Monday, November 24, 2014

EMPTY

I’m witnessing the shouts of ignorance far too often these days. It’s not just the absence of love, which frequently finds space to avoid, but rather, it’s the presence of hate, which claws into words and actions with reckless abandon. We’re becoming soiled by its unyielding desire to destroy, and we’re convincing ourselves that it’s contrary to our intentions. I remain unconvinced that we are so dumb. There’s far too much available at the tips of our fingers and within reach of our ears and eyes to believe that we can blame it on misinformation or misunderstanding. No, we are complicit in this drowning of our compassion.

The reaction to “illegal” immigration has been both fascinating and disturbing. A revelation of our collective stupidity when ignoring our past is one possible way to describe it, especially considering most of those who speak so intensely about others not belonging here can trace their own lineage easily enough to demonstrate their own ancestors were “illegal” immigrants. More accurately, though, it’s a full exposure of the egocentrism that festers in a pool of privilege born of white power. Masking racism with an interpretation of the law that prevents it aligning to ourselves and ignores the factors contributing to present circumstances is conveniently but blatantly disgusting.

Defending the use of racial slurs would seem at first glance to be beneath us, even in the imaginary “post-racial” society so many of us believe we have. And yet, it’s a constant barrage of pompous dismissals alongside supportive comments when it comes to defending the use of words or symbols anyone in their right mind would never say or show directly to the face of an American Indian without rightfully and promptly being informed they are racist. Arguing the right to not listen to those we deem unworthy of our discomfort speaks to the pervasive ethnocentrism so dominate in our society, and highlights specifically how our power and privilege leads us to believe we can make pointless comparisons.

Defining a loving relationship between two mutually consenting adults within the parameters of our narrow and misguided minds has created a false sense of righteousness, especially among those who consider themselves followers of Christ. Scripture is used to defend this hatred in a way that magnifies both the ignorance of how marriage is defined within The Bible, but also in a way that ignores the history of how The Word has been distorted in history to oppress with such sweeping certainty. Instead of finding ways to expand love, we demonstrate how sick we can be by relating it to offenses with no comparison. We rush to make an exclusive club, while acting as if we are unable to recognize how we falsely define relationships as being about what happens in the bed instead of what happens in the heart.

For hatred of a leader, and at the expense of people in need and women who deserve nothing but our thanks and respect, we justify our criticisms of a system designed to provide care that we all deserve. Criticizing endless numbers of people being able to access what should be a basic right? Seriously? Imagine the progress we could make if we were demanding ways to continually improve rather than destroy access to healthcare for all? What if we cared less about pitching in a bit more, waiting a bit longer, and acting a bit less like the entire world revolves around ourselves? What if we cared more about doing absolutely everything we can to see that all people everywhere – regardless of background, circumstances, or “pre-existing conditions” – were cared for the way we all wish to be cared for?

As I write this, a decision announced by a prosecutor from a grand jury about whether or not to allow a family to have their day in court for their child is being shared. It’s not an indictment of all law enforcement everywhere. That’s a distortion and distraction of epic proportions. It’s not about just a single case. That’s downplaying a long history of injustices. No, this is a decision related to an issue that defines the state of racial divide that continues to exist day in and day out all around us. To pretend it doesn’t exist means we aren’t paying attention to the statistics that make clear the disproportionate numbers of people of color who face academic struggles and discipline referrals in schools, but also arrest, imprisonment, and death at the hands of our society.

My heart aches. My fists clench. My anger boils. Being white, straight, able-bodied and minded, economically stable, and male, I’m privileged enough to not have to live this day in and day out. Still, my heart aches. My fists clench. My anger boils. We are brothers and sisters, and we are all both victims and perpetrators.

I look for my God in all of this, and I remember He is where He always is – within us.

Friday, June 13, 2014

TIPPING THE SCALE


We're supposed to say we're sinners
But we don't like that word
It casts a shadow over us
It beats us down
It exposes us

We're supposed revel in God's Grace
But we can't believe it's real
It covers us with love
It lifts us up
It heals us

We're supposed to reach out in love to all
But we have to qualify that
It works for many
It fails for some
It excludes us

Sometimes the sin is just too damn much for us, no matter what we say we believe
And we search The Word to justify ourselves
Instead of seeking The Word to correct ourselves
And we think we speak the truth
When The Truth is cast aside

We believe love should cost us nothing
But love costs us everything
And we should spend it all
With a smile on our face
And tears in our eyes

Sunday, May 4, 2014

WALKING THE ROAD

My shadow last fell at the doorway of a church around a year ago. Today, that changed. There was no popular worship music belted out by a live band. There were no people decked out in hipster clothing. There wasn't any slick marketing scheme designed to draw me in, or back again.

