R*E*S*P*E*C*T find out what it means to me.

A friend my husband attended law school with posted an article on Facebook this morning. He was lamenting the fact that people from the liberal side of the marriage equality debate did not treat people who disagree with them with respect. He was disappointed that civil discourse seemed impossible.

The article he posted appeared on The Daily Signal and was called, My Exchange with Two New York Times Writers on Marriage Equality and Civility by Ryan T. Anderson. In the article Mr. Anderson opens with this:

Can people respect each other and treat one another civilly even while disagreeing about marriage? No, according to New York Times domestic correspondent Josh Barro. As The Daily Signal reported, on viewpoints that Barro considers “anti-LGBT”, he thinks that “we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.”

The problem is that much of what Barro considers “anti-LGBT” is simply pro-marriage and pro-common-good.

This was my response.

I think what ires people so much on the pro marriage equality side is that no one is asking the people on the other side to give up what they already have but merely to extend to others the benefits and responsibilities that come with marriage. What I think people on the pro traditional marriage side fail to recognize is that in supporting that position they are effectively denying that LGBT persons are equal to them and that their love for and commitment to their spouse is just as valid. I humbly submit that if someone told me that my marriage was somehow less valid than someone else’s and decided to purposely fight against allowing me to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that go along with it that I would not exactly be in the mood to extend to them the respect they “deserve”.

I for one always try to treat those I am debating with dignity and respect and try to disagree agreeably. However, do we think the slaves owe respectful dialog to masters? Do we think interracial couples owe respect to KKK members? Do we think Jews owed respectful dialog to the Nazis? Do we think abused persons owe respectful dialog to their abusers? When an LGBT person is denied the right to be in the hospital with their spouse, when they cannot be buried next to one another at a national cemetery, when they can be fired in many states just for being gay. When they are constantly told by people who fight against their right to marry or to live their lives with the same freedoms, rights and responsibilities of heterosexual americans. I think after a while you get tired of having “respectful” dialog. According to the dictionary respect means:

“a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
synonyms: esteem, regard, high opinion, admiration, reverence

Although I think treating someone with respect even when you disagree is honorable, asking someone to treat the person who sees them as less human and worthy of fewer rights with esteem is a tall order. What I find interesting is that the very people whose position is one of disrespect are the ones demanding that their position be respected.

It reminds me of this recent article on Formerly Fundie
http://www.patheos.com/…/so-listen-its-not-religious…/

The article on Formerly Fundie is called, So Listen– It’s Not Religious Discrimination Just Because You Can’t Discriminate. And in the article Benjamin L. Corey states,

“It’s not discrimination when we are prevented from doing the discriminating. It’s not persecution when we are prevented from doing the persecuting. It’s not bullying when we’re told that we can’t bully others.”

I would take that one step further and say in this case, it is ironic that people want LGBT persons and their allies to treat them with respect while debating an issue that on its face is disrespectful to LGBT people. No one on the pro marriage equality side is saying that anyone on the pro traditional marriage side has to change their position, merely that they must afford the same rights to every citizen of the United States. Time after time, courts are ruling in favor of marriage equality. They are doing it because that is what our Constitution demands. 

How can you respect my opinion if you believe I am wrong? You can’t. How can I respect your opinion if I believe you are wrong? I can’t. What I can respect is your right to your thoughts and beliefs given to you by the Constitution.  When people demand to be respected it is often because they are upset that the other person believes their position to not merit that respect. If you do not think my arguments or opinions have any merit I do not expect you to respect them. If you think I am wrong I expect you to try and convince me. I think what people actually mean when they demand respectful dialog is that they want you to agree that their position carries equal weight. I’ve got news for you. I do not believe all positions are equal. If you’re being honest, you don’t either. I think that is why debates on these topics get so heated. All positions are not equal. Some things are right and some things are wrong. We may disagree about what those are. But one thing is for sure, if we are being truthful, none of us truly respects an argument we believe is oppressive to ourselves or others. That is really what is at stake here. We have two sides who believe their rights are being infringed. 

To quote rob bell from part 44 of his What is the Bible series on tumblr,

“…this freedom works both ways. We’re free to affirm truth wherever we find it, and we’re also free to deny that which needs to be denied. If it’s wrong or unjust or twisted, we call it whatever it is. This includes religious things, pastors, and of course things that go on in churches under the name of Jesus.

 

(Some people are crazy and they make no sense. They don’t help you grow and they spread all kinds of hate and they’re toxic. Don’t listen to them.)

 

Some things that are labeled Christian aren’t true, and some things that aren’t labeled Christian are true. Some atheists say lots of things that are true, and some Christians are full of shit.”

One last thought, demanding respect (a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements) from someone who adamantly believes you are trying to deny them human rights equal to your own seems a bit brazen. 

Really Joel?

JoelO

 

I saw this in my news feed on the Facebook this morning. It was posted by a lovely and well meaning friend. I am confident it was meant as encouragement for her friends who were experiencing tough times. Most days I would scroll right by but not today, I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because of our recent scare with our son’s ruptured appendix and emergency surgery. Maybe it is the war raging in the Middle East. Or maybe it is the Ebola outbreak in Africa. But today, I just could not allow it to pass by unchallenged and uncommented upon.

Here is the comment I posted to my friend:

What about child abuse? What about people who starve to death? What about rape? What about when your child dies? I could go on and on. I apologize for being so negative but when I read something like this it just seems so glib and dismissive. Seriously, what is God’s purpose for genocide? Or the holocaust? I personally don’t think a God like that is worth serving.

Seriously, how in the world do we lay such horrendous things at the feet of God? What kind of fucked up God is that who would for some “purpose” allow terror, destruction and death? Jesus says those things come from one place and it isn’t God. (John 10) Jesus says that he is light and in him is no darkness. (1John 1) Jesus says that he is love. (1John 4) Genocide isn’t love. Jesus says he is the author of life. (Acts 3) I would rather worship a God who is there with me in my suffering than the cause of it. That is the God I see in the scriptures. This is the good news, that God did not leave us alone to experience evil he came down and experienced it himself. (Philippians 2) The good news is that love can win in the end. That someday all will be made right. (Revelation 21) And that until then he is here with us in it. Suffering with us. Just like the creation we are all “groaning” together waiting for that day. (Romans 8)

To borrow a thought from Rob Bell, often I find that when somebody says they don’t believe in God, and I ask them to tell me about the God they don’t believe in it turns out I don’t believe in that God, either. Here is what I think. I think a lot of people who want to believe are turned off by a God and a people who say that their God is a bloody, vengeful, narcissistic, genocidal maniac. Well, if that is my choice, to either worship that God or no God at all, I pick no God at all. Fortunately that is not my choice. I worship the God who is all love, who is unselfish, who is for humanity and not against it, who is light devoid of any darkness, who recoils at violence done in his name, who never forces himself on anyone, who loves all, who wants all to be saved, who is making all things new.

 

Links:

Rob Bell: What is the Bible Series

You’re Damn Right I Believe Another Gospel

#anothergospel immigration, contraception and patriotism edition

What If? Would We?

Anne Lamott

A Rude Response: Lessons in missing the point.

So there is a video that has gone viral this week of a Dad’s response to the song Rude by Magic!. So far I have had several people post links to it in my time line. The problem with both the original song and the tongue-in-cheek response to it is they both miss the point entirely.

Here are the lyrics to the original song:

Saturday morning jumped out of bed and put on my best suit
Got in my car and raced like a jet, all the way to you
Knocked on your door with heart in my hand
To ask you a question
‘Cause I know that you’re an old fashioned man yeah yeah

‘Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life? Say yes, say yes
‘Cause I need to know
You say I’ll never get your blessing till the day I die
Tough luck my friend but the answer is no!

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I’m human too
Why you gotta be so rude
I’m gonna marry her anyway

Marry that girl
Marry her anyway
Marry that girl
Yeah no matter what you say
Marry that girl
And we’ll be a family

Why you gotta be so rude

I hate to do this, you leave no choice
Can’t live without her
Love me or hate me we will be boys
Standing at that alter
Or we will run away
To another galaxy you know
You know she’s in love with me
She will go anywhere I go

Hook-Chorus-Chorus- etc

Here are the lyrics to the response:

Saturday morning came without warning
Woke me up from my bed
Seeking permission to marry my princess
Son, what’s wrong with your big head
It’s the first time I’ve met you, why would I let you
Run off with my baby girl?
Get back in your Pinto. It’s time that you go.
The answer is no.

You say you want my daughter for the rest of your life
Well you’ve got to make more than burgers and fries
Get out your mama’s basement and go get you a life
Son you’re 28 don’t you think that it’s time?

Why you gotta call me rude?
I’m doin’ what a dad should do
Keep her from a fool like you
And if you marry her anyway

Marry that girl,
I’m gonna punch your face
Marry that girl,
I’ll make you go away
Marry that girl,
In the bottom of a lake.

You may not get this so let me explain
Cause you need to undersatnd
This is forever, she deserves better
She really needs a grown man
I know what you’re thinkin’
You think you’ll still take her
Give it your best shot
I may be a Christian
But I’ll go to prison
I’m not scared of doin’ hard time

Hook-Chorus

The answer is no
So why don’t you go away?

Did you see it? Or should I say did you not see it? WHERE IS THE WOMAN IN BOTH OF THESE SONGS?????  Both of these songs are about two men making a decision and coming to an agreement about what will happen in this woman’s life WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM THE WOMAN. The most worrisome lyrics in both songs imply that this is some weak ass woman who has no clue what she is doing and needs the two men to decide for her.

 “Can I have your daughter?”
(Not can we have your blessing or your permission but, “Can I have your daughter” like she is property to be transferred.)

“You know she’s in love with me. She will go anywhere I go.”
(This can be a beautiful thing if you say to someone else I will follow you anywhere. However, in the song he is saying it more like, I can take her anywhere I want and she will go with me and you will lose her. It seems like a power trip.)

“I’m gonna punch your face
I’ll make you go away
In the bottom of a lake”

“I may be a Christian,
But I’ll go to prison.
I’m not scared of doin’ hard time.”
(So Christian dad just wants you to know (in all love) if you insist on marrying his daughter and “taking her” he will have to kill you.)

“you think you’ll still take her”
(Again with the “taking”, as if she is an object he can just take against her will. Obviously she is not thinking clearly if she chooses a mate Daddy doesn’t like.)

A while back I wrote a post called, Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter. At the time it was a response to the rise of so called “Purity Balls”. In it I said, among other things,

My husband never asked my father’s permission to marry me. We also didn’t ask for his blessing. Not only that, I have a feeling if Kent would have asked him he would have said it wasn’t his decision to make.

Because it wasn’t.

It was mine. My life was mine to join to someone else’s. My future was in my hands. My heart was mine to give.

Once Kent and I decided that we were going to get married we told both my parents together. Simple.

My parents, wise as they are, knew that even though they had given me life, raised me and protected me, they did not have ownership of my heart and could not give the naming rights to whomever they chose as if I were a sports arena. They knew that even though they had dreams for me, and thoughts about how my life would turn out, those were not necessarily my dreams for myself. They knew that they had raised me to be independent, wise and trustworthy and they knew that they had given me more and more freedom to make choices, to try and fail and to try and succeed. They knew that if at some point I found the one person I wanted to give my heart to, that they had already done what they could to help me make the best choice. They knew that if I wanted advice I would ask them for it. And I did. Plenty. But they also knew, lovelies, that it was my decision to make. My heart. My future. My life. My choice…

I am proud to say, my husband and I are carrying on the proud tradition my parents started. We are our daughter’s parents, we are raising her to be strong, brave, independent, discerning and trustworthy. When the time comes I hope we don’t know about her proposal before she does. If her future spouse does come to us first, I know exactly what I will say, “She is not mine to give. Her heart is her own. You will need to ask her. It is her choice.”

 

 

#anothergospel immigration, contraception and patriotism edition

If the fertilized egg in the female American citizen is of more value to you than the Guatemalan child who has just crossed the border illegally…

If you believe Jesus would build a fence and a 130 million dollar church…

If you can believe that your business is a person and has more of a right to its beliefs than the actual humans who work for you…

If you see no irony in the same people harassing women for terminating a pregnancy AND telling a bus full of kids to go back to a country where their lives are in danger and that no one wants them…

If you think your interpretation of the Bible and reproductive science is more important than mine because you are my boss and you own the company…

If you believe love would sacrifice children to send a message or refuse to bake a cake…

If you believe Jesus would send some kids away so more wouldn’t come…

If you believe in profiting from contraceptives but not providing them…

If you believe God supports reproductive freedom for men but not women…

If you believe patriotism = Christianity…

If you believe the right to life begins at conception but ends at the southern border…

You’re damn right I believe another gospel.

Aside

Birth Control, the Supremes and You.

birth control

SCOTUS has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. I have seen primarily two types of reactions. On the one hand are my friends who see this as good news, a sort of mandate that will open the door to challenging all sorts of parts of the ACA. On the other hand are my friends who are disappointed with the Court’s decision this morning.

To all my friends, no matter your take on today’s ruling, I offer the following thoughts:

  1. This is a very narrow decision applying only to closely held corporations. A closely held corporation is a corporation where less than 5 individuals hold more than half of the shares. They are private companies and are not publicly held.
  1. This decision leaves the door open for the government to pick up the slack and pay for contraceptives themselves using tax dollars, including the tax dollars of the owners of Hobby Lobby.  Congress could also choose to impose a small tax on large corporations to make up for the coverage. Alito also noted in the majority opinion that employees of these companies could still obtain birth control through an accommodation introduced by President Obama for employees of religiously affiliated nonprofits. This program allows for the insurance companies to provide the coverage while not involving the employer.
  1. Even though Hobby Lobby has won this battle, it may lead to them losing the broader war. Don’t get me wrong; I think it is only a small step in that direction. In other words, someday when we look back at this decision, we may see that it directly contributed to America eventually adopting a single payer system.

BONUS: I do find it interesting that the court was quick to point out that this decision only applies to the birth control mandate and does not apply to other treatments that raise life and death questions, such as vaccinations and blood transfusions. They also made it clear that the ruling was not a free pass for companies to opt out of any law they consider incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Where do I stand personally on the decision of the court today? I will leave you with the words of a woman far more eloquent and learned than I, The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg who said in her blistering dissent,

“In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent. “

 

Additional Reading:

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eggh45efjj/top-20-largest-private-companies-in-america-2/

https://wordofawoman.com/2012/11/14/why-christian-companies-corporate-conscience-should-be-clear/

https://wordofawoman.com/2014/01/24/mike-huckabee-a-lesson-in-missing-the-point/

I Hope You Find Magic

Image

 

I want to talk to you about love for a minute.

Can you remember the last time someone looked at you like maybe you were magic? Has anyone ever looked at you like that? If not. I hope someday someone does. I wish that for EVERYONE.

Can you remember the last time you looked at someone and thought for a second they might be magic? Maybe they are. Maybe you are. Maybe I am. Maybe all of of us are looking for someone in this life who if just for a split second looks at us and sees something so beautiful that it defies physics and belief and time.

Call me sappy, but people, hold out for that. Hold out lovelies, not for someone who is perfect, or that you agree with on everything or that you never argue with, but hold out for someone who sees magic in you. Someone who you look at and see magic even if no one else does.

I just went and watched the Fault In Our Stars with my daughter. It was stunning and beautiful and I don’t care what anyone says, I loved it and I want my daughter and my son to find a love who looks at them and thinks they might be magic even if they are in the middle of pain that demands to be felt.

Yes, life happens. Yes there dishes and for some, diapers. Yes there is cancer and death and just general fuck-up-ed-ness  that cannot be denied in this life. But it is a privilege to live it. It is a privilege to get to love someone. It is a privilege many never get. So if you find someone like this. Take whatever small infinity* you are allowed and live it with abandon.

*Go see the movie and you will understand what I am talking about. And yes, this movie is for you. I don’t care who you are.

Sometimes I Grow Weary of the Fight Redeaux

This post was originally part of the Rachel Held Evans synchroblog event, One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality.  However I was reminded of it as we have waded through all the posts about the recent tragedy in California and the outpouring that is #YesAllWomen. I am in the process of writing a post which should be up tomorrow which weaves in the stories women sent to me after my own post, Sexual Assault and Me. In the meantime I have to admit that I am weary yet again. Some of you have expressed the same so I thought I would share this post with all of us again. I know I needed to hear it again.

I hate to admit it but sometimes…

I grow weary of the fight.

I want to retreat into my own marriage and life and let everyone else fend for themselves.

I feel like it is an uphill battle in which the hill is coated in grease and I am wearing skis.

I am just done asking for a seat at the table and just want to smash the table to bits.

I want to give up when I hear the things people say to me and other women I know about why they should be quiet and ask their husbands at home.

I mourn for the girls who are told that education is wasted on them and the only reason they should go to college is to find a husband.

I am discouraged when women I know choose to mute their own voices to keep the peace.

I get angry when pastors and leaders teach that because of my gender I am just a smidge less equal than my son or my husband or my father or any other man simply because he is a man.

I want to throw in the towel when rather than lifting up their sisters our brothers choose to stand on our backs to elevate themselves.

My heart breaks when I hear single women or women without children told that the highest calling of a woman is bearing children rather than loving God and loving her neighbor as herself.

My soul hurts when women who are abused are told that God will reward them for enduring the abuse of their husband.

The fight just goes right out of me when young women are taught that their voice should be muted so their husband’s can be heard.

I get so upset I can’t speak when women are blamed for the sexual sins of men because they look too good and then chastised for not “keeping themselves up” for their husbands.

The road seems too long when I listen to the voices of young men when they explain that they are looking for a Proverbs 31 woman and they think that means she should be ALL the things on that list in order to measure up. Rather than seeing it as a way to look for things she is doing well and praising her for them.

I die a little inside when I realize I still have to explain honor killings and acid attacks to my daughter.

I want to scream, “Stop comparing yourself to a woman you were never meant to be! Let your voice be heard! You are a fierce, beautiful, lovely creation of God meant to bear his image as much as any man!”

I want to whisper, “You are enough. You are loved just as you are. If you never DO another thing. You do not have to be anything except who God already made you.”

And then, sometimes…

I am reminded there are others out there throwing off the cone of silence and shouting to the heavens, “I have something to say! Jesus gave me this voice and these gifts. I was born a woman to reflect the image of God!”

I watch in amazement as others fumble with their keys to unlock the shackles of others in bondage to a set of rules God never put on them; rules that are kept in place by leaders who would never consider bearing the same burden themselves.

I gain strength from husbands and brothers and fathers who support and defend and practice mutual submission, and in the face of being accused of weakness and passivity they show a strength that shakes the earth and frees the captives.

My heart sings as I watch a young woman who would never consider muting herself as the way to attract a man of character but rather looks for a man who is strong enough to want to hear what she has to say.

I burst with joy when I see the tide turning as post after post, and book after book, and woman after woman, and marriage after marriage are spoken and written and unleashed and transformed from something that resembles at best a benevolent dictatorship into a beautiful dance of mutual respect, mutual submission and self-sacrificing love that reflects the relationship of the trinity.

I want to shout from the rooftops, “The tide is turning! It cannot be stopped! Jesus has come! Freedom has come! The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

I want to whisper, “Come quickly, Lord. Bring freedom to as many as possible. Let their voices, women and men, come together to lift each other up by outdoing each other in love and honor. Don’t let me lose heart. Give me strength to never give up because every person you made bears your image and their voices must be heard just as you made them for them to fully love you and others as you intended.”

Why is This Kiss News?

controversial_kisses_trek

 

Oh wait, that’s not the picture everyone was talking about? Nope, it isn’t. But it might as well have been. More about that later… Yesterday, someone (or rather, many someones) asked the above question on the interwebz beneath a picture of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend when he was selected by the Rams. “Why is this news?” The collective cry went up on social media. People called it all the usual descriptors “disgusting” and “abomination” being among the favorites. Some people lamented that “There are children watching.” Some wondered, “Why would ESPN would show such a thing?” And again many asked, “Why is this kiss news?”

 

jackie-robinson-e1399921380815Why is it news you ask? I’ll tell you why it’s news. First, it is news for the same reason Captain Kirk kissing Lieutenant Uhura was news; it makes people uncomfortable. It makes people uncomfortable now the same way it made people uncomfortable when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. People say the same things: it will ruin team chemistry; it will make the locker room awkward; it just isn’t natural. As far as the first two go, if you have played a sport or participated in gym class or belonged to a health club, you have already shared a locker room with LGBT people. Get over it. If you are worried about it, here is the link to a very handy article published by The Huffington Post a while back called, How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room. As for the last one, “it isn’t natural”, tell that to the 9 million people in the U.S. who identify as LGBT and the 1,500 species of animals that exhibit homosexual behaviors.

Second, it is news for the same reason as it is news when any other public figure (and sometimes regular folks) kisses…9 times out of 10 they are celebrating something. Think about it. People kiss when wars end. People kiss when their team wins. People kiss when they win anything: awards, games, elections, promotions…anything. People kiss when they have a baby and when they get married. People even kiss on the cheek to greet friends or when they are introduced at a party. People also kiss for weird reasons and make the news: when there are riots, when they start college or when they set world records. People kiss. It makes the news. It happens, literally literally (just for you Josh Mitchell) every day. Just most of the time people don’t notice because it doesn’t make them uncomfortable. I am hoping someday soon the picture of Michael Sam and his boyfriend kissing will seem as normal as these pictures of other athletes celebrating their victories…

 

kel brookSanyaRichardsRoss:aaron ross St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Pujols kisses his wife Deidre after the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers to win MLB's World Series baseball championship in St. Louis Chris Bosch Short Track Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 3 kyle busch bubbawatson Elway

Or these politicians…

inaugral ball mitt romneyLauraPresKiss

Or these entertainers…

SJP and MB at Oscars Perry:brand grammys brad and angie SAG awards jayz-and-beyonce-pda-kiss-grammy-awards-2014-lead matthew mcconaughey best actor oscar

Or these everyday people…

Vancouver_riot_kissing_couple vj

Listen lovelies, people like kissing (we even like pictures of animals “kissing”). They like to kiss and be kissed. And yes, many even like to see other people kiss. I have a theory as to why. Kissing is an outward sign that love still exists. Kissing means there is still hope for humanity; there is still hope that we can love and be loved. It is a sign that there are still things worth celebrating. And in times of uncertainty and fear, kissing is a sign that love can still win. For me that is what the Michael Sam kiss and all these other kisses represent. And that my friends is why kissing and this specific kiss are news. Good news.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/05/10/michael_sam_kiss_the_st_louis_rams_pick_the_openly_gay_missouri_star_in.html

Review: Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God by Frank Schaeffer

FSQUOTE

Between two worlds life hovers like a star, twixt night and morn, upon the horizon’s verge.  –Lord Byron
Have you ever felt like that? Like you were hovering between one truth and the next? Like when you know you are dreaming and yet somehow feel as though there is certain realness nonetheless? Perhaps it is not unlike the strange freedom I fell in not knowing the answers or even the questions and yet embracing Jesus as real and true and mine.

If we are honest with ourselves I think that we must admit that we have at least a modicum of uncertainty about all that we believe even if it is uncomfortable. In this new book, Frank once again invites us to embrace our doubts and admit that we are at once certain and uncertain. To quote Voltaire, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

If you are at a point in your life where you have already embraced this realty or are at least standing on the precipice ready to leap, then Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God is for you. In this beautifully written and hauntingly honest small volume, Frank Schaeffer once again reveals to us his heart. Not a cleaned up tissue paper cutout trimmed in lace, but his own bloody, beating heart that he has ripped out with his own hands and laid bare. At no point will you ever feel like Frank is trying to hide any part of his story. And though it is bloody, this work is also pulsing with life; Heartbreaking, breath giving, earth-shaking, faith giving, liberating life.

For me, this quote from the second chapter of Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God offers the best summary:

With the acceptance of paradox came a new and blessed uncertainty that began to heal the mental illness called certainty, the kind of certainty that told me that my job was to be head of the home and to order around my wife and children because “the Bible says so.” Embracing paradox helped me discover that religion is a neurological disorder for which faith is the only cure.

 

 

My Privilege

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 12.49.31 PM

You may have seen a Buzzfeed quiz going around lately titled “How Privileged Are You?” Well, I took it and above you can see my results.  ^^^

Funny thing about privilege, growing up I didn’t know I had it. Now, however, I understand that by virtue of the color of my skin, my sexual orientation and my family history, I have benefitted tremendously from the simple circumstances of my birth.

Don’t believe in privilege or simply don’t believe it has that much of an effect on life? I humbly submit that you may be more privileged than you think. That is the thing about privilege, it is a filter through which one sees every facet of life, and it is a filter that is inborn. It is only through education and relationships with others who do not experience the benefits our privileges provide that we are able to begin to see the need for change.

A quick note: I am by no means an expert in this area and it is really only in the last few years that I have begun to be educated on this topic, even having been raised by parents who taught me that men and women, rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, etc., were all equal in the eyes of God.

Another quick note: you can be privileged in one area and completely not privileged in another. I think of it kind of like a continuum. That is why I kind of appreciated the BuzzFeed quiz, as non-scientific as it is. Yes I am white but I am also female. Yes I have money now, but I didn’t always. Here’s the thing though, the statement above is pretty right on. I have had a few struggles in my life, but I have also had many, many advantages that had ZERO to do with me and everything to do with who, where, when, and to whom I was born.

I would now like to share with you an excerpt from The President’s Devotional by Joshua DuBois,

NOVEMBER 5 – KEEPING WATCH

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of the change in the air –however slight– lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.  –Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglass, letter to the Young Lawyers Section of the Washington State Bar Association

Let’s keep watch. Let’s perceive the slow creep of oppression, wherever it might move. Let’s be aware of the darkness in our world–or even in our own soul–that seeks, like fungus to grow.

When we see it, or feel it, we pray that Christ would come into it and strike it out, making us new. We will not be victims. Nor will we be oppressors. No–today, we will keep watch.

Dear God, open my eyes not just to blessings but also to the potential of evil in the world. And when I perceive it, help me move against it. Amen.

We read this installment with our kids a few weeks ago and I was reminded of a Facebook post by my friend Markeetia McKinnis, which I shared with my children and husband on the spot at the breakfast table. As I read it aloud again, I couldn’t make it through without choking back tears. You see, this post helped me be more aware of my own inborn privilege and that of my children. Sharing it with them and with you is a small way in which I can strike out the slow creep of oppression:

As I wind down on this last day in Black History month, I reflect on how far the world has changed from when I was little black girl growing up in Mississippi to now a black mother of three residing in Texas. Some changes for the better….progress. Some changes for the worse. BUT, It is true, we are a different world. We have become a better people. We can now all drink from the same fountains. Attend the same schools. Aim for the same goals. Play the same sports….Through the worlds view, we are better. Even through this black mothers view, I feel on the majority of days, we are better. AND then there are those days when you’re driving with your husband and you’re stopped and the white officer calls him a boy in front of your kids. Or the day when the black President is re-elected and your kid comes home from school with tears in his eyes because he’s heard the N word for the first time. [her children attend school with my children at a private Christian school].Or the day you have date night with the hubby and you walk into Neiman’s and you’re followed around the store. OR the day when you’re out with your husband and people keep stopping you, because they think he’s a ball player. OR the day when you’re sitting during your kids American program feeling proud and then you realize that NOT ONE single black person was characterized during Black History Month. OR you realize that schools don’t even celebrate black history month anymore AND…..these are the days when you realize that despite how hard you’ve tried…this is your reality and you MUST educate your children…your black children. Because the reality is they are not only Americans….They are BLACK Americans. And unfortunately, they have a past that will follow them to heaven. So, you brace yourself for the why’s and the tears and the pain in their eyes….knowing that you can’t change their past. It is very much who they are. And unless we do them an injustice, we as their parents have to educate them on a world we as black people did not choose, but found ourselves being thrust in. A world that says it sees no color, but for the Black American that is so NOT our reality. I have had many tasks thrust upon me, but being a black mom is by far the most challenging. How much do you share? What EXACTLY do you say? I still have not quite figured that one out yet, SO I take it day by day and lesson by lesson. Allowing God to guide my heart and speech….Lately, I have taught them that they are who God says they are, not man. They are more than a color. That’s offensive, not cute. They are not brown, they are black. There history is more than just Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. They are walking on the backs of some of the greatest inventors and scientists in the world. They are more than just basketball players and runners, they are leaders and world changers. They are not projects, they are humans with hearts and desires. In the same breathe….as age appropriate as possible, I have taught them that they are the kid in the store with the hoodie on. They can’t do what everyone else does and get away with it. They cannot go everywhere, with everyone…even if all of there friends go. The same rules just don’t always apply. They are not rap music and slang talk -don’t allow people to disrespect you by assuming as much. They are not a statistic or JUST an athlete. They are the HEAD and not the TAIL. They are kings and queens. They are worthy….. I am slowly teaching them to “respect the struggle”….day by day…. #momminute #blackhistory #raisingblackkids#myworld

So, here is the thing, if you are a man you are privileged in some ways that women are not, no matter what race you are. If you are white you are privileged in some ways that minorities are not, even if you grew up poor. If you were born in the United States you are privileged in ways most of the world is not, no matter what other disadvantages you have had. There are so many more ways in which to be born privileged. I have been trying lately to examine my own filters. I think the quiz above can help you get started. Another thing you can try is if you are a man, ask some of the women in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a woman. If you are white, ask some of your friends who are not white to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a person of color. If you are straight, ask some of the LGBT people in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being LGBT. Then listen, and believe what they tell you. You might be surprised at what they have to say. It isn’t a lot, but it is a start.

For some other good educational reading on this topic…