Tag Archives: social justice

Worth Reading This Week: Film, Helping the Poor, School Desegregation, and Racism (Oh my!)

Two reads and one listen that are more than worth your time.

I’ll open with what I think is the best of the three, though it will require a longer time investment.

Episodes 562 and 563 of This American Life delve into a topic people stopped talking about years ago: school integration.  “Separate but equal” schools were rejected as a solution by the Supreme Court 60 years ago, yet many inner-city minority students live in a world in which their schools are measurably inferior to the surrounding suburban schools where all the money resides.  As rich schools get richer, we must confront the increasing data that supports continued integration of schools across racial lines as a solution to the achievement gap.

Or to be really blunt about it: The Gospel might mean I should love my neighbor enough to send my kid to a worse school so that families with few other options for their kids can benefit from the effects of my (white) privilege.

Controversial enough for you?  Good. Give it a listen.
Also, if you aren’t shaking with anger and grief during the audio of the parent meeting in St. Louis in 2013, you have no soul.

This American Life: The Problem We All Live With (#562)

Second, I commend this dense but readable essay that suggests Christians should stop fighting a PR war and focus attention on the daily, hard work of loving the people around us.  It’s not rocket science. But it takes work … when it’s a lot easier just to snap a selfie at a rally or #StandWith on Twitter or complain about how the Church isn’t helping the poor. (That last line is for you, John)

If you Love the Poor for the sake of the Favs and RTs, it will destroy you. Even doing it for the love of others can tear you apart, constantly peeling the onion of intersectionality until you’re a crying mess. Loving the Poor for the praise of Our Father In Heaven, as Jesus told us to do, might involve just as much crying, but it at least gives you something beyond yourself that you can hold on to when you have no idea whether or not you’re actually loving people or loving the thing you’re building for them or loving the way they make you feel.

Loving the Poor: Pics or It Didn’t Happen (from CAPC)


Finally, this essay about how watching films changes us for the better because it trains our hearts to empathize is well worth a read. Again, a little denser than I’d like for a casual piece, but absolutely worth your time.  Brought back lots of great memories from the time I read James K. A. Smith’s excellent book Desiring the Kingdom.

Irrigating Deserts: How Film Transforms and Causes Us to Love Our Neighbors (From CAPC)

OK, I lied. One more.

All the hoopla over Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman hasn’t produced in me any desire to read it. I’m familiar enough with the shape of the tale and the surrounding metanarrative of how a reclusive author at the end of her life suspiciously agreed to release a manuscript she never wanted published.

This is the first article I’ve read which makes me think perhaps GSAW is worth a read after all.

“I am Atticus”: Racism and Vision in Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman

Good Reads: Articles I recommend from this past week

I liked last weekend’s ’roundup’ of my favorite reads on the Internets, so here’s another round. I recommend all of these:

College is not a commodity. Stop treating it like one. – The Washington Post.
“If we are going to treat college as a commodity, and an expensive one at that, we should at least grasp the essence of its economic nature. Unlike a car, college requires the “buyer” to do most of the work to obtain its value.”  The author continues in this excellent essay to explain why today’s consumerist, assessment-driven view of education results in “trigger warnings,” low student motivation, and bad teaching.

What Overparenting Looks Like from a Stanford Dean’s Perspective | MindShift
othing earth-shattering here, but she gently reminds parents that over-parenting isn’t a virtue, no matter how much social pressure exists to push everyone in that direction.

I’m a professor. My colleagues who let students dictate what they teach are cowards. | Vox
About a week ago, an anonymous professor wrote a Vox piece that splashed hard in social media. He wrote that the rising tide of student fears about encountering ideas they disagree with had pushed him away from teaching truly challenging material in the classroom.

This rebuttal, by a female minority professor is a thoughtful piece, one that I highly recommend. Her title is provocative, but don’t make too many assumptions on the front end about what you think she’s going to say. It’s a good read.

Suicide Isn’t About Wanting To Die | PsychCentral
Many people assume that suicidal people want to die. They don’t. They just want the pain to stop. An important read for understanding how to help suicidal people.

Black America is so very tired of debating and explaining |Salon
An important read from a perspective I do not naturally hear within my personal context. The author insightfully parses the causes for the continuing deep and damaging racial divide in America. You might not agree with his viewpoint, but you definitely should read it.

Why did it take 50 years for Calvinists to care about race? How the Mainline saved Evangelicalism | Anthony Bradley
An excellent post by Dr. Anthony Bradley about the PCA, SBC and acknowledging dark racial history in Evangelicalism:  “My Protestant mainline friends are wondering why the Calvinistic Baptists and conservative Presbyterians are so celebratory about the current progress in 2015 given the fact the rest of American Protestantism had these discussions 50 years ago. In fact, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic clergy came to the assistance of African Americans during the Civil-Rights Movement while gospel-centered, grace-centered Calvinists did nothing or supported racial segregation from the Bible. However, even with the half-of-a-century slowness to embrace issues that African American and “liberal” Christians regularly raise, we must give credit wherever credit is due. Progress is progress.”

And don’t miss the bibliotherapy article I posted yesterday.

Institutionalized racism sucks

…and it should be a major part of Gospel work to dismantle it.

Good read:
Covenants of Exclusion

If the Fall wrecked human society and institutions in addition to individuals — and institutionalized racism is a perfect example of how sin affects more than individual people — then the Gospel has institutional and social and communal effects beyond my personal redemption.

That’s why Kingdom work radiates out with communal force. Redeemed people live differently — or, at least, we should. If we are content for those effects only to touch our narrow circles, we’re missing something.

I don’t feel guilt necessarily when I read articles like this. But I do feel anger, and one of the godly responses i can have to that anger is to speak up for those who have no voice, to advocate for the weak and unrepresented, to use my white privilege to break unjust structures.

On Ferguson.

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.

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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?”




The Immigration Crisis In Two Minutes | David Crabb

The Immigration Crisis In Two Minutes | David Crabb.

His point:  If you claim Christ, then allegiance to Kingdom living – loving God and loving neighbor – must rise above national allegiance.  Put simply: American immigration policy is draconian and inhumane toward people fleeing brutal conditions south of us – often exacerbated by the American “war on drugs” which feeds the gang violence at work here.

We need immigration reform now.  Not a dysfunctional Congress bent on destroying the opposition government.  Is that too much to ask?


Why I’m not voting for Haley

Gov. Nikki Haley Puts Down Arts Funding at Opening of Arts Festival | George Patrick McLeer Jr.

I’m tired of Nikki Haley’s war in South Carolina against the arts (see the link for an example ^), against mental health services, against public services in general in SC, against infrastructure.

If this is the Republican utopia of pseudo libertarianism where everybody who already has enough money can continue enjoying their lives while those in need are ignored because the scale of poverty is too big for individuals to overcome on their own …. well, I guess I need to go vote for Shaheen.

I missed the 2010 gubernatorial election in SC because I was so pissed at politics in general. I’m still pissed (and apathetic, somehow at the same time).  But this year I will make sure I vote.

I have no confidence that it’ll matter, but at least I’ll be able to complain with a clear conscience if Haley is re-elected.