From the Switchfoot YouTube video of The Sound (John Perkins’s Blues)

I have been struggling for the right words since I learned of the Charlottesville tragedy. Of course, I denounce the hate-filled act that took a life and put others in the hospital. I denounce racism in all its ugly forms. I joined in with other voices to acknowledge that this was an act of terrorism. Plain and simple.

But, when the dust settles and the loud cries for justice fade to a simmering  fury, it isn’t that plain and simple.

How did we get here? More importantly, how do we escape this rat trap that seems to have perpetually bound us to the doom of repeated history?

I listen to the clamor of voices, and I just want to weep – so much heat and very little light. More knee-jerk reactions are not sufficient to counter the forces that have lead us to this place and have entangled people in their grip since the first man clubbed his brother to death. We desperately need something more!

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Love is the Final Fight

Don’t Confuse Racists with Christians

Depositphotos Vector ID: 155015578 Copyright: robzs

I was on vacation in the north woods last week, disconnected from the world at large and from the urgency of current events for the most part. Bits and pieces of the tragic violence that occurred in Charlottesville filtered through, and I came back to be confronted with the full on force of those events this week.

I still don’t know all the details, but I know that what happened is a product of racism at its worst. It is nothing short of domestic terrorism. I am left with a dull ache, a heavy sadness and a lot of pessimism about our future as a country.

These events aren’t as raw for me as they likely are for others. I was away when the full brunt of the violence took place. I am also a white man.

But, I am human. All people are brothers and sisters. I believe we were all made, male and female, Jew and Gentile, black and white, in God’s image. Therefore, we are one.[1] I believe every individual, therefore, of every tribe, nation and tongue has intrinsic value. Racism is not only senseless; it flies defiantly in the face of our Creator.

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Is Free Speech In Jeopardy?

Depositphotos Image ID: 47468365 Copyright: AsierRomeroCarballo

The last presidential campaign was brutal and exposed a number of seeming violations of some of the most fundamental rights and the laws that protect them that we enjoy in the United States. For the first time in history, we witnessed a candidate that not only objectified women but boasted about sexual assault against women. But there were more subtle and, perhaps, more insidiously dangerous violations of fundamental rights and laws going on that have not drawn the visceral reactions they deserve.

The fundamental right to freedom of speech seemed to be in jeopardy, and we barely noticed. Continue reading

Political Gullibility? Or Unwillingness to Suspend Belief?

Donkey Hotey / Flickr

Are we Americans that gullible? Or are we simply unwilling to suspend our penchant to believe everything that affirms our political views? Maybe its a matter of not being able to stop the momentum of our own biases as they carry us down the streams of our own predispositions.

I spent a half hour reading Facebook posts one day following the Comey hearing. The exercise can be summarized by the following article title: Breaking: Comey Hearing Confirms Whatever You Already Wanted To Believe (it’s satire folks).

I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Throughout the presidential season, we were certain that our partisan counterparts were trapped in their own echo chambers, while we had an uneasy feeling, burping to the surface at times like the perpetual heartburn we work hard to ignore, that we might be living in our own.  Even the most ardent political junkie looked forward to the day when he would sigh in the relief of victory or retreat to lick his wounds in relative peace.

But the peace never came. After a flurry of news and opinions on the scourge of fake news, we have been off to the same race we doggedly followed before. The Comey firing and hearing now is just the latest in the perpetual laps that go round and round.

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A Religious Litmus Test for Public Office?

Despositphotos Image ID: 2240287 Copyright: eddiephotograph

Should there be a religious litmus test for public office?

That question has arisen in regard to Russell Vought, an appointee to the office of deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. As a Wheaton College graduate, he defended the College’s decision to terminate the professor who wore a hijab in solidarity with Muslims and said that Muslims worship the same God as the Christians. His statements made in that defense became the subject of his confirmation hearing.[1]

In his statement, Russell Vought, stated what most orthodox Christians and Muslims believe: that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Christians obviously believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and Muslims believe that Allah, alone, is God, and Muhammad is his messenger. Those beliefs are held by millions of people and are not controversial, in that sense.

An increasingly large segment of western society views religious beliefs negatively and takes the position that religious beliefs of this kind do not belong in the public square. They go further, implying that people who hold such religious beliefs are not qualified for public office. Thus, the question: should there be a religious litmus test?

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The Pitfall of Natural Talent

Photo of the 2006 Greco National Finalists at 140 Pounds

My heart is heavy as I write this. Several days ago a young man, let’s call him Frank, with tons of pure talent died in a motorcycle accident running from the police making a routine traffic stop, and his girlfriend lies in a coma fighting for life. She has two small children at home wondering where she is.

It was the first really nice day of the spring, and his the last day of his life.

This young man had tremendous potential. He was a natural athlete. Even in a tough sport like wrestling, he made winning look easy. He loved the attention of his success, and he always had a ready smile for the parents and teammates who were happy to be his coach or friend.

He was a charmer, and he knew it, but that charm didn’t keep him out of detentions or trouble with the law as he got older and adventurous. The free flowing, unrestrained way he wrestled didn’t translate well into academic discipline, or disciple of any kind, for that matter.

I only knew him from afar. I wasn’t one of the better or more gregarious coaches. My boys were younger, and they didn’t have as much natural talent. My older son didn’t have a winning record until his third year in wrestling, but he dreamed big and worked hard at it.

I used to tell him that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I wanted him to believe that. I wanted to believe that.

At the same time, I took consolation in the character that was being built into him, and I tried to instill the importance of character in him. I would like to say that character should always be the priority, but who doesn’t long to win, be successful and have the attention of the star athlete? Like Frank.

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