Having lived my life on two sides of the same [Christian] track I have seen a lot of different things, especially when it comes to views of this country. Growing up in a historic African American context I heard much about the United States but not much around National holidays and an unintentional differentiation between.
As I sat in my “Introduction to Preaching” at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Charles Briscoe asked a question I’ll never forget “Which one of you want to be a preacher?” Honestly, it seemed innocent enough so I, along with everyone in the class, raised my hand. Dr. Briscoe chose myself and 9 others and made these statements, “I want the 7 of you to raise your hands.”
I should begin this post by saying I have never once watched an episode of Duck Dynasty nor do I intend to. Yes, I know what the show is about and know I do not need to prove it to you, and yes, I am still a Christ follower (just kidding, though for some of you I not kidding at all). The news of Phil Robertson’s comments came across my screen and left just as quickly as it appeared but I did understand what was coming next and I just braced myself. It is in these moments that I dread social media and its ability to give everyone a public voice (but this is a post for another day). After some of the Facebook posts I saw over the last few days, I have decided to say my 2 cents and then let the debate rage.
I wish [Christians]would care this much about poverty & abuse & slavery & caring for the marginalized and oppressed then the kingdom of God would be so much better reflected in this dark crazy world.
I am completely for anyone’s Constitutional right to free speech, people can say what they want to say and believe what they want. What makes me sad is that these moments represent Christians to the world. The internet is powerful, Social Media is powerful because it is distilled. The things we say and do reflect what we truly believe and from the looks of things we care more about:
- Duck Dynasty
- Gay Marriage
- Conservative/ Republican/Libertarian “values”
- the Constitution
- the United States and so much more
Even though we make very concerted efforts at connecting these things to the Kingdom of God, though they can not be connected. I have met so many amazing people who live out their faith in such beautiful, humble, and brave ways. They are opening the doors to the kingdom of heaven for people instead of wasting time defending positions for millionaires who can take care of themselves or TV stations shooting themselves in the foot. They are outraged about things that Jesus is orphans, poverty, oppression, slavery, abuse, advance of His Kingdom and His Gospel, people dying and going to a real hell and the question is are willing to do something about these real issues. So many people commenting, writing letters, starting petitions, but can not articulate the last time they shared there faith. You might be fighting for the wrong kingdom. The amazing people I mentioned, they reflect the incarnation of Christ and that’s what we’re supposed to be celebrating this season.
This is the Advent season that affords us the reality that Christ came for us and in that truth we are supposed to be turning the world upside down, our lives are supposed to be centered around. It is for this reason [and others] I am over this “debate” and so should you too.
Let me know what you think by liking the post, commenting below, and/or sharing it and thinks for listening.
The problem with drawing lines in the sand is that with a breath of air they disappear.
I remember driving around Kansas City with some friends while in college when I was first encountered this question that had plagued me for the entirety of my Christian life, “what is the difference between Christian and secular music?” You see on my radio I was listening to “secular” music and my friend was becoming continually and visibly agitated with it. When he asked me to change it, the question was raised by another friend. Although it seemed an initially obvious answer, I did not immediately know that answer. Actually, the more I thought about it the more I realized I am not sure. Was it that a Christian song had to mention Jesus or God? If that is true then what do we do with the books of Esther and Song of Songs (which do not mention either)?
Unfortunately, this is a dilemma that is not unique to the sphere of music. We live in a world where the divide between Secular and Sacred is constantly and adamantly being drawn by both Christians and non-Christians alike. We are frequently labeling things “Christian” that I suppose we fear otherwise might be confused for something else.
- Christian schools
- Christian groups
- Christian movies
- Christian books
- Christian bands, etc.
If our music, our schools, our groups, our books, our actions do not point those around us to Jesus, and serve to redeem a broken world, then are they not indeed unchristian? Instead of creating clear bright line, like we would like, Christ blurred the lines between secular and sacred, seemingly implying that the division the ritualistic religion of the day had crested a false division. If All things are God’s, all things are in fact sacred? IS this going to o far? Why? Furthermore, He was criticized for almost everything he did because he acted as if things such as the purity and impurity, pious and impious, Jew and Gentile, powerful and weak, rich and poor did not exist as the world saw them. When Paul came on the scene he preached this as he proclaimed in Romans there is no division, but “all are one in Christ Jesus.”
Is it easier to know who is in or out? Is it that we wanted to be able to sit at the table with drunkards tax collectors and sinners, as long as we knew who was who? Honestly , I’m not really sure, so I put the question to you, is there a Sacred/ Secular divide?
I have been out and about for the last few weeks and I asked for a friend of mine to write a post for me. Unfortunately, because of the state of the church I have chosen not to reveal my guest name but I will say that shamefully, this is my bravest post yet. Please take a few minutes and read some of the bravest and honest post I have read in a while and then lets please begin this conversation. I look forward to your comments below.
My father sits across from me. He points at me, and his voice makes it clear that he can’t imagine the possibility, even as a joke. “You’d better not be one.”
He doesn’t know.
Two older men in church, whom I respect greatly, nod in solidarity. “I wouldn’t allow those people as members.”
They don’t know.
A dear, kind woman looks at me in shock. “You don’t believe in that, do you?”
She doesn’t know.
My own convention expresses its ‘continued opposition to and disappointment in’ the Boy Scouts for allowing boys like I used to be membership.
They also act with great care to declare their love in Christ for people like me… regardless of ‘perceived’ sexual orientation.
They don’t know, but now you do. I’m a firm follower of Christ, and I’m also a homosexual man. I’d like to talk about how I feel in the church, and why I believe the church should be doing better.
