Archive | August, 2014

Post-Racial America, Part IV: A Courageous Pastor Explains why Blacks Fear the Police

27 Aug

Agree or disagree with Thabiti, his voice is a valuable one in this summer of our discontent.

Unhelpful Things to Say after the Beheading of James Foley . . .

26 Aug

I saw a British jihadist who was interviewed on BBC World News last weekend. He showed some of the fallacies the Western World believes in relation to the extremists of the Muslim faith.

Most chillingly, he plainly said that, even if we don’t come after them in the Middle East, they will remain at war with us. In fact, they will come get us here. They hate our system and want to destroy it.

Remember, a British citizen beheaded an American citizen in Syria last week . . .

One thing about British jihadists is that they don’t agree with the group among us that says, “Well, British jihadists are better off than people in the Middle East–they have more rights in Britain, too.” You see, they don’t compare themselves with citizens of the Middle East. Since they are British citizens, they compare themselves with other British citizens (as they should). And they conclude that they are worse off than other British citizens.

Some of that may be due to self-inflicted isolation within British society at large, but . . . there it is. That is the perception.

These radicalized individuals are very dangerous and . . . they will not grow safer if we ignore them.

Let’s Grow Old Together . . .

26 Aug

PhotoScanToday I met my best-friend-for-life for brunch halfway between our two houses (we live almost four hours away from each other) at the Cracker Barrel in Ashland, Virginia, where we have been meeting for, it seems, almost half of our lives. Ha ha!

Kimberly and I met at college in 1977, her freshman year, my sophomore year. From there we started developing a friendship of two people with many similar preferences, but enough differences to spice things up a little. It has only gotten sweeter every subsequent year.

We have interacted in Michigan, our home state, in Virginia, our adopted state, and in London, England, where she visited me for a couple of weeks while I was working at the naval headquarters there. I know, American Navy in London–go figure!

I was her maid of honor in her wedding; she was my matron of honor in mine.

I came to Washington, D.C. for a conference right after the birth of her first child and was able to see the little one several times before I had to return to Germany, where Noel and I were living at that time.

Kimberly and Larry came down right after our Joey was born and visited me in Portsmouth Naval Hospital, where I had an extended stay with the baby for almost a week.

Together, we have probably talked more history and theology than most individuals do in a lifetime with every person in their lives put together.

We have shared books and prayers and recipes.

We even went to a women’s conference together with her church once.

And as I have just had my 56th birthday, I calculated for Kimberly today that I have known her for 37 years. Almost 2/3 of my life. As my eyes are getting to the stage where they need reading glasses (or enlarged type on my iPad), I realize that there are certain things about me that are never going to go back to the way they were when I was 19.

But, oh how precious it is to have not only my husband of 25 years, but my amazing friend and her husband to walk fearlessly into that aging process with me.

Alone, it would be scary for me. But Jesus never asked me to go it alone. He is with me, but He gave me people in the flesh to walk beside me, too.

I think we are going to really kick it in the aging process!

And, when the end comes for the first one of us, we will all remind each other that it is just the beginning . . .

Thank You, Jesus!

Four Positions on Ferguson . . . (Maybe We Really *Don’t Try to Understand Each Other)

25 Aug

Good piece for helping us gather our thoughts and form our own conclusions about Ferguson . . .

Open Carry and the Ohio Walmart Case . . .

24 Aug

This is sobering. If people are going to be shot for open carry, then maybe we need to do away with it.

Certainly you can’t have it both ways, telling people it is legal to open carry, but telling police officers they can shoot people who do . . .

Being an Aficionado of Classic Films . . .

24 Aug

I have loved old films for as long as I can remember. Probably because, when I was young, bonding with my dad (and sometimes with my mom) came during shared viewing of classic films on “The Late Show” (or even “The Late, Late Show” on very special occasions).

I have had times in my life, especially when I lived overseas, when I watched old films almost constantly. When I first got my VCR, while living in Germany, I rented films from the rental shop on base almost every night. Didn’t understand much German television!

So it is fun to discover that I have married into a family just like my own. When Noel’s nephew, his brother’s son, stayed here with us for three months, we found we have a common passion for classic films. It helped to share that, especially since we are Christians and our nephew is an atheist (although the most tolerant atheist ever–he came to church with us three times a week).

Yesterday, Noel’s 91-year-old aunt explained that Noel and his brother, along with their siblings, get their love of classic films from their mother and her (she is their mother’s sister). As she said, “When we were young, television had not been invented yet. Films were all there were. And we went constantly, as a way to socialize with friends and family.”