I did hear some words used that I haven't heard spoken in a loving and inclusive way at church in a long time. There was music and praying, speaking and listening, and there was sharing. There was also a message, interestingly enough, focused on walking on the road to Emmaus.

Somewhere along the way, real has become less about cool tunes, raised hands, stiched jeans, hippie dresses, and untucked button front shirts. Somewhere along the way, real has become more about genuinely speaking about Jesus Christ, and His message of love for absolutely everyone.

Welcoming isn't about power and privilege and fitting the mold. Welcoming isn't about exclusion and 'Merica and earning instead of sharing our blessings. Welcoming isn't about being pro-life, but only for whomever is deemed worthy while stripping those deemed unworthy of any voice or control.

I'm unsure of what's next for me and church. But, today I went to church. It requires steps if one is going to walk the road. Today I introduced myself to a church. They also gave me a bag of homemade noodles. So, I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

ECCLESIOPHOBIA

God is not scary to me. I'm not afraid of who He is, or what He does, or how He feels about me. I mean, I know we're supposed to fear Him and all, but that's not the same thing, I think. Let me put it this way: If I pissed God off, and He's after me because of it, then I've long been screwed, and there's no way I'm getting out of it.

It's not like that. I love God. I feel as safe with Him as I do my family and friends - and they're all very good to me. He loves me like they do. Actually, I believe He loves me even more than they do, I think. Let me put it this way: Even though I know I've pissed God off, He's after me because He loves me like a wild man, I'm saved because of Him, and I'm so thankful I'm not getting out of it.

I'll tell you what spooks me though: Church. And, hey, I get it. Church is people, and people can be, well, people. I know I am. But, as I wander along this path I'm on, meandering through the wilderness, searching for a new church home, I'm finding myself consistently comfortable with God, but increasingly uncomfortable with church. Quite frankly, I don't know if I even want a new church home.

We're all broken. And, I think most of us are fairly comfortable actually admitting that we're all broken. We all make mistakes, we all rub each other the wrong way at times, and, I honestly believe most of us try hard to forgive, and try hard at doing better. But, what makes me so unwilling to give church another shot is the consistent hate and hypocrisy at so many places. I mean, stop saying we're all broken, and then walk around acting like what you really mean is that everyone but you is broken. Stop hating, and then trying to pretend it's loving. When you treat others as less, you're hating on them. Then, when you try to justify treating others as less, you're still hating on them. Own it.

Hate isn't sanctioned. It never has been, it isn't now, and it never will be. We can pretend like it is, we can attempt to point to laws or God to say it is, we can use smoke and mirrors to give the appearance that it's something else in order to justify that it is, and we can continually attempt to make ourselves feel better by hoping that it is. Try as we might, though, hate isn't sanctioned. And, as long as I see any group promoting hate as though it is sanctioned, and the voices of love are ignored and dismissed, I can't allow myself to be a part of it. I'm sure there's a church home for me just waiting to be found. He'll help me find it, because He's after me, and thankfully that will never change.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM HIM?



I suppose we're all looking for a way out, a way in, a sign, a something.

I suppose we all need to pay closer attention.

I suppose.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WASHED BY THE WATER

Sometimes water doesn't clean and renew. Sometimes water dirties and destructs. Sometimes it brings chaos and loss, agony and suffering, hopelessness and despair.

And the pain of the unknown.

And the desire for relief.

And the gathering of hearts that can unite.

And the dawn of a new day.

And the certainty of knowing that all will be well again.

We are not blessed with simplicity throughout our lives, but we are blessed with restoration. I can see beyond the barriers, I can trust in what lies ahead, and I can be reminded that we can - that we will, in fact - be washed by the water.


Monday, September 2, 2013

LET'S NOT AND JUST SAY WE DID


Following years of painstaking research, I've come to the conclusion that there's one group of people who are least likely to truly and fully accept the message of Christ's love for all of us:

Christians.

O.K. Fine. It's not actually following years of painstaking research. Rather, it comes from mere observation and experience. Now, being an evangelical Christian myself, it's pretty tough to come to this realization. His love for us is so overwhelming, so complete, so all-encompassing, so unfailing, that He actually died for us. It's an amazing message, and I've discovered it's one that is actually received fairly well by those who don't claim to be Christians.

They don't struggle with Christ. They struggle with Christians.

It would be so much easier for people to believe in and live out the love of Jesus Christ if His followers were more consistently living out His message. Christianity is famous for delivering a message that it's not a religion, but rather a relationship. And yet, the message sent out is one of exclusivity - a privileged club that only some get to belong to, and that many can get kicked out of.

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Love. Just love. Make it the favorite, make it the focus, and the relationship with The Big Guy will actually flourish.