Pain & Grief election style

unknown-1It’s my honor to know 3 young women who have shared transparent and very vulnerable stories this past week. Their stories may be yours, or very similar, or they may not resonate at all.  As humans we need empathy for others. We need it ourselves. Walk in the shoes of these women for a moment. In their words:

ALLI:

I think last Tuesday was a breaking point for me in a sense, because I’m still not doing okay. It’s bigger than this election and I’m trying to figure out how to move forward.

My faith is everything to me. It’s what I always return to, and it’s what I choose to filter everything through. Despite the bad in the world, and the suffering and heartbreak I still believe for some reason in a god that is love and a god that desires us to seek to be loving beings in how we interact with ourselves, others, our jobs and this planet. I think god provides us with examples of what love is to help guide us. I believe that ultimately our role on earth is to spend our lives being good lovers – actively breaking apart the hells on earth and building heavens – and giving dignity to those we interact with, not taking it away.

As much as I believe this – the church and it’s people are a constant source of disappointment and heartache. The church gives me plenty of reasons to believe all of this is BS.

This started for me back in 2008. I went to a small, private Christian university in Illinois. In the spring of 2007 I interned on the hill and became a huge fan of president Obama and attended his weekly “breakfast with constituents”. I found myself aligning with the values he spoke of and quickly became so excited to cast my very first vote for him.

This same year my Paw Paw died. My Paw Paw is arguably one of the strongest examples I’ve had in my life of love, service, humility, wisdom and humor. He was a pastor who retired at a church in northwest Washington DC when I was 5 – but continued ministering through what he called his “church without walls.” He, like me, was a liberal democrat too. (So of course it made sense to me to think if Jesus was alive he would be a democrat:)) My senior year of college when he was very sick we always bonded after debates – him taunting me that Hillary would be our next president but me insisting all along it would be Barack. He was so sick on Election Day my dad drove him to the polls and he had to vote “curbside” – but he was SO proud to be healthy enough to cast a vote for the first black president. He died just a few days later on November 16.

After that election day was when I began seeing the church as an unloving body of people that looked nothing like Christ. Weeks after the election and after my grandfather had died I was in the cafeteria at school with a table of friends and conversation led to the election. A friend of mine (that I thought was a good one), looked at me and said, “I don’t know how you as a Christian could justify a vote for Obama.” I was speechless – got up, walked out and didn’t look back. Not only did this hurt my own heart, but that someone could insult my grandfather like that – a man I had just lost forever who was one of my best examples of what a Christian “should be”. (That friend actually apologized for these words just last year). But that marks the downfall of all the awful, hateful things I’ve seen the church say about the president and the way they’ve had incredibly obvious double standards. I’ve even heard my dad describe the way some family has spoken to me as “abuse”.

Then in 2011 of course I watched all the debates closely – missing Paw Paw’s phone calls afterward to debrief. I was in my third year of teaching here in Baltimore city at that time. In a Republican debate I heard Newt Gingrich say “we should teach inner city kids to be janitors because that’s all they will ever be.” How dare a man running for president say that my bright, hardworking students aren’t worthy of or capable of options. We cannot afford a president like that. After that night I began spending all of my free time volunteering for Obama’s campaign and summer 2012 was offered to work full-time on the campaign. I thought electing him was important enough to leave the classroom. My students deserved a president that believed in them (and about time they had one that looked like them too).

Working to reelect president Obama was incredible – I met inspiring people who shared my values and I was able to have yet another job that felt like waking up every morning for it mattered and was deeply important to do the work. But then he won, and again the church was ugly. I have family that still to this day insist Obama is a Muslim and question his character. I take that personally – I quit my job to take a huge pay cut to work my butt off to reelect him and my family (and other church people) thinks he is an awful human. If I believe so strongly in him to quit my job for him – do they think these awful things of me too?

