For the last 12 to 18 months I have been quiet and not posting my blogs. That does not mean that I have not had many thoughts about what is going on in our country, our society, and our world. Yes, I’ve had many thoughts, in fact I have even written many pieces, I just never posted them. But there were times periodically that I would post thoughts here and there on Facebook. But I feel, that given what is happening now on 45’s one-year anniversary, I just want to express what I see going on in our society. One of the insights that I find interesting has to do with things I have written about but did not post about. I now see the reality of those writings being fulfilled. I just want to talk about this current administration for a minute and especially 45. Yes, it is a known fact that we have a new president, Donald J. Trump. I’ve heard many people say that he is a straight shooter, and you know what, to a point, I agree with that. He tells you exactly what he’s going to do and what he’s thinking, except that his messages are abstract and subliminal, and he has no virtue when it comes to truth. His messages carry twofold meanings, and what confuses most people, because most people think linearly, they try to rationalize linearly on the face value message and in the process, miss the alternate message. Most people talk linearly, but Donald Trump talks concentrically. There’s always a hidden message in what he conveys in his concentric message, and for the average person to follow and understand his circular messages, his tweets, his stance on things, and his position on face value, they are going to totally misinterpret, or totally miss his point. Donald Trump speaks in abstract terms, his message is abstract, concentric and nonlinear. What he says is very clear and straightforward if you can follow the circles and recognize the abstractions, but you must be listening for the underlying message or you’ll miss completely the message.
There seems to be a buzz in the air about “Organized Religion.” Over the last several weeks, I have had a number of people express their concern about organized religion and how much they disapprove of it. They would go on and share their thoughts that UN-Organized religion is how they believe religion should be. So I thought I would share my thoughts on UN-Organized Religion. But before I do, let us take a look at UN-Organizing a few other organizations in our society. How about starting with time. Let’s un-organize time then nobody will ever be late for another appointment, meeting, church or work. Next, let’s UN-organize our transportation system; trucking, traffic, mass transit, and especially air transportation. How about un-organizing the construction industry where anybody can build whatever, whenever, however they want and exclude architects and engineers. Then Un-organize our educational system and just let people be self-taught whatever they want to learn. How about UN-organizing our local, state, and national governments and while we are at it, un-organize our law enforcement organizations, fire, and emergency response groups. How many people would agree to UN-Organizing any of these listed groups. Oh, I left out one, our places of employment with its un-organized payroll system and un-organized time keeping system. Doesn’t all of this sound just great. We could all live in harmony and everybody can do their own thing. UGH!
Now we come to UN-Organizing Religion, which started this whole discussion. We could UN-Organize religion and everybody could do as they choose, believe as they choose and live their own lives. There would be the religious mixing of Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Atheist, Pagans, just to name a few, all crossing over into the other and picking and choosing as they please, it would be syncretism at its best. The ironic part about this discussion and those who are pushing for UN-Organized Religion are those who identify as Christian. None of the people in other religions are pushing to UN-organize. I don’t see organized religion as the problem. Not submitting to and following the teachings of Jesus Christ is the problem. Jesus loved and cared for everybody and told us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Those who are opposed to organized religion are not really wanting religion un-organized, but based on my observation, they desire to Re-organize religion with themselves as the focus. Proverbs 12:15 (NAS) says “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel,” and Judges 17:6 (NAS) says “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”
Un-organized (Christian) religion is in violation of Biblical Theology, it is against everything that the apostle Paul taught in the New Testament concerning the unity, harmony, and the functioning of the body. It is against nature, and it certainly is in direct conflict with Jesus’s prayer for unity and oneness that he prays and John 17.
I want to encourage anyone and everyone who has ever been hurt by another sister or brother in whatever capacity that causes you to want to separate, that Jesus wants to heal your wounds and mend your broken heart. Pulling away from the body is not the answer, UN-organizing is not the answer, for we are a body and any portion of the body that disconnects from the body dies. UN-organizing is not the answer, but Jesus is the answer, and if we walk in His incomprehensible love, healing will come.
And just in case anybody is still wondering what I think about “Organized (Christian) Religion” vs “Un-Organized Religion,” read this piece again.
There is a changing of the guard. Yes, our nation is on the brink of some major changes. When I heard of the passing of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, I immediately thought, here we go, many things as we know them are about to change, in fact it has already started. Justice Scalia was the most influential conservative and most provocative member on the Supreme Court. With the political climate in our country, the partisan bickering, posturing and grandstanding, the stage is set for some major changes. Jesus said in John 8:32 you “shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” I believe that we have either ignored the truth or denied the truth concerning a basic ideology in our culture for too long, and that denial has gotten us into a very bad spot.
The replacement of Justice Scalia will be appointed by either President Obama or after the election, by the newly elected president whoever that will be. The GOP is dead set against President Obama nominating a new justice and have committed to prevent any of his appointees from being confirmed. And President Obama, in his rights as president to nominate the nation’s 113th Supreme Court Justice, has nominated Merrick B. Garland as Justice Scalia’s replacement. Whether Merrick gets confirmed or some other person nominated by the incoming president, I think we still are in for some major changes. I foresee that especially our religious liberties, will be undergoing some major changes. I believe the church is on the threshold of a major crisis and shakeup concerning our religious freedoms. It will not be practice as usual, unless the church puts aside its partisan stance and seek God for divine intervention. I believe that the church, the Christian church is going to have to become the church of Jesus Christ and not the church of the Republican party, or the Democratic Party, or the Independent party, or the Evangelical Church, or the white church or the Black Church or any other derivative or denomination of church, but the Christian Church based on Jesus principles. We must set aside our un-Christian principles, practices and doctrines and become more Christian than ever before.
Every believing Christian know and understand sin, and that sin must be repented of, forgiven and forsaken. We know and believe that. We know that sin unaddressed leads to death. As a nation, it’s time that we stop denying and ignoring our national sin. For years I have called it, and then recently I was given a book by Jim Wallis, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America. I found it to be most interesting and right on point. America’s original sin has to do with America’s problem with race, and even though it continues to come up, the majority of our population still find ways to explain it away as something other than what it is. It’s time that we face the truth about race and the devastating effects of racism. Yes, I know as well as anyone that the topic of race is very uncomfortable, but it is a conversation that must take place. It is time that we stop denying and ignoring its existence and recognize that we do live in a racialized culture. It is time to make ourselves comfortable with being uncomfortable and reframe the narrative that will move us toward racial equality.
With the appointment of the next Supreme Court justice, many have not connected the dots and the important role that race has and will play in the selection, others will flat out deny that race has any relationship with it at all. But the partisan posture, rooted in racism, is setting the stage for the next Supreme Court Justice, and this time, not only will people of color be affected by it, but the entire country and especially the church, which has done little to address our racial sins. Get ready, change is upon US.
We are in the midst of a race where candidates are running for the White House. Yes it is a race or rather about race. Whether overt or covert, this race is about race. There is the big black elephant in the room that everybody knows is there, but nobody wants to talk about. From time to time, race is eluded to, but then quickly changed to another more pseudo-important subject.
Over the past eight years we have seen Partisan politics played out in Washington. We are witnessing current political campaigns steeped in hate and fueled by anger. All of the candidates look to me to be very scary and the inevitable is going to happen, one of the persons running in this race will eventually become our next president. Can we just throw them all out and start over with a new slate? Ok, I guess we can’t do that.
Then there is Donald Trump who I see as the political monster that has been created by the partisan politics that were designed to discredit President Obama by any and all means possible. These are the partisan politics that have been rooted and grounded in hate and racism under the guise of the Republican Party, which now cannot control Trump, who refuses to play the partisan game. He has introduced, or should I say exposed the secret objectives of the game and now they want to discredit him.
The Republican Party formed a pact together, pledged and committed to making President Obama’s presidency unsuccessful. They have stonewalled, rejected and opposed everything that Obama has tried to put forth in their attempts to make his presidency a failure. Many of these congressmen as well as many white Americans would deny that any of this was based on a foundation of racism, but instead chose to explain it away with the use of other terminologies. But no matter how it is looked at, racism is at the very basic foundations and fundamentals of everything that goes on and happens in this country.
