The Day My Son Learned to Never Forget

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Today I went with my ten year old son’s class on a field trip to the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance. As we walked in and the docent explained the self guided tour devices we were all given my son stood and stared at the picture above.
I had decided beforehand to let him take the lead and be there right along with him to answer his questions. I thought this would enable him to take it in at his own pace and absorb the information in the way he could best handle it. I honestly wasn’t sure how he would react being that we had talked about the Holocaust in the past but never showed the kids any of the graphic and terrifying images.
Since I first heard that the fifth grade would be going on this field trip I have been thinking about my high school Government class and the three days we spent watching the documentary footage of the death camps of the Nazi’s. Much of the footage was silent and I was so disturbed by what I saw over those days that I was unable to eat or stop thinking about the people whose emaciated dead bodies I saw piled up on carts, pushed into mass graves by bulldozers and thrown into pits or onto bon fires by their fellow prisoners who were forced to do so by gun point.
So we walked, my son and I through the pictures and exhibits that had been collected in this small museum in the heart of Dallas. I watched in amazement as the 10 year old boy, who loves to talk to you about his passions and joke with his friends, became silent and went methodically through the museum listening to everything his recorded guide had to say about each item.

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After the permanent exhibits we viewed the special installation of children’s art from the camps. The pictures were beautiful, and haunting and heartbreaking. We learned that of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, 1.5 million of them were children under 15.
I was so proud of him. He didn’t try to keep up with his friends, he didn’t turn away. He just stared and listened and asked questions. Mom, are those really shoes from the people who were killed? Are those real bodies? Why did people hate the Jews? They did medical experiments on that guy? Did they really kill the kids? How could anyone do this?

How indeed?
When we look at someone different than us and decide that they are less than us,
When we judge entire peoples as cursed by God and less than human,
When we begin to believe the lie that the world would be a better place if everyone just looked like, acted like and believed like me,
When we can look in the face of a child and rather than seeing something beautiful we see something we despise,
When we believe that it doesn’t concern us when others are harmed,
When we sit silently by and do nothing because to get involved puts us in danger too,
When we look the other way,
We begin the descent toward an evil which is unspeakable and unimaginable.
We must never forget.
We must show the pictures.
We must hear the stories.
We must not turn away.
We must be upstanders.

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The quote in the picture at the beginning of this post is from Albert Einstein who once said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Today I encourage us all to become what the Holocaust Museum referred to as upstanders. An upstander is a person who takes action, paricularly when the easiest or most acceptable course is to do nothing.
As with all of life it boils down to love. We must love our neighbors. All our neighbors. We must stand up and be counted on the side of love whenever and however possible. Sometimes that means we must stand in the gap and repel the forces of evil even when it means placing ourselves in harm’s way.
And…like my son learned today, we must never forget.

Women Need Men to Achieve Equality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slaves of all races needed and still need free people to fight with them to defeat slavery.
Blacks needed whites to stand in solidarity in order to roll back Apartheid and the Jim Crow laws.
The GLBTQI community  needs members of the heterosexual community to come along side them to find acceptance.
Jews needed Gentiles to stop the madness of Auschwitz and defeat the Third Reich.
Women need men to achieve equality in the church, in the home, in government and in the workforce.

The minority always needs at least a few members of the majority to stand in their corner and advocate on their behalf for the status quo to be challenged and for things to change.

The persecuted, the excluded, the oppressed, the enslaved, the unclean, the deformed and the sinners needed someone to tear down the wall that separated. (That is all of us)

The women, the men, the Jews, the Gentiles, the slaves, the free needed someone to tear down the dividing wall that separated them from each other.

Jesus is the obliterator of all that separated and separates us still. He came to rip it in half and to tear it down.

Today an amazing blog from J. R. Daniel Kirk a Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary came to my attention. It is called A Time to Speak. It is specifically about the issue of women in the church however the truths in it can be applied to more than just this issue.

Dear men, it is not enough to be supportive in your hearts. If your church is excluding women from service, you need to be creating opportunities to overturn that practice.
You need to speak. You need to ask.
Dear pastor, it is not enough to huddle with your buddies over beer or in your internet discussion room and talk about what a bunch of sexist bastards your fellow pastors are in your denomination.
If you are not working to change what women can do, you are promoting and sustaining the sexism that you deride in private.
If you are not opening up space in your church for women to preach and teach, you are promoting and sustaining the sexism that denies the truth of your women’s identity in Christ.
Dear seminary professor, your job is to be a change agent. Your job is to transform the way that your students, and their churches, think about and act on issues of gender.
It’s not enough to “know” that women should be able to do anything. You need to show your students, from your scripture study or theology, that this is God’s intention for the church.

This applies to all of us. If there is something you believe in, if there is an area where you know you should be speaking on behalf of the oppressed or excluded and you keep silent you are in effect promoting and sustaining that which you know is wrong. If you fail to speak up when your friend calls something or someone “gay” or you don’t come to the defense of a female coworker when she is called a bitch for being a strong leader, if you stand by when girls and women are silenced and discounted in the name of Jesus you participate and condone the very thing you disagree with in your heart. I believe this is what the Scriptures are talking about when they say a double-minded person is unstable in all their ways. When we will not stand up for our convictions we waver in our faith and become double minded.

He wraps up the post with this call to action:

We must create the kind of church that will receive not just our sons but our daughters, not just our brothers but our sisters, in the fullness of who God is making them to be, in Christ, by the Spirit.

If you believe in women’s equality, your calling is to act it out. If you’re not, don’t convince yourself that you’re being “wise” in biding your time while your sisters suffer. Wisdom is a convenient cover for fear, but not all silence is golden.

I for one have decided not to remain silent anymore. This blog is my attempt to speak into the world a message of love and acceptance, freedom and hope. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and the gates have been flung wide