Then 2016 came. There was hope the country could continue progress President Obama made and we could finally have a president that looked like me – a woman in the White House. I underestimated how excited I was for this until just weeks before. The anticipation was exciting and hopeful. Then Election Day came and 81% of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. THE CHURCH voted for a man that said he grabs pussies and that immigrants are bad hombres and people in the inner city have nothing to lose or live for. I can’t think of a single thing in Donald Trump’s message that aligns with the gospel.

Not only did the church vote for him but they are “praising god” for it and claim it’s “god’s will”. Even some of my family. How do I reconcile this with what I know about the character of god? Who is this god they speak of? Since last Tuesday I’ve had other Christians tell me that it’s up to me to have a good attitude about it, or that it’s the same as how they felt when Obama won. (Some of you need lessons in empathy).

This is going to take a while to be okay with it. And it’s much bigger than Hillary Clinton losing the election. I see too much ugly in the church right now, and I hate it. So for now I will look for the beauty and love and god in my “church without walls.” Love always wins though – so one day these ugly hateful voices won’t be the loudest. You’ll have to forgive me if this takes a while, and if you’re a friend or family member that claims my same faith and voted for him – it might take me a while to be able to look you in the eye without crying or feeling angry.

MARISSA:

Late last night, I attempted to rationalize and have an honest conversation with someone. I had hit my breaking point. I was about to delete my Facebook bc I was so tired of all the hateful posts, especially from Christians. I decided that before hitting the delete button, to give it one last go and try to rationalize with someone spewing hatred and meanness, to see if maybe there really was a chance here to make people understand why this election feels as if Hate won on Tuesday. I will share the convo in the comments of this post if you want to read.

After said conversation, it was never more clear to me that this election has deeply damaged the Church that I belong to, and deeply affected the people in it. Me included. I have been repulsed by what I’ve seen and heard, especially by what has been said to me by people I love, people that I have prayed with. People in my life I thought were loving and compassionate have turned into something different than I have ever seen. Somewhere along the way, getting involved in the American political process, their worship and trust in an All Powerful, All Knowing, King of Kings and Lord of Lords was replaced with worshiping something else. Somewhere along the line political ideology became such an idol that God’s love become muted and out on the back burner.

Honestly friends, if I did not have such a deeply rooted faith, I would leave the Church after this. For the first time in my life, I get why people will never enter a Christian place of worship. I knew we were broken. I just never knew we were this broken. And because of the hatred that is continuing to spew from Tomi Lahren groupies, for the first time in my life I understand why people hate the Grand Old Party.

So what is a girl to do.

After a lot of weeping, a lot of praying, and a lot of pain. I think I am finally ready to get to work.

I have decided that I will strive to show what Love is really about on a more public scale and to a broader scope of people because this stuff? This rhetoric? This is NOT MY Church. This stuff is NOT MY GOP. You are both FIRED.

I will do my best to speak worth back into peoples lives again who have been made to feel less than, mocked in their pain, called unAmerican, stupid, unChristian, unPatriotic. (including telling myself in my own hard moments). I will strive to be a louder voice than all of those hateful lies. I will continue to fight the hate and call it out for what it is. No more silence or passiveness. I will especially speak out against the objectivity and sexualization of other girls like me whose innocence got tampered and trampled upon. I will take my pain, and instead of leaving my Church or my Party, I will channel it to protect my fellow Americans rights and freedoms. I will be an advocate standing side by side the broken, because I know I am broken too.

Pray for me in my mission to try to heal this divided nation of the “nasty women”, and the “deplorable” and help get us to a place we can all be proud of our country and appreciate all our our political differences, because that is what makes America truly great. Where we can recognize idols in our life and break them on the ground, because that is what makes the Gospel of Christ so great. This is the country that I love and that I am proud of. It is the country that the world looks up to as a place of opportunity, hope, and freedom.

And I’ll be damned if y’all ruin it for my future grand babies!!!!! 