Not that I agree with President Obama on everything, but one thing that I do agree with is that with him being in office has brought racism to a head and the forefront of our culture because of his blackness. Blacks, and African-Americans in this country have been viewed as 3/5 human and that subconscious mentality has permeated everything that goes on in this country. We have 246 years of Chattel Slavery and an additional 100 years of Jim Crow, a total of 346 years of intentional racial biases that denied Blacks full status as humans. We cannot continue to ignore the black elephant in the room. After 346 years, how can anybody deny that racism has become well established as an institution. There are many stories that we can relate that demonstrate institutionalized racism, one is the outburst of Congressman Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina, who called President Obama a liar during President Obama’s health care speech on September 9, 2009. Although he later went on to apologize, it was his deep-seated and subconscious racism that cause him to disrespect the Black president and call him a liar in that setting.
Too many Americans believe that just because we have a black president that we have no more racial problems. It’s very difficult for me as an African-American to believe that so many whites can be so insensitive and so disconnected from the plight of African-Americans in this country. It only shows how deeply rooted and institutionalized racism is, and that they can live on their white privilege and not have a second thought or a consciousness about the many ways African-Americans live and suffer right under their noses. If we think that after 246 years of chattel slavery in this country where African-Americans were considered animals, or treated less than animals, as pigs, and property, do we think it’s going to go away in a few years if we all just ignore it. Following the 246 years of slavery, we had another 100 years of Jim Crow which included segregation and terrorism by the KKK to ensure that blacks stayed in their place as sub-humans. Institutionalized racism runs deep and unless we wake up and acknowledge that this sin exists in our country, it could be the downfall of America. We must acknowledge how we have dehumanized a whole group of people because of their skin color, have used them for property, and because of greed and power, have deemed other humans as 3/5 human. It’s time for America to wake up and acknowledge our sin.
My question is what and where it will racism go after Obama. This is a question that every American needs to be asking, seeking answers to, and solutions to. We are sitting on a powder keg that could blow at any time if we don’t deal with the racism in this country that underlies everything in our society.
The years of stalling has created the environment that created this monster in Donald Trump. Now Donald Trump runs on a platform of make America great again. My question is “what is that slogan code for, and what is the subliminal message in that coding,” and it is obvious that those who are of that mindset, and caught up in that environment, are reading the code, deciphering the code, interpreting it, and getting on board with Donald Trump. David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan got it loud and clear.
As Americans, and especially I speak to the church and more specifically the White Evangelical Church, if we believe in creation as many of us will claim, we all believe that we were created in the likeness and the image of God according to the word of God. We believe that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile according to the word of God. We believe that we are one body according to the word of God, and that we are to function as one body, and that all parts of the body function equally and contribute equally to the functioning, and the growth, and the development of the body. We believe in the love of Jesus Christ, the love for all humankind, the love for our neighbors, and we believe and have the love of Jesus Christ within us, why can we be filled so with hate, indifference and insensitivities for one another?
Jesus taught us in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew that we are the salt of the earth. If we are his disciples, we are the salt of the earth. He also said that if we are his disciples we are the light of the world. Are we the salt bringing about flavor, bringing preservation, bringing healing and deliverance to a world and exposing the darkness, exposing the dark side of humanity, exposing the lie of Satan that so many have bought into. We are the light of the world. If we believe and live out the prayer that Jesus prayed in St. John chapter 17 that we are to be one as He and the Father are one, how can we dehumanize whole groups of people because of the color of their skin; dehumanize them and see them as chattel property. That even to this day, how we as a church can stand on the sidelines, especially the White Evangelical Church and ignore the fact of what is going on in our country. How can the church be so insensitive to the inequalities and the injustices of people based on race and the color of their skin. How can the white evangelical church accept the lie that everything is equal, when in fact knowing that it is not. I saw a video of a white woman giving a presentation on race and asked the question to a room full of whites is there one in here of you who are willing to live as the Blacks, under the conditions that Blacks live, to please stand and not one of them stood up. She said that this goes on the show that whites really do understand the poverty and the plight that they have put Blacks in, but choose to turn their heads and ignore that plight. It is time for America to wake up and except what has been going on institutionally in this country and for whites to utilize their white privilege to begin to make these changes.
We can make changes, or we can sit back on our laurels and do nothing and watch this whole country blowup because of racism. It is sin if we don’t deal with it. If we don’t deal with this sin and continue to ignore it, it will eventually come to a head, as sin does and cause our nation to fall. So as Donald Trump says make America great again is he trying to reinforce racism in this country, it sure sounds like it to me. The rhetoric that he spews out is filled with anger, hate and racism, and it is creating a huge following of those with the same sentiments. It is time for the church to rise up and pray and seek God to end this sin, to repent of it and then to actively and intentionally engage with this Elephant in the room called racism to remove him from the room and thus eradicate racism from our culture. Yes, this campaign is a race for the White House and this race is indeed about RACE.
