Tag Archives: race and reconciliation

Reconciliation: Are churches the problem?

microphone-nichodemusFebruary is usually thought of as the month of love.  Aisle after aisle was stocked with candy and paper hearts, cuddly stuffed animals, sweet candy and cards even before the King holiday and our community projects were over.  To be sure, it is not about the feeling but the money.  Still, despite their marketing techniques, attitudes about race and the church are not improving.

A recent Barna poll claims that persons believe that churches are at fault and even fuel racial tensions 38 percent of the time.  That is, in one out of three instances where race is involved, the blame is placed on the shoulders of churches.  Apparently, the Church is apart of the problem.

Long associated with judgmental attitudes and wagging fingers, it seems that some persons are now pointing the finger at the Church.  Tasked with the ministry of reconciliation, I wonder how the evaluations are being done.  Who is being held accountable and responsible for this work?

However, it is not a bad assessment or a failing grade as 73 percent believe that the Church plays an important role in the reconciliation of cultures.  Still, the finding reminds us that we are missing quite a few spots.  Last year around this time, Relevant magazine asked, “Why doesn’t the church engage race issues?”

It seems our society will not allow us to remain silent or to feign ignorance. With instance after instance of suspicious death and obvious injustice, we will need to focus on more than Sunday morning attendance.  Rather, we will need to attend to the wounds of our world, spreading the Balm in Gilead on our communities.  This is love and it will need to happen not just in February or other special holidays.  Whether we are feeling the love or not, it our job to show it.  “They will know we are Christian by our love.”



Change of Heart

ChangeOfHeart_340_180“I had a change of heart.”  We’ve all heard or said these words before.  It is a changing of our disposition, our perspective on a situation or person.  It has happened over time, a fews days, weeks, months or even years.  The changing of one’s heart does take time.

And a change of heart is the prescription for us if we are to relate to each other with mutual compassion, respect and understanding.  It is not enough tolerate persons, to put up with their presence while in a public setting or for a set amount of time.  Anyone can be polite for appearance sake.  No, this change will take us deeper into our selves.

Race is often in the news and now that it is apart of the national dialogue, it is in our faces at 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.  But, what do we see?  Do we hear a complaint?  Do we see people misunderstood?  Do we hear and see people at all?

We can change the channel to something less irritating or predictable.  We can change the laws and debate their impact.  But, unless we change our relationships with each other, unless the change is in our hearts, then there’s really been no change at all.

We can change buildings and move to different neighborhoods but unless we change our internal structure and check the foundation upon which we stand, we won’t be moved to love and culturally diverse relationships.  Until we view ourselves as stewards and not owners of the world and each other, our relationships will be dominated by the social construct of race.  This change is individual, personal and intricate to who we are as human beings.

It will not be solved with the click of a button.  We can not give this problem away or pay our way out of it.  That’s just change.  Don’t give what you can spare, won’t miss and can live without.

Instead, we need a change of heart, a change of rhythm.  May our hearts beat to the rhythm of God’s grace.  Amen.


When Love Rules Us

untitledIt seems only natural when there is an attraction, a shared smile, butterflies in our stomach or a sweaty hand is extended.  We think that love only exists when we feel it or are in the mood or when it is an even exchange.  No, God is Love and God is ever-present. Consequently, Love is and will always be.

But, Love and God are a choice and while the existence of both are not optional, we do have a say in the way we will be ruled–either by our carnal inclinations and passions or that of the Spirit of Love.  We can choose our way of thinking and being in the world and with our neighbors.

Baltimore is not only on map but on our minds.  We are not thinking about the city in terms of sports or seafood but because of death.  The untimely, mysterious and tragic death of Mister Freddie Gray, his severed spine while in police custody, has people talking.  The dialogue made some persons so angry that they took it out on property, setting innocent buildings and cars on fire.  They involved bricks, bottles and other projectiles in their dispute with the use of force, hurling them at police officers not involved with Mr. Gray’s death.  Disappointed, shocked and tired of hearing these kinds of stories, they were taking out their anger on other people.

And I think that more than anger was speaking.  I believe that they were acting out of fear, that those who looted were afraid.  Now, I cannot point to which part of their person, whether mind, heart or soul was threatened, but they were not attacking for no reason.  Perhaps, it is a ghost, an apparition that they were chasing or running away from.

