Tag Archives: truth- telling

A call for peace

Let there be peace. This is my solemn prayer.  That we need not die or assassinate each other’s character to experience it.  I don’t just want to rest in peace but to live in peace.

But, it is hard to find peace and quiet these days. It is an unlikely combination.  Albert Einstein said, “Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order— in short government.” Maybe this is why the American Empire keeps up a racket.  Its politicians make a fuss.

Old arguments rile us up and kick up dust. The breaking news is breaking us.  Another day, another insult, another mass shooting, another natural or human- made disaster, another scandal, another threat, another investigation.  Life has been reduced to litigation.

Our lives are littered with disputes. Who will clean this up?  As we dumpster dive into people’s lives, sifting through trashy details for treasures, for trophies, for the win in yet another argument.  But Jesus said that for all we might gain, we lose.  He challenges our capitalistic conclusions: “For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life[i],” “and lose their soul”?[ii]

And what are we fighting about now? What is he[iii] lying about now?  What are we trying to get out of now?  What I wouldn’t do for peace of mind, for a piece of time without digs, jabs, low blows and cheap shots.  What I wouldn’t give for relief from manipulations, plots, schemes and double- dealing.

We pick fights and then pick at the fights. America is one big sore spot, made worse by the backbiting, the gas lighting.  Hair is on fire while trying to tread lightly.  We walk on egg shells.  It is not safe for anyone to carry the truth of our pain, our sadness, our doubts.

Instead, we cry, “Peace, peace.”   Still, the weight of reality is crushing us, bearing down on us, smashing our faces against the window, weighting us down in our pews.  We hold our tongues and consequently, can’t move.

But, my elders would say, “Tell the truth and shame the devil.”

Because lies don’t really serve us; instead, they do the devil’s bidding. They are his children.  Lies are the adversary’s “native tongue.”[iv]  No believer should be fluent in this language.

At least that is what Jesus said to those in the temple, “He (that is the devil) was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.”[v]

Jesus says that because he tells the truth, they doubt him. Because he tells the truth, Jesus will not make a believer out of them.  Instead, they pick up stones. Rest in peace, Jesus. Because they would rather kill the messenger than hear him out.

Regrettably, not much has changed from his time until now. Rather than hear the ugly truth, we pick up stones.  Shooing away “our better angels,” we let the devil come along.  “Deceiving and being deceived,”[vi] we think peace will come after just one more lie.

We say, “That’s not true. We’re okay.  Everything’s fine.”  With pieces of the sky in our hair, we tell each other, “There’s nothing to see here.  Please go back inside.  Go back to business as usual.  Peace, peace.”

Prophet- preachers find themselves in a familiar tough spot. Walter Brueggeman said there are three urgent prophetic tasks: to assert reality, that is truth- telling, to give voice to grief in spite of our denials and to proclaim hope less we fall into despair.[vii] Jeremiah warned us not to cry, “Peace, peace when there is no peace.”[viii]  Still, there are those who want us to fake it until we make it to heaven, to nod and smile, to go along to get along, to keep everyone comfortable, to maintain the status quo and to not get out of the boat.  But, “the rain drops keep falling on (our) heads.”

Malcolm Muggeridge teaches us, “People do not believe lies because they have to but because they want to.” They need to keep the argument going, keep the power of truth bogged down in tedious and unnecessary paperwork.  Friedrich Nietzsche was right, “The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.” Yet, the psalmist makes none but cried, “I kept my faith, even when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’  I said in my consternation, ‘Everyone is a liar.’”[ix]

Which is why it is essential that we know Jesus. Jesus said that if we know him, we know freedom.  He said, “… you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”[x]  How then are we so confined, so short of breath, so short- tempered?  Why do we seem unable to take another step—even if it is in the direction of understanding?  It is due to the growing anxiety in our world as the lies are piled on top of us.  Because as the saying goes, “If at first you’re not believed, lie, lie again.”

Still, it is hard to keep the world at arm’s length when it is constantly trying to pull you in, draw you in, bring you into the fight. It tells one lie, one half- truth at a time.  It offers illusions at half price and sells wholesale deceptions.  “Truth is whatever you want it to be,” they say.  But, as believers, we cannot make peace with that.

And I cannot make sense of that; still, there is a blessing in making peace no matter what becomes of us. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”[xi]  I receive his blessing and offer it to you.

____________________________

[i] Mark 8.36, NRSV

[ii] Mark 8.36, KJV

[iii] That is, Donald Trump

[iv] John 8.44, NIV

[v] John 8.44b-45, NRSV

[vi] Second Timothy 3.13

[vii] Walter Brueggeman, Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdsmans Publishing Company, 2014), 2.

[viii] Jeremiah 6.14

[ix] Psalm 116.10-11, NRSV

[x] John 8.32, NRSV

[xi] Matthew 5.9

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Why I Run

Today marks the one year anniversary of my beginning The Daily Race. I have pondered what I would say when I reached this milestone and I didn’t have the words until now. There’s only one thing that I can do. The songwriter says, “As I look back over my life and I think things over. I can truly say that I’ve been blessed. I have a testimony.” I, fellow runners, want to testify.

I first give honor to God who is the strength of my life, to His Son and my example of sacrificial love and to the Holy Spirit for its guiding and penetrating truths that have begun to unravel this tightly bound soul. I thank God for setting my feet on this path toward race-lessness, for walking and talking with me along the way. I thank God for the angel sent to wrestle with me until I received this new name: post- racial liberation theology. I am grateful for the great cloud of witnesses and for those that I have met on this side of heaven, for all of the words that I have met and the ideas we’ve shared.