This blog is in response to Dr. Paul Louis Metzger’s piece on Social Darwinism, Richard Dawkins and Down syndrome (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/uncommongodcommongood/2014/09/social-darwinism-richard-dawkins-and-down-syndrome/).
I’m sure that there are many opinions out there concerning this subject especially when it comes to eugenics concerning Down syndrome babies and fetuses. With all of the conversation and the activities around abortion and the right to life or the right to choose I’m sure there are some strong opinions about bringing a down syndrome baby into the world. With all of the opinions circulating around the subject, could there be some conversation about the personal emotional impact of a mother who might have to abort her baby in these cases. When I consider the whole subject of eugenics it really sends chills up my spine. One reason this emotional experience happens to me has to do with my understanding and experiences with racism. I understand how deeply racism and bigotry can flow in the hearts and the minds of people. When understanding that and what it does to degrade and dehumanize another person especially when that person is an unborn baby or a fetus. If those who were involved in eugenics can deem a fetus as non-human, then they can divorce themselves of emotional responsibility when it comes to abortion. Those same emotions can carry over into our current conversation of aborting a Down syndrome baby.
Dr. Metzger asked the question in his piece of “what constitutes happiness and suffering?” This is a very important question because when it comes to is asking the question of how a Down syndrome baby will enjoy life. In other words this person is putting themselves in the position of playing God. He went on to ask another question “What makes it such that anyone can determine for others what constitutes their happiness and their suffering? Is not life worth suffering for, and is not pleasure sometimes worse than suffering?” And again this makes my point that speaking for someone especially the unborn to determine how their life will be lived places that person in the position of playing God and I believe that is wrong. How could someone 64 years ago determine how happy my life would be today or even in any of my years.
As Christians and as a Christian myself, and a faith leader I agree with another statement that Paul may if we are to be true ambassadors for Jesus Christ. He said “Conservative Christians who take seriously the Golden Rule yet who are critical of Social Darwinian thought should be especially careful about not distorting the positions of others, including an atheist like Dawkins.” I do agree that we must be careful to not distort the positions of others either for our own means or to downplay others. But if we are to properly represent Jesus Christ as his ambassadors and not get caught up in dehumanizing other people or groups just because they don’t think like us or do things the way we do them, or believe like us, yes we must be very careful. Because our actions, our words all form our witness. So it comes back to the question of what do we do with an unborn Down syndrome baby.
Conflict, conflict, conflict it seems like life is filled with conflicts. There are governmental conflicts, there are political conflicts, there are family conflicts, there are religious conflicts, there are racial conflict, there are conflicts within our own minds and thought but it seems like our lives are filled with conflict. So with all of these conflicts what do we do with them, how do we handle them, and how can we move forward with so many conflicts. We can look at conflicts as something bad and to be avoided, or we can look at conflicts in a healthy way and use them for progress in solving problems. But I think is all in our approach and how we look at conflicts.
Dr. Paul Louis Metzger wrote a piece “Fire Fighting and Religious Conflicts
(http://www.patheos.com/blogs/uncommongodcommongood/2015/02/fire-fighting-and-religious-conflicts/), which had inspired my thinking and subsequently the writing of this blog. Use the analogy of firefighters, and said “Sometimes fire fighters start a controlled forest fire before a naturally occurring wildfire begins to reduce the amount of combustible material. You start it in a time of peace; it reduces the likelihood of wildfire. In a similar manner, those who are trained in conflict and resolution will start little conflicts in the absence of rage, anger, opposition and violence to reduce the likelihood of an out-of-control conflict.” This is a great analogy of how firefighters control fire with fire and how this can carry over into conflict resolution in our own lives. I believe instead of avoiding having conversations, some people call it the elephant in the room, of which we know is on everybody’s mind but nobody is willing to approach the subject somebody must open that door. Paul went on to say “All too often, people think the key to conflict is to avoid it. … many other conflicts require that we address them head-on. In fact, there are times when we should start the conflict.” Its important to open that door and engage that conversation during a time of peace and calm. Just as a skilled firefighter knows when to light a fire, they study the humidity, the wind direction and windspeed, and the amount of fuel that is available to the fire when they light a fire, sometimes called a backfire.
