.  Sure, your stance on premarital sex seems antiquated to most.  Yes, your belief that life starts at conception will always draw the “what if” scenarios you don’t have a good answer for and people will automatically assume you are closed minded and heartless.  There is no doubt that people will spot your hypocrisy.   The more good you do in this world the more bad they will find in you.  Heck, even your fellow Christians will judge you.  Sometimes, them more than anyone.  And what’s worst of all is that most of the people you come into contact simply won’t care about you or what you have to say unless they are looking to argue with you.  Just don’t forget that you hold the most powerful truth that this world has ever seen: love.

I don’t mean romantic love.  That love that we see in the movies that can move mountains.  I mean the kind of love that suffers long.  I mean the kind of love that puts others first.  Listen, this world operates on the premise of power.  Those who have the power make the rules so you can never really come out on top, right?  But when you return hate with love; when you show grace first; when you seek to be present not right.  That is a game played by a very different set of rules and you know the guy who wrote them, personally.

So love the LGTBQ community and fight for their right to be happy.  Let  your heart break for racial injustice and say something about it.  Don’t just feed the hungry, eat with them.  Befriend the drug addict who just can’t get his act together.    Grieve with the would-be mother who just lost her baby because she chose to.  LOVE.  Love the way God loved you when you were alone and hurting.  Not in a comfortable, safe, feel good kinda way.  Love like Jesus loved.  Because if you do that, there is no force in this world that can stop you and an eternal place for you in the next.

 

Grace and Peace,

You

 

 

That’s what he said.

The two things you are never supposed to talk about are politics and religion…right?  Those are divisive topics.   They are so deeply personal that people who hold to different religion-and-politicsbeliefs can’t possibly talk about them and not argue.  Why is that anyway?  I think it’s because  everyone already has their mind made up.  What makes it worse is that in today’s culture it seems like every tweet, post, and “article” is a thinly veiled advertisement for some product or point of view.  We are not supposed to talk about these things openly, so we just try and sway people by tricking them into agreeing with us.  There has to be a better way!  There is no getting past the power of listening first and listening well, but when it is time for us to communicate how do we do that effectively?

Over the years I have discovered a very simple trick.  I just pretend that I am the listener and ask myself, “So what?” .  The So What breaks down into three questions:

  1. What does that mean? (What is the information you are giving me?)
  2. Why do I care? (What effect will this have on my life?)
  3. Now what? (What am I supposed to do with that?)

Let’s try it with both politics AND religion. More specifically, Donald Trump and his “locker-room talk.” A recording was recently released of Donald Trump having a conversation with Billy Busch about women.  (What does that mean?) Duringlocker-room-talk the course of the conversation Donald was recorded indicating that he has a certain degree of leverage when it comes to women because he is a star.  He used some really vulgar language to describe what he thinks he can get away with because of his celebrity.  (Why do I care?) You may been offended by his language or you may think our culture is pretty vulgar by and large and therefore you weren’t.  You may have thought he was describing sexual assault or that he was just engaging in locker room talk.
You may believe that this recording is simply one example of a long list of things he has said that dehumanize women and minorities or you might think he has said he was sorry and we should move on.  You may be reading this and thinking “I hate that guy!” or you might be thinking of all of the terrible things Hilary Clinton has done (and how you are going to post them in the comments…please don’t do that.) Regardless on your take on these things, when did humanity stop being important?  When did we stop wanting to stand for values and moral character?  Regardless of which candidate is worse you are likely voting for “the lesser of two evils”.  My take-a-way: we need to do better America.  We need to be better. (What now?)   As an individual citizen of this country, I need to start to demonstrate those values and moral character.  It is the only way things will ever get better.  I am a christian and my faith is a huge part of who I am.  It tells me that I am part of something bigger than myself; it tells me that I should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger;  and it tells me that there is nothing more powerful in this world than love.  If you don’t believe me, the next time someone comes at you with anger or hate be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Respond with love and watch what happens.

I want to be clear that I am not posting this to get people to change who they vote for.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think the point of this election is who wins. I have struggled very deeply and very personally recently with how I am supposed to interact with this world as a white, christian man.  It seems like everywhere I turn there is just more anger, more hurt and more injustice.  As a result, I simply don’t know where else to start but with myself. So I will listen more and speak less; I will forgive quicker and love harder; I will be…better.

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