• What a White Girl Knows About Race – Free E-book

    When I married an African American man 16 years ago, I had my concerns about the future, but really, race wasn’t one of them. I thought that beyond the challenges of culture between us personally, my husband’s race wouldn’t matter. Yes, racism still existed, but it’s not like it’s that bad or it would affect someone as smart, hardworking and impressive as my husband obviously was (er, is. Hi, honey!) I was so wrong. Over the years, my husband’s race has determined where we can live, our ability to get a mortgage or car loan, his work conditions and even if he comes home in a terrible mood after a run in with someone who felt no need to hide their disdain for my husband’s skin tone and facial features. (And yes, on a couple of very rare occasions, that “someone” was a police officer.) To name a few ways that my husband’s race has affected our lives. 

    Even harder than dealing with these practical problems, frankly, was the process I went through as a white American seeing black lives up close and personal, over the course of time. You see, I didn’t marry my husband as some left-wing, PC devotee. I had never taken an ethnic studies class. I was like a lot of white Americans; I thought racism was a small issue that didn’t matter much, except in rare cases.

    Obviously I never was racist in the way that a rational person would define racist – I married a black man. But I had been raised white in a pointedly white suburb of Chicago. I didn’t even realize that white people had a role in our race problems. I thought, like a lot of white people do, that our race problems were the result of African Americans not being able to get their acts together. White people didn’t care about race, I believed. What they cared about was poor behavior, people having kids with multiple partners and crime and bad attitudes and disrespect and laziness. And obviously, those were all matters of character, which as the sainted black man Martin Luther King Jr said, is what we ought to judge each other by.

    I was certain that there were problems with the narrative on race that I had been given. But I figured it had its truth. However, after 20+ years in intimate relationships with African Americans, I am here to report that whatever truth there is in the narrative I was given, it’s really besides the point. It’s like scolding a drowning man for not having life insurance. After your uncle stole his life jacket and threw him overboard.

    Now, that’s a big claim to make. And I could spend the next several thousand words justifying it. But I’m not going to. It wouldn’t make any difference. Just another person telling you what to think. What I will do, however, is invite you to read some of the thoughts, facts and concepts that took me from the typical white American understanding of race to a place of turning my back on it. (Like, did you know that in 1969, only 22% of white Americans thought that African Americans would be disadvantaged when looking for employment? 44% thought being black would make it easier to find a job. In 1969. Which right there kind of calls our ability to accurately perceive reality when it comes to race into question, don’t you think?)

    Because I do know that most white Americans are genuinely confused and frustrated when it comes to racial issues in this country, I am making a short collection of my writings on race available for free this weekend. These are essays I wrote during the 2008 presidential campaign to explain those things which had challenged my own thinking and deepened my understanding of race in America. Reading it won’t turn you into a radical, nor will it give you the answers to all that ails us. But I hope it challenges you to think more openly and deeply about the problem of race in America.

    You can download the book for free from Amazon through Monday. If you don’t have a kindle, the book can be downloaded for pretty much any device including tablet, phone and computer.

    race coverListen to me participate in a discussion of race and the events in Ferguson on Moody Radio’s Up For Debate.

    Read more of my blog posts on race here.

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    Christianity and Giftedness

    When I was putting together my book The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress last summer, I went back and forth and back and forth about including an essay I had originally published here titled “How Being Gifted Means Being Different”. It was one of the most popular posts I had done. And many people had contacted me since I put it up to thank me for writing it. However, it didn’t seem to fit. The book is very grounded in my faith and the post is about being gifted. The two seem incongruent. But every time I went to take it out, there was that little tug that I’ve learned to listen to telling me to leave it be. So I did without really know why it was there. And I’m sure that those who read it wondered what it was doing there as well.

    It wasn’t until some time later that I began to understand why it was there. The fact is that the church as a whole does not do a good job of making room for or embracing those parts of the body which are smarter and more creative than the norm. We see this in those parts of the church which fiercely oppose science and will even claim that those who engage in the work of science are doing the devil’s work. It is present in those who insist that a “plain reading” of scripture is good enough and refuse to consider context, history, translation or any of the other issues which affect the way that we read and understand the text. It shows up in how churches deal with their members who produce art, literature or music. This past fall, I talked with a lot of pastors and uniformly they told me that they have a policy of not supporting the work their creative members produce. (I talked about my frustration with this practice here – The Sheeple Are Leading the Flock.)

