The Birth of a Nation: From Darkness to Light

When I was a college student at the United States Naval Academy, I received an email from a stranger who was tracing his family tree. My maiden name “Sistrunk” is quite rare, and it is one that we shared so he wanted a chance to meet. Since I was intrigued and didn’t know him, I thought it best that we meet in a public and safe place. I invited him to attend a Naval Academy Gospel Choir concert where I would be singing on the secure campus grounds.

I suspected he was a white male. When he arrived, he discovered that I was black. We shared our pleasantries and after such initial persistence, I never heard from him again. The unspoken truth between us revealed there was really only one way for him and me to share a last name. But you see, he thought there was no place for me in his story.

But there is a history and connected between both of our stories and indeed our lives. Both are laced with brokenness, violence, and darkness while offering a hope for a better future.

The Darkness of Slavery

I was privileged to complete an early screening of the movie, “Birth of a Nation,” now in movie theaters everywhere. If this viewing has taught me anything, it has reminded me of the interconnectedness of our stories and our brokenness. It has caused me again to reflect on the violence that takes place in the darkness.

birth-of-a-nation-bill

Continue reading at Missio Alliance.

 

Presidential Elections and Why Abortion is not the Issue

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.

For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no struggles;

Their bodies are healthy and strong.

They are free from the burdens common to man;

They are not plagued by human ills.

Therefore pride is their necklace;

They cloth themselves with violence.

From their callous hearts comes iniquity;

The evil conceits of their minds know no limits.

They scoff, and speak with malice;

Their mouths lay claim to heaven,

And their tongues take possession of the earth.

Therefore their people turn to them

And drink up waters in abundance.

They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?”

This is what the wicked are like—

Always carefree, they increase in wealth.

Psalm 73:1-12 NIV

The idea of rich people abusing their power, thinking they know more than God, or having no regard for other people is not lost on the Psalmist. Yes, these people may increase in status, success, and wealth as defined by the world’s standards, but that is not the end of their fate.

This humble reminder is my thought of meditate today. I meditate on these words and share my thoughts not to encourage support of one candidate on another. I have no political alliances.

Continue reading “Presidential Elections and Why Abortion is not the Issue”

The Holy Trinity of Freedom, Violence, and Justice

Freedom has a price to pay, and the cost is most often violence. The new movie, “The Free State of Jones,” clearly presents this harsh reality. The movie is based on the real life story of Newton “Newt” Knight, a farmer who deserted the Confederate army. He took up company and became the leader of other poor white farmers in Jones County, Mississippi.

From Confederate Soldier to Robin Hood

The Civil War, like most wars, was about money—those who had it and wanted to preserve it at the expense of the free labor of others. The greed of the South went beyond slavery to include taxation by corrupt Confederate soldiers who stole animals and crops from local farmers, leaving their unprotected women and children with little means to survive.

In addition to the senseless loss of lives, Knight was disturbed by the “Twenty Negro Law.” This law was enacted to exempt the sons of wealthy slave owners from fighting in the war. One white male was exempt from military service for every 20 slaves the plantation owned. This was a classic case of the poor man fighting the rich man’s war. This war was crippling the economy and crippling families.

It is under this backdrop that Knight, a principled, loyal, family man rallied fighters in a form of guerrilla warfare against the Confederacy and became “Robin Hood” to his local community. Once they started to defeat military units and concur territories, Knight and his followers sought the support and affirmation of the Union, but that never officially came.

Therefore, they named their community “The Free State of Jones”, laying ground rules of equally of all people, the right for people to benefit from the fruit of their own labor, and to defend their rights to freedom. Some scholars believe that they officially declared themselves an independent nation.

Continue reading at Missio Alliance.