• Want To Hear About the Time I Was on Moody Radio?

    I was once offered a job simply on the basis of how I said my name. People sometimes stop me and ask if I sing. I had a teacher who let me into class without a late slip if I would say my name for the class. Such is the great power of my voice. Which I, of course, think is weird. If my voice is so great, shouldn’t I have more money than I do? It just seems like the two should go hand in hand or something. Ah well.

    Anywho, as I may have mentioned already, I was a guest, along with a dude named Thi’sl and a dude named Joshua, on the Moody Radio call-in show Up 4 Debate over the weekend discussing the church and it’s handling of racial issues. And I’ve had several people ask for the link to listen to it online. So here it is. Right here. This is the link. Click it. 

    Obviously the issue of race and the church is a huge one and we just barely scratched the surface on the show. Hopefully I will get a chance to write some more thoughts on race and the church in the next week or so. If my brain will cooperate. 

    In the meantime, go listen to the dulcet sounds of my amazing voice. I don’t recall saying anything incoherent or ridiculous, but I’m too chicken to listen myself and find out. And I think I’m OK with that!

  • Enough Bigotry to Go Around?

    Hey y’all! I just finished my fancy pants appearance on Moody Radio’s Up For Debate. (That I told you about yesterday which you would know if you had been paying attention. See the things you miss when you’re not paying attention?) Anyways, I will get the link to the show up just as soon as it’s available.

    Almost immediately after the show was done, I got a comment from a listener which addresses a concern I really would have liked to address on the show, but obviously, we could only scratch the surface in an hour. I think it’s an important point, so I thought I would share the comment and my response with y’all. So pay attention!😉

    Dear Rebecca:

    On the Moody Radio show discussion about Ferguson you mentioned how you had prejudices and biases of which you weren’t aware simply from growing up.  I agree whole-heartedly.  What you didn’t mention is that the same is true for the black community, the hispanic community, the Middle Eastern community and the Asian community.  We all have biases that we are taught as children.  I’m a law enforcement officer in Orlando, FL.  I have worked in the schools for more than 15 years. I encounter black kids and their families that have an automatic distrust and bias against me, simply because I’m white and a cop.  This is a bias the children are taught.  I also work in the parks of a private community which owns the parks.  Part of my duties are ensuring that those who are using this private park are residents or guests of residents.  My concern isn’t race, religion, or anything but whether the person is allowed in the private park.  In 18 years, I can only recall one instance when a white or hispanic person challenged me for doing my job.  On the other hand, I have had a 1/2 dozen black people insist or imply that I was checking them simply because they were black.  By the way, all but one of these folks were NOT residents and did not belong.  This is a racially and culturally diverse community and I have great relationships with young people and adults of all races.  Please acknowledge the biases taught to the children by both races.  Thanks and God bless.


    E, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I would just challenge you to consider that because of the way race works in this country, that the sort of defiance, hostility and distrust which you encountered among African Americans has its roots in legitimate problems which we as Americans have never dealt with, much less solved. As a white person, my prejudices were shaped almost entirely by the media, my community and the rare encounters I had with African Americans who were serving me in stores and restaurants. An the other hand, my husband has a lived experience of regularly being mistreated, of being belittled, of being threatened, of being afraid which occurred at the hands of white people. His discomfort with and distrust of white people is fundamentally different from my own prejudices. While I might wish an African American person would process and deal with his experiences differently, I had no right to tell him or her that s/he doesn’t have a right to be uncomfortable and distrustful after all that s/he has experienced and continues to experience. Of course, my husband’s a mature, educated, spiritual man, so he isn’t going to start resisting authority, being rude or hostile simply on the basis of race. But it’s easy to see how someone in a less comfortable, less experienced position would walk around with a negative attitude towards authority (which has always been the tool by which abusive, oppressive laws and customs are imposed on African Americans, btw).
    It’s interesting that you bring up working as a guard at a private park. When my husband was 8 his mother moved them from Texas to the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago. As they were moving in, my husband noticed that the only playground was a set of swings on a blacktop surface. He asked his mom, “why did someone put those swings on the blacktop? Someone will get hurt if they fall off.” He says his mother bent down and spoke into his face, “honey, there’s something you need to understand right now. Nobody cares what happens to you here. If you fall of those swings and get hurt, nobody’s going to care. We might not even be able to get an ambulance to come and help you. You have to take care of yourself here because nobody else is going to make sure that you and your brothers and sisters are safe.” It was 1978 and she spoke the truth. Now, imagine living in a neighborhood where the playground is unkempt and potentially dangerous. And right near-by is a nice, safe, well equipped park. But you can’t go there. Because it’s not for you. It’s for the people who paid for it. It doesn’t matter that you and your family can’t dream of affording to live in such a place. Nobody cares about you and your problems. Put yourself in that situation and the hostility makes a bit more sense.
    Thanks again for your comment!
  • Bring the Smelling Salts and Set Your Alarm Clocks!

