I shared a viral clip from The Daily Show last week on Facebook and made this comment:

“There’s got to be something real to do. It probably starts with turning off the lying propaganda “news” channels forever, putting down our phones, and instead, let’s begin forming our opinions of this country and other people by spending time with people who think differently than we do. Let’s reprogram ourselves from the 24 hour scream fest that passes as information on TV and relearn how to have intelligent discourse on the issues that impact our daily lives. 

I’m going to start hosting a safe place to do just this starting in the fall. I cannot wait to begin. Please keep this plan in your prayers.”

The clip from The Daily Show was part of Jon Stewarts commentary on the horrific history of racism that culminated, in one young life, as a murderous rampage last week. We have all been horrified by the act. The viciousness of the attack, the location (in a church), and the obvious innocence of the victims made this situation a much safer place to shake our heads and collectively cluck our tongues over the horror of it all. But even in this situation there are the arguments over systemic racism vs personal racism. There are points and counterpoints made in various social media forums. There is comparison over how a white murderer is treated compared to a black man selling cigarettes illegally and how a white murderer acts when arrested vs a black man. There is hostility. Over the bodies of innocent men and women we continue our verbal puffing up and defense. It breaks my heart.

My heart breaks not just for the injustice that is all around us piling up until we cannot even see one another, but it breaks for the unwillingness or inability for people to just talk to one another. When did we lose our ability to see another person’s pain? When did we become a people who would prefer to be right over kind? When did our opinion on ‘issues’ tip the scale and become more important than one another? Why are we letting this happen? How can you yell that we are this way because ‘they’ have taken God out of our schools when I cannot find God in the hearts of our people? When did what our institutions are doing become more important than what our hearts were doing? 

Conspiracy theories about the government have become multi million dollar endeavors as they help people prepare for an inevitable culture/civil war. The news media churns the blood in the water every minute – every single minute – of every day. The talking heads talk about how race issues and/or marriage issues will be the death of this once great country. Hour after hour of propaganda can be found tailored to meet you right wherever your preconceived opinions have landed – and you never need think about the ‘issue’ again. You can hear everything you believe delivered to you 24/7 in various formats that assure you that you are smarter than the average person. You can sign in to your preferred website or news station and hear a thousand stories in a week that support your beliefs.

And your opposite – the man or woman who is killing this great country by believing the polar opposite of what you believe? They can do the exact same thing. They have their own media stations and news outlets and internet sites supporting their beliefs and assuring them that they are the ones who ‘get it’.

I fear this is going to end badly. Race issues are at a boiling point – and it doesn’t matter if you believe in white privilege or not. Poverty levels are at an all time high and the wealth divide is staggering – and it doesn’t matter if you think people need to pull themselves up by bootstraps that they do not posess. We have a problem and it is not going to be solved by getting more people into a particular political affiliation. There is not a man or woman alive who could lead us out of this in our current state. Putting prayer back in schools is not going to help – trust me, our children are praying in school. The Supreme Court deciding on ‘your side’ of marriage equality is not going to help and it does not matter which side that is. There is nothing that will happen at a macro level that will make a bit of difference because the problems are rooted in our daily interactions with one another. We need to re-learn how to have thoughtful and kind discourse about important things.

And, so, that is what I’m going to try to move forward. I have made a commitment to do what I can, even when I know it is just a tear drop in the ocean. So this fall I’ll begin hosting “Safe Places for Hard Conversations”. I’m still working out the where and when but I’m excited by the idea. We will provide a safe place to come and ask the questions that are so hard to ask in mixed company. How does a Christian hold the Bible as inerrant and also claim to be an ally for the LGBT community? How can a Christian hold onto their interpretations and beliefs and still show love to someone they disagree with? What is white privilege? How do we impact the wealth divide? Why are people rioting – what good does that serve?  

The goal isn’t to answer these questions – that is a heart issue for people to work out. But, we will share a variety of viewpoints that are presented in a loving and kind manner. We will be safe. We will stop shouting and begin listening. We will get a lot of things wrong and we will change things as we learn. We will forever try. Because my tears and my fears have to go somewhere and the ocean seems as good a place as any.


John 15:5 (NIV
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

I’ve been thinking about the evolution of the Christian faith as is told in the Bible, and also as it has played out since the bible. I wrote a couple weeks ago about the bible passage where Abraham is asked to kill his son, and how a new viewpoint had helped to transform my understanding of that story.   I thought I would take tonight to just work through a few other ideas I’d been working through.

I think God created this whole thing – probably with quite a bang 🙂 – a VERY long time ago. I think that the Bible is the story of God and His creation. I also believe all things happen at the very earliest point possible. By that I mean that God started talking to people who were at a point where they could take the leap to trust in Him – the minute they got there.  

I think the Old testament is violent because people were barbaric back then. I think that their understanding of God was incorrect and I believe that they thought He asked them to do things that were partly what He asked of them, but partly their barbaric appreciation of how the world works. (We still insert our wrong interpretations today, but our barbarism is less overt these days…)

I believe this because I see how we have evolved and when religions do claim to have divine direction to kill those who are different we revile and vilify them….even though our religion once made quite similar directives. Nonetheless, God knew that despite misunderstandings and misinterpretations – the journey could begin. He also knew then that one day he would send Jesus to further clarify the true meaning of all things. 

And He did. Jesus came into the world at the earliest possible moment in time to deliver a very complex and incomprehensible message to a people who were just on the cusp of the ability to grasp it. So much so on the cusp, that He was only able to communicate for three years before being murdered. But He knew that was enough – He knew that people had moved beyond their old understandings enough that they could embrace and protect a bit more truth. So despite the short amount of time that He would be with us and in spite of the tragic end, He furthered the story.

I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and carries in it the true nature of God and his full intent. I also believe that we probably understand about as much of it as we do of the brain. You’ve probably heard the rumor that we only use 10 percent of our brain, that is actually not true. We use 100% of our brain everyday. What is true is that 10 percent of our brain is made up of neurons whose function we believe we understand fairly well, and 90% is made up of glial cells whose function is only recently beginning to be understood. So we use all of it – we just don’t understand 90% of it. I think that could be said of the Bible as well.

I like to imagine what it would be like if Jesus were to come now – not in some military victory, or rapture-like hollywood movie -but just come to teach for another three years (or would we let Him teach and grow old? I’d like to think we would, I’m not so sure though.)  

In any case – I wonder what parables and analogies would He use with a people whose understanding of so much has evolved.

With our understanding of networks via the internet and the fact that we can connect with people that we have never met, perhaps He would explain that the Spirit in us is like a network that we plug into that has access to all God is, was, and ever will be.    

Perhaps He would explain that He is the vine and we are the branches by saying that we are all connected just like the computer networks we rely on and God can be like a master program that gives each of us unique direction according to the purpose we are best suited for.  

He might explain that each piece of the body is needed by saying every line of code is needed and just like a bad piece of code in one piece of the network can bring the whole network down – one person who is not healthy can bring all the good work to a grinding halt.  

Perhaps He would say to go after that one sheep by saying that just because you have a bad piece of code it doesn’t mean you can just abandon it – the program needs all of the code to function – so go find where the error is and help correct it.   

Maybe He would say that His message is that we are all part of one big powerful, elegant, and beautiful program and when we all realize it there will be nothing beyond our reach collectively.  

Or, perhaps He would be a ludite… and just stick with the sheep.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: