Breaking a Promise

I told myself I wasn’t going to do it.

My kids agreed it was a good idea to stay away from it.

My cousin proved by his comments on my Facebook posts that it wasn’t going to be easy.

But, I’m currently attending a seminar at church (well, from my basement) on healing racial trauma.  One of the things that was brought up was Dr. Martin Luther King’s book, “Letters from a Birmingham Jail.”  He is “down” in Birmingham helping them fight back against segregation and he gets thrown in jail.  No surprise if you ask me.

Well, while he’s in prison, he can’t talk to people on the phone, can’t e-mail, can’t do much.  So he wrote letters.  One set of them got turned into a book – “Letters from a Birmingham Jail.”   It was written on April 16, 1963.  There is a lot of good stuff in this book.  I mean there’s a lot of good stuff if you want to try to make a difference in the world.

That book, particularly the part that I quoted right below this paragraph, is a large part of why, even though I said I wasn’t going to talk about race and the political situation, I am.   But……

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.’’’

I’m going to talk more about some of the details Dr. King brings up, but for today, I just want to share one point

I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace…..

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Letters from a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

I believe, from this relatively close to middle age white guy, that there is no better or more well respected leader of the civil rights movement from that time.  And when he says the moderate Christian is his biggest stumbling block it would do well for the church to sit up and say, “Who me?  We’re always supportive of Civil Rights for all people?

Are you really?   Are we really?  Are we really prepared to step out of our comfort zones and be more of a neighbor to those who don’t look like us?   According to Dr. King, no we are not.

According to Dr. King, we are worse than the Ku Klux Klan.

Ouch

You know those guys who used to ride around on horses in the middle of the night, plant burning crosses in the front yard of black families and then haul out the men and/or boys, tie them up and lynch them.

He said we’re worse than that?  Yes, he did.

We are just over a month away from the presidential election.  Some call it the greatest freak show on earth, some call it the most amazing transfer of power in the governments since the time of, oh I don’t know, the Crusades?

Presidential Debate

Between the natural disasters, the medical disasters and the political disasters, there is a LOT of stuff going on.  And it’s time, actually it is past time to engage these issues and try to make a difference the way God would want us to.

I’m going to talk about this more in the coming days and weeks, but I firmly believe that we have a huge problem on our hands – the problem of the one issue voter.

You know the guy, he says, “I’m going to vote for _________ because he was endorsed by the NRA.”   Or “Mr. Smith is pro-abortion and so I will never vote for him.”   When someone does that a couple of things are happening:

  • They are totally ignoring the rest of what that person stands for.   You might like this particular policy but are you really willing to put control of _________ in the hands of someone who has never __________?
  • Mr. Smith says that he’s pro-life.  He says that he would only allow an abortion to save the life of the mother.   What’s his stance on the discrepancy in funding and everything related to that for schools – where, on average, black schools get, I believe, close to half of what white schools do?
  • Does he support reform in the mental health and adoption/foster care areas of life that both need substantial reform?
  • What is his or her stand on immigration?
  • What is his or her stand on healthcare?

There is a lot more to being pro-life than just being anti-abortion.  So, when someone says they are going to vote for ______________ because of his stance on gun control, then you are ignoring a lot of very important issues related to guns, related to domestic violence, related to immigration, related to free elections that all are impacted by someone if they say they are pro-life.

So if someone says they are opposed to adoption, ask them what they think about the kids being “warehoused” literally, in vacant Walmart stores.   If they aren’t really upset about that, ask them how they can be pro-life and not opposed to that?

The world is complex.  Very very complex.  We are in the first election in my lifetime where you can no longer say,  “If they say they are a _________________ then you can vote for them because they believe the same.”

It doesn’t work that way right now.   If you vote for someone who meets your rules for one issue, they might be totally against what you stand for in other ways.

Don’t look only at one issue.  Don’t look only at whether they say they will or won’t raise taxes.  They can say one thing now and then something else later.

Don’t be a moderate one issue voter.   Look at multiple issues and also those other “things” like character, flexibiliy, truthfulness, respect, treatment of those with disabilities and the list could go on, but there’s too much other ground to cover in the next month (and beyond.)

Thanks for reading, stay tuned.  I don’t know what all we are going to talk about, but I know it will be “interesting” to say the least.

Respectfully,

Tom

A Lament for Tuesday

God,

How?

How did this happen?   I mean seriously, how in the world did this happen?

So.much.anger

So.much.hate

So.many.lies

How did it get to this point?  

We’ve fallen so far that we can’t agree to disagree.   If you don’t believe the same that I do, you’re evil, you aren’t worth the digital time it takes to “talk” to you and you’re going to hell.

Seriously?

We’ve polluted social media so much that it’s no longer social.   Now it’s more like sociopathic.

Whatever happened to “Do Justice, Love Mercy and walk humbly with our God?” 

We’ve turned it to “believe what I do or else……”

We’ve got these two as presidential candidates (and I use the word loosely) but  then a Christian author steps slightly out of the bounds that most Christians might see as the “boundary” and the attacks on her are vicious.

Why can’t we say, “I don’t agree with her on that, but I agree with a lot of what she says and I agree we should show more love to everyone.”

To quote famous author, Bob Goff,  “Love Does.”

There ain’t been much doing that lately.   Why God?

We’ve got people getting on life boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea to try to get to freedom (think about that a minute – they are willing to risk death to avoid the life (or death) they were facing at home).   And we have politicians refusing to welcome refugees?

How did we fall this far?

We have people literally starving to death and living on what is left of the streets in southern  Haiti – only a couple of hours from Miami – and the government says it won’t be able to get to some of them until the end of November.   Oh and the last estimates, over 800,000 people are “at risk” in Haiti.

The Hurricane was October 4.   God, where’s the justice in that?

Are you trying to teach us something?   Because if you are, we don’t seem to be listening.

Oh yeah and then there’s those two places, Aleppo and Mosul…..

God, what’s going on?

God, don’t forget the girls in Nigeria – many of the girls that Boko Haram kidnapped are still missing – two years later.

We know you’re the ultimate ruler but still, we wrestle.

We cry out.   Why, Oh Lord, Why?

Why do certain groups of people have justifiable reason to be afraid if a certain candidate gets elected?

What happened to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free?”

And what are we supposed to do?

What are we supposed to do on Tuesday?

What are we supposed to do on Wednesday?

To quote the father of the demon possessed boy in Mark 9,   “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

Help us believe that you have a plan.

Help calm our spirits in turbulent times.

Help calm the actions and reactions of volatile people.

Heal the wounds and help us to be a source of comfort for the homeless, the hurting and the refugee,

We don’t get it, God.

But we do get You.

Thank you for allowing us to have you, even in these times.

Amen

TJV