Intermezzo: Ode to Dr. Seuss on Dr. Seuss Day

I am certainly not the brilliant versifier that Dr. Seuss was, but here is my small and feeble attempt to pay homage to a man now being canceled for his crimes against the “woke.”

2021-03-02 Ode to Dr, Seuss

It must be a very very sad day
When people say that you cannot say
The very kind things in your mind today.
It must be a very sad sad day.

Poems so innocent and sweet
Intended for people to use to greet
Each other whenever their faces meet,
Instead are accused of a terrible deed.

Using words one should not teach
To children as they are beyond their reach
To understand what old folks preach
That some words should not be in your speech.

Maybe Babar boosts the Taliban.
Should Jack and Jill from our schools be banned?
Mother Goose may be a madam
And Father Christmas too much a man.

I guess the woke will get their say
To shut down any other way
Than what they allow in your essay,
But I say it is a sad sad day.

Cancel Culture in the USACancel Culture in the USA

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Petr Svab; Experts’ Warning

This is a rather long piece compared to my usual blogs of ~1000 words, but well worth reading.  C.S. Lewis once wrote: “A tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.  The robber baron’s cruelty may sometime be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment without end for they do so with the approval of their conscience[s].”  Read on and pray for the USA.  This article has minor formatting and grammatical edits from the original.

Ideological Alignment Pushing America Toward Totalitarianism

2021-01-21 Intermezzo Blog by Petr Svah
The US Flag at half-mast in front of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

Concerns about the nexus of big tech, big media, and big government.
By Petr Svab  January 20, 2021; Updated: January 21, 2021

The formation of a totalitarian state is just about complete in America as the most powerful public and private sector actors unify behind the idea that actions to stamp out dissent can be justified, according to several experts on modern totalitarian ideologies.

While many have warned about the rise of fascism or socialism in “the land of the free,” the ideas have largely been vague or fragmented, focusing on individual events or actors.  Recent events, however, indicate that seemingly unconnected pieces of the oppression puzzle are fitting together to form a comprehensive system, according to Michael Rectenwald, a retired liberal arts professor at New York University.

But many Americans, it appears, have been caught off guard or are not even aware of the newly forming regime, as the idea of elected officials, government bureaucrats, large corporations, the establishment academia, think tanks and nonprofits, the legacy media, and even seemingly grassroot movements all working in concert toward some evil purpose seems preposterous.  Is a large portion of the country in on a conspiracy?

The reality now emerges that no massive conspiracy was in fact needed — merely an ideological alignment and some informal coordination, Rectenwald argues.  “Despite the lack of formal overarching organization, the American socialist regime is indeed totalitarian, as the root of its ideology requires politically motivated coercion,” he told The Epoch Times.  The power of the regime is not yet absolute, but it is becoming increasingly effective as it erodes the values, checks, and balances against tyranny established by traditional beliefs and enshrined in the American founding.

The effects can be seen throughout society. Americans, regardless of their income, demographics, or social stature are being fired from jobs, getting stripped of access to basic services such as banking and social media, or having their businesses crippled for voicing political opinions and belonging to a designated political underclass.  Access to sources of information unsanctioned by the regime is becoming increasingly difficult.  Some figures of power and influence are sketching the next step, labelling large segments of society as “extremists” and potential terrorists who need to be “deprogrammed.”

While the onset of the regime appears tied to events of recent years — the presidency of Donald Trump, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, the Capitol intrusion of January  6 — its roots go back decades.

Is It Really Totalitarian?
Totalitarian regimes are commonly understood as constituting a government headed by a dictator that regiments the economy, censors the media, and quells dissent by force.  That is not the case in America, but it is also a misunderstanding of how such regimes function, literature on totalitarianism indicates.

To claim power, the regimes do not initially need to control every aspect of society through government.  Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist Workers Party in Nazi Germany, used various means to control the economy, including gaining compliance of industry leaders voluntarily, or through intimidation, or through replacing the executives with party loyalists.

Similarly, the regime rearing its head in America relies on corporate executives to implement its agenda voluntarily but also through intimidation by online brigades of activists and journalists who take initiative to launch negative PR campaigns and boycotts to progress their preferred societal structure.

