This blog post is much more fun on the actual blog than reading solely on Facebook. I got happy with memes today. But the content works without the memes. It is for you to decide! 😉 And also, yay! I accomplished moving our website from one server to another. #theydontteachthatinseminary And look! I made a logo!
Sunday, I preached on de-escalation or interrupting racism, sexism, classism, ableism, anti-Semitism, ageism and heterosexism. I tackled racism right off by talking about the Colin Kaepernick situation. I shared this:
Lately, in the news, there has been a lot of drama around Colin Kaepernick. Colin Kaepernick used to be the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. The drama is that he has not been signed to a football team because of his politics. Now, let’s take a moment and review his politics. He didn’t stand up for the national anthem because, as an African American, he did not feel that the United States, as a nation, upheld the rights and liberties of black people in America. That black people and other people of color were still being oppressed. So he sat during the National Anthem, quietly. Not saying a word.
And logically, I can’t see where he is wrong. The list of African Americans that were unarmed and killed by the police is long. The list of prosecuted authorities is short.
Michael Brown, an 18 year old black man, was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri. As he lay in the street, the authorities did not let care come to him. Nor did they even cover him up. It was as if they stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead [the scripture for today is the Good Samaritan story]. For four hours, Michael Brown laid in the street. Nobody caring for his body. That is why Colin Kaepernick kneeled down. Because, it seems, nobody is caring for black bodies. Just like nobody was caring for the man left for dead in the street, until the Samaritan came along.
Back to the news. Colin Kaepernick has not been signed as a quarterback since he was cut from the 49ers. Now, he is really a fair-to-middlin’ quarterback. But there are a lot of teams that need a fair-to-middlin’ quarterback. He was said to be in the running to be a quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. Ultimately, the news reports that the Baltimore Ravens chose a young QB who had been playing for a mid-level indoor football team rather than to risk the political fall-out of hiring the more skilled Kaepernick.
And we can look at the list of football players employed after having difficulties. Over 55 are employed that battered women, killed dogs, obstructed justice, and abused their children. But we won’t employ Colin Kaepernick because he refused to stand during the national anthem. That speaks to our priorities.
It is unfortunate that when people hear the words black lives matter, they think that means people are saying that no other lives matter. It is like I am saying, I love vanilla ice-cream so I must hate all other ice-cream. Well, clearly, I tell you, I love all ice cream. But it is okay to say that I love vanilla ice-cream too. So it is okay to say Black Lives Matter.
This was all to set-up discussion of a conversation with someone who has bought into systemic racism. In that discussion, I had to use de-escalation techniques using direct intervention and distraction techniques. So it was on point. *snaps* [forgive the grammatical error in the meme below]
Of course, this was a small, mostly white, shrinking congregation. The sermon was mostly well received, or so it seemed to me. The three comments I heard in the negative were these (paraphrasing):
COMMENT: I think Kaep is right on the issue but just went about it the wrong way. People don't want to see it.
RESPONSE: But the little black boys need to see this.
COMMENT: We need to remember that the police have a difficult job and they are frightened.
RESPONSE: This isn't about police being good or bad. But we need to eliminate bad behaving folks all the way around, including the police. [and inside my head, I'm wondering where in my message I said that police are bad.]
COMMENT: A group of us told our pastor that we didn't want politics in the pulpit.
RESPONSE: Well, this was about how to use de-escalation techniques like Jesus did when we confront unfair things. [inside my head, my heart broke for their current pastor]
All this is to say, that racism, structural and systemic racism, is still alive and well. Because we don't want to see it. Because we invest fear into our authorities. And because we don't want to hear it. A little like the three monkeys.
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. It is as if, by naming evil, we become the thing we name.
It is the doublespeak of the book 1984.
At any rate, you take my meaning. Silencing dissenting voices is cooperating with racism, sexism, and all the isms.
I saw a great quote the other day, something about the way we have dumbed down our political discourse. There is a lot of anger and disenfranchisement in the middle and lower class. Certain political powers have captured that and instead of doing the heavy lifting of intellectual work to get to root causes, they have pointed their fingers at people with brown or black skin and/or liberals and/or women and/or LGBTQIA folx. That is what it means to make America Great Again. To make it so we hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil. But the evil will still exist. It just will. We are simply driving people underground, into the streets, or into a box.
Sigh. I suppose my rant is done. If you can't have a conversation about isms, then you are part of the problem. You are buying into system oppression. So. Stop it.
What will you hear, see, and speak today?
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--roar
Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad
Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran
Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, please share!
“If you love your country, you must be willing to defend it from fraud, bigotry, and recklessness--even from a president.”
― DaShanne Stokes
Weekly prayer focus comes from the World Council of Churches prayer cycle. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. We focus on one set of countries per week with the same prayer, lifting them up. I encourage you to fill this in however you see it.
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while decrying the desecration of hope.
This week we pray for Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for ________________________
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for ________________________
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to, we pray.
For the transformation from ME to WE, we pray.
Let peace prevail on earth.
So may it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.