In conflict resolution there are times when a known conflict and its potential to blow up out-of-control must be engaged in a manner to deal with the conflict but keep it from blowing up and causing more harm to the persons involved.
Then there are other areas that we get into conflict. “One area where conflict erupts quite quickly is in inter-religious dialogue. Sometimes the conflict is redemptive. Sometimes not. Sometimes the avoidance of conflict appears to be redemptive, but it is not.” I’ve heard it said many times that you always avoid talking about politics and religion because those will always get you in some type of a conflict. I believe that these are subjects that because we have attempted to avoid conflict has left us either naïve or ignorant of other people, their culture and their beliefs, who are our neighbors. Not only is this important in understanding religious beliefs of our neighbors it also involves race. It is extremely important that we engage in these conversations—“even combustible ones that can generate unease and conflict, not for the sake of starting wildfires, but for the sake of reducing out-of-control conflicts from occurring. The purpose of generating such unease and conflict should always be redemptive.” If our engagement into conversations that we know are on the verge of creating conflict, are for the purpose of redemption, I believe the fires will be healthy fires and in the end will resolve conflicts by bringing a deeper understanding of our neighbor. Therefore my recommendation is don’t avoid risky conversations for the sake of conflict avoidance, but instead engage in these conversations redemptive lay and see how God works them out. Happy firefighting
How many times have we seen either in our local neighborhoods and communities, cities and nations around the world where the so-called experts come in because of some problem or disaster and see the conditions of the neighborhood and push the locals out of the way and basically take over and totally change the culture of the neighborhood. I call this the takeover syndrome. As like an occupation of the territory. Is disrespectful to the local leaders and residents, and it definitely does not portray a proper witness of Jesus Christ.
I thought about this takeover syndrome and my own personal experiences of seeing the local experts who have the large numbers of people and large budgets come into an area and take over without acknowledging the work that, in some cases have been ongoing for years. Dr. Paul Louis Metzger’s piece on “Lessons from Baltimore and the Bible: Work with the People, Not for the People
(http://www.patheos.com/blogs/uncommongodcommongood/2015/05/lessons-from-baltimore-and-the-bible-work-with-the-people-not-for-the-people/) brought this to my mind. He made a statement in his blog that was a quote from other leaders in another city that said “Please respect our leadership. Please respect the work we’ve been doing and will continue to do. Please come and work with us and not for us.” Oh how appropriate a message and how needful it is to be heard if we are to serve as ambassadors for Jesus Christ when we go into an area. I know I have had conversations with other faith leaders concerning the gentrification in the neighborhood for a pastor and they’ve expressed how important it is for economic development to take place. My come back to them has been but you have not seen the effects upon the lives of the people who lived in these gentrified areas, how it has disrupted their families, their economic and financial livelihood, how it has affected the place of worship, how it affects their education, how it affects their transportation, and how it plays into their emotional well-being all for the sake of economic development. There’s something terribly wrong about that.
Dr. Metzger said “All too often, outside experts who claim to be efficient in addressing problems intrude and interfere in communities rather than ask them how they might be able to partner with them.” If only the experts will come and work with the communities many of the problems that we see cropping up just because people have been displaced and uprooted could be avoided. He went on to say “This concern over ineffectiveness only increases when outside experts do not listen to and respect the locals. After all, the local community will have to bear the burden and carry on with the struggle once the spotlight vanishes and visitors depart.” One cannot imagine the undue hardship that people have endured because of the lies that the so-called experts have messed up. If we are to be effective in changing lives and communities, it is “important that we listen to the voice of the Bible, which sheds light on how to lead a movement of action, not inaction or intrusion.” Yes the Bible has answers on how to engage communities and Jesus is our best teacher. When he went into a community during his ministry “he chose disciples from the community rather than rely on the genius of those in high places.” Jesus “treated the people not as blank slates, but as comrades with the riches of human ingenuity” and if we are to be effective in all ministries when we go into an area we can learn lessons from the
Bible. And in closing another quote that I’d like to make of Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is “it takes secure people, including those from the outside and insiders from above, to come to assist rather than take over. Only then can there be a redemptive makeover in places around the world.” Oh if only we can stop boosting our own egos either for greed or selfish gain and resist the takeover syndrome.