Also, Hitler initially did not control the spread of information via government censorship but rather through his brigades of street thugs, the “brown shirts,” who would intimidate and physically prevent his opponents from speaking publicly.  The tactic parallels the often successful efforts to “cancel” and “shut down” public speakers by activists and violent actors, such as Antifa.  Dissenting media in America have not been silenced by the government directly as of yet. 

But they are stymied in other ways.  In the digital age, media largely rely on reaching and growing their audience through social media and web search engines, which are dominated by Facebook and Google.  Both companies have in place mechanisms to crack down on dissenting media.  Google gives preference in its search results to sources it deems “authoritative.”  Search results indicate the company tends to consider media ideologically close to it to be more authoritative.  Such media can then produce hit pieces on their competitors, giving Google justification to slash the “authoritativeness” of the dissenters.  Facebook employs third-party fact checkers who have the discretion to label content as “false” and thus reduce the audience on its platform.  Virtually all the fact checkers focused on American content are ideologically aligned with Facebook.

Attempts to set up alternative social media have run into yet more fundamental obstacles, as demonstrated by Parler, whose mobile app was terminated by Google and Apple, while the company was kicked off Amazon’s servers.

To the degree that a totalitarian regime requires a police state, there is as yet no law in America targeting dissenters explicitly.  But there are troubling signs of selective, politically motivated enforcement.  Indicators go back to the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups or the difference in treatment received by former Trump adviser Lt. Gen Michael Flynn and former FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe — both allegedly lying to investigators but only one getting prosecuted.  The situation may get still worse as the restrictions tied to the CCP virus see broad swaths of ordinary human behavior being considered “illegal,” opening the door to nearly universal political targeting.

“I think the means by which a police state is being set up is the demonization of Trump supporters and the likely use of medical passports to institute the effective equivalent of social credit scores,” Rectenwald said.  While loyalty to the government and to a specific political party plays a major role, it is the allegiance to the ideological root of totalitarianism that gives it its foot soldiers, literature on the subject indicates.

Totalitarian Ideology
The element “that holds totalitarianism together as a composite of intellectual elements” is the ambition of fundamentally reimagining society — “the intention to create a ‘New Man,’” explained author Richard Shorten in Modernism and Totalitarianism: Rethinking the Intellectual Sources of Nazism and Stalinism, 1945 to the Present.

Various ideologies have framed the ambition differently, based on what they posited as the key to the transformation.  Karl Marx, co-author of the Communist Manifesto, viewed the control of the economy as primary, describing socialism as “socialized man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature,” in Das Kapital.

Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist Workers Party in Nazi Germany, viewed race as primary.  People would become “socialized” — that is transformed and perfected — by removing Jews and other supposedly “lesser” races from society, he claimed.

The most dominant among the current ideologies stem from the so-called “critical theories,” where the perfected society is defined by “equity,” meaning elimination of differences in outcomes for people in demographic categories deemed historically marginalized.  The goal is to be achieved by eliminating the ever-present “white supremacy,” however the ideologues currently define it.

While such ideologies commonly prescribe collectivism, calling for national or even international unification behind their agenda, they are elitist and dictatorial in practice as they find mankind never “woke” enough to follow their agenda voluntarily.  In Marx’s prophecies, the revolution was supposed to occur spontaneously.  Yet it never did, leading Vladimir Lenin, the first head of the Soviet Union, to conclude that the revolution will need leadership after all.

“The idea is that you have some enlightened party … who understand the problem of the proletariat better than the proletariat does and is going to shepherd them through the revolution that they need to have for the greater good,” explained James Lindsay, author of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity — and Why This Harms Everybody.”

Elements of this intellectual foundation can be found in ideologies of many current political forces, from neo-nazis and anarcho-communists, through to progressives and to some extent even neoliberals and neoconservatives, Lindsay acknowledged.  “This is why you see so many people today saying that the only possible answers are a full return to classical liberalism or a complete rejection of liberalism entirely as fatally disposed to create progressivism, neoliberalism, etc.,” he said.

That is not to say these ideologies are openly advocating totalitarianism but rather that they inevitably lead to it.  The roadmap could be summarized as follows:

  1. There is something fundamentally and intolerably wrong with current reality.
  2. There is a plan to fix it requiring a whole society buy-in.
  3. People opposing the plan need to be educated about the plan so they accept it.
  4. People who resist the persuasion need to be reeducated, even against their will.
  5. People who will not accept the plan no matter what need to be removed from society.

