On Ferguson.

THOUGHTFUL LINKS
Ferguson, MO has been on everyone’s radar, so I don’t need to roll in here with a big post.

It’s just that I’m really disappointed to see so many people dismiss the entire question of racial inequality and police militarization as just thugs rioting because they’re lazy. Wow. There’s so much racism in that statement, it makes me sick to type it. But it’s black and white on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, sometimes coming out of the mouths of Christians.

So if I may be so bold, here are a few of the great posts & articles that other people have been writing. I appreciate these viewpoints, and hope you’ll take time to read them.

First, a Facebook post & comment from my friend Mark Robinson, a PCA pastor. I’m sorry that I can’t get the “embed” feature to work, so screenshots will have to do.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 7.20.15 PM

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A few articles:

Not as helpless as we think: 3 ways to stand in solidarity with Ferguson

Anger can be startling, certainly, and it might even make us uncomfortable. But anger is not a sin. Anger is the right and just response to inequity and inaction. When people of color express anger or frustration regarding the racism they have experienced, the worst thing white people can do in response is shrug off those stories as insignificant in an attempt to return to our emotional comfort zone.

Desmond Tutu said, “true reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.”

#Ferguson #race #whiteprivilege (Em-I-Lis)

[an excellent personal reflection by a mother of two]

The Crucified God in Ferguson (OnFaith)

“You have the luxury of being surprised.”

Is it “Goodbye evangelicalism” or “We join you in your suffering”? (Thabiti Anyabwile/TGC)

Nevertheless, most of what’s been said by evangelical leaders thus far (including my post yesterday) has been a general lament. It’s been the expressing of sentiment. There’s not yet been anything that looks like a groundswell of evangelical call for action, for theology applied to injustice. It’s possible (even likely) that I’ve missed a call for action from my colleagues and peers in the evangelical world. But I don’t think I’ve missed our most influential leaders with the widest reach. They’ve been silent en masse. Today I think we need to be pushed a couple steps ahead.

… This post is a recognition that evangelicalism is useless in its own back yard, with its own neighbors, while it changes its twitter avatars to identify with persecuted Christians half a world away. Evangelicalism should show outward solidarity with persecuted Christians. But it should also be the good Samaritan religion, a religion of justified people who demonstrate their justification in practical acts of compassion for its beaten, robbed and left-for-dead ethnic-other neighbors. Do we see that from national evangelical ministries and leaders? No, we don’t. Ours appears to be the religion of the Pharisee who asks, “Who then is my neighbor?”

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “On Ferguson.”

  1. My only problem with comments about Ferguson is that although without doubt, race and racism is a factor in this, regardless of where and how it all got started, most of the posts I’ve seen speak on the basis of assumptions. I don’t know if anyone knows for sure the exact circumstances of the fellow that was killed, but I’m sure that those of us looking on from the outside don’t know, at least not at this point. And the rioters didn’t know either, so regardless of how much they may have been abused (something we, again, don’t know) it does not justify their response. Sin is sin, whether hatred or abuse of people of another race or a wrongful response to such abuse (especially when it’s not verified that such is the case). So I wish everyone would just be quiet about it, unless they have comments that are clearly well founded in truth. 7 years ago racism was a small issue in much of America; now besides gay/lesbian issues and immigration issues, it’s about the only thing relevant it seems. When I was growing up in N. GA, I only knew 2 or 3 fellows that were racists in our school, all white, and possibly one black that was racist. All of the rest of us would joke about those issues sometimes but we didn’t have much respect for the racists fellows at all (and when one picked a fight with a black boy we were all glad he got his nose busted, and when he went to the principle about that, none of us retained any respect for him). But now it seems like racism is everywhere. Why can’t we just go back to the days where we joke about it, at worst, and disrespect the few among us that actually are racists, and get over it? Maybe I was just privileged to grow up in such a context, but it’s very wearisome to have to be constantly confronted by this issue. I see more racism practiced by the government than by any individual, black or white, and the various governments constantly provoking it. Granted that the church probably can’t do a lot about the government, but I do think it’s a serious problem when the church *emulates* the government and its policies, and that’s precisely what I see happening in recent history. Since when does the church get its theology and practices from the government??

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    1. I don’t think I can even begin to accept the statement that racism was a “small issue” until recently. It’s been a huge issue through our entire history — because people are sinful and really messed up.

      Sin is sin, yes, but institutions and systems can be more or less warped by the sinfulness of their creators and maintainers.

      It’s time for Christians as a whole to 1) stop denying that racism is an issue when our black & Hispanic & Asian brothers & sisters are saying it IS an issue, and 2) take active steps to address abuses like the overreach of police power, the vastly unbalanced arrest records of blacks and Hispanics in the name of the drug war, and the effects of poverty & class on people of color.