    So there’s this lovely woman named Judy who produces the radio show Up For Debate with Julie Roys on Moody Radio. And I think she might be slightly incompetent. I mean, I’m no expert in these things and I certainly can’t predict the future, but it seems likely that come Monday morning she’s going to be having a serious conversation with someone higher up about whether she has the judgment required to perform her duties. Why do I say this, you ask? Because the poor dear went and asked yours truly to be part of an hour long discussion on the church, race and Ferguson. And I, having a big mouth, lots of opinions and no qualms about taking advantage of dear Judy’s foolishness, said yes.

    So, if you’d like to hear me engage in my usual tomfoolery (hopefully without the typos, grammar glitches and random gibberish that I like to sprinkle in my writing), tune in. It’s on Moody Radio from 8-9 am, central time, tomorrow morning. Program info and station information can be found here. And if you really love me, call in and gush about how amazing I am and how every good Christian should listen to everything I say. Depending on how it goes, I might need the help!

    In all seriousness, say a prayer for me. Continue reading

  • I See Rich People. They Talk to Me. . .

    The mouse on my computer broke. So now I’m back to writing on my kindle. Which is a marvelous bit of technology, but it has all sorts of quirks which can easily double the time it takes for me to do a post. And the spacebar for the keyboard is gimpy. But since I don’t even have money to replace the mouse, I’ll just have to limp along the best I can.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately that when I finally break free of all these obstacles, I’ll astound everyone. It’s like I’ve been trying to play the game wearing weights. If I could just get free and have a fully functioning computer, a good internet connection and a few hours a day without children, well, you just won’t believe what I can do.

    As I was contemplating the rather unpleasant task of writing on my kindle (something I did exclusively for at least six months), it occurred to me that this is why we hear so much more from rich people than anyone else. If you’re rich, you can grab a few hours which you would otherwise have spent playing Sugar Crush and write something thoughtful on your nice computer without any real delays or impediments. Or maybe you’re more of a take my Macbook to Starbucks to write sort of writer.

    But when you’re not rich, you have to type out the word six because the six key doesn’t work any more. And putting in a hyperlink requires the sort of planning skills normally reserved for major military operations. It’s like driving one of those cars that you have to roll down the window to open the door. Everything’s just much more work when you don’t have access to resources.

    And having crappy, unreliable technology is a first world problem. Imagine what it took for those women in Nigeria to get the world’s attention when their girls were taken! It’s really no mystery as to why people who are powerful and influential are usually white American men. It’s not that every white American man has resources. It’s just that nearly everyone who has resources is a white American man. Having resources removes so many obstacles that what is impossible for other people is possible for them. And that is a big part of our problem.

    Having resources doesn’t necessarily make the path to sucess a clear and easy one. You still have to work harder and be smarter and overcome more than everyone else in order to acheive great things. I mean, Paris Hilton’s family says she works very hard and I believe them. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if she puts in sixty hour work weeks. The thing is that my husband has put in sixty hour work weeks pretty routinely for nearly 20 years. And we can’t even afford to buy a mouse.

    (The first person to ask why I don’t get a job wins the chance to find me a job with hours that work for our family, arrange the care of our kids by someone who is able to provide high caliber, on demand tutoring, counseling, and training in the ways of the world customized to each child’s needs, obtain transportation, clothing, housekeeping, cooking and taxi services to make that all happen. Good luck. Let me know when you get that all worked out.)