“I think that is the general thrust,” Lindsay said. “We can make the world the way we want it to be if we all just get on the same page and same project. It is a disaster, frankly.”

Points Four and Five Now Appear To Be In Progress.
Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos recently labeled the widespread questioning of the 2020 election results as “violent extremism,” which social media companies should eradicate the same way they countered online recruitment content from the ISIS terrorist group.  The “core issue,” he said, “is that we have given a lot of leeway, both in traditional media and on social media, to people to have a very broad range of political views” and this has led to the emergence of “more and more radical” alternative media like OAN and Newsmax.

Stamos then mused about how to reform Americans who have tuned into the dissenters.  “How do you bring those people back into the mainstream of fact-based reporting and try to get us all back into the same consensus reality?” he asked in a CNN interview.
“And can you? Is that possible?” CNN host Brian Stelter added.

The logic goes as follows: Trump claimed the election was stolen through fraud and other illegalities.  That has not been proven in court and is thus false.  People who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and managed to break inside and disrupt the electoral vote counting did so because they believed the election was stolen.  Therefore, anybody who questions the legitimacy of the election results is an extremist and potentially a terrorist.

With tens of thousands of troops assembled to guard the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) recently told CNN that all guard members who voted for Trump belong to a “suspect group” that “might want to do something,” alluding to past leaders of other countries who were “killed by their own people.”

Former FBI Director James Comey recently said the Republican party needs to be “burned down or changed.”

“They want a one party state,” commented conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza in a recent podcast.  “That is not to say they do not want an opposition.  They want a token opposition.  They want Republicans where they get to say what kind of Republican is okay.”

Just as Marx blamed the ills of the world on capitalists and Hitler on Jews, the current regime tends to blame various permutations of “white supremacy.”

“Expel the Republican members of Congress who incited the white supremacist attempted coup,” said Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) in a recent tweet, garnering some 300,000 likes.  She was referring to the Republican lawmakers who raised objections on Jan. 6 to election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania.  Their objections were voted down.

“Can U.S. Spy Agencies Stop White Terror?” Daily Beast’s Jeff Stein asked in a recent headline, concluding that a call for “secret police” to sniff out “extremist” Americans “may well get renewed attention.”  Under the regime, allegations of election fraud — de facto questioning the legitimacy of the leader — have become incitement of terrorism.  YouTube (owned by Google), Facebook, and Twitter have either banned content that claims the election was rigged or are furnishing it with warning labels.  Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey was recently recorded as saying that banning the president’s account was just the beginning.  This approach closely mirrors that of the Chinese communist regime, which commonly targets dissidents for “subverting” the state or “spreading rumors.”

What Is The Alternative?
If calls for radically reorganizing the world are inherently totalitarian, how is the world to avoid them?  The question appears to be its own answer.  If totalitarianism inherently requires allegiance to its ideology, it cannot exist in a society with a lack of such allegiance.

The United States were founded on the idea that individual rights are God-given and unalienable.  The idea, rooted in traditional beliefs that human morality is of divine origin, stands a bulwark against any attempt to assail people’s rights even for their own good.

“If you are not a believer in actual God, you can posit a God’s ideal on the matter … We have to posit some arbiter who is above and beyond our own prejudices and biases in order to ensure these kinds of rights. … Because otherwise you have this infinitely malleable situation in which people with power and coercive potential can eliminate and rationalize the elimination of rights willy-nilly,” Rectenwald said.

Black Lives Matter: Shepherds or Thieves?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Jesus, John 10:10 

BLM tries to portray itself as a shepherd of the black community, all the while raising racial tensions and alienating the very people who would help them if they acted on Martin Luther King’s principles of peaceful protest.  MLK would be appalled to see black men and women demanding that Black Lives Matter more than any other color or ethnicity.  Remember his dream, “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  Curiously, this beacon of hope for minority communities in the mid-1900s is rarely, if ever, quoted by Black Lives Matter leaders or speakers.

Black Lives Matter was never a grass roots organization, but rather a consortium of Marxists who mask their communist and fascist sympathies under a veneer of racial injustice.  The grass roots part has taken on characteristics far different from their statement of being “restorative,” anti-racist and egalitarian, “building a beloved community to cultivate a communal network” that “practices justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.”

The first question to ask rioters destroying police cars, buildings and private property is, “How is this bringing ‘peace in our engagements with one another’?”
If black lives really mattered to Black Lives Matter, the corporation, why do the rioters not distinguish between white and black policemen and policewomen when they are throwing bricks and molotov cocktails?
If black lives really mattered to Black Lives Matter, why do they graffiti and destroy black owned businesses without discrimination?
If black lives really mattered to Black Lives Matter, why do they not address the black-on-black violence that takes more lives in a month than police kill in years?
If black lives really mattered to Black Lives Matter, why are they destroying the fabric of communities that invite resources to come there?
If black lives really mattered to Black Lives Matter, why do they not address the pillaging of a Florida WalMart by an almost entirely black mob or the trashing of a Nashville mini golf course?

If black lives really mattered to Black Lives Matter, why are they not addressing what some activists are calling “womb lynching” of black babies?

In the late 70s Jesse Jackson called abortion “murder” and once told a black newspaper in Chicago that “we used to look for death from the man in the blue coat and now it comes in a white coat.”

“According to a city Health Department report released in May, between 2012 and 2016 black mothers terminated 136,426 pregnancies and gave birth to 118,127 babies. By contrast, births far surpassed abortions among whites, Asians and Hispanics.” (WSJ, Jason Riley).  At a ratio of 474 abortions per 1,000 live births across the entire US (more than 40%!), black women have the highest ratio of any group in the country.

Writing in Commentary magazine, Jason Hill, a professor of philosophy at DePaul University, noted the hypocrisy of groups like Black Lives Matter, who “want white people to esteem black lives and value the humanity of black people when they themselves can’t condemn and express moral outrage at those who maim and kill black children in the course of gang warfare, senseless street violence, and drive-by shootings.
“The moral hysteria raised by a few incidents of police brutality in the face of this larger national tragedy is reckless hyperbole and hides from the nation a deep malaise at work in the psyche of some in the black community: a form of self-hatred that manifests itself in a homicidal rage not fundamentally against white people, but against other black people.”

It is intriguing is that Planned Parenthood does not support black lives, though the abortion giant supports Black Lives Matter.

“When you combine the amount of black violent behavior directed at other blacks with the number of pregnancies terminated by black women, the rate at which blacks willingly end the lives of one another is chilling and far surpasses what goes on within other racial and ethnic groups. Racial disparities in abortion rates are no less disturbing than racial disparities in income, crime, poverty and school suspensions. Why are the people who want to lecture the rest of us about the value of black lives pretending otherwise?” (Jason Riley, a black syndicated columnist)

As for the racism of BLM, now a white actor is not even allowed to voice a black cartoon character!  So how does one address the portrayal of historical figures like Aaron Burr, Angelica Schuyler and her sisters, Hercules Mulligan, George Eaker and others in Hamilton by excellent, but much more melanized, actors than the real historical figures?  The cries of systemic racism ring hollow when they are voiced by “anti-racists” who are more racist than those they are protesting. 

Many black authors and pundits would certainly agree, as I do, that black lives matter.  But my black friends do not have any qualms about asserting Chinese lives matter; Asian Indian lives matter; Australian lives matter; Mongolian lives matter; Dutch lives matter; Egyptian lives matter; yes, all lives matter.  Because it is not the color of the skin that matters.

As one pundit said: “the problem is not skin; the problem is sin.
The solution is not race; the solution is grace.” 
We must not confuse racism and injustice.  Racism cannot be fixed with legislation.  That is a posture of the human heart.  A conscious or unconscious feeling of superiority and partiality of one color of skin over another one is not subject to legal definition or prosecution. 

Racism, as an attitude of the heart, does not affect another person until the racist acts on that attitude.  That is when injustice occurs and we must strive as Christ-followers to help laws protect others from injustice, even if the racist refuses to allow his heart to change. Jesus changes the heart . . . Laws protect us from those whose hearts won’t change.”  (Dr. Dharius Daniels

Remember under all this, there is one race, the human one, and we are all no more than six degrees of separation from any other brother or sister, no matter what their melanin content.  “We are all actually the same color . . . from our melanin; we’re just different shades of the same color.  Just because you don’t have as much melanin as I do, don’t you dare think God does not love you as much as he loves me, just because He gave me more!”  (Vodde Baucham)

Gentleness In An Angry World

2020-06-15 Gentleness In An Angry World
This guest blog was what was intended for posting last Saturday, June 13, 2020, but was delayed because of WordPress’s frustratingly opaque system of sites added on top of each other that resulted in my losing control of THIS site when I deleted ‘dummy sites’ on which I was trying to practice.  Talk about an object lesson!  So I need to read this over a few times to relearn its lessons that Ms. Laura presents.