Maybe it is the ghost of race.  We see it and hear its chains.  And it frightens us to believe that our lives are not safe when race is around, at play or at work within us.  So, we scream, “Black lives matter!” because we don’t want to die.  The racialized life is one lived fearfully.

Unfortunately, if we do not talk about race and its impact on us, if we do not stop seeing, believing in, judging and treating persons according to the social coloring of skin, then it will happen again.  We will repeat the story until we are tired of hearing it.  Or, we can interrupt race and the cycles of abuse with Love.  We can allow Love to interject and set the tone.  We can trust Love and submit to its sovereignty.

And I know that we don’t feel like Love is right word or the appropriate response to the accusations and occasions of police brutality.  We want something greater than Love but that does not exist.  We must trust Love in this moment, surrendering what has been for Who will always be.

When Love rules us, we cannot fall in and out of it.  Love is unconditional.  When Love rules us, it is the content of our consciousness.  We live, move and can only be in Love (Acts 17.26).  When Love rules us, we are its citizens.  We must not leave this kingdom.



Don’t be a fool for race

fool_roger_von_oech“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.”

~ Benjamin Franklin

What does race do for us?  What does it do for you, your relationships, your community?  What are the benefits of our belief in race, our practice of stereotyping and segregating and judging ourselves better and others worse?

The truth is that for all of our arguments and disagreements because of race, it makes us feel good.  Race speaks highly of us.  It credits our flesh with goodness and ability.  It is because of the social coloring of skin that we are desirable and thereby successful.

But, race is a fool.  All is knows how to do is criticize, condemn and complain.  Race makes us great by comparison.  We are only good because we have made them bad.  We can see ourselves as beautiful because we have defined their appearance as ugly.

Listen to the ways in which we speak of other cultures when it comes to race.  “Those people have come to our country to take our jobs.  These people are helpless.  I am so glad that I am not like them.”

Race does not teach us to speak well of others (James 4.11).  Instead, it encourage us to pride ourselves, to boast of our culture, to favor our country over other lands.  Race does not support community but thrives on division.

Frankly, race is making a fool of us by keeping us separated.  We know that we need each other, that there is nothing to fear but race itself.  Race is the problem not human beings.  The social coloring of skin is not the solution but unconditional love.  Race is making a fool of us by keeping our hands folded inward instead of reaching out to others, holding hands, forming circles, staying connected.

Some one has tied a noose on a tree on the campus at Duke University.  This historical symbol of terror and social injustice is a foolish one.  I mean, what is the point really?  What is the goal of such but to point us back to an ignorant past and practice that neither benefitted the American justice system that supported it nor the individuals who rushed to judgment, lied and conspired to make the person (s) guilty?

What point are persons who hate and scare, who fear and prejudge, who believe that persons should be killed because only they have a right to life trying to make?  Surely, there is more to life than to criticize, condemn and complain.  Unless of course, you are a fool.

Mark Twain was right.  He said, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”  No one wants to “play the fool.” And since race has convinced us that we are the source of power, the key to knowledge and the evidence of truth, though it is not impossible it incredibly difficult to prove that race is making a fool out of us. I’m going to try any way.  I will repeat it as often as I am given opportunity.

Open your eyes and see that race does not help our humanity.  It does not love us because race does not want us to love others.  It is a social conditioning and says that love is conditional.  But, we cannot serve the God of unconditional love and race.  Be a disciple of Christ; don’t be a fool for race.

Just do right

imgres 13-06-22These three words are Maya Angelou’s and they have inspired this morning’s post.  I don’t know about you but I search for wisdom.  And as is evident in her three words, it does not take many.  I don’t need a long or grand speech, just a couple of thought-filled and authentic words can release me from longer words that have bound me hand and foot.

I open books with an eager excitement and hope that courage will come, peace will be found, assurance will be given.  I look for good words that might guide me to a higher place, to a better part of me.  And the need is fresh every morning.  I am hungry for words, driven to write them and read them every day.

Likewise, I don’t like fearful words, ill- informed words, hate- filled words.  They do nothing for me but work against me. Now, when persons ask me about race and reconciliation, forgiveness and justice, oppression and privilege, when they question how we can solve the race problem, I have three words for them: “Just do right.”