I’ve had some pretty intense conversations over the past few months. As 2017 drew to a close, I was talking with a woman leader in the church who said, “This is the year that began with a women’s protest march and ended with the #MeToo hashtag.” The latter has led to the downfall of several powerful and rich men who had histories of sexually preying upon women.
Change happened because the women were no longer quiet, because sins were exposed and because the consequences of not dealing with that exposure far outweighed the temptation to deny or cover it up.
As I watched the domino effect in several professional arenas, I grew concerned that the church is often complicit to the same soul debilitating sins of sexual predators by coming to the defense of men in the pulpit, at the workplace and in their own homes while at the same time enforcing the silence of women or covering up the sin.
Continue reading my column at Outreach Magazine.
Silence Sends a Clear Message When We Have an Opportunity to Act
The casket was not empty. It carried the body of a 14-year-old, African American boy by the name of Emmett Till, son of Mamie. He was from Chicago visiting his family in Mississippi when the prankster took a dare and flirted with a white woman. Four days later he was dead, murdered by the woman’s husband and brother. They beat young Emmett beyond recognition, shot him in the head, and threw his lifeless body in the Tallahatchie River. The two men walked away from the circus court scot free and his mother – that grieving, respectable, Christian woman – required an open casket funeral so “the world can see what they did to my baby.” His name was Emmett. He had people who loved him. His life mattered!
During that time, people named racism but nobody did anything about the evil in their midst. Today, the violence of racism is ever present with us but many in the church refuse to acknowledge it. There is little doubt that blacks and whites identify racism or racist acts differently, and that distinction is the very barrier that paralyzes people from acting rightly. After all, no one wants to be known as racist or considered prejudiced. Christian sociologists and authors Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith believe it is best to refer to our current society as a “racialized” one “wherein race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships. A racialized society can also be said to be ‘a society that allocates differential economic, political, social, and even psychological rewards to groups along racial lines; lines that are socially constructed.”
In a racialized society, it is socially acceptable by some for a white, young man with a police record to receive a gun as a birthday present. In a racialized society, a grown, white man with the authority of his police badge can abuse his power and threaten a black child while pulling her hair, focusing her to the ground, and then sitting on her back in broad day light as other adults and black children stand by paralyzed in fear. This is the black experience of domestic terrorism. This is violence and I need some white male Christian leaders who are bold enough to name this sin, denounce it, and then act.
Continue reading at Missio Alliance.
The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
Why I picked up this book:
This book was required reading for one of my leadership courses in seminary. Because of the some of the spiritual disciplines shared in it, I have revisited it several times since. During this difficult time in our country, I am reflecting on this book again.
Who Should Read The Way of the Heart:
The Way of Heart is authored by Henri Nouwen (1932-1996), a priest born and educated in the Netherlands. In this small resource, he shares about the spiritual disciplines of silence, solitude, and prayer, and how these disciplines have sustained the lives of leaders. These disciplines have proven effective for many in spite of “historical, theological, and psychological differences.” I need these now, and I offer them to my brothers and sisters who are leading, ministering, pursuing justice, and committed to the work of reconciliation.
Continue reading “A Desperate Need: The Way of Heart”