8.03.2016

Joining the Team [excerpt]

All institutions begin as some sort of movement or local effort. People believe in something or see a need and organize to make it happen. There is a common goal and mutual understanding. Often, in the terminology of 20th-century sociologist Herbert Blumer, there is then formalization and institutionalization. Movements become institutions in order to improve efficiency, secure funding, centralize leadership, etc.

However, over time, if people do not remain as active participants, or if later generations are not educated about the essence and purpose, they eventually disassociate themselves from the institution of which they were once a collaborative part. That which was once the work of the people becomes seen as a separate entity apart from the people, and sometimes even the bane of the people.

That’s an oversimplified version of how, for example, what started with the Hague Congress eventually became Brexit.

It’s also how a pledge of “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” and a Constitution for a new government, eventually became the wave of “don’t tread on me” hyper-individualism that we see today.

There is a lot of fear and anger, as well as dissatisfaction with the status quo. A lot about it is justified or understandable. But I fear it’s causing us to shoot ourselves in the foot... [read the full article at Baptist News Global]

7.23.2016

All of the above

© 2014 Oliver TackeFlickr | CC-BY via Wylio
Police do a dangerous and important job, and have to protect themselves and can get shot or attacked out of nowhere. At the same time, people are sometimes shot needlessly and unjustifiably by police, and they are disproportionately black.

Police protect us, strive to keep our communities safe, do truly heroic things every day, and experience trauma that others cannot fathom. At the same time, police statistically arrest black people far more often for lower level crimes that they commit at the same rates as their white counterparts.

Within the last year, police officers have been targeted simply for being police officers, and have begun to be afraid to do the job we depend on them to do. At the same time, violent crime and police deaths are statistically at a decades-long low.

Black individuals, especially young black men, face prejudicial treatment and unfairly high levels of suspicion and scrutiny, and are 6 times more likely than white people to be the victims of violent crime. At the same time, black people also COMMIT violent crimes at a disproportionate rate, accounting for 52% of homicides but only 13% of the population.

*****

All of the above statements are true. They CAN all be true, and they ARE all true. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid of those trying to tell you that only one side of the narrative is true and turning you against your own fellow citizens as domestic enemies. The rage and division that these one-sided narratives produce help no one, other than the politicians who feed off of it.

6.09.2016

Facing the Worst in Ourselves, and Learning Grace [excerpt]

© 2006 Greg DunlapFlickr | CC-BY via Wylio
What would it take for us to stop playing this game, understand that Romans 3 is real, and be able to face the worst in ourselves and in others?

We perpetuate this lie that there is such a thing as a clean life, a closet without skeletons. Because we do that, we continue to be shocked every time we find out otherwise. We live our days in the midst of this fake drama of being self-assured and put together, and start to believe it’s our true narrative. We live with lists of “unforgivable sins,” but it just so happens that none of our own sins are on the list. When someone else gets exposed, we retreat to our positions of judgment and superiority — not to punish them but to protect ourselves.

Church, instead of being a place of freedom from this game, is too often a place for upping the ante, a place for advanced-level players of this game. Church can end up being a place where we are expected to hide from our brokenness rather than admitting it, working through it, and receiving the grace of God. Somehow, the church must become the place of refuge for the repentant tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) rather than where the adulterous woman, covering her head, waits for the first stone (John 7:53-8:11).

Most harmful behavior boils down to a hidden fear or unmet need. We really never know how we would respond in certain situations. It’s the circumstances we rarely take the time to understand, but it’s the circumstances that are key... [read the full article at Baptist News Global]