A few years ago, in response to an increasing number of homosexual teens committing suicide, the “It Gets Better” campaign was started. The message was a simple one: offering hope, in the form of promises that the pain those teens were going through was temporary, and that life got better. It was a tremendous success, and that phrase has become a byword for anyone facing bullying and rejection.
Contrast this to my experience with some parts of the Christian community. Shame seems to be the dialogue objective, focusing exclusively on that one facet of life. With the usual combination of selective Scriptural sniping and heated argumentation, the Christian seems to desire driving away the listener, rather than drawing them closer to Christ.
Christians have forgotten that sin can’t be shamed out of someone. They have confused changing behavior for changing hearts, and the disapprobation of the Church with the conviction of the Spirit.
The world offers pride and celebration, the church shame and rejection.
We have to change that. We have to be a place where anyone can show their imperfections and temptations.
It works. Despite the above conversations, there have been those, like my pastors, who have welcomed me in church, who honor the difficult choices I’m being asked to make, and who will be there when times are rough. Their love in Christ is based on who I am, not who I am perceived to be.
Let’s start there.
**I try hard not to speak about current events as anything but an observer, but this one has just become out of control. So this week I want to comment on the Paula Deen debacle and lend some clarity.
Warning, there maybe some language in this post that could be considered offensive.**
I have a guilty pleasure, cooking shows. I love “the Food Network (FN)”, “Top Chef” and others. I have learned so much that has served to advance my cooking skills. Paula Deen has been among the host that have given me a better understanding of Southern culture and cooking. I was initially surprised as the next person to hear of Mrs. Deen’s comments, use of the word “Nigger” and subsequent firing by the FN and other sponsors. What further concerned me was the instant “I support Paula Deen” Facebook pages and multiple post showing support for a women who used a word that, as a society, we have considered repugnant for many decades (though in my humble opinion not long enough). Additionally, I began to laugh when I read post from my friends comparing Deen’s situation to movies that say “Nigger” or “nigga (not that this word is much better)” a ridiculous amount of times (e.g. Django Unchained). I truly believe that Paula Deen should not be fired for admitting that she called someone a nigger 30 years ago but you should really read the deposition for yourself. The whole thing is now out and it is a pretty long read and damning read, here are some of the highlights (lowlights) and why I believe she was really fired.
- She was accused (in a lawsuit) of only hiring only Caucasians to work in the front of the restaurant:
“Bubba [her brother] and I, neither one of us, care what the color of your skin is or what is between your legs, it’s what’s in your heart and in your head that matters to us.”
- The transcript mentions employee complaints about Deen’s brother looking at pornography at the restaurant during operating hours and forcing other employees to look at it as well. In direct response to questions about this, Deen said:
“I know all men in my family at one time or another, they’ll tell each other, ‘look what so and so sent me on my phone,’ you know. It’s just men being men.”
- In response to questions about whether or not she’d have a problem with her brother looking at porn at work, Deen said:
“If somebody sent him something and he pulled it up and looked at it, no, I would not persecute him for that. … Bubba, I don’t think, would ever do that if he thought there was somebody in the room that he — it would insult.”
- She did respond to a question about when it’s acceptable to use the N-word and Deen said:
“We hear a lot of things in the kitchen. Things that they — that black people will say to each other. If we are relaying something that was said, a problem that we’re discussing, that’s not said in a mean way. What about jokes, if somebody is telling a joke that’s got —It’s just what they are, they’re jokes.”
The continuation of this line of questioning is rather disturbing. Even Macklemore and Eminem understand that in today’s America there is not a nice way to call a African American a nigger, yet Deen proceeded to find that medium. This her response to the lawyer asking her to give and example of how to use the word nigger in a nice, joking way after she state that she could:
“That’s — that’s kind of hard. Most — most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. Most jokes target — I don’t know. I didn’t make up the joke, I don’t know. I can’t — I don’t know.”
There is not a nice way to tell a joke with the word “nigger” in it, trust me I have heard my fair share and not one of them is funny.
- The most repugnant part of the deposition was Deen’s description of a “[pre] Civil Wars style Southern plantation wedding” she wanted for her brother. She was reportedly inspired by a restaurant with nicely dressed, middle-aged black waiters dressed up as slave caricatures. When asked by the questioner in the deposition whether the race of the waiters mattered, Deen said, “Well, that’s what made it.” the very suggest that slaves could be a quaint scenic touch at a wedding is deplorable to say the least.
Listen, if you really want to please go and read the whole deposition . After i did I came to the to the conclusion that as a private company I would not want someone who acts in the manner that she has and continues to defend it to represent my company. What about forgiving and forgetting? Honestly, I am all for forgiving but I also understand that we all must deal with the consequences of our actions (good or bad) and unfortunately we must let Mrs. Deen and her brother walk that path. She is a public figure and she has to deal with this publicly. If you want to talk about the numbers of celebrities, actors, pastors, politicians of all races that make stupid comments I will submit that you are deflecting from the real reason for her release and ask you to please read the deposition.
As I began I really meant what I said, I do not think she should be fired for calling a robber a nigger 30+ years ago while working at a bank but I the more I dig I see a national and cultural conversation that need to happen, especially within the church. I think another blogger said it the best when she said, “If our country ever wants to heal from the racism of our past, [we have] to stop denying that it’s still an issue. We need to own it. To step up and start a national conversation about race. That starts by being honest.”
Honestly, these are just my thoughts and opinions, what say you? I look for ward to the conversation!
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