    Aside from being bullshit, the connection between who has the existing resources and who gets seen and heard and rewarded is more sinister than we realize. You know the proverbial “they” we always hear about? The ones who tell us what other people think of us and what’s normal and what’s a problem and what’s expected of us and what failure looks like? Sometimes people will joke and say, “who is this ‘they’ you keep talking about?” Well, the answer to that is simple. Continue reading

  • Christians and Interracial Marriage

    Guys, what is this world coming to? Aljezeera America recently used the parable of the talents to explain current events. Christianity Today, the flagship publication of conservative, Evangelical Christianity, is promoting interracial marriage. And discussing racism. And even relying on the voice of a black women to explain the theology of the whole thing. The world’s going all off kilter here. 

    I know the rest of the world (and many of us) find it ridiculous that the church still struggles with these things. But we are a people whose founder said he’d go back for the one sheep dumb enough to get left behind. So perhaps it’s part of being church in the world to be a sanctuary for those who just can’t keep up with the pace of change in the world. That doesn’t mean they need to become the sanctuary’s leaders and spokespeople, of course. It’s still a work in progress.

    But look at this fruit. Doesn’t it make your heart sing?

    God abhors racism. Miriam’s skin was turned “leprous, like snow.” Her punishment was directly related to her sinful prejudice against the dark skin of the Cushite people. I did a quick search to examine the effects of leprosy. (Not recommended.) Her punishment would change the way peopleviewed her. It would not affect the way they thought of her per se, but the way they looked at her. As Miriam once looked at the Cushite woman with distain, she would now know exactly what that was like.

    What Miriam forgot, and what so many others still forget, is that all people are made in the image of God, we are all from the same Adam, and now we are all redeemed equally through Christ. Interracial marriage isn’t merely acceptable; it reflects the beauty and glory of the gospel.

    Through the gospel, we are reconciled first to God, then to one another. We are made brothers and sisters in Christ. We are counted as righteous. The gospel breaks the barriers that once divided us.

    You can read the whole post by Trillia Newbell here. Her book Union can be purchased here.

    For the last several decades we’ve heard that we ought to accept interracial relationships for two reasons. One is that we can’t tell other people what to do or who to love. The other is that all races are equal. And those are fine things. Except “everyone should be able to do what they want to do” is something a 7 year old would say. And equal does not mean the same. We still have to figure out how to deal with those differences.

    On the other hand, Newbell’s vision of interracial marriage is built around reconciliation and our true identity. She challenges us to see interracial marriage not only as an acceptable thing, but a good thing. A reflection of God’s Kingdom, in fact.

    Perhaps this is why research has found that among people who attend highly segregated churches (read: among people who attend church), those who report praying and reading their bible frequently are more likely to date outside their race. Wouldn’t it be funny if being in an interracial relationship started being on of those easily recognized markers for being Christian? I mean, we can be induced to wear cheesy and often offensive T-shirts as a way to show what super, duper, committed Christians we are. Picking a dating/marriage partner from another race in order to look like a good Christian could become a thing in our hypercompetitive church culture.

    Of course, wearing a t-shirt doesn’t grow or change you. Interracial marriage most certainly will. So maybe we should start spreading the word that interracial marriage is a thing that super committed Christians do. It’s got to be a better plan/witness than a “God’s Gym” t-shirt!

  • black faces 1224_s31

    Stuff I Appreciate About Black Folks

    Hey – want to watch me stick a fork in an electric outlet? ‘Cuz that’s pretty much the same thing as being a white person who talks about black folks, right? Or at least some would have you think so. But I’m going to do it, because African Americans are forever getting dumped on in our society and are rarely called out for all the things that are great about them.

    Now, before I get started, allow me to provide proper cover for myself. For those not in the know, I’m married to a black man. I have 5 mixed race kids and two African American stepsons. So if nothing else, my “I have black friends” creds are actually solid. (I’ve written more about my experience with race here and you can learn more about my $.99 ebook on race in American here.) Of course, there is as much variety among black folks as among any other group of people. I’ve known sweet, shy, reserved black women and loud, sassy, confrontational black women. Macho black men and nerdy black men. And the things I’m going to list here aren’t universal. There are always people who go against the grain. But as a general rule, these are things which I have observed to be common among black folk I have known that are not nearly as prevalent among the white folks I have known.