The context for this blog is the current outrage in our nation, the intention to “defund the police” in various cities and threats of violence to resolve the tragic murder by police officers of an unarmed black man, George Floyd.  This is compounded by the tension that has been building up under “stay-at-home” orders from the Wuhan Virus restrictions that have messed up so many incomes and family structures.

Laura H. calls us to rediscover the aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, GENTLENESS, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:22-24)

by Laura H. of Christar;
Our world is angry, fed up and disgusted about so much right now. It aches for renewal and restoration. Everyone’s got an opinion on everything. On social media, we scream at each other and into echo chambers, furious about racial injustice, police brutality, wearing masks, not wearing masks, economic relief, overcoming the pandemic, all while we wade through a political madness thick with derision.

These things must matter to us who follow Christ. I want you to care and fight for what is right. I want you to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. But, pick a current event and you and I will certainly find something we disagree about.

Let’s complicate matters and layer our global and national turmoil onto our personal piles of struggle. What cracks in your peace become harsh footholds for erosion and brokenness to take hold? For me, it’s my depression, my stress about my café surviving a pandemic, my deep sadness about my family’s current grief, my unfulfilled career goals. What is keeping you up at night that has little to do with the rest of the world’s issues: your panic attacks, your financial worry, your unfulfilled dreams, your craving for approval?

Under all of this, how can you and I demonstrate gentleness in this world? How can we humbly co-exist with differing viewpoints? Even within our churches and mission organizations, how do we settle on an agreement to keep from arguing with each other because our theology differs? Is it even possible?

If you, my African-American sister in Christ, do not sense that I care about your black life, will you ever feel comfortable serving beside me? If you see no point in wearing masks, but I do, will I not resent you for your ignorance and won’t you in turn resent me for my naiveté? If, in five years, you, a Republican, find yourself on the field on the same team with me, a Democrat, will we irritate each other?

Life on the field has just as much conflict and dissension. If our societal and personal conflicts continue to muddle the waters of our teams and our relationships, how can we ever move past pain and distrust on the field? And if we can’t do that, how will we show the world what reconciliation even is? And if we aren’t willing to humbly reduce our tendencies to badger one another, reducing His message of hope to screaming our truth and retreating to our like-minded safety nets, how will Christ’s name be glorified? But it is also not enough to plug our ears and do nothing. So what can we do?

There are a million steps to get to a place in life where these questions reach resolution, but gentleness, manifested as a humble, uninhibited effort toward “bearing with one another” (Ephesians 4:2), is a good place to start.

Gentleness shows up in a heart-felt apology when you realize you have wronged a sibling, a boss or a teammate.
It is in the patience for a neighbor who puts up political signs you plan to vote against.
It shows up in a peaceful protest for justice.
It is asking grieving friends how you can help, sitting with them as they weep.
It is humbly considering if your worldview needs to be realigned after years of assumptions that you are right and others are wrong.
It is listening more than you talk.
It is speaking up when silence sends the wrong message.

We feel the heaviness of our world. So does our Lord. During His years on this earth, Jesus was tired. He was grieved. He was moved with compassion. He wept. It is right to wrestle with the weightiness of a world awaiting renewal as we prepare for cross-cultural ministry right here, right now. We are permitted to struggle as we work to reconcile our view of the world with a life modeling Christ. Jesus was “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). He is the calm, the peace and the rest for the weary.

As you reflect on all the heavy issues our world and nation are working through, humbly allow God to help you grow in your ability to approach and respond to hard situations with gentleness.

Intermezzo: Condoleeza Rice for President? 😉

2020-06-08 Rice for President

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek as the former Secretary of State acknowledges at the end of this CBS interview that she is not currently interested in the political arena.  However, her demeanor, her unifying words and gracious acknowledgement of individual responsibilities to make a difference in our society raises my esteem for her, and raises the question of who I would like to vote for in 2020.  She would definitely be at the top of my list as a woman of color who speaks with wisdom, compassion and forward-looking vision.