LAURA:

Getting to Know You…Again

My name is Laura. I’m a music teacher, a wife, a mother, a Christian, a native Kentuckian and a dog lover. I bleed blue, but I also cheer for the Crimson Tide, especially during football season. I’m a writer in the process of seeking to get her first book published, I love to swim, walk, read, try new foods and garden. I’m completely addicted to “Game of Thrones”, “The 100” and “Poldark” and will be an “I Love Lucy” fan for life. I will read anything written by Agatha Christie, Michael Connely, and Liz Curtis Higgs, and will fight anyone who says that Julie Andrews isn’t the queen of everything.

I also have a HUGE aversion to slugs. They make me sick…like, literally. I am not joking here. No pictures of slugs on my dash. Ever. I’m glad we cleared that up.

I am passionate about civil liberties and women’s rights, believe all Americans should enjoy the freedom to worship as they choose, will fight racism and sexism with every bone in my body, and believe that all Americans regardless of sexual orientation should have the right to marry the person of their choice. I am for pathways to citizenship even as we continually reform immigration laws, am for bringing screened Syrian refugees into our country to give them a safe haven and a new chance at life, believe that every child deserves a free and outstanding education regardless of their economic status, gender or race, and that teachers, teaching assistants and social workers are woefully underpaid. (Had to get that in there)

I’m a Democrat. I’m am anti-abortion but pro-choice. (Yes–you can be both.) And if you’re reading this, then I’m your friend or a member of your family.

We will probably agree on many of the above points but disagree about others, and that’s okay with me. (Unless you don’t like Julie Andrews–then we’re going to have issues.) But here’s the thing–if you disagree with me, you can do so without invalidating my feelings or beliefs, just as I should be able to do with yours.

I hear many people throwing around lines like, “Everybody needs to get over it”, “I thought I knew this person”, “How can you believe this?”, or “Stop whining.” The thing is, expressing pain isn’t the same thing as whining, nor is disagreeing over issues necessarily a deal-breaker. You don’t have to agree with someone to listen, empathize and minister to them.

Yes–I am still hurting over the results of this election. Yes–I take Trump’s words about women personally, and as a woman who has survived an encounter with sexual assault, I’m having a very hard time getting over the fact that a man who admitted to and bragged about sexually assaulting women is now my president-elect.

Now before you say, “It’s not personal”–don’t. Because it is. To me. To millions of other women and girls. It. Is. Personal.

Does that mean it has to be personal to you? No. Does it mean that if you voted for Trump you support the degradation of women and sexual assault? No. But please don’t tell me I’m being too sensitive or explain to me why he was the lesser of two evils, rant at me about the evils of abortion or state flippantly, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

Should we agree to disagree? Over issues and opinions–yes. It is necessary for us as a nation if we want to heal and move on. But how do you disagree with someone’s pain or fear?

You can’t. You can either acknowledge or dismiss it. Yesterday, I had several Christians completely dismiss my pain, and that hurt on an even deeper level than Trump’s election. My heart still stings after these encounters, and my faith in the church at the moment is shaky at best. (Not my faith in Christ–that is stronger than ever.)

That being said, I also had Christians reach out, tell me that they understand my feelings and that they are sorry I am hurting. Can I tell you which words touched me? Which reaction ministered? Which statements felt like a balm? I don’t think I have to tell you–I think you already know.

On the flip side, I know Trump voters who are feeling battered, bruised and judged with labels like “Racist”, “Bigot”, and “Homophobe” being thrown at them from all sides. They’re trying to cry out, “That’s not me! I despise racism. I’m a woman. I hate misogyny. I have Muslim friends!” in the post-election melee, but they’re frustrated that they’re not being heard. And in their frustration, they are hurt and angry.

I can either listen to them, embrace them and tell them I love them, that I know their hearts or I can shout back, “Liar! You voted for a racist, sexist, bigot, so that makes you one!”

I’m choosing to do the former rather than the latter.

Now in embracing my Trump-supporting friends, I am not relinquishing my belief that Donald Trump is a racist, sexist, bigot who embodies hate, for I still believe that with every bone in my body. But I am refusing to apply that label to people who I’ve known for years, people who have loved me through hard times, who have supported me and my family, who have shown me through their lives that they are genuine people of faith and compassion. I still believe in and love them, even if I despise our president elect. And in validating my hurt and fears over the outcome of this election, they are not switching loyalties from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party or suddenly embracing Hilary Clinton.

We are simply choosing to listen, to try to understand another opionion, and to reach out to each other.

Which words heal: “Suck it up, sore loser!” or “I’m so sorry you’re hurting. Please know I’m there for you.”

Which words build bridges: “How could you support racism like you just did?” or “I know you’re not racist, and I’m so glad you’re my friend.”

Today, I’m choosing words that heal. Won’t you join me?

Posted in #imwithher, Clinton, Compassion, Election 2016, Empty Nest, Family, Grief, Heartbreak, Hope, pain, politics, Racism, Religion & Christianity, Sexual assault | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Being Christian During A Trump Presidency

Grateful for Christian examples like Aristotle.

Public Orthodoxy

by Aristotle Papanikolaou

When it comes to voting, I had always thought that there was never a way for Christians to vote with clean hands. Regardless of party or candidate, a Christian could not vote without being implicated in supporting principles that are counter to Christian faith. And that’s how it should be: Christian witness points to that which is more than the political. Put another way, the political is something but it is not everything.

If Christian witness is to point to what is more than the political, then Christian responsibility is not done after we vote; it only intensifies after an election. No matter who is elected, Christians must always exercise a prophetic voice.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected, Christians would have had to exercise this prophetic voice—some would have focused on her failure to promote a consistent ethic of life, while others might have targeted her…

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So… I poured my heart and soul into this election

It’s the day after. The most qualified person ever to run for President lost, and I am mourning what could have been. I know of so many octogenarian and nonagenarians, and for that matter women in their teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies who were so excited about the possibility of a woman president after over 200 years of this country. I didn’t happen, and we are devastated. I made calls. Talked to so many people. I was so excited about her. Not so about him.

Unfortunately, he is one of the most crass leaders I could have ever imagined. But it’s done. Not quite a majority of people were willing to look the other way for some supposed greater purpose. It is what it is. Now I wish only the best as we go forward as I will not repeat the constant barrage of total nonsense that was thrown at Obama for 8 years. I want the best for our nation, and its role in worldwide humanity.

Today has brought back memories of the vitriol toward Obama as I have scrolled through my Facebook news feed. It is no secret that 70-ish % of evangelicals just jumped through hoops of rationalization, justification, trivializing, overlooking, and pretending that Trump isn’t really who he portended to be, to sooth their conscience as they held their nose to vote for him. For 8 years, those same Christians had an amazing Christian president, who they obviously did not agree with 100% of the time, and as I type probably still throw up a little just thinking about him, YET rarely did I see or hear them respect him in any manner of being. The conspiracy theories and lies just grew exponentially. (some generalizing here, but not as much as you may be thinking)

My beef at this point isn’t with him. It’s with many who voted for him. (Que the ‘stop whining’ and ‘oh, he’s really not that bad.’ He may really be that bad, but we need time to tell.) Meanwhile, like I said, it’s not about him. Someone on Sam’s news feed today actually said, ‘now God’s hand can begin moving through our country.’ Me: “Are you kidding me?!” I am in shock and awe that so many posts today indicate a shallow faith, and a very small god. God moves through people. So if you think God wasn’t moving before, look inward. Our new President isn’t our savior. And nothing will change within the borders of this country unless the change begins in you and me. Prophetically, I think our new President may actually be the King the Israelites demanded. And we know how that turned out. To hand over such power to a party or President is idolatry. I would like to think as Christians we are better than that.

There are real fears, and rightly so for all we know-based on his campaign rhetoric, in the lives of real people. I see no acknowledgement of that from those who have him on a pedestal. Religions are mocked, movements are mocked, no wonder people feel trivialized and unheard. They are not feeling the love. God’s hand will not be moving through our country if God’s people are withholding love from those who believe differently, or have a different color of skin, or a different religion.