    Of course, every positive trait has a dark side when pushed to far. My goal isn’t to idealize African Americans, but like I said, we continually dump on black folks and discuss problems in the black community. For this post, I’m just focusing on things which I personally appreciate about black folks I have known. So having properly covered my ass, here goes:

    1. They respond to your problems with grace and understanding.

    Probably because black folks have had to deal with so many really serious, awful problems for so long, they aren’t particularly phased by your problems. Usually they’ve heard or seen it all before – and worse. And if your life is going to hell because you did something wrong, well, the black folks I’ve known probably disapprove of your dumb choices as much as anyone else. But they also know that you’re the one who is going to have to live with the consequences of your dumb choices, so there’s really no point in piling on. Better to help you move forward than waste time berating you much less exacerbate the problem by turning you out. In my experience, if your life goes all to shit, you’re much better off going to your black friends or a black church for support than to your average middle class white person or church. Continue reading

  • What a white girl knows about race

    Maybe they were right!

    I am the whitest of the white girls.  I just am.  I’m cool with that.  One of my black girlfriends told me that when she had moved to the Chicago area back in the 80′s my hometown was one of two places she was told by her mother to avoid ever being in.  Before going to high school, the only african american I had ever spoken to was working at a store.  But, one of the first people I met at the Catholic high school I attended was Elaine, an African American from Joliet, a small industrial city about 30 minutes from my home.  We were both in the honors program, so we had most of our classes together and we hit it off.  We shared a wicked sense of humor and spent inordinate amounts of class time writing long notes whose main purpose was to get the other person to laugh out loud while reading it.  I can’t believe we never got caught! 

    We never really talked about it, but there were differences.  We were BBFs (Best Buddies Forever), not BFFs.  Mostly she ate lunch with the other black kids and it never occurred to me that she would do otherwise.  It’s got to be hard spending all day surrounded by people who can’t really “get” you and may not even like you no matter how good or nice or cool or talented you are.  I’d want a break too. 

    Looking back, I realize that I was white-girl clueless in a way that a less tolerant and kind person might have been unwilling to deal with.  Continue reading

  • blk-father

    A Letter to a Young Black Man

    I hope he doesn’t mind me doing this, but I have a stepson who is going through some stuff right now.  And while on my walk yesterday, I felt God put this message on my heart for him.  I’d like to post it here as well because I know that there are so many young men who need to hear it.  I realize that young black men aren’t exactly my target demographic, so anyone who wants to should feel free to pass it on as they see fit.  I just ask that my name be included.

    Andrew, I saw your post from earlier and wanted to check and see if you are OK.  I have been meaning to write you anyways because yesterday when I was out walking, God put a message on my heart that I think he wanted me to pass on to you.  It’s about how important you are.  I’m sure you’ve been told before that you are important, but I’m also sure that you don’t actually believe it or have any idea how true it is.  You can’t.  Because no matter how often you may have been told that you are important, so much of what you have seen in real life has told you that men, black men in particular, are only problems.  You’ve never consistently seen men be important and good.  You’ve seen women raise their kids without fathers and carry the majority – if not all – of the financial load for their families.  And this isn’t to rip on your mom, but her choosing to keep your dad from playing a meaningful role in your life must have screamed to you that fathers were optional.  And if your own father is optional, then how could you not be as well?  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Not only are you not optional, you are absolutely essential.

    We talked earlier in the week about trashy girls trying to find love in ways that will only leave them angry and bitter and alone and probably with a kid or two in tow to boot.  But even with young women you know who aren’t trashy, how many of them know what it’s like to be loved properly by their fathers?  They may know that they don’t want to go the way of the bootie girls, but if they’ve never seen a man really love a woman (ideally their mothers), they don’t really know what to look for either.  They are just smart enough to recognize a particularly ridiculous losing strategy.  Even your own mother or other older women you know.  How would they be different if they knew they were loved by a man who was good and who they could depend on?  Would they be softer?  More free?  Strong without so many hard edges?  Less defensive?  Better mothers?  None of the women you know can do for themselves or their children what you can do for them as a man.  (And to be clear, this is hardly a black problem.  Whites and Hispanics and Asians and purple people are all suffering from the same problem.  Its just particularly acute in the black community.  Which simply means that the black community is more ripe and ready for young men like yourself to bring change.)

