Tag Archive: Eugene Cho


We are angry. We grieve, mourn, weep. But we also choose to remember these dear sisters and brothers. Rest in peace.

Cynthia Hurd [54]

Tywanza Sanders [26]

Sharonda Singleton [45]

Myra Thompson [59]

Ethel Lance [70]

Susie Jackson [87]

DePayne Doctor [49]

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr [74]

Rev. Clementa Pinckney [41]

[From Eugene Cho, who is a man i greatly respect and admire:  @EugeneCho]

i think it is strongly significant to start a conversation about the tragedy that happened when a young white guy [who shall remain nameless] walked into a black church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot and killed 9 of its members who were busy having a time of prayer. i don’t know any of those people, but taking a moment to recognise their humanness and the loss of their lives and taking a moment to think of their families and friends as well as the wider black community is an important thing to do.

We lament with America as America laments. And hope that once more it is not simply black America lamenting, but that all of us who are here right now are taking a moment to grieve and to consider the much wider implications of this moment.

i don’t believe my words are going to be of any use or carry any legitimacy here and so instead of sharing my own thoughts, i want to direct you towards some of the many helpful and truth-bearing posts that have been written to try and help Americans process yet another needless act of terrorism [for how can be described as anything less than an act of pure terror?] – there are many more, but these are some that i came across, and while i share snippets which carry the heart of the message that resonated with me, please make some time to go and read the full piece…

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What I need you to say in response to the shooting in Charleston by Osheta Moore

These are the critical hours that sets the trajectory of this new conversation on racism in America.   These are also the hours our helplessness rises to the surface and we’ll use our words to alleviate it.  

As a white person, you may have heard Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech and thought, “yes, that’s a nice sentiment.” That “nice sentiment” is a defining dream for the African- American community.  We don’t want to be angry anymore.  We’re tired of being afraid.  We’re tired of these headlines.  We want to have peace.  We believe, we dream of unity too.

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After Charleston: An open letter to white christians from a white female pastor, Liz Verhage, shared by Eugene Cho on his blog

I am grieving and lamenting and beyond angry over what feels like open season on the Black Community/Church right now in the United States.

White Christians, this is the time to pay attention and be part of our nation’s struggle to understand and address the continual violence happening against our black sisters and brothers. When one part of the Body hurts we all hurt – when one part of the Body is repeatedly targeted, killed, not protected, pulled out of swimming pools, seen as threats when unarmed – and then misrepresented, silenced, or made small through ahistoric excuses, side-stepping through political mess, or any other form of evil – we need to stand up. We need to show up – loudly. We need to demand a different response – and start with our people in the church.

Ask about this reality of race and death at your church – where will it be addressed within worship this Sunday?

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The Only Logical Conclusion by Austin Channing Brown

Within just a few minutes new reports started pouring in that the suspected shooter had been captured. As various officials were interviewed there was a resounding theme. “Safety has been restored.”

“Our community can now come together.”

“Now the healing process can begin.”

“The threat is now over.”

Though I understand what these officials meant. I want to say that safety has not been restored. I am glad the suspect is in custody. I really am. I am glad for the country, but I am mostly glad for the community of Charleston and anyone that was afraid their home, church, community center or neighborhood might be another target. But my gratefulness does not extend far enough to create any sense of safety. For the next few weeks, maybe even months, black churchgoers will not feel safe because we know the threat is not over.

Though the weapon is the same, gun violence, this is different because the driving force was white supremacy, this act the epitome of racism, the goal to kill black people. The level of terror that black people feel in America at this moment cannot be underestimated. Because when the driving force of such a massacre is the very thing imbedded in the roots of America, thriving on the branches of generation after generation, sitting in the pews unchallenged every Sunday morning in white churches- there is no reason why black Americans should feel safe.

Every time I write about race, someone white says “just know it isn’t all of us,” believing this will bring me comfort. It is offered as balm, but fails miserably. I would much rather people say, “I see this sin in my own heart, my own life, my own church and I am working to uproot it. I don’t want to be this way, and I will do the work to submit this ugliness before Christ.” That’s what I want to hear. Creating distance from it doesn’t serve me, doesn’t bring me comfort. Because it is in all of us. White supremacy has infected all of us who know America. If I have to deal with the white supremacist notions within myself, than I don’t want to hear about how “its not all of us”. It is. It is all of us who must learn to love blackness as an equal and authentic image of God.

I wrote on twitter that every church in America should be talking about this shooting on Sunday. But you know what? My real fear isn’t that churches will ignore the shooting. My fear is that churches will underestimate it. I fear that it will alter one Sunday’s plans and nothing else. I fear that the words will be reduced to one lone shooter, to one silent moment, to one prayer. I fear that it will change nothing about every Sunday thereafter, that it will inspire nothing of lasting significance, that no one will make a declaration to kick racism out of the pews. My real fear is that this moment will slip by just as so many others have, that white churches will refuse to see their own reflection. Or that they will and simply turn away.

