Friday, November 19, 2021
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles, 5, 27-33 made me think about who we are listening to and who gets to speak. (Bolding is mine)
When they had brought the apostles, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man's blood on us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.
Reflecting on this a little bit, I thought about the council as a representation of white supremacy. Not necessarily the KKK or stereotypical version of that, but the quieter, less obvious white supremacy that I and so many other people who look like me benefit from. The white supremacy that whispers, "He should have just complied with the police" or says they're "just joking" when dabbling in racial stereotypes.
Recently, the Iowa statehouse voted to end "divisive" training on issues like implicit bias or diversity training. Former President Trump signed a similar executive order during his term. I've attended a number of diversity training sessions, seminars, and discussions. Are they all of the same quality? No. But did I regret going to them? Not at all. Even though the Apostles were spreading the good news, the council got so angry that they wanted to kill them! And sadly, this is still happening 2000+ years later: People still literally want to kill the messengers.
What will it take for us to let our guard down and repent? How do we listen to the Holy Spirit and not the human council?
May we allow the flowers of grace and forgiveness to flourish, instead of the bitter fruits of defensiveness and anger.
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Monday, April 12, 2021
I’ve been thinking a lot about pain this past week, especially after this week’s Gospel reading.
After yet another shooting of a black man in the Twin Cities compounds
the trauma already at high levels due to the Derek Chauvin trial, I thought about the Gospel
reading this week which described “Doubting” Thomas and how he reacted to rumors that Jesus was actually alive.
Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.
I’ve seen too many takes - and so many of them from white people - who treated George Floyd’s killing, and now Daunte Wright, and the news so many other deaths of black men, women, and children like Thomas did to a resurrected Jesus. They did not believe.
They did not believe in the existence of racism. They did not believe that there could have been an alternate situation where a person did not have to end up dead. They did not believe in the secondary trauma affecting people with different colored skin.
A few years ago during a discussion about something current events related, a former teacher told me, “We have your pain is not valid because it’s not my pain crisis" in this country. When I was growing up, I thought my pain was unique. As I grew older, I learned it wasn’t. We all have issues and pain. Friends who I thought had ‘normal’ childhoods talked to me about the pain and challenges they faced growing up. We are all broken in places.
I don’t know a ton of Black people, but I feel like I know enough to say that being Black in America comes with a certain number of challenges, painfulness, and trauma just due to skin color. Much of which is invisible to white people. We didn’t grow up with being on guard when we see a cop car. We didn’t grow up being followed in stores for being suspicious. We didn’t grow up with the racism of low expectations. And since so many of us didn’t see it growing up, we “will not believe.”
This isn’t to say that one person’s pain is more important or others. This isn’t a diatribe against policing. I’m not trying to be ‘woke.’ I am stating what my faith is calling me to do. And for those of you whose first reaction is “What about…” I will preemptively respond with the first words Jesus told Thomas, “Peace be with you.”
In a recent marriage enrichment class I took with my wife, we learned about three responses to when our spouse brings up something up, turn against, turn away, and turn towards. Turn against is where we become defensive, which leads to conflict. Turn away is when we become apathetic or ignore the problem. And turn towards is when we put in our full selves towards the issue and we approach it with a full heart and willingness to engage. We, white people especially, need to turn towards the problem of racism.
I believe this needs to be stated clearly: there are systems in place that are causing significant trauma and fatal harm to black and brown citizens of this country. And so many of us need to quit acting like Thomas and believe it.