    Now, it’s not right or fair that you are coming onto the scene so late in the game that its been generations since it was common for families to work the way they need to work.  And you have no one to show you the way.  But when it’s most dark and its most desperate, that’s when the heroes start to show up.  And that’s what you are called to be: a hero.  Which probably sounds overwrought and ridiculous.  But its not.  Just by committing to being a good. loving man, you will change the world in ways that will reverberate through communities and generations and heaven itself.  Your children and the woman you commit to will depend on it.  And there will be girls who see you and know what they should be looking for when they seek a loving man.  And there will be boys who see you and know that they too can be better and do better and that they really are important.  There will be other men who are ready to quit who will see you and get the shot of courage they need to try and stay the course.  And in time, as others in this generation take up the work of being good. loving men, the rest of the world will see those with no role models and no reward doing things differently and maybe the rest of us won’t have to go as deeply down the hole of family destruction and expendable men as what has been pretty normal for you and your peers.  This is really important work that only young men like yourself like you can do.  You’re like Frodo with the ring or Luke Skywalker facing Darth Vadar; only you can do what needs to be done to set things right.

    And its not going to be easy.  Most of us have this fantasy that if we are doing the right things, the people around us will see it and applaud it and God will give us favor.  In reality, the opposite is true.  If people see what you are trying to do, they will be suspicious.  They will insist that they don’t need or want what you are trying to offer because they don’t trust it or think that they’ve been getting along just fine without you or any other man.  Some guys who don’t want to have to work that hard or be that serious and deny themselves easy pleasures will be unhappy that you’re, as they say, “raising the price of pussy”.  And you have to be really, really strong to do great things in hard times so the enemy will be allowed to interfere so that you can get strong enough fighting him off to persevere and finish the race.  It’s hard.  But we need you.  Life cannot continue as it has been.  You have suffered enough and seen enough people around you suffer to know that for life to continue as it has been is completely unacceptable.  It cannot be allowed to continue to be this way!

    I know you were brought up in the church, but I don’t have any real idea what, if any, relationship you have with God.  But I do know that God specifically offers the things that you need.  He is father to the fatherless.  In Isaiah he says, “Can a mother forget the baby she has nursed at her breast? Even if a mother forgets her own child, I will not forget you.  See, I have carved your name in the palm of my hand.”  And he’s the role model you don’t have but need.  Let me show you how this works in a way that may be helpful to you where you are at right now.  From what I have seen, you seem to be someone who feels emotions very intensely.  I do as well.  There are moments when I feel like my pain is going to destroy me.  God is the same way.  There is a passage in one of the epistles where it says that Jesus prayed with loud cries and shouts.  This is not the way that a happy, serene, untroubled man prays.  Jesus went off to pray by himself regularly (a good example) and he would be so upset that his disciples sitting off at a distance could hear him crying and yelling at God.  So, I follow Jesus’ example and bring my pain to God.  Over and over and as dramatically as I need to.  Its also helpful for me to realize that Jesus wasn’t too keen on being here sometimes.  Because sometimes, I just don’t want to be here anymore either.  It’s too hard and painful and unfair and the rewards are too meager compared to the suffering.  Remember when Jesus asked how long he would have to put up with the fools he was surrounded with after one of the disciples said something particularly stupid?  He knew what it was like to think that being here just wasn’t worth it.  God doesn’t just know what you’re going through because he sees you going through it.  He knows because he’s experienced it as well.  And you can look to see how he handled things to figure out what you can do to overcome.

    One last secret I’m going to pass on to you.  Learn to pray for the right things.  So often we are discouraged and lose faith because we are in dire need and we pray and nothing happens.  Or we are doing the right things and find ourselves in a gutter instead of at the mountain top.  I’m struggling with this right now and its heartbreaking and frustrating and I have no answers for it.  But what I do know is that every spiritual blessing or gift I have ever asked for has been given to me.  And when I needed to change some part of my character or heart, if I just kept bringing my failures to God and asking for his help to do differently, He changed me.  Which is going to be vital for you.  Because if love is what we do rather than who we are learning to be, it won’t last.  Love has to come out of who you are learning to be or it will be crushed when its rejected or too hard or you fail again.  But if its part of who you are, it will just keep coming up out of you until it has worked its magic.