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Mark Charles, who is a Navajo man i greatly respect had these words to say which i feel go way beyond this incident and address the conversation as a whole. A lot of which relates to us back in South Africa and some of the conversations we are still needing to have:

I lament that our nation continues to celebrate its racist foundations with holidays like Columbus Day, sports mascots like the Washington Redsk*ns and the putting of faces like Andrew Jackson on our currency.

I lament the words of our political candidates who promise to lead America back to its former “greatness”, ignorant of the fact that much of America’s “greatness” was built on the exploitation and dehumanization of its people of color.

I lament that today the dominant culture in America is in shock because in the city of Charleston South Carolina one individual committed a single evil and heinous act of violence, while minority communities throughout the country are bracing themselves because the horrors of the past 500 years are continuing into their lifetime.

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i was also deeply moved by Jon Stewart’s opening monologue on The Today Show where he dropped the jokes and spoke from his heart some agonisingly truthful thoughts:

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Even, and maybe especially, to the language and the imagery that the media uses to give completely biased and racist renderings of different events that happen, painting them with different brushes to pursue an agenda:

shooter

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White people in Americaland. Let’s begin with what Osheta suggested:

 I’m sorry. I’m listening.

And then let’s show up at this conversation and be prepared to own what we have inherited in various forms and systems and places. And let’s be prepared to get our hands dirty. And to become uncomfortable. And for this to get a little [more] messy, but for us.

Charleston 9 – we remember you…

[For an example of how we remembered Charleston, click here]

[For a variety of other conversations relating to race and privilege, click here]

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From Worst Christian Book covers of 2014 to how to respond to Trolls or other people online you disagree strongly with, to a whole bunch of really helpful, insightful and great articles on race-related things and some reflections on our time at Robben Island, this has been another crazy  week of much to read, watch and ingest, and i would hate for you to miss any of it and so i have compiled this Don’t-Miss-Out summary of some of the greatest and lamest and most interesting moments from the web this past week.

Catch up on some of the gems you missed and share them with your friends:

 

MOST UNLIKELY CHRISTMAS GIFTS: If you haven’t finalised your Christmas Shopping yet, there will most likely still be time to order any of these, which i imagine will be sticking firmly to the shelves:

 

Worst Christian Book covers of 2014/2015

 
 

MOST HELPFUL.INSIGHTFUL IN THE ONGOING RACE CONVERSATION: i have continued to read a LOT around this topic and keep on finding SO MANY POSTS that are just so good. i took three of the best of them and stuck them together in this blog post:

 

The Wisdom of Others in Talking about Race
But then immediately found this interview with Christian Rapper Propaganda which made some of the aspects of it even clearer and it is worth reading the whole thing on Relevant Magazine, but at the very least part 2:

 

Interview With Propaganda by Relevant Magazine, Part II
 
 
MOST HELPFUL ADVICE WITH REGARD TO TROLLS AND OTHERS IN STRONG DISAGREEMENT: 

 

Why I run with Trolls: While a lot of people think that engagement with people who are strongly opposed to an idea you might be discussing is a waste of time, i give some ideas on why it might not be.

 
 

MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT:

 

Journey to Robben Island series: Last weekend i was privileged to go with tbV and a group of about twenty young up and coming Christian leaders to spend the weekend at Robben Island and i posted some snapshots into that experience.

 
 

MOST INSPIRATIONAL:

 

18 Badass women you probably didn’t hear about in 2014: Suggested by my friend Lindsay Brown, here is a remarkable list of some stories that didn’t get as much noise as they could have this last year.

 
 

CLASSIC PHOTO MOMENT OF THE WEEK: Go and order some Thai food for my wife and this is the Customer name they assign to me:

 

dreads

 
 

MOST EPIC USA MEETS SA VIDEO: With over 200 shares just from my Facebook blog page, i imagine you have probably seen this already, but if not then watch how Trevor Noah takes on the might of Americaland in this clip from The Daily Show:

 

 
 

MOST INSPIRING SONG: Absolutely love Asumbonanga by Johnny Clegg and he released a new version of it to coincide with the one year remembering of Nelson Mandela’s death:

 

 
 

MOST CRINGEWORTHY MOMENT:

 

Watching The Ellen Show where Ellen is chatting to her ‘Most amazing teacher of the year’ who is this white lady working with mostly Asian kids and the moment in the video where the teacher says, “Some of them don’t even have English names yet.”

 
 
FROM THE TWITTERER:
 

“A movement starts when the founder really knows Jesus. You know how a movement dies? When the followers only know the founder.” Francis Chan @crazylove

“There is no point being in the right place at the right time if you are not then willing to do the right thing.” Mike Pilavachi @MikePilav

“Convictions don’t change the world. Rather, people who faithfully and tenaciously pursue and live out their convictions change the world.” Eugene Cho @EugeneCho

 
 
Analogies are like sandwiches; I’m making one right now.  @Benjamin_G_Lund

Assistant measured my feet and said “You’re an eight” I couldn’t.  @FemmeDomestique
 
 
Hashtag Game suggestions i’ve submitted:

When Harry met Slalom

Lacrosse and the Switchblade

The Good, The Badminton and the Ugly

And now for something completely discus
 
 
CELEB TWEET LOVE
 

Brought my Celeb Tweet love up to 4 with this Retweet from Parks and Rec’s own John Ralphio:

Jean Ralphio favorited your Tweet

Dec 11@rejectedjokes Oh no. Love us some Jean-Ralphio. Well played dude. So. Much. Fun. #ParksAndRec
 
 
What about you? What blog posts or articles caught your eye this week? What has been making you think or laugh or be challenged or go, ‘Wo!’? What have you written on your blog that is worth taking a look at?

Leave us a link in the comments for our weekendentertainment…

 
 
Christ

as i lie on my bed, i have an ash cross crudely drawn upon my forehead.

lentface

i have never celebrated Lent before.

and i don’t intend to start now.

at least i didn’t.

in fact last nite when our housemate Aaron announced that he was giving up coffee and liquor for Lent [just before having a tot of coffee liquer with us to see in his time of fasting] it was yet again for me a moment of, ‘Oh, it’s that time again.’

i have wanted to try it before but it always comes upon me too quickly and then suddenly with a flourish it’s there and i’m left saying things like, ‘Well, maybe next year.’

THE SERVICE

tonite Aaron invited me to a service and altho i don’t think i would have been typically amped, something inside of me knew that this was something i really wanted to do

i’ve been feeling disconnected from God lately and really wanting to get more disciplined in my prayer and reading and so spending some time in a service focusing on the time leading up to Easter sounded like just the right thing

it ended up not really even being a service, but more a gathering,

ten of us sitting in a circle, mostly older people,

talking about what people were thinking about giving up for lent, reading some liturgy and then,

turning off all the lights and sitting in the glow of some candles as we went around the room,

each person dipping their finger in to a mix of the remains of the palm branches from palm sunday which had been burned down,

and some olive oil to make a paste,

and then making a cross on the person’s forehead next to you, while speaking these words:

“Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

THE CHALLENGE OR INVITATION

actually i will have to go with ‘Invitation’ cos one of my friends already told me he was giving up being challenged by my blog for Lent

Matt, whose church we were at for this meeting handed around a piece of paper with 40 suggestions on it:

at the top of the sheet it reads ‘House for All Sinners and Saints’ which i’m fairly sure is Nadia Bolz-Weber’s church

followed by 40 days and 40 suggestions of things to do to observe Lent

things such as:

‘No complaints day’ 

Don’t turn on the car radio

Educate yourself about human trafficking http://www.praxus.org

Look out of the window until you find something of beauty you had not noticed before

and so i have decided that i am going to observe Lent by compiling a list of similiar things

using some of them and coming up with some of my own [and open to suggestions]

and i would like to invite you to join me in this 

if you are going to give it a try, simply leave your name as a comment below and say i am in

40 days – 40 postings of simple challenges

to connect with God and to love people and to view the world differently

and just a heads up that day 1 is pray for your enemies

day 40 is pray for your enemies [you probably have new ones by now] and then decide which of these exercises you will keep for good

ARE YOU IN?

maybe invite a friend to join you or your home group and do this together

maybe even come up with your own list

We finished off the evening with these prayers:

Gracious God,

our sins are too heavy to carry,

too real to hide,

and too deep to undo.

Forgive what our lips tremble to name,

what our hearts can no longer bear,

and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgement.

Set us free from a past we cannot change;

open us to a future in which we can be changed;

and grant us grace to grow in Your likeness and image;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

followed by the Assurance of Forgiveness Prayer:

May Almighty God

who of great mercy has promised to forgive all who truly repent and in true faith turn unto the Lord,

strengthen you in all goodness and bring you at last into the fullness of everlasting life,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We departed into the season of Lent with these final words:

Go forth on your journey of following Jesus,

strong in the face of afflictions,

speaking truth,

and knowing that you are loved well by God.

Go in peace. Amen.

May this time be more than simply a thing you are giving up… may that all mean something far deeper…
Enjoy. We celebrate together.

[To begin the 40 days of Lent observance with us, click here]

Lenttwitter

Eugene Cho writes [and speaks] a great piece on the Lent season over here.

Twitter has been making me a little mad lately.

Angry mad, that is, not chop up all the vegetables