Personal, Social Justice

It has to stop

I was supposed to go running this morning. But we got to bed around midnight and, when my alarm went off at 5, I decided to just sleep in. I meet a friend for breakfast most Thursdays, so I figured I’d sleep until 6 or so and then get ready and go.

I couldn’t get back to sleep. I kept thinking about the killing of Alton Sterling. I lay there, by turns incredibly sad and angry, and finally got up. My phone said it was 5:59. I thought I would sit down and write up my thoughts.

Then I saw the news about Philando Castile.

I’m still trying to process all this. I have no wisdom to offer here.

Here’s what I know: Two men, made in the image of God, are dead. And they should not be.

As a Christian, I can’t be silent. We white Christians have been silent far too long. Martin Luther King, Jr., condemned us in 1963 for our silence. Our brothers and sisters today do so, too. They are right to do so.

I don’t know what this means, exactly. Right now it means listening, and weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15).

Here’s the paragraph from King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail that still rings true:

We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws. I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Politics, Religion, Social Justice

Dr Martin Luther King Links

I’ve previous post on Letter from a Birmingham Jail on how I like to read Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail every year.

After reading it again today I thought I’d post a few links on the day we celebrate his life. There is much more to the man than the few quotes we see every year on this holiday.

This quote from his letter has been bouncing in my head today. Like John Piper’s Letter to Dr King, I think this is prophetic:

But the judgement of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I am meeting young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.

Some links from the always interesting Jemar Tisby. First, he had some great comments on #BlackLivesMatter and the pro-life movement. His is not the only opinion on the page, but he resonated with me most.

Next, take time to read this: The Master Narrative: The Popular, but Problematic Memory of the Civil Rights Movement.

And finally, a great video of Tisby, Trip Lee, and Alex Medina discussing “What About the Minority Experience in America Do Whites Often Miss?”

Speaking of Trip Lee, I watched a great 3 minute video from him on the Gospel and Race. It’s worth your time.

Finally, two book suggestions. Both of these help give you an idea of who Dr. King was, not just the sanitized version that is popular today.

The first is The Radical King. It is a collection of speeches and writings from Dr King that give you an idea of how the man thought. It’s organized by category, and is easy to read in small bites. The comments from Cornel West help supply context without getting in the way.

The second book is Death of a King, about the final year of his life. Tavis Smiley does a great job showing how, while he is popular today, King’s views about state violence and poverty made many people withdraw their support. Before reading about this I had never heard this part of the story. There is also a great interview with Smiley on The Daily Show discussing the book.

Take some time and learn about Dr. King. He truly is an American icon, and with good reason. I believe it will be time well spent.

Missions Monday, Social Justice

Missions Monday: Another ‘Makeover’ home is sold

Today I saw another story about how a home that was built for “Extreme Makeover” is being sold.: “‘Makeover’ home to become ‘high-end’ drug rehab center.” The reason: They could not afford the property taxes on it. So after everyone donated their time and efforts, the home was sold for half a million dollars.

I’ve written about this before. My view hasn’t changed in two years: I have nothing really to say about the family. If it’s best for their family to sell, then sell it.

I also haven’t changed my opinion on the problem. I know this situation is a bit different, since this family had their home destroyed. However, I think the issue stand. You can read what I wrote back in July of 2012 (July is apparently the month for selling these things). If you don’t feel up to it, here’s the punchline:

The problem here is the underlying assumption: Your family has trouble because you’re not able to have nice stuff. If you assume that, the solution is obvious: Give them nice stuff. It’s a simplistic, materialistic solution to a very complex problem…

This whole tale is another example of why the materialistic view of poverty doesn’t work. People can parachute in and do something really big but, in the end, the family is no better off for it. A year and a half later they’re having to find other ways to meet the same needs they had before.

How we do missions matters. Poverty is an extremely complex problem, and the solutions (yes, plural) will have the be complex. Shows like this are entertainment, and that’s it. We need more than entertainment and sentiment to fix these problems.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

Politics, Social Justice

Letter about Warren Hill

Today Georgia is scheduled to execute Warren Hill. I have no doubt this man is guilty of murder. It is just as obvious, however, that he is also intellectually disabled. Not only is killing him unconstitutional, it is also immoral.

Below is the text of the letter I sent this morning to both Attorney General Olens and Governor Nathan Deal.

Dear Attorney General,

I am writing to urge you to halt the execution of Warren Hill. As you know, the US Supreme Court banned executions of the intellectually disabled. Our state’s own experts all agree Mr. Hill falls within this category. It is therefore not only unconstitutionally, but immoral to execute him.

As Dr. King wrote (quoting Augustine before him), an unjust law is no law at all. Our state’s burden of proof for establishing intellectually disability is unjust, and we are the only state in the nation that sets the bar so unnecessarily high. It is therefore immoral to sit by and allow this unjust law lead to this unjust action.

I implore you to act. This is not a matter of guilt or innocence, but of true justice. Killing a mentally retarded man is no justice. And it is not what we want our state known for.

Because of Christ,

Rev. Bryan L. Fordham