When his video became public, I wrote about it here. Many people read the account, no one expressed any kindness. So, I can only imagine how the women felt when they came forward after the video came out. Everyone rushed to discredit them. Those were real women. They were moms and daughters. I could rehash everything he said or did that people have excused or overlooked, but that would only beget more excuses. Just don’t, for one minute, claim that because he is now the elect, ‘God’s hand can NOW move through our nation.’ That would not be a god I could believe in and that is the god who is turning away people from Christianity. That one is just too small. Too unkind. Too unloving. Too impotent. My God has been here since before the beginning of time. He has always been moving. We can choose to get on board and be his hands and feet. Or we can choose a golden calf.

I want to live my life relying on Christ alone. I choose love. Love wins, always.

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Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God IS love. 1 John 4:8

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

Posted in #imwithher, Election 2016, Empty Nest, Grieving, Joy, Love, Obama, Sexual assault | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

On things I want my kids to know and/or remember 💬

Above all, always love. Even the annoying coworker, friend, and family member. Also, love your enemies. No one should be exempt from your love. As you rise in the morning remember it’s your job to love. This, above all else.

The rest is in no particular order…

Never be within a 20 mile radius from your siblings and declare you are too tired to visit.

No matter your circumstances, always choose to believe that God is good and there will be a day when He sorts it all out. Do not become bitter. Refer back to the first paragraph.

Never wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden. Think about it. I see each of you planting beautiful gardens.

If someone doesn’t have a smile, give them yours.

In finances, as Shakespeare’s King Lear advised, “Have more than thou showest.”

Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise.

Forgiveness is the answer to carrying a grudge.

As Dale Carnegie wrote: “You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming genuinely interested in others than you can in 2 years by trying to get people interested in you.

The only thing that ever sat its way to success was a hen.

Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.

When driving, do not refer to discourteous drivers as idiots, like I do. Just forget it and drive on.

Do for others with no expectation in return. We should all plant some trees we will never sit under.

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb as that’s where the fruit is.

A great person shows their greatness by how they treat the little man.

When you are angry or frustrated, what comes out will be a good indication of what you are made of. Not always though.

True wealth is what you are, not what you have.

You can consider yourself a good manager when you get superior work from average people.

Master enemies, not by force, but by forgiveness.

When we remember how hard it is to change ourselves we will begin to understand what little chance we have of changing others.

Good manners sometimes means putting up with other’s bad manners.

Remember, the big print giveth and the small print taketh away. This should be well ingrained since your Dad is a lawyer, and two more are on their way.

Enjoy being smarter than others–just don’t tell them so.

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. Your father does such a good job of that.

Doing something for others is a powerful contributor to health and long life.

To change much, change your attitude.

Always laugh. Even when it’s inappropriate.

Put an uncommon touch on a most common task.

“By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.” Winston Churchill

Only God is in a position to look down on anyone.

Fill your time and space with joy.

Religion is what you do when the sermon is over.

Compliment someone every day.

Do not inhibit your happiness with judgement of others, negative thoughts, or envy.

Good character is built piece by piece via thought, choice, and courage. I’m proud of your’s.

“He has achieved success who has worked well, laughed often and loved much.” Elbert Hubbard. So true.

If someone remembers your outfit and not your smile, you didn’t smile enough.

The best way to be happy is to make others happy.

Always know the name of the janitor.

When problems cease, so do opportunities. So welcome them.

Do not worry about the future. Refuse apocalyptic mindset.

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you all this. You have each been my teacher. I learned from you. I love you guys. 💛💙💜

*wisdom over time of mine and others – credit given when known

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It all started 4 years ago

Four years ago when I was first diagnosed with A-fib and was told I would need a cardio ablation, I started this blog….. just in case I was in that 1% death category. Short story, if I died I wanted my kids to know, in writing, how much I love them.