“I would ask the president to first and foremost speak in the language of unity, the language of empathy . . . I’ve heard the president talk about the resilience of Americans. I’d love to hear more of that.
“Twitter and tweeting are not great ways for complex thoughts, for complex messages.  When the president speaks, it needs to be from a place of thoughtfulness, from a place of having really honed the message so that it reaches all Americans.
“And by the way, not just the president.  I would love to hear this from our leaders in Congress on both sides of the aisle.  I would love to hear from mayors and from governors and from others.  Leaders at this particular point need to do everything that they can to overcome, not intensify our divisions.”

The interview with its transcription at the link here is worth your 13 minutes to hear.

Further, take a look at the excellent movie, Just Mercy, based on the true story of Bryan Stevenson’s search for justice for death row inmates in Alabama.

This movie does not condone those who are guilty of crimes, but addresses the reality that Ms. Rice spoke of growing up in Alabama during the era of Jim Crow:  “But I will tell you, as somebody who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, Jim Crow Alabama, when if a black man was shot by a policeman, it wouldn’t have even been a footnote in the newspaper.”

These are complicated problems and require more than a Tweet or photo-op to resolve.  We need more leaders like Condoleeza Rice with desire to unify, heal and advance conservativism in American politics.

So, Condoleeza Rice for President?  We can dream. 🙂

How Long, Oh LORD, How Long?

Today’s blog is mostly quotes of wiser men and women than me as they try to lift us out of the morass of hatred into which our nation and the world is falling.  My heart grieves for George Floyd, his family, the blacks of our nation; our churches, our cities, our political, religious and social leaders; our law enforcers, our country and the world that is being deceived by the Evil One.  Yes, Virginia, there really is a devil, and he comes to kill and destroy. (John 10:10

“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
    and you will not hear?
Or cry to you ‘Violence!’
    and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity,
    and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
    so justice goes forth perverted.”
  Habakkuk 1:2-4

In a Facebook post reflecting on the [George Floyd] case, Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James called herself “frustrated and exhausted.” 
“Black Americans like myself sit up at night with all the normal fears any parent would have when their kids are out, but have to add to that worry that they may not make it home just because they are black males.
“I was stunned years ago when I realized that my white friends did not have have ‘the talk’ with their sons.”  

A Prayer of Lament by: Mark Vroegop  
“O Lord, how long will your church be divided along racial lines?  How long will the lingering effects of animosity, injustice, and pride mark your blessed bride?  How long, O Lord, will my white brothers and sisters not understand the pain in those whose experience is different than ours?  How long, O Lord, will my minority brothers and sisters struggle with distrust and feel ostracized?”  (Mark Vroegop has been the Caucasian Lead Pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis since 2008.)

“We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality.  We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability.  Every one of us needs to be a part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all.  My heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and the countless others whose lives have been brutally and senselessly taken through acts of racism and injustice.” Michael Jordan

“As the nation’s capital we applaud the American spirit of protest, especially protest to the federal government.  However, we will not allow continued destruction of our hometown.  Every single American should be outraged by the murder of George Floyd.  However, smashed windows and looting are becoming a bigger story than the broken system that got us here.  I want to implore our residents to think of ways to help and be part of the solution and not be part of the destruction.  We want your voices to be heard, but we also want to protect the safety of everyone in our city.”  Muriel Bowser, the African-American mayor of Washington, D.C.

“I’m duty-bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy.  It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you might be a house or refuge in times of organization, and now is the time to plot, plan, strategized, organize and mobilize. It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth.  It is time to hold mayoral offices accountable, chiefs and deputy chiefs.  Atlanta is not perfect, but we are a lot better than we ever were.” Michael Santiago Render, a rapper better known by his stage name, Killer Mike

“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.  This can be a real turning point if we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action.
“The small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause.  Let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it.  If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.”
  Barack Obama, one of our most divisive presidents who did the least to benefit African-Americans since Richard Nixon.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” Martin Luther King Jr, 1963

I am reminded of the Aesop’s fable, “The North Wind and the Sun.”
The North Wind and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak.
“Let us agree,” said the Sun, “that he is the stronger who can strip that Traveler of his cloak.”
“Very well,” growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler.
With the first gust of wind the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler’s body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain.
Then the Sun began to shine. At first his beams were gentle, and in the pleasant warmth after the bitter cold of the North Wind, the Traveler unfastened his cloak and let it hang loosely from his shoulders. The Sun’s rays grew warmer and warmer. The man took off his cap and mopped his brow. At last he became so heated that he pulled off his cloak, and, to escape the blazing sunshine, threw himself down in the welcome shade of a tree by the roadside.
Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.

