This week has been tragic and gut wrenchingly hard. I would like to find bright and cheery posts and set up an oasis of humor in the midst of the waves of raw emotion. However, I have chosen not too because there are a few posts that I think are very important to share and discuss at this time.
1. Aaron Earls is asking meaningful questions in light of the two shootings of black men on back to back days.
Why are many conservative white Christians afraid of government overreach from a federal government they never see, but never questioning the militarization of the local police department in their backyards?
Why do we acknowledge that the justice system can be unfairly tilted toward someone because of name and connections, but refuse to accept the possibility that it might be unfairly tilted away from someone because of the color of their skin?
If we truly believe that all lives matter, why would we react negatively to someone saying that black lives matter?
As the church in America has increasingly looked to politics as the primary solution for culture, we have allowed that perspective to color everything.
As individual Christians, we should also be thinking through how often our principles shift depending on the circumstances and those involved.
These shootings and the reactions become political. We view it as an “us versus them” situation, instead of treating it as an “us” situation—an attack on human dignity.
The church has to be better. Christians have to be better.
2. A lecture to The Gospel Coalition deals with the issue of Black Lives Matter and whether it is the contemporary Civil Rights movement. This address is vital to understand what the majority of the individuals engaged in the BLM movement feel. Here is the link to the article, but the audio below is worth your time, too. It has helped me shift my understanding of the movement, and I think it is worthwhile to listen to even if you disagree with it in the end.
Before we go any further, I just want to clear up a common misconception about the Black Lives Matter sentiment. Black Lives Matter does not mean “black lives matter only.” It means “black lives matter too.” It’s a contextualized statement, like saying “children’s lives matter.” That doesn’t mean adult lives don’t matter. But in a culture that demeans and disparages them, we understand we have to say forthrightly and particularly that children’s lives matter. In the face of a historic and contemporary context that has uniquely disparaged black life as not worth valuing or protecting in the same way as others, they are saying black lives matter just as much as every other life. Ironically, saying “Black Lives Matter” is really a contextualized way of saying, “All Lives Matter.”
3. At the National Review Online, David French calls for an effort to tap the breaks on the cultural and political divide that seems to be pushing us toward the abyss.
Last night, as the shots rang out across Dallas – as protesters scattered, and we watched the horrible, endlessly replayed video of a police officer’s cold-blooded murder on cable news – I felt that we were witnessing an unraveling. Our unrest hasn’t yet reached the levels of 1968, but it’s moving in that direction – against the backdrop of the worst partisan polarization in decades.
We are faced with choices today. At a time when all the short-term incentives point toward unreason, our leaders, political and cultural, must choose reason. At a time when group solidarity is trumping individual accountability, we must choose individual accountability. At a time when the loudest voices don’t wait for evidence to make sweeping judgments, we must wait for the evidence.
4. John Piper deals with the larger issue of truth in relation to the racial tensions, protection of the unborn, and potential for deception. We must pursue truth, particularly the truth found in the person of Jesus Christ. Some might see this as a deflection of the central issue of the week--the ongoing racial tensions--however, I think Piper is trying to reach the audience of white conservatives struggling with how to engage that issue by relating it to an issue in which they are already engaged. In any case, I think it's worth a read.
Finally, the reality of truth. It is a great irony that the philosophical, academic, and social power of left-wing elites since World War II have devoted themselves to showing that there is no truth. It has no transcendent reality. Truth, they say, is an outmoded enlightenment construct created to justify political, racial, and gender privilege.
This is an irony because it is precisely these left-wing elites that cry most loudly against injustice, not realizing that the limb of truth that they just sawed off is the only one that can provide trans-racial, trans-political, trans-gender, trans-cultural support for justice, and decisive resistance to injustice.
5. Russell Moore writes to help the church process the this week's events. It originated at his blog, but has been reposted at The Gospel Coalition. We have to talk about it. We have to deal with it. The moral fabric of the nation may well depend on it.
What we should understand, first, is that this crisis isn’t new. Many white evangelicals will point to specific cases, and argue the particulars are more complex in those situations than initial news reports might show. But how can anyone deny, after seeing the sheer number of cases and after seeing those in which the situation is all too clear, that there is a problem in terms of the safety of African Americans before the law? That’s especially true when one considers the history of a country in which African Americans have lived with trauma from the very beginning, the initial trauma being the kidnapping and forced enslavement of an entire people with no standing whatsoever before the law. For the black community, these present situations often reverberate with a history of state-sanctioned violence, in a way that many white Americans—including white evangelicals—often don’t understand.
Second, we should understand the peril here. These shootings, and the root causes behind them, come at a time when the United States is hyper-polarized and socially fragmenting. In addition, there’s a resurgent wave of blatant racism and anti-Semitism on display in social media channels and in upheavals around the world. The social bonds in our culture are weak indeed, and ought to cause us to have the same gravity Great Depression leaders had, not knowing whether the crisis would propel the nation to greatness in problem-solving or to meltdown.
6. A post from the Reformed African American Network on processing pain in a time of grief:
We must also guard our hearts. During times of pain, we are more susceptible to lies and deception. We are prone to self-medicate. We are tempted to look for an escape from reality. Family, we can’t check out. We must pray and stay grounded in the Word. We must process our pain through redemption and truth. Where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds much more.
Processing our pain doesn’t mean that we are to be inactive and silent. It helps to ensure that our hearts do not become bitter. Wounds that are not properly cared for become infected and deadly. Our hearts are wounded. The wounds are deep. The wounds are old, but there is a balm in Gilead.