Hangover

“When they go low, we go high.” Nice words, but this morning they seem a little too optimistic. Here in the United States of America, going low won the day and the next four years.

We just elected a president who started his campaign by describing an entire people group as rapists, thieves, and drug dealers. Over the course of his candidacy he made it OK to objectify women thereby creating moral space for misogyny. Now he is calling us to unite, to come together as one. How does this even happen? I don’t even know how to approach my fellow believers who justified their vote by saying, “well he’s a baby Christian.”

I work for organization that has hired Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, immigrants, and people from the GLBTQI community. They are terrified and not figuratively. The fear is real; it is based on actions and statements made by the candidate. Their very humanity and lives have been brought into question.

I don’t know how to come together. How do you hold hands and sing Kumbaya with someone who denies your very right to exist?

Where are the people of God in all of this? Where is the church?

Too many church leaders, who tend to look like me, white and male, have sacrificed the gospel of Jesus for a shot at power and dominance. The best way to do this was to rewrite Scripture so that the only things that mattered were prayer in school, abortion, and homosexuality. Loving God and loving people have become side issues. As long as we have someone in our camp who hates who we hate, then we can look past the misogyny, the racism, the sexism, and the fear mongering. All of this has brought us to today, November 9, 2016.

I do not know what the future holds; today I am pretty pessimistic. But maybe it is time to remember that people of faith have always been most effective and prophetic when they find themselves judged, misunderstood and in the minority.

Mikey and Anthony

Last week I wrote about one of our staff who has lived with a very real fear of being shot for over 30 years. This past Sunday one of our Discerners in Chicago lived that reality. Michael (Mikey) Taylor, our Discerner, and his cousin Anthony Jackson were returning home from a night out. While at the bus stop they noticed a car full of young adults slow down and look them. At first they were not too worried because the bus was approaching. The car quickly turned and circled back through the alley. Meanwhile the bus was delayed at the stop light. As the car came by the second time, four shots rang out. Mikey dived behind the bus stop bench and the bullets barely missed him.  Anthony wasn’t so fortunate. Three shots hit Anthony, one in the leg and two in the shoulder.

As I am writing this Anthony is recovering from his second surgery. Initially the doctors and Mikey thought Anthony had been shot twice. There were two obvious entry points. Twenty four hours later they found a third bullet in his shoulder.

Today Mikey and other family members are at the hospital with Anthony. For the first time in 48 hours the prognosis is no longer life threatening. There is just a whole lot of healing that needs to take place, both physical and emotional.

All of this is taking place in the middle of our Discover season. This week our Chicago program is hosting 57 participants from Indiana, Georgia, and Oklahoma. DOOR hosts programs in five cities. We invite people to our cities to “See the Face of God in the City.” One of the reasons Mikey chose to work for DOOR this summer was his desire to show visitors another side of Chicago. He said, “I want to show people how Chicago really is, and that it is not a war zone. There are some people that want to help improve the city. I won’t stop teaching and telling the multiple stories of Chicago until people have a deeper understanding of our city!”

There is a part of me that doesn’t know what to do with these events. Why would God allow this to happen? The truth is, these kinds of tragedies are happening every day. Mikey knew this when he signed up for DOOR. Yet he wanted to and continues to want to show our participants another side, a more hopeful side, of Chicago where God is present.

This blog is dedicated to Mikey and all of our racialized and marginalized staff across the country. Their willingness to come to work every day and speak truth to power is a living testimony of the power of salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16):

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Please keep Mikey, Anthony, and their friends and family in your prayers. When we hired MikeyMikey one of the first questions his mother asked of us was, would he be safe? She recently lost her other son. Facing another death in the family would be more than she could handle.

 

Remembering

One of the habphotoits I have picked up over the last few years is running. Initially it was a way to lose weight and get in shape. In this sense running has been good for me; I have lost weight and my physical stamina is much improved. Running has become so much more than a way to stay physically active. There is something spiritual about running along Hollywood Boulevard at 7 AM before the tourists emerge or being stopped by the police in West Garfield Park, a neighborhood in Chicago, to find out if I really intended to be out and about in that particular part of town. Running in my particular neighborhood, East Denver, helps me notice things that go unnoticed when I am rushing about in my car. Roadside memorials are one such thing. The memorials along my running routes are remembrances of people, mostly teens and young adults who were shot and killed as a result of gang activity.

This coming Saturday Edward Armijo, also known as East Side Eddie, is hosting “A Day to Remember Lost Lives Slain to Violence.” This event will take place at Sunken Gardens Park; this park is right across the street from my office. It is also a place where 1,000’s of DOOR participants have played soccer, ultimate Frisbee or escaped to for a few moments of silence.photo4

On Saturday over 1,000 names of young people who have died unnecessarily on the streets in Denver will be read. In some cases parents will share stories of lost loved ones. Tears will flow.

Since the late 90’s our family has lived in a community affected by violence. We know the difference between a fire cracker and a gun shot. By the way these are skills that were never taught in seminary. I know of no easy or quick fixes for urban violence. Serious solutions will demand that parents, schools, churches, the police and politicians work together.

Chaos Theory

The other day I came across an interesting article in Newsweek titled “Chaos Theory - new rules of management for people who hate rules.”  In the lower sidebar there were 10 rules:

  1. Avoid workaholics – they just use up time.
  2. Hire the better writer – clear writing equals clear thinking.
  3. Forget formal education – academia leads to bad habits.
  4. Drug dealers are on to something – sell a product that people keep coming back for more.
  5. Emulate chefs – share everything.
  6. Retire the term “entrepreneurs” – it sounds too exclusive.
  7. You need less than you think – why not office out of the garage?
  8. Pick a fight – see who rallies to your side.
  9. Build an audience – draw people in.
  10. Be a curator – take ownership of the growth and development of your product.

As I have thought about these rules, it seems to me that Jesus introduced a type of chaos theory during his time on earth.  He said things like, “The last will be first,” and, “Whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest.”  Modern writers have referred to this as the upside-down kingdom.  With this in mind, I would like to propose ten rules of Christian Chaos Theory:

  1. Avoid religious-aholics - they will suck up all you time wanting to discuss their latest “concerns.”
  2. Let’s be clear - love God, love people - period.
  3. Worry less about formal education. Instead, hang out with the saints who have spent a lifetime getting to know Jesus.
  4. Those who come forward for the altar call are on to something. They know that their failures are not final – forgiveness and restoration is possible.
  5. Emulate Jesus – he tended to chose forgiveness over judgment.
  6. Retire the term “emergent” – it sounds too exclusive.
  7. Live and worship simply – you do not need all the extras.
  8. Stand up for the powerless. It’s what Jesus did.
  9. Live your faith – in words sometimes attributed to St. Francis, “Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary.”
  10. Be a lifelong disciple – take ownership of your faith walk and spiritual growth.  It is not the pastor’s fault if you are not maturing

What would you add to this list?