My First Year of Blogging – 2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. See what’s happened since Lisa started her blog on May 8, 2014.

Here’s an excerpt:

The busiest day of the year was October 16th with 81 views. The most popular post that day was 5 Controversial Statements about Race and Gender I’ve Really Wanted to Post on My Blog but Haven’t – Until Now.

Click here to see the complete report.

Is There Any Way to Help Her Believe Me When I Say, to Me and Many Others, His (Black) Life Does Matter?

In the aftermath of the Ferguson riots last night, a young mama of a beautiful infant boy has posted several things on Facebook lamenting – seriously lamenting, bitterly lamenting, heart-wrenchingly lamenting – the idea that her son’s life does not matter in this crazy world. After praying and crying over her posts, I tried to formulate an encouraging response, but I’m not sure it was enough to convince her. It read:

I’m so sorry you hurt in this way. I am sorry we live in a world where these feelings are fostered by those who hate. I pray you will see that your sweet baby’s life does matter to many. It matters to those who are working tirelessly to create change and promote understanding.

I in no way want to downplay your real concern that this message needs to be heard. That people need to speak out against injustice. That too many are indeed callous towards the lives of others. That there is much work to do to combat hatred and bigotry. I just want to be one voice to bring you hope in this despair.

Keep posting pictures of your beautiful baby boy. Keep letting others see your joy in being his mommy. This is a bright spot in an ugly world and often makes me smile as I scroll through my feed. You keep spreading good. I’ll keep speaking on your behalf. And prayerfully, your little boy will grow up in a better world than the one we have experienced.

What does it take to convince someone that people of other cultures and colors do actually care? What does it take to undo the harm so many others have brought? What does it take to help us all see beyond what we’ve been conditioned (rightly or wrongly) to see? I don’t know. But let’s do keep trying.

4 Reasons You Should Vote Today – Even If You’re Sick of Politics

I was always an enthusiastic voter. I voted as soon as I was old enough and was proud and excited to take my daughter to her first experience at the polls when she turned 18. Yes, I was enthusiastic about voting – until about the last decade. There have been several times I almost decided not to go to the polls because I’m fed up with the whole political scene. I am tired of my party offering up candidates that are an embarrassment. And I’m especially disgusted with the idea that I can’t trust that anyone is really telling the truth – about themselves, about other candidates, about the issues at hand. I used to like doing my research to ensure I was an informed voter. The process now just wearies me. So, what keeps me going to the polls? Here are a few thoughts that keep me motivated and I hope they will motivate you, too.

1. Voting is your right. We protect the right to vote by voting.

Don't give up your right to vote.

Don’t give up your right to vote.

2. Voting is your privilege. Insightful discussion is abounding on the idea of “checking your privilege” (see some great links below). The Oxford Dictionary defines privilege as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.”

The “check your privilege” movement is meant to … well, I’m not sure what it’s meant to do. In some cases it seems to promote discussion between privileged groups and those without said privileges. In other cases, it appears to be a quick come-back meant to stifle discussion by telling the one perceived to be privileged they have no right to speak on a matter because they have not experienced the hardships of the group most harmed by the issue at hand.

For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to broaden the concept of privilege beyond the borders of the United States. Compared to many other nations, we are privileged with our system of government. Others, like those currently protesting in Hong Kong, are still fighting for the rights and privileges we take for granted.

One notion in the “check your privilege” concept, at least by some, is the challenge to use whatever privilege you do have for the good of others. This I wholeheartedly support. As US citizens, we should exercise our privilege to vote because it can impact the lives of those less fortunate both here and abroad.

3. Voting is your responsibility.  Voting is a civic duty that has a lasting impact on future generations. I have been most apathetic about voting when the choices come down to the “lesser of two evils” in my thinking, when there’s no one I can really support. But if you think about it, keeping the worst of two evils from taking prominence really can be turned into a motivator.

4. Voting is the credibility behind any complaining or protesting you’d like to do. I’ve been happy to see the “get out the vote” campaigns in the midst of the protests over the Mike Brown shooting in my St. Louis county, which includes Ferguson, Missouri. Now, I want to see a good voter turn-out as a result. I’m tempted to say all future protestors of voting age must wear their “I Voted” stickers to the next rally or not be allowed to protest. And, please, tell me you voted before you go into any kind of social media rant on the state of the world. Otherwise, I may be tempted not to listen to you at all.

Yes, I may be tempted to hold my ears while you try to speak if you haven’t voted at the end of the day, but I won’t. After all, one of the goals of this blog is to bring everyone to the table for good dialogue. So, if you don’t vote, maybe we can start with that. Why don’t you vote? What would it take to get you to vote? And if you are an enthusiastic voter, or an “I’ll still force myself to vote” person like me, do you  have any reasons to add to my list?

 

Further reading to get you thinking about the idea of privilege:

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-origins-of-privilege

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117665/princeton-essay-check-your-privilege-raises-legitimate-gripes

http://theprincetontory.com/main/checking-my-privilege-character-as-the-basis-of-privilege/

http://blog.shrub.com/archives/tekanji/2006-03-08_146

http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/how-privileged-are-you

5 Controversial Statements about Race and Gender I’ve Really Wanted to Post on My Blog but Haven’t – Until Now

If you’ve read much on my blog at all, you’ve probably noticed I’m a promoter of peace. I encourage people to look at all sides of an issue and strive for healthy dialogue. You’ll see on my “About This Blog” page, that one of my goals from the start was to bring people “to the table” and let their voices be heard. Among the six goals I list for the blog is the following:

Conversation – I believe the best solutions come when we do life in community. Whether we’re looking for answers to global problems, theological debates, or just day-to-day conundrums, we’ll take a look at varying opinions and develop an ear to really listen and hear what others think and feel about the issues at hand. Open-mindedness and civility will be part of our core values, but that doesn’t mean we’ll tip-toe around the issues.

Tonight I’m wondering why I’VE been tip-toeing around the issues that are very important to me. Why am I not really letting MY voice be heard?

I can come up with several answers that sound good on the surface. For instance, I’ve kind of prided myself on the fact that as much as I’ve written on the topic of Ferguson/Mike Brown (nine posts), I’ve not tipped my hand to let people know where I stand on the particulars of the situation. In this case, I’ve viewed myself more as the moderator than the debater. But I do have some definite opinions on the matter (get ready, they’re coming below).

Then there’s the issue of gender equality. As a woman pastor, I have experienced much opposition, discrimination and even hateful behavior in my life. And yet, I have only one post in the category of gender issues here. For that, I really have no excuses.

After writing those last two paragraphs, it seems obvious to me why my blog has not accomplished the goal of creating the dialogue I had hoped. How can I expect others to be comfortable expressing their opinions if I’m not comfortable expressing my own? So, with no more ado, here’s my list of controversial things I’ve wanted to say on my blog but haven’t. It’s a partial list, but it’s a start.

1. “Stop snitching” is no different than cops covering for cops. If you hate one you have to hate the other. If you oppose one, you have to oppose the other. If you protest against one, you have to protest against the other. They are the same thing. Both hide the truth. Both give preference to the perpetrator over the victim. Both hinder justice.

2. I am sick of the hate mongering of racists and sexists, especially from those who profess to be Christians. You might be a racist or a sexist if …

  • The only social media posts you make are about how despicable the “other side” is. Can you seriously not see one valid point your “opposition” is making?
  • You post ugly stories about the other gender or another race to justify the ugly stories you see about your own. You don’t post these stories to show how sad the situation is, or to foster discussion with the opposition. You do it to stir up your side in anger. You do it solely to prove this is why your side is “provoked” into doing the ugly things it’s doing.
  • Your side has done absolutely nothing wrong, ever.

3. Wal-Mart is not the same as Woolworth. The sit-ins at the Woolworth stores in the 60s made sense. Woolworth had a policy of denying blacks the right to sit and eat at their lunch counters. The sit-ins there showed courage and took action against the actual perpetrator of the injustice. It is not the same with Wal-Mart and the shooting of John Crawford. Wal-Mart just happened to be the location where a terrible tragedy occurred. If you want to stage a protest that actually convinces the other side to hear you out, do it in a location and a manner that makes sense. Shutting down a business that was an “innocent bystander,” and creating loss of income for the employees, only furthers the annimosity of those who are prone to turn a deaf ear to you in the first place.

4. To completely throw your support behind Officer Darren Wilson before all the facts are known is just as incredulous as throwing all your support behind Mike Brown before all the facts are known. Yet, again, both sides see the injustice on the one side, but not on their own. I am flabbergasted.

5. I will not have my “role” in the church, society or home defined by the curse found in Genesis 3. I do not understand how the ONLY result of the curse which is defined as “God’s creative order” or “original plan” is the one line that says man shall rule over woman. In every other aspect of the curse – the serpent will now crawl on its belly, woman will have pain in childbirth, man will have to struggle with the earth to get his food – no one will say those things are God’s original plan or desire. They are all seen as the results of sin and the fallen state. Yet, man’s rule over woman is not? I understand that a full theology of the roles of men and women must encompass the whole of Scripture, but how can we even move on to further discussion if the foundational premise is this flawed?

I was wondering how I was going to conclude this seemingly hodgepodge list post, but as I wrote that last sentence the connection of all the points became clear to me. The basic issue behind all of these controversies is the inability, or unwillingness, of one side to concede ANY point to the other. Likewise, there is a failure to recognize ANY common ground.

One place of commonality for those active in the causes of both gender issues and racial equality is supposedly a call for justice. So, let’s start by talking about justice itself – with open minds and open hearts – with a true desire to have justice for ALL. It might start by asking questions like the following and really listening to the perspective of the other. Where do you feel like I have been unjust? Do I come across as saying justice for me is more important than justice for you? How can we work together more effectively for the cause of justice? What will a just society really look like?

And more specifically in the realm of Christian dialogue on these matters, our common framework is supposed to be the love of Christ. So, the questions to start with might be … How do you feel I have been unloving towards you in this debate? Is our approach to this issue showing Christ’s love towards each other and to the world?

Now that I’ve overcome my hesitations and thrown all this out there in the blogosphere, I’m sure I’ll have some follow-up posts. I hope you will join me at the table today and in the days to come.

Justice AND Mercy, Truth AND Love

Justice AND Mercy, Truth AND Love

This video was a perfect backdrop to the prayer I shared earlier in regards to the issues we are facing here in North County, St. Louis in the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown. So often we want only one component of God’s plan. We separate out things that should go together – Justice AND Mercy, Truth AND Love. We also separate ourselves from others based on which end of the spectrum we want to align ourselves with, but the ultimate answer lies in alignment with the fullness of God’s commands. Micah 6:8 follows the instructions to “do justice and love mercy” with “walk humbly with your God.” It is difficult for us to find the balance between extremes. That is why we must humbly acknowledge that God’s ways are better than our ways and seek His guidance in these times. The two sides will only come together when both acknowledge the need for both justice and mercy, both truth and love.