    So that’s the message I have for you.  You can take it, leave it or run screaming from the crazy white lady who’s trying to tell you what to do!  It’s up to you.  But I have one last warning before I leave you alone.  A hero doesn’t do things the way that everyone else does.  So, please don’t think that what I’m telling you is the same old “men need to take up their leadership position” bullshit that people spout and humanity’s been trying for millennia.  It doesn’t work.  Your mission is to love.  Pure and simple.  And not the kind of love that says “this hurts me more than it hurts you” or “I did this because I love you.  Now be grateful” or any of the other crap you’ve seen passed off as love.  Love is patient, kind, forgiving, tolerant and rarely pushed to anger.  It is not bossy or demanding or proud of itself.  It doesn’t point out other’s mistakes, but notices what is good about them and builds people up for those good things.  And it doesn’t quit.  Which is why it always wins in the end.  Because you don’t lose until you quit the game.  And even if you quit the game, you can always go back in.  Which is why I know that even someone like you who has already made mistakes and has no role model and has been told his whole life that people like you are more trouble than they are worth can do what God has given you to do.

    Hang in there, Andrew!


    PS I would highly recommend that you head over to my blog and take a look at a post I recently wrote called “Godly Submission”.  What the church has taught about men and women and submission has done much more harm than good and I think you might find it helpful in finding a different way of understanding how to relate with women in this regard.  Here’s the link: http://wp.me/pa4Ae-93

  • Check Yourself

    I have written before about issues of race, especially as pertains to conservative’s perceptions about race before.  My basic premise is that I do not think that conservatives have an accurate or often even rational view of race in America.  Now, mind you, I’m not some goofy lefty here to incite white guilt and pander for more government programs.  I am coming at this from a conservative perspective myself.  For me this is both a moral issue and a practical imperative.  I say a practical imperative because if we think that we can keep the problems which arise in impoverished, minority communities isolated, we’re not paying attention.   Over and over, we can see that things from social breakdown to styles of music and dress spread outwards from our cities into the lives of middle class white suburbanites.  So my point is, it matters.  If you are a conservative who cares about the breakdown of the family or porn posing as music, then you need to care as much about issues of race as you do about what goes on in leafy suburban neighborhoods.

    As I have argued before, one of the main barriers to dealing realistically with matters of race and the ongoing fall-out of the history of race relations in this country, is an almost complete denial of race as a real issue worth dealing with.  What is crazy, and what I did not realize was that this is not at all a new phenomena.  We like to think that race is not an issue anymore because we have made so much progress.  Anyone claiming that race is an obstacle for them must be trying to “play the race card” and “make themselves the victim”.  However, it turns out that even back when we would all agree that the state of affairs for African Americans was horrid, unequal and morally indefensible, white Americans thought pretty much exactly the same thing!

    I came across some statistics today which I think we all need to remember the next time we are tempted to write off race as an actual issue today: Continue reading

  • The Context of Jeremiah Wright

    Over at Christianity Today there’s an article titled “Black Power from the Pulpit” about Jeremiah Wright which places him and black liberation theology in the context of the black church and the message of Christianity. It is actually an interview with Thabiti Anyabwile who wrote the book: The Decline of African American Theology. Mr. Anyabwile is a critic of both black liberation theology and the state of many black churches, without being one of the many jingoists we’ve heard from lately who think saying, “they’re racist” constitutes a legitimate critique. He is speaking from a position of understanding and respecting the history and tradition of the black church as well as the struggles of African Americans. Wouldn’t it have been nice if more people who were disturbed by Rev. Wright’s ranting would have turned to someone with this perspective for their critiques rather than the craptastic nonsense we’ve been subjected to?

    At any rate, I recommend reading the article, but here are some of my favorite take-away points:

    On the way the controversy played out in the media:

    Q: Has anything surprised you about the wave of indignation that has followed news of these sermons?

    A: I’ve been surprised that so much effort has been made to saddle Obama with the views of his pastor . . . I’ve also been surprised at how deep the ignorance of the African American church and its preaching tradition goes.

    It is interesting that some of those who were particularly upset over Wright’s remarks didn’t initially see them as being racial. They seemed to them to simply be anti-American. Continue reading