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      1. I don’t really disagree with much in the 2 responses to my post, here, so much as to say that they are not really responses. By that I mean that regardless of the validity of points made, they seem somewhat irrelevant to what I wish to communicate. Obviously I’m not denying that race is at least a significant factor in things going on in Ferguson, that was my opening statement, although we probably don’t know if it was relevant to the shooting(s). So let me state my point more precisely and concisely: I think that the more we make a big deal out of the racial aspect or possible motives to problems we see, the more we exacerbate the problem. I’ve seen this in society in general, I’ve seen it in the Obama administration (e.g. his comments that people locking their car doors when a black man walks by is an example of racism, etc), I’ve seen it in school, and I’ve seen it in my business when hiring racists men (both black and white) and dealing with the consequent problems. Many people (esp. in media, government, and all PC circles) like to assume that problems and tensions are race-based, but often it’s just sinful attitudes or actions that are also in effect against people of the same race. In many cases race is just incidental. But it’s somehow wrong to assume that it’s ever incidental. Race must be the central issue or it’s not worthy of news.

        Furthermore, if we, as Christians, deal with sin for what it is, we have some authority. But instead, here’s what I’m seeing happening in Christianity today: the government recognizes many evils, but the most evil of all evils is racism and hate crimes. And now the church is has adopted the same standard of morality!! We have elevated racism to the highest form of evil! Where is that in the Bible? You can enjoy movies, use language, hear it in conversation, etc like f**k, s**t, and make light of God’s name and holy things all day long, and nobody complains. But use a racial slur, and it’s obvious that you are straight from Hell and deserving only to be returned there immediately. Where did we get this sort of perverted morality? A morality where Jesus is at the bottom of the totem pole, and where one’s or others’ race, is at the top of the totem pole? It’s precisely that, a totem pole of man’s making. It has nothing to do with Christianity. What I illustrate here in regards to language is a principle that is applied in all sorts of ways, many of them more subtle, but all of them perverse. It’s fine if someone does not want to be a Christian, but they should not claim to be one and then bring this sort of worldly philosophy into the church.

        We could also discuss the fact that the government and media views racism against blacks and others is viewed as far more serious and newsworthy than racism against whites, but that’s for another thread. We could discuss why it’s not wrong for blacks to buy postage stamps honoring black leaders simply because they are black, and why the same honor of one’s own race as a morally good thing is not exclusive to the black race, but it’s not for today. And we could discuss the immorality of the government’s agenda to replace whites (and blacks!) with other races, but that’s also for another thread. What I fear is that in all these sorts of things, the church is adopting pop morality and moral priorities as propagated by media and government, and making it the new standard of authority.

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      2. I don’t completely disagree with you, but the morality issue isn’t what I think exacerbates the situation. I’m not saying it doesn’t have a hand in it, and what you are pointing out is the “victim mentality,” which certainly plays a role. I see your point more clearly.

        However, the way we heal or address this issue is not to say to them “stop playing the victim!” I believe it’s much more effective to start with sympathy and move into instruction. Acknowledge the issue, try and relate in some way with it, and then show them the way out, or provide the means for a way out. That’s what I believe society should be doing more often. Sympathy requires our attention and love first, gaining that trust, and then using our position to influence them out of the mentality or situation they are in. This goes for everyone. Whether we do this in regards to racism, poverty, depression, whatever. This is our greatest calling as believers. We are called to do what Jesus did—who didn’t say “stop playing the victim” to anyone, but actually dove into the lives of those he was around, or showed a level of compassion and understanding to those less fortunate that no one had ever shown them. His influence was so powerful in doing this that he literally changed lives, the level cultural consciousness, and gave a hope that was lasting in the lives of those who followed him.

        So, though I agree with you, I do not believe our message should be “stop it,” but “what can I do to show compassion, love and hope for these people who have resorted to the victim mentality out of either self-preservation, loss of hope, or out of survival?”

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      3. Ah now this is a good response. I appreciate it and agree. Message or friend me on FB if you like, Daniel Wagner in Easley SC, I’m a friend of Lori. We might discuss more there.

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    2. Race is absolutely an issue and has been for way too long. Regardless of how far we’ve come as a culture, the repercussion of racism in America still linger in even the least racist areas of our country. We are also talking about a race that was stripped of any real answer to rising out of the situation WE PUT THEM IN! We as white Americans cannot even imagine how—and should not act as if it’s possible to know how—oppression has effected their culture.

      We put them in this dilemma. They were slaves until just 150 years ago (and have been constantly oppress since then in more ways than any of us white folks can imagine) and when we freed them, we gave them no chance at ever really bettering their situation until just recently. Think of the broken families we created in slavery. Think of how long it took white colleges to accept them and how difficult it is for them to get a good education even today. Think of the poverty many of them have grown up in because of both lack of education and lack of opportunity in the work force. Even if they have a good chance now, their parents did not and they still suffer for that. Imagine how hard it must be to want to do what’s right and want a good education, and a decent paying salary, and yet still get glares and judgmental looks from police officers—frisked, property searched, and treated like a criminal just because you are black. What is ingrained into their culture is a feeling of oppression that is going to take decades, if not centuries to truly heal. If we are not actively engaged in helping them out of their situation, we are no better than the ones who oppressed their families for hundreds of years.

      Ferguson is 100% about race, no matter what really happened. To pretend it’s not is to ignore the last 250+ years worth of damage that we caused.

      I hope that these riots bring justice for African Americans I hope the police wake up and see their hand in all of this and seek reparations. I hope this become a rallying point for all African Americans and pushes them out of the oppressive state they have felt for so long.

      We are not neanderthals. After thousands of years on this earth, we should have learned that no man is better than another, and that no man has the right to oppress another or in any way restrict their freedom. If you are a Christian, you should believe this with all of your soul.

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