Now, these last two summers, I have rediscovered an old friendship with a woman with whom I taught children at Bible study for over five years, back when our kiddoes were little. Patty, too, is from an extended family of classic film aficionados. And they are also all Christians. We knew we had the latter part in common; we have just discovered the film connection!

Patty, her daughter (whom I taught in Bible study), Patty’s sister-in-law Karen (who also was in Bible study with us), Karen’s daughter, and Karen’s father/Patty’s father-in-law all gather on Monday nights during the summer for the Classic Film Festival at our independent cinema, the Naro. They invited me to come along once last year and . . . I got hooked.

There is one film a week for seven weeks–this year I attended five of them and Noel joined us for three. Joey even came once. We meet at the YNot Pizza next door to the cinema at 5:30 so we can eat outside and jump into the line before it gets too long! This is a hard core group. LOL!

What fun it is to share this common interest. I didn’t know that there were that many people who could quote lines from the Golden Oldies with me, let alone that they are all in the same family!!! What a great time we have, as fellow believers in Jesus who have found an outlet for good, clean fun.

This year, we saw Casablanca, Diabolique, East Side/West Side, Rebecca, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The final night, we have an informal “Oscars” night. We, the audience, nearly got “Cat” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s the best supporting actor award as a write-in candidate. That was funny!

God has richly given us all things to enjoy in this life. We are to be a reconciling force for His Name, reconciling people to God as the Holy Spirit works in their hearts. When we glorify God in all things we do, including hobbies, His mandate to us can become a reality in our lives.

Summer is over. I will miss our Monday nights . . .

Surviving Ebola . . .

23 Aug

What an amazing story of compassion and love. God is good, even in the midst of turmoil!

Post-Racial America, Part III: Focus on Ferguson

21 Aug

Quick, name five hotspots in the world right now:

1) West Africa, with the ebola outbreak. Heartbreaking, too, when people who have not received an adequate education react to an epidemic by storming medical facilities and freeing quarantined people, as they did over the weekend in Monrovia, Liberia.

2) Gaza, with the violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Tension in the U.S. because we arm Israel. And Egypt, on the other side of Gaza, for that matter.

3) Iraq/Syria borderlands, where ISIS has declared itself to be a new country (IS=Islamic State) and wishes to set up a caliphate to enforce Sharia law as the law of the land. Where U.S. journalist James Foley was just beheaded on Tuesday.

4) Ukraine, with the violence between Ukrainians and Russians. Tension in the U.S. because we just convinced Eastern Europe that they no longer need our help against a Russian threat!

5) And finally, Ferguson, Missouri, where our post-racial sensibilities have surfaced again in very stereotyped reactions to what is going on. I post Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile’s latest thought piece on Ferguson, above. And I agree with it.

Remember, there was an alleged incident of an officer in New York putting a black suspect in a (prohibited) chokehold recently, with the suspect dying during that incident. Yet, New York has not erupted into protests or racial incidents. What is the difference there? How did one situation get handled in a way that was perceived as transparent by the black community and the other did not?

I don’t have many answers but I do know that we need to have the racial conversation and not just keep our heads in the sand. We aren’t talking to each other, even now in the post-racial era. We are especially not talking to each other as Christians should.

I need to be able to wrap my arms around another mother, a black mother, who has lost her son for whatever reason, and mourn with her. We all know of times when someone dies in terrible circumstances. Suicides, drug overdoses, etc. We don’t lecture mothers at those times. And we don’t do it even if it turns out that Michael Brown’s last act was stealing cigars. We just love on the grieving mother.

May we Christians have the grace to get to where we need to be as Americans together, filled with compassion and Christ’s love.

A Few Words on White Privilege . . .

21 Aug

Please, please, please try to read this post before judging it. No one is negating personal responsibility. However, if we don’t know that life can be different for a black teen in America than it is for a white teen, then we can have a huge blindspot that does not aid the gospel in going forth in our society.

We are all humans and we can all understand each other. No one is talking reparations here, just understanding. It goes a long way . . .

Post-Racial America, Part II: The Prophetic Voice of a Black Pastor asking, “How Long, O Lord, How Long?”

21 Aug

I greatly respect Thabiti Anyabwile, who just moved back to the U.S. to plant a church in one of the poorer neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.

He has been a missionary for almost a decade in the Grand Cayman Islands, where most people look like him and he is not seen as “African-American” but just as “Pastor Thabiti.”

He is Baptist like me. I agree with his doctrine and conservative stances.

And he fears for his young son, a black male in post-racist America, where we have to admit that “driving while black” has never gone away. I have had moments of fear for some of my son’s black friends over the years, too.