So, this year started a bit crazy, I’m not talking Donald Trump, I am talking about my Mom and Dad’s medical issues. Especially my Mom, having  a relatively safe procedure, yet ending up being that small percentage, and now she is paralyzed. It has become ‘in your face’ that real people make up those small percentages.

I knew 4 years ago when I had my ablation that there was a chance I would need another down the road. My heart at that time was misfiring like crazy and that makes the likelihood even higher. Well, I made it almost 4 years. Shortly before my Mom’s procedure in January, I was beginning to notice my irregular heart beat again. I would have contacted my Arrythmia doctor sooner, but being in Michigan helping my Mom and Dad, I put it on the back burner. One night in March while in Grand Rapids at my Mom’s rehab center, my heart felt out of control. I debated walking across the street to the ER, but was afraid they would admit me and I didn’t want to be so far from home. Back home, in early April, I called my Arrythmia doctor to schedule an appointment. No appointments were immediately available and I was told if it was urgent I should just go to the ER. I waited another day, trying to talk myself out of going. Late afternoon the following day I called Sam at work to tell him I was going to the ER and he didn’t need to rush over because, well, you know how long you have to wait at times. Lucky me, since it was my heart, there was no wait at all.

Well, that ER visit resulted in a 4 day hospitalization, medication, and a followup with Dr. Wish, my Arrythmia guy. Since then, I’ve learned the meds are not doing the trick and a 2nd ablation is in order. If you are reading this the morning of October 18, I’m at Fairfax Hospital for the ablation, praying I’m not a small statistic. So, here I am again to let everyone know, in writing, how much I love them.

I love you all so much! I love you more than you love me and no matter how much you say you love me I still love you more!

You gotta plan for the worst while hoping (and praying) for the best.

Again, I know some of my friends are atheist, agnostic, etc. and many are beaten up by those in Christianity and the hypocrisy that is so pervasive in our faith, highlighted by this election season. Still, at some point consider forgetting everything you know and have experienced regarding the Christian faith and just ask God to reveal Himself to you. God IS love. It really is that simple. I know too often it doesn’t seem like it. God says if we seek Him with an open heart, we will find Him. {stepping off soapbox}

So, pray for me if you will, but most importantly pray for world peace and, do not vote for Trump. Carry on.

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Why I cannot vote for an alleged sexual predator–

unknownA friend the other day said, “I believe two of his abusers have been discredited.” Along with, “and the women are just now coming out against Trump?” This just gave me a terrible pit in my stomach. My first thought was, even IF some are discredited, some are not. What about those?? Just as with Bill Cosby, women were terrorized by a man in power, and lived with it for years. Yes, they are just coming out publicly now, yet many shared their experience within their inner circle at the time, just like I did.

When I was 12, that’s 44 years ago, someone I thought I could trust, tried to sexually assault me. I’m of the mind now that trying is the same as actually doing it. I remember staying overnight at their house, the next morning I was lying on my side on the rough carpeting in front of the television watching cartoons. He laid down behind me eventually putting his arm around me, I was already uncomfortable at that point, then he began to slide his hand down my stomach. I quickly stood up declaring I needed to go home. I remember those details like it was yesterday. I don’t remember what I did or said when I got home. I do remember that I was really ‘creeped out’ (7th grade vernacular). Thankfully I was raised in a home where I felt loved, and wanted, and I knew beyond a doubt what happened that morning was not okay. Since then I’ve learned there were other victims.

So, yeah, as I tell this story today, someone could try to discredit me in some way. My story  would still be true. And you better believe if that person was running for President today, and said he had never behaved in that manner, I would speak up and not let a lie like that go unchallenged. It sickens me how so many are making this a nonsuit.

So much about Trump is not okay. Should not be okay. Yet the machine is working overtime to rationalize and justify his words and behavior. It disgusts me.

As a mom who cares deeply about her daughters, and your daughters, and the sanctity of life, I cannot, and did not vote for Trump.

And there’s this (one more among many):

I’ve Met “Donald Trump” and I’m Sick of You Defending Him (Guest Post by Mandi Livingston)

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The New Jim Crow again 1

Many young teens are often shuttled from their decrepit, underfunded inner city schools to brand-new, high-tech prisons.  Their communities failed them. Now labelled criminals their job possibilities become very bleak. < See the irony? 

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Are we really colorblind?

unknownThe short answer is no. And Michelle Alexander, In The New Jim Crow, answers this in well documented detail. I am absolutely captivated. It’s a huge eye opener. Mind you, I haven’t lived in a bubble. I know that racial injustice is prevalent, yet… Every ‘white’ person needs to read this book. Regardless of education, economic status, or what you think you know. You just don’t know what you don’t know. I would imagine most, if not all African Americans already know much of what this book espouses with regard to racial injustice, instinctively and intimately via their life experience and/or that of loved ones or friends. The time line of Supreme Court rulings pertaining to racial injustice are especially eye opening. Current events make so much sense in light of Ms. Alexander’s book. It is clear well before chapter 4 that #BlackLivesMatter matters! We should all join them in this movement by supporting them in whatever way we can, if only by being able to say ‘black lives matter’, without any qualification.

I’m going to share some of my favourite passages and thoughts from the book. But read it. It is phenomenal. I received this book along with a note from my son that said, “I haven’t read this yet, I will soon. < (He’s in law school at the moment with so much to read already.) I heard it is challenging. I hope it challenges you like you’ve challenged me, to make me as good as I am today. I love you.” So Bubba, I love you too. And, it has challenged me deeply. It’s also a good reminder to never judge injustice by a single story.

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From The New Jim Crow:

“We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

“I came to see that mass incarceration in the United States had, in fact, emerged as a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow.”

(BTW, if you happen to be unfamiliar with Jim Crow, google it.)

(Also, the ‘War on Drugs’ is not all that. As she well documents.)

“In fact, the War on Drugs began at a time when illegal drug use was on the decline.”

Consequently, “In less than 30 years, the U.S. penal population exploded from 300,000 to more than 2,000,000…” (We now have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Drug convictions account for most of that increase.)

“The U.S. imprisons a larger percentage of its black population… (even though) Studies show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates.”

“It may be surprising to some that drug crime was declining, not rising, when a drug war was declared.”

(She defines ‘mass incarceration’ as not only referring to) “the criminal justice system but also the the larger web of laws, rules, policies, and customs that control those labeled criminals both in and out of prison.”… “They are members of America’s new undercaste.”

“racial caste systems do not require racial hostility or overt bigotry to thrive. They need only racial indifference.”

(That there is a disproportionate number of young black men in the criminal justice system), “is not–as many argue–just a symptom of poverty or poor choices, but rather evidence of a new racial caste system at work.” (She covers this in great detail, chapter by chapter.)

Chapter 1 “briefly reviews the history of racialized social control in the United States,”

Chapter 2 describes the structure of mass incarceration with a focus on the effects of the War on Drugs. <Started by Reagan, btw.

Chapter 3 weaves through many Supreme Court decisions that institutionalized a subliminal, coupled with overt racism.

Chapter 4 considers how “release from prison does not represent the beginning of freedom but instead a cruel new phase of stigmatization and control.”

“The many parallels between mass incarceration and Jim Crow are explored in chapter 5.” (The most obvious being legalized discrimination. Yes, it’s real. Again, well documented.)

I’m not at chapter 6 yet. She does say that “nothing short of a major social movement can successfully dismantle the new caste system.” … “It is not nearly enough to persuade mainstream voters that we have relied too heavily on incarceration or that drug abuse is a public health problem, not a crime.” < We need that major social movement.

Like I said, this is an eye opener. It’s one of those things that as the case is laid out before you, it becomes glaringly obvious.

Judgement call here: If you read this book and it doesn’t break your heart wide open, your heart is too hard.

I cannot recommend this book strenuously enough. Thanks again Bubba!

Now, I need to run to finish reading.🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Criminal Justice, Discrimination, Empty Nest, Mass Incarceration, Racism, The New Jim Crow | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dance with Us

00000109Wise words from Richard Rohr. He’s is always so thought provoking and stretches me in my faith. #grateful

The Power of Love

I think it’s foolish to presume we can understand Jesus if we don’t first of all understand Trinity. We will continually misinterpret and misuse Jesus if we don’t first participate in the circle dance of mutuality and communion within which he participated. We instead make Jesus into “Christ the King,” a title he rejected in his lifetime (John 18:37), and we operate as if God’s interest in creation or humanity only began 2000 years ago. Did the first fourteen billion years mean nothing?
Humans are more comfortable with a divine monarch at the top of pyramidal reality. So we quickly made the one who described himself as “meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29) into an imperial God, both in western Rome and eastern Constantinople. This isn’t the naked, self-emptying Jesus on the cross. This isn’t a vulnerable, relational one, who knows how to be a brother to all creation. The Greek Zeus became the Latin Deus; and we no longer knew Jesus in any meaningful sense that the soul could naturally relate to (which was the main point of the Incarnation!).
Circles are much more threatening than pyramids are, at least to empires, the wealthy, or any patriarchal system. What if we actually surrendered to the inner Trinitarian flow and let it be our primary teacher? Even our notion of society, politics, and authority—which is still top-down and outside-in—would utterly change. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:13) should be our circular and all-inclusive ecology. From the very beginning of creation we see this pattern: God the Father, Christ the Word, and the Holy Spirit as a mighty wind (see Genesis 1:1-3).
It’s no surprise that the Western political notion of the divine right of kings held for so many centuries. We still see that most people are utterly fascinated by those they think are “important” or “powerful,” whether athletes, politicians, spiritual leaders, or celebrities. It’s as if they have a unique power or energy flowing from “out there” or “up there” instead of anything in here. I don’t think we would operate in this out-of-body way if we were in vital connection with the Trinity and the Indwelling Spirit.
Trinitarian theology says that spiritual power is more circular or spiral, and not so much hierarchical. It’s here; it’s within us. It’s shared and shareable; it’s already entirely for us and grounded within us. What hope this gives us! “[A]nd hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). God’s Spirit is planted within each of us and operating as each of us! Let’s not keep looking to the top of the pyramid. Let’s stop idolizing the so-called “One Percent.” There’s nothing worthwhile up there that is not also down here. Worst of all, it has given ninety-nine percent of the world an unnecessary and tragic inferiority complex.
Trinity shows that God’s power is not domination, threat, or coercion. If the Father does not dominate the Son, and the Son does not dominate the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit does not dominate the Father or the Son, then there’s no domination in God. All divine power is shared power and the letting go of autonomous power.
There’s no seeking of power over in the Trinity, but only power with—a giving away, a sharing, a letting go, and thus an infinity of trust and mutuality. This should have changed all Christian relationships: in marriage, in culture, and even in international relations. Isaiah tried to teach such servanthood to Israel in the classic four “servant songs.” [1] He was training them in being “light to all nations” (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6), but Hebrew history preceded what Christianity repeated: we both preferred kings, wars, and empires instead of suffering servanthood or leveling love.
We all already have all the power (dynamis) we need both within us and between us—in fact, Jesus assures us that we are already “clothed” in it “from on high” (see Luke 24:49)!
Gateway to Silence:
Dance with Us.

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#ImWithHer

13417605_1018289288287075_1212856876956686723_nI am with her. I am excited about her. A woman President, finally?! I am not a one issue voter. I will never be. To me this election is a no-brainer because any so called fringe threatening the Democratic Party seems far less menacing than the lunatic fringe that has taken over the GOP.

 

Posted in #imwithher, Clinton, Empty Nest, Hillary, politics | Tagged | Leave a comment