And finally:
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Apostle Paul to the Romans 15:5-7)

Keep praying and living for peace and justice.  Never stop until we see Him face to face.
We Shall Behold Him sung by Vickie Winans

What Is It Like to be Black in the Time of the Wuhan Virus?

What do I know about being African-American or black of any nationality? 
I have to admit, not much. 

2020-05-30-george-floydNone of my “best friends” are black, although I have several black American friends on my “prayer walk” each night, some who have been to dinner at my house.  Some of these friends worship with me at my church fellowship, others are acquaintances in our neighborhood.  Lots of friends serve black communities in exemplary ways, and others are international workers who live and fellowship as minority white people in other nations.  A couple of inter-racial marriage partners are close to my heart and we consider each other friends, exchanging occasional emails and travel and family information. I would not hesitate to invite myself to stay with them if we went through their cities, and they know they would be welcome here.

But with such limited interracial exposure, why blog on Being Black in the Time of the Wuhan Virus?  Probably because unless you have been living under a rock, you know who George Floyd is.  But just in case some cicadas coming out of 17 years of hibernation are reading, 46 year-old George Floyd was the subject of a viral video as Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him to the pavement with his knee on George’s neck until he passed out and died.  This despite George’s pleas to the officer that he could not breath and attending witnesses who requested the choke hold be relaxed. (YouTube video with foul language)

Notice, none of the witnesses was foolish enough to assert with force that George needed relief.  The officers involved were armed, and at one point, when bystanders began to get close to Chauvin, he brought out mace which the bystanders recognized and so withdrew.  But they appealed to Chauvin repeatedly to relax the choke hold, and begged Chauvin take a pulse when George stopped speaking.  But Chauvin maintained the choke hold until he released an unresponsive George to the EMTs. 

George Floyd interestingly was active in Christian ministry in Houston, Texas, and had moved to Minnesota to help with a discipleship and job placement program.  (CT link)  The 6-foot-6-inch tall (200cm) man was called “Big Floyd” and recognized as an unofficial community leader.  He was regarded by the Texans as a mentor and peace-maker in Houston’s notorious Third Ward, a section of the great city wracked with gang warfare and drugs.  The videos deny the policeman’s claim that he resisted arrest.

As a white observer I could talk about the ensuing riots, looting and damage done to the police cars or the precinct station (it was set on fire by a mob), or about the fighting in uninvolved cities where protesters were shot for dangerous conduct (Louisville, just down the highway from Lexington was one of these).   

If only a Martin Luther King would speak to the protesters as the Civil Rights leader did to the marchers before the Selma, Alabama marches. (Selma March News)  I recall hearing his instructions in a speech that I can no longer find online, but the gist of it was that if you could not let a white man strike you with a baton and NOT respond in anger, “Get out of the line.”  MLK wanted no one to validate the abuse of the segregationists and racists who were sure to follow the march.

However, that is not the theme of this blog.  “Now is the time to move past our narrow thinking, worldview, and experience, and to step into the shoes of the other, for the sake of the other.”  (Ed Stetzer)    

  • What is it like to be black and jogging in a secluded community and viewed with suspicion just because you are black and running? (Ahmaud Arbery)
  • What is it like to be blocked from doing your job because you are driving a delivery truck, authorized by your customer to enter, but detained because you are black and therefore must be up to no good? (Travis Miller)
  • What is it like to be over-scrutinized because a black man robbed the store once before?  Did no white man ever rob it? Why am I not viewed with suspicion when I enter the same store?

Remember, Christ-follower, that our best-friend-ever was a member of a minority, likely somewhat swarthy looking, maybe even dark-skinned.  He was in an economically, culturally and politically oppressed group, looked at by his “Roman and Greek superiors” with suspicion and disgust.  How would we treat Him?  Of course, “I would be nice to Jesus,” we glibly say.

Heed His words carefully in this trying time with racial hatred, and social and medical disruption making headlines: ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  (Matthew 25:40) And pray FOR the protesters, even the ones reacting wrongly ().

Ask yourself, What Is It Like to be Black in the Time of the Wuhan Virus?
What is it like to be black and live in America in 2020?