Thursday, July 16, 2020

Thoughts on #blacklivesmatter

I have grown weary in recent weeks of folks criticizing the BLM movement, of people outright chastising their fellow Christians for supporting the movement, or even just using the slogan. I grow weary because the initial purpose of the slogan was so simple, so unarguable, so very in line with what the Church should be teaching anyway: Dignity, protection under the law, serving the oppressed, the marginalized, the underrepresented. There really is no question that systemic racism is a reality in our country. Slavery itself is not far from living memory. Lynching, Jim Crow, systemic disenfranchisement, and the color bar are all within living memory. If you are a middle aged person of color, your parents or your grandparents know or knew someone who was a slave.

Wounds of this magnitude do not heal overnight, or over decades for that matter. Their reverberations continue for generations. A Black woman my age has no personal memory of slavery, but she grew up around people who grew up around people who did, and family history passes on to the children,  grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Any argument claiming that we should be past the race issue by now ignores the realities of family and societal dynamics.

Back to BLM—the movement, not necessarily the organization. What question can there be to the statement that our society as a whole, and its constituents individually, need a reminder that the experiences of white men and women do not stand alone in a vacuum, but take place in a construct which OUR ancestors created without an eye toward true justice for all? When our country was being birthed, the Black man and woman were not considered people. They were considered property. As imperfect people with an imperfect and, at times, violent history, we have to actively strive against racism. We’ve made progress, but we obviously have not arrived at the ideal. The very existence of #blacklivesmatter should be a wake up call to any white person who thinks we have.

We’re at the point—have been at the point for decades—where we need to reconsider our institutions, our assumptions, even our country’s founding principles, from a different perspective; from the perspective that yes, all men and women are created equal, and that all men and women includes our Black, Native American, Asian, Arab, and Hispanic brothers and sisters. We don’t need to throw out our ideals. We need to expand them to the point where they encompass us all by the very nature of our political, societal, educational, religious, and business systems. We are one, you and I, regardless of the color of your skin or mine. We are Americans. It will take more generations to figure out how to live it, but it will take less time if we refuse to cease striving toward the right to liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness, for all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Auld Lang Syne

I wish I’d had the wisdom to tell you back then none of this matters. Twenty years from now, we won’t remember these slights-- at least they won’t sting as they do. All that matters is this time we have. Not that I was in love: maybe I should have been. But you were my friend, and that was good; what we should have been back then. We were right at the time and place, at least when we were laughing or ringing in the new year. It was good to be with you—it was good to be myself. We counted days, because they were short, always. We didn’t know why—we thought because love would get away, we’d miss our chance. We didn’t know what would make us who we are. I missed it in a way. Please forgive me. I didn’t know. All things petty seemed larger than life, enduring. But now when I say your name, I think of only you, and Alice, and the Auld Lang Syne.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Thoughts on Divorce

I've been thinking on divorce and life in the Church a lot during the Advent and Christmas season. This is the time of year, more than any other, that reminds me of my past, my shortcomings, the wounds I have inflicted on my family and those around me.

When I happen to find myself in a conversation with someone about the evils of divorce (I avoid these conversations, but you'd be surprised how often they happen anyway), I leave feeling shamed, acutely aware of my failings. No one needs to tell me what divorce does to my children. No one needs to tell me that it's not the Christian Ideal. I am keenly aware of these things, and never more so than during the holidays.

That said, I had an epiphany today about the Church and specifically about how our culture allows the Church to do some things uniquely well, if we let it. I would guess that no where else is the possibility of sexual redemption quite so attainable. Divorce is readily available in this country and, probably from a faith perspective, often abused. But to allow divorce is not to say the bond was not valid or blessed. It simply acknowledges a painful reality--This bond is broken. Only in the wake of acknowledging that brokenness and shame is there an opportunity to be made whole again, either by fixing it or admitting that it is dead. And even if the hard reached decision is the latter, life can be made beautifully whole, like a stained glass window reflecting and refracting light in a completely different way than an unbroken pane of glass. It's not easy. Putting together a stained glass window is a painstaking process, but the results of careful, deliberate workmanship are breathtaking.

I'm not advocating for divorce. I have never encouraged someone toward divorce, and I doubt I ever will. My husband and I have said more than once that divorce is like jumping out of a frying pan and landing in the fire, and there's really no way to know ahead of time which is worse.

I am attempting to express that divorce does not render someone a pariah, any more than pride or arrogance or intemperance. There are consequences, but there also is repentance, light, life, and redemption, regardless of the failing.

George MacDonald

"Home is ever so far away in the palm of your hand, and how to get there it is of no use to tell you. But you will get there; you must get there; you have to get there. Everybody who is not at home, has to go home."

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