Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Awareness and activism and the feeling of pain

I sat in the pew and sang for Jesus on Sunday. I sang because I needed Him so desperately to shine His hope and to remind me of His coming Kingdom. I stared at the back of our boys' heads, and winked every time they turned around to look, trying to push out of my mind the things they might be worrying or thinking about while they sat and listened to Pastor Leonce's words. I resolved to put together a round-table next week sometime, a safe place for our boys to tell us how they feel about all this, a place to discuss, and to let strong and loving adults both listen and speak truth in response. But in reality, I don't have many answers. So I keep listening. 

Because that's the thing about pain: it demands to be felt. And so I feel it, and I let them feel it; and in feeling pain together, we encounter Jesus. 
John Green
In his sermon Sunday night, Pastor Leonce reminded us to keep reading and learning and becoming aware. But he also cautioned us that awareness should lead us eventually to activism. To a place, as Christians especially, where we act to bring about justice and peace. The bringing of the Kingdom requires movement, both in our hearts and with our hands. 

So for now, I'm sharing some of the more powerful things I've read and listened to regarding Mike Brown and Ferguson and the ongoing protests. As always, I never share things simply because I agree with them but because they make me think hard and examine my heart. I hope and pray you will do the same. For now, awareness. Soon: activism and what you can do.

I have really appreciated and been blown away by all of you: your response to my last post, your love for our family and for the boys. And by the ways you continue to carry us and bring us to the cross. Thank-you for that, and I hope we can keep fighting for the Kingdom Come alongside one another. 
You are the one they are waiting for. Because Dr. King is not coming. . . . 
The gospel has implications for how we live and how we fight for justice. And if you don't believe that, you don't believe the gospel. . . .
Renovation church response to Ferguson

People who are hurting need to be affirmed in their hurt; people who are angry need to be affirmed in their anger. Let me say it like this: I needed that as much as he needed that. We kept each other from harm's way and from doing something that we would need not to do....
Ferguson Pastor: This Is Not a Race Issue, This Is a Human Issue

Far from being offended by its own actions, instead white America- Christians included- remain offended by black bodies. This is what killed Trayvon and Renisha and Jordon and Eric and Michael. How dare black bodies resist the white will. How dare they fight back when a stranger chases. How dare they knock at 4am. How dare they not turn down the music when told. How dare they sell some cigarettes. How dare they walk in the middle of the street. How utterly offensive for black bodies to disobey whiteness.
Black Bodies, White Souls - Austin Channing Brown
When we say it’s about race, we’re not claiming that the person(s) of color involved are or were completely without fault. . . . we are not holding you personally responsible . . . we are not saying it's exclusively about race . . . 
This is what we mean when we say it's about race (to the white person who just doesn't see it)

I'm tired of worrying about my daughter and other black children of friends of mine, afraid that the world might be no different when they go out into it as teenagers and young adults -- because their teenage- and young-adult-years aren't that far away anymore. I'm tired of worrying that America might view our children as expendable.
Affected - Chookooloonks

However, for those who are Jesus followers, we have an important role in all this– one that we cannot reject and still call ourselves Jesus followers. We have been called to be “ministers of reconciliation” to the world– people who reject power and privilege in order to live lives that reconcile people, reform broken systems, and make the world a little more just.
Why we are still unwilling to admit to systematic racism in America

Be That Other White Person. The one who, in the face of White apathy towards Black pain, acts counter to your culture and stands in solidarity with people whose neighborhoods might not look like yours. Put yourself in their shoes and see how absolutely insane this situation is, and then act accordingly. Don’t let this happen unchallenged.
First they came for black people, and I did not speak out - Matt Stauffer

“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90,” Epstein told The Nation, as two officers walked her to a police van. “We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90.” - Hedy Epstein, 90-year-old Holocaust Survivor arrested during protests in Ferguson
If officers are soldiers, it follows that the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they're working battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy. And because of correlations, rooted in historical injustice, between crime and income and income and race, the enemy population will consist largely of people of color, and especially of black men. Throughout the country, police officers are capturing, imprisoning, and killing black males at a ridiculous clip, waging a very literal war on people like Michael Brown.
America is not for black people - The Concourse

I want to tell you about the quiver of fear in a cop's voice when he gets home from swing shift at 2am, hangs his duty belt over the closet door, climbs into bed with his wife and whispers, words coming out in a shudder, “I almost shot someone tonight... I thought I was going to have to shoot him...”
A white cop, a black kid, and a crime - Jamie the Very Worst Missionary


  1. Becca, there are many reasons i keep coming back here, but one of them is posts like these. You help broaden my world. we are trying to simply live with our neighbors-the homeless, addicts, and mentally unstable. but here in little Loveland Colorado there isn't so much diversity or history as in other parts of the nation. I've also been reading the words of Thabiti Anyabwile ( http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/ ) and felt they add to this list you've made of words that make us think.

    "I’m tired. That soul-deep tired that comes from asking, “How long?” In this case, “How long evangelicalism before you show deep Christian love for your neighbor?” “How long evangelicalism before you both preach the gospel and show compassion?” “How long evangelicalism before you stop putting people on trial before you grant them your mercy?” “How long before you turn off the television and turn on the porch light for a neighbor?” “How long before you weep openly for someone that doesn’t look like you, earn what you earn, live where you live?” “How long before you stop reflexively identifying with the perpetrators and system administrators and at least show equal empathy for the outcast?” How long? How long before you come on out and say with loud unequivocal voice, “This is wrong!”" (from his post titled "Is It Goodbye Evangelicalism....")


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