I have yet to comprehend the breadth and depth and width of my humanity, the expansive nature and meaning of the presence of the divine in me as a believer. It is too deep for me to understand God’s unconditional love because of my racial conditioning. But, I want to love all of God’s children without prejudice. I want to see more of me/you and less of race. And I am grateful for the glimpses of it, for the awareness that it exists and that it is, indeed, possible through Jesus Christ, our Lord. It is this vision, this promise that I am running toward.

Like the Samaritan woman who dropped her water pot, I have dropped race to run and tell everyone that I see to “Come see a man who told me all about myself and never once mentioned race.” I have been filled, I have been satisfied from the inside out. And I can’t keep it to myself. I just have to tell it.

I close with a poem that I shared with a women’s group through a spiritual community covenant to T.E.S.T.I.F.Y.: Telling Every Story To Internally Free You. The poem is titled “Tell It” and I encourage you to do just that:

Tell it! Tell it!
Open your mouth, child
There’s something in there
Say it without hesitation
Share it without reservation
Shoo that cat away
Because your tongue is nothing to play with
This is your story so you must…
 
Tell it! Tell it!
Open your mouth, girl
There’s someone in there
Don’t worry about who won’t like it
Don’t matter who gets mad
Talk about it
Scream it 
Shout it
Because there will come a day when you’ll wish you had so…
 
Tell it! Tell it!
Open your mouth, woman
It’s time now to release it
You’ve held it long enough
Nursing pain, cloaking shame
Won’t give your life permission to feel 
But, closing your mouth doesn’t allow the wound to heal
So, tell it!

We Could All Use “The Help”

Last weekend, I read Kathryn Stockett’s book The Help.  Intrigued by the title and wanting to hear their side of the story, my interest only increased when I turned to the back cover to discover that the author was a European American woman.  I thought, This is going to be good.  But, while reading her bio, I couldn’t help but feel at tinge of pain at the sight of her hometown– Jackson, Mississippi.  Ironically, it is the same city where James Craig Anderson was brutally murdered in a allegedly racially motivated attack only a couple of weeks ago and I am yet again reminded of the trap of history.

Still, I entered the conversation with no expectation, my only knowledge attained not even secondhand but from old movies and pictures. I have no personal experience with which to compare, having never even considered the position for employment.  If anything, I’m praying for the day when I can hire some help of my own.  My grandmother, Eva Mae, once told me that she had worked cleaning a “white” familiy’s home but that the job ended as quickly as it began.  My grandfather was uncomfortable with the position and quickly made economic arrangements that ensured that she would be able to stay home with their family.  The end.  That’s all that she ever shared with me regarding the experience so this was my opportunity to hear more about the conditions in which all of these women lived.

Stockett had me in the first chapter, hundreds of pages turned between my fingers in a matter of hours and with each chapter, I leaned more intently into the lives of each character.  I was there, right there in Jackson, Mississippi.  I was rolling my eyes with Miss Skeeter as her mother asked why she hadn’t come home with a husband instead of a piece of paper– a diploma.  I was sitting at the table as Miss Hilly, Miss Leefolt, Miss Walters and Miss Skeeter played bridge each week.  I was in the kitchen with Aibileen and Mae Mobley as she told her that she was kind, smart and important.  I was moved to tears as Aibileen told her about “Martian Luther King,” attempting to teach Mae Mobley about diversity and acceptance. I was sitting in Aibileen’s kitchen as they recorded the stories of each of the maids.  I was in Miss Celia’s bathroom as she sat in the blood of her miscarried child and with her each time, she picked up her phone to ensure that there was a dial tone while waiting for the ladies of the League to return her call.  I stood in the yard with Minny and looked on as Miss Celia defended her from the attack of a socially defined “white” man and could see the awareness of love and acceptance increase in the mind of Minny.  I was outside of the telephone booth when Minny made the decision to leave Leroy, finally telling herself the truth.  I am so grateful for all of the voices that she honored, allowed to speak and have dialogue.  I pray that this book will allow us to sit down at a table and talk to those we’ve mistreated or those who have mistreated us.  The Help provided an opportunity for self- examination.

And Stockett did another thing for me.  She showed me what covers the trap of history: fear and conformity.  Miss Hilly’s treatment of the women under her leadership and even those she allowed to be her friends reminded me yet again of the ease with which we can fall.  Miss Elizabeth almost sent an innocent woman to prison, separated her daughter from the only person who really loved her and prematurely ended Aibileen’s career– all because of her inability to speak for herself.  The Help reaffirmed the power of voice and the necessity of claiming your own.  But not only that the power of friendship, the possibility of change through truth- telling and the liberating act of writing that was demonstrated in the book have all encouraged me to continue to run this race.  The Help tells me that it only takes one to change the conversation and in turn to challenge the status quo.

I am so glad that I did not allow assumption to prevent me from listening to Stockett’s story.  Because it is her story and hers alone to tell– not to be silenced or dismissed as inauthentic or inappropriate because of the social coloring of her skin.  We all have our work to do and I am certain that we can use The Help.

More Help

Cookin’ in Other Women’s Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865-1960

“I apologized to Vicki today”

“‘The Help’ Brings Jesus’ Teaching to Life”

“Why “The Help’s” Critics Are All Wrong”