    This animosity also floats on a the good number of verses which seem to speak critically of those who are learned or wise over those who are more simple: Continue reading

  • Spread the Joy – Enjoying the Hard Life

    hardlifecoverBack in college I briefly dated a guy who taught me how to drive a stick shift. We borrowed my friend Romi’s little Ford Escort and drove around deserted back roads so I could practice. I was awful. My date was very sweet and patient but after several hours of me stalling at every stop and losing speed as I struggled to find the next gear and the occasional grinding, he finally said, “I don’t want to make you feel bad, but it seems like you should be catching on by now.”  Shortly after that, I dropped him off and drove back to my dorm without a single hitch. I never had another problem driving a stick shift after that night.

    The story always makes me laugh because it’s so typically me. It’s like I have to make every mistake possible before I can figure out the right way to do things. And then I’m golden. The downside is it’s probably best to steer clear of me when I’m learning something new. The upside is that on the other end, I can tell you about any mistake a person can make and how to find your way out of it. And it’s in this spirit that I wrote The Upside Down World’s Guide to Enjoying the Hard Life.

    If there’s a counter-productive, neurotic or unhealthy way to approach life, it was probably a habit of mine at some point in the past. In this book, I share 45 of my favorite ideas, practices and attitude adjustments which have allowed me to overcome my worst tendencies and enjoy my often difficult life. The essays are quick, easy to read, good humored and practical. No lectures or theological treatises. Just lots of ideas for how to be more mindful, self-compassionate, forgiving, happy, grateful and at ease with yourself, your life and the people in it. There’s even an index to help you find which essays to turn to when struggling with everything from anxiety to guilt to forgiveness to relationships and more. Continue reading

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    Christianity and Giftedness

    When I was putting together my book The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress last summer, I went back and forth and back and forth about including an essay I had originally published here titled “How Being Gifted Means Being Different”. It was one of the most popular posts I had done. And many people had contacted me since I put it up to thank me for writing it. However, it didn’t seem to fit. The book is very grounded in my faith and the post is about being gifted. The two seem incongruent. But every time I went to take it out, there was that little tug that I’ve learned to listen to telling me to leave it be. So I did without really know why it was there. And I’m sure that those who read it wondered what it was doing there as well.

    It wasn’t until some time later that I began to understand why it was there. The fact is that the church as a whole does not do a good job of making room for or embracing those parts of the body which are smarter and more creative than the norm. We see this in those parts of the church which fiercely oppose science and will even claim that those who engage in the work of science are doing the devil’s work. It is present in those who insist that a “plain reading” of scripture is good enough and refuse to consider context, history, translation or any of the other issues which affect the way that we read and understand the text. It shows up in how churches deal with their members who produce art, literature or music. Continue reading

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    Now Available For Kindle: The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress

    Last summer, after my husband left me with 5 kids and very little money, I did what any logical woman who hasn’t had a real job in 12 years would do.  I decided to publish a book.  The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress was the result. It came out almost exactly a month after the ex left.  I still haven’t decided if this was a stroke of genius or the work of a crazy person, but the family computer did die the moment I sent the final revisions off to the pubisher.  Which may not have been a vote of great confidence on its part.

    All the rest of life also seemed to be conspiring against me as well.  Due to unrelentingly bad luck and finances, I didn’t even have the money for gas to drive to local bookstores to get it on their shelves, much less set-up events.  The Kindle version was a problem as well.  It takes much more formatting to produce an ebook than a simple PDF file.  It’s not difficult, but I wasn’t exactly in any state of mind to learn how to do something new.  The resulting ebook was pretty messy and I eventually pulled it off the virtual bookshelf. 

    I still don’t have the money to promote the book properly, but I do now have the mental wherewithall to learn how to format an ebook.  So, I am pleased to announce that the Kindle version of The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress is now available.  In it you will find essays, stories, poetry, spiritual memoir, quotes, art work and more.  It’s an easy read, but my goal and hope is that the ideas you encounter will remain with you long after you are done reading it. 

    So, if you have been wondering about me or are looking for solid, spiritual lessons to carry you though your own challenging times, I hope that you will consider downloading your copy of The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress from Amazon today. 

    For those of you who regularly read the blog, you can have new posts delivered straight to your kindle with a $.99/mo subscription from Amazon.  Even if you aren’t that into your Kindle, I could really use some reviews.  If any of my regular readers would be willing to head over and put in a good word for me, I’d be mighty appreciative!

    -Rebecca

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    Buy One Give One

    Want to help put quality, accessible and engaging Christian reading material into the hands of a trucker, prisoner or recovering drug addict?  For each copy of The Upside Down World – A Book of Wisdom in Progress purchased directly from me for $12 plus $2 shipping, a copy with be donated to a local ministry to distribute to a person in need.  Additional copies for donation may be purchased for $6 each.  If you would like to order multiple copies of the book or purchase additional copies for donation, please leave a comment below and I will send an invoice.  (It’s a paypal/wordpress thing.  Don’t ask.)

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