So, even if you don’t agree with *everything Pastor Thabiti says here, do try to hear his heart and his concern for young people who come under a higher level of scrutiny merely due to the color of their skin.

It is like I taught my son, as a young disabled man whose autism often clouds his perception of the world: if you ever interact with the police, make sure your hands are down and you do not walk toward them.

For a disabled youth or a black youth, that has to be openly taught. Be very docile when the police arrive. Otherwise, you could be mistaken for one of the aggressors, even if you are innocently on the scene.

Mistakes happen. May they never happen to those we love and those whom Pastor Thabiti loves. May we learn a way to minimize mistakes for all.

The Birth of Shame . . .

21 Aug

This post tells a story about how shame in born in us. Some people get more of it than others. But, in the end, Jesus came to redeem us from our sin *and from our shame.

Fake It Till You Make It (IBTR #41)

20 Aug

I love this post but it needs at least two qualifying statements, just because we humans tend to run to extremes and to always take statements too far to the left, then too far to the right.

1) First of all, there is a statement that keeps showing up on various pages around the Internet that goes ” . . . Well, at least I am not fake.”

This statement implies that the author, alone, of all the people she knows, is a real person and everyone else is a fake. That is terribly, terribly presumptuous.

I prefer the Internet meme that starts, “Everyone you know is fighting an invisible battle on some front . . .” I love it because, in my experience, it is true of everyone I know.

So what does it profit us to imply that every other person, battling things in her life we can’t see, is a fake while only our own personal battles are real?

As a mom who has faced breast cancer and who has a child with high-functioning autism, I don’t find it particularly edifying to be called a fake, especially when I may have used my entire day’s supply of energy to come to church with ironed clothes and makeup on. I realize I am acceptable to God without those things but . . . sometimes I just work so hard to have some semblance of normalcy. And to be called fake for not bleeding all over my local church body every time I enter the door appears to be a cruel misjudgment of me. Life is not always so bleak, but when it is, I sometimes just want to dress up and appear normal for an hour. That is not too much to ask, is it?

2) The other part is that I *do believe in “fake it till you make it” when it is in regard to a person who seems to be a “prickly person.” In that case, I have learned to be very real with God and to admit that the person seems prickly and that I cannot, in my flesh, love that person. I make it about me and my lack of love, not about that person and her qualities. And, while I struggle in prayer to learn to love that person, I do believe in *acting lovingly toward her, knowing that God always, always answers the prayer that asks for help loving someone we can’t love naturally.

I believe, in that case, being “real” and admitting to that person that we can’t love her would not solve anything, even if we admitted that the issue was on our own side of things. Better to respond in a loving way, trusting God to give us that “warm, fuzzy feeling” later on.

In fact, isn’t that what love is, doing what is in someone else’s best interests? The warm fuzzy feeling is great, but not necessarily where we start . . .

The Reagan Review

Have you ever been given this advice–fake it till you make it? Or have the words been unspoken, though the pressure just as real? On some level this problem runs rampant throughout Christianty, but my up close and personal experience, including my own forays into it, have been in the Independent Baptist world.

You do know what I am talking about, don’t you? This necessity that I appear to have it ALL together? To be human must not be admitted. The admission that my sanctification is not complete must never happen.

We have been led to believe that all good Christians have continually awesome Bible reading, an incredible prayer life, no personal struggles with any particular sin, and unbroken victory and joy. Then we are asked to believe that all the Christians around us (at least in the key group) are those type of good Christians. Finally we are told…

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Post-Racial America, Part I: The Heartbreak of Being a Black Father in America!

19 Aug

Don’t miss this. Thabiti Anyabwile is one of the most profound pastors of any ethnicity whom I read.

If we can’t hear his heartcry about raising a son black in America, we may only be letting ourselves relate to some, not all, people in our path as we seek to share the Saviour.

Church Attendance, or Maybe the Research is Not Tightly Controlled . . .

19 Aug

The conclusion here might be due to a logical fallacy which I learned in college. We called it “correlation does not imply causation.” In other words, when two things are related statistically, one cannot always know for sure the backstory of how that came to be.

Sure, people *might have a tendency to be less honest in a personal interview than online.

Or, it might be that phone interviews sweep up people who still have landlines while online interviews sweep up millennials who are wired more than the average older person . . .

See how that works? We have statistics. We don’t have an automatic explanation as for why they fall the way they do.

The Iron Curtain Bike Path

19 Aug

This is the most uplifting story of the week, even in the midst of Russian-Ukrainian tensions!

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