Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Where There Is Hatred, Let Me Sow Love

June 22, 2015

Make me a channel of your peace…where there is hatred let me sow love… –prayer of St. Francis

Sometimes it seems we are living in the old Wild West. Everybody is carrying weapons. It feels as if violence exists everywhere.

Part of the reason is that we get news from all over the world, now. Once news was mostly local with a smattering of regional, national, and international news. TV now brings us, indeed floods us, with instantaneous news produced and directed for maximum emotional impact.

Still, how could a young man sit in a Bible study for an hour with a peaceful group of spiritual seekers, then coolly pull out a handgun and kill nine people. A quote I saw had him saying that they were such nice people he almost hated to do it.

All because they were born with a different color skin than his.

Yes, there is evil in the world. I had a deeply spiritual conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago who denied the existence of evil. But, it exists. Where else would someone learn to hate?

I had hoped that the civil rights work of the 60s would have yielded much more progress. I went to graduate school in the south in the early 70s. My Southern classmates all thought that with the new generation racial relations would be improved.

Overall, we treat people of other races, religions, and nationalities much better than we used to.

When it comes to healing the hearts of humans, though, sometimes it looks as if we’ve made no progress from the earliest times written in the Bible.

But we have. Despite all the fear-mongers and incessant media attention we are much safer in much of the world than we used to be. There are substantial places where peace needs to come.

Mostly we need to work and pray to heal people’s hearts.

Don’t Turn a Spiritual Problem into a Political One

December 2, 2014

My heart continues to break over the fallout of the Ferguson, MO events.

One thing that really affects me is the number of posts on Facebook from my “Christian friends” that perpetuate a meme making the situation a political one. It goes something like this, “If you are a true Conservative, then you will back the police officer. Only the nasty liberals back the black man.”

The situation is far more complex than that.

Sunday I worshipped at Willow Creek Community church. Senior Pastor Bill Hybels read a carefully composed statement about the situation. He noted that there are stories. These stories may not contain all the facts of the situation (many of which may never be known). But the stories are different for each of the actors in the drama.

He was correct. People tend to believe a story. Trouble is, there are usually many stories. Each person believes his or her own story.

It takes vast amounts of courage to step back and look at other people’s stories. See how they believe them. And then start the work of reconciliation of the various stories into a common one.

That is part of the work of the Spirit. Politics only constructs sides to an issue so that everyone can complain about the other. The Spirit draws together so that one side of the many can begin to at least see the other sides. And then see that they need not be enemies. They could be co-workers for good and growth in the community.

Those of us who want to politicize the issue should just stay out of it. If you don’t have a solution, you’re part of the problem.

For those of us far away, prayer is a powerful part of the solution.

Take That First Step in Faith

November 26, 2014

“My child, if you accept my words
and treasure up my commandments within you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 if you indeed cry out for insight,
and raise your voice for understanding;
4 if you seek it like silver,
and search for it as for hidden treasures—
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.”

Proverbs 2

The situation in Ferguson, MO keeps invading my consciousness, picks at it like a sore you just can’t keep from touching. It is a tragedy on so many levels. There is no obvious quick solution.

On the one hand, we can’t have mob justice and survive in a country based on rule of law. On the other hand, when there is such little respect for the authority of those entrusted to uphold the law, then where is justice?

I came of moral age in an era in the US of police brutality that was either outrightly condoned or at least hidden. And especially toward black and poor. In my all-white community of 1,000, I don’t know why I developed a deep sense of the need for justice for black people. I never had talked to any non-white person until I was 17. But, that’s where I am. So, I have deep empathy for the community—not for violence which is something I abhor—but for injustice.

The distrust on both sides in that community is so high, it will take a very strong person of faith and integrity to break that cycle. And it won’t happen in a short period of time.

Wisdom, the writer of Proverbs, pleads for a heart of understanding. If you seek it, then you will understand the fear of the Lord, she says.

Bill Hybels, founder and sr. pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church, recently talked about how the Bible teaches us to have faith that we’ll get help along the way—you have to take the first step in faith, then God will help. We need those people that step out in faith. Ferguson needs someone to rise up from its community to step out in faith to start a healing.

That brings us to another question. Where do we need to take the first step in faith to bring healing to a situation? Are we seeking Wisdom to guide us toward understanding? It’s a challenge.