If you were to visit my dad’s modest apartment, one of the first things you would notice is the curio in his living room. This curio is not filled with nice china or collector’s items. It includes every honor or award presented to me during high school. The shelves are filled with plaques representing every athletic, musical, and academic award earned over the course of four years. My father is proud. I am his oldest, and when I was a little girl, he loved telling everyone about his daughter. To him, this curio represents fond memories, a treasured history, and proof that all of his stories are true. I understand.
I am so excited to continue my three-part mini-series at Missio Alliance discussing topics that are trending in the church! In today’s piece, I address the issue of cultural competence.
In this three part mini-series, we are considering this question: Is the Church leading the world, or is the world leading the Church? We are also confronting some of the distractions and inward fighting that prevents the whole church from being effective leaders in a culture and world that is dying. Part I of this mini-series confronted the theological and practical challenges we face regarding women and leadership. Today, we turn our attention to consider what it means to be the people of God in our diverse American cultural context.
Most would affirm that “good Christian folks” are not racist—that they do not hate people who are of a different race or ethnicity than them. Whether or not we show partiality, blindness, or indifference to the privilege, threats, or challenges of those who are culturally different than us is another consideration entirely. Since our political, economic, and social loyalties are most evident during times of heightened tension, it is these crucial moments that truly reveal the nature of our hearts and the credibility of the gospel. Can the church lead the world to a better place of cultural competence and understanding?
That’s what was on my mind as I sat in my pastor’s office a few years ago to interview him for a seminary assignment. He is white and old enough to be my dad. During the course of our conversation he asked: “Do you think racism still exists in our country?” As an African-American woman, I responded, “I don’t think. I know it does.”
Continue Reading at Missio Alliance.
On Tuesday, a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who choked an unarmed African American male, Eric Garner, to death in July. Garner was being arrested for selling cigarettes and not paying taxes. After being wrestled to the ground by several police using an unauthorized technique, Mr. Garner’s final words were, “I can’t breathe.” The cops stood around and waited as he died. This troubling scene was recorded on video.
Just last week, a Cleveland police officer fatally shot a 12-year old African American boy, Tamir Rice, dead within a matter of seconds of arriving on the scene. Tamir was playing alone with a pellet gun. That killing was also recorded on video. The deaths of these two are now part of a growing list of police brutality against African American males which has resulted in outrage all across America.
In order to process, dialogue, and document history, advocacy, and responses to these and other important issues, many people have turned to the social media platform provided by Twitter. Twitter users employ hashtags (#) so that other users can see all the tweets related to a certain topic. In response to these incidents and more, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has become popular on Twitter, and it promises to be a critical tool for continuous dialogue in the future.
After the grand jury decision in Ferguson, I joined a Twitter Teach-In hosted by #Evangelicals4Justice (@Evangelicals4J). As a member of this diverse group of evangelicals, I responded to the question, “Why is it necessary to declare #BlackLivesMatter?” The theological answers were clear: Inside and outside of the womb, God cares about the senseless loss of a life (Gen 9:6); Because God demands an account for the loss of life, we must demand an answer as well (Gen 9:6); and because Black people are humans who are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:37).
During this Twitter exchange, I received a response from a white male evangelical asking, “Does that mean that other lives don’t matter? I’m tired of being discriminated against 4 being a white man.”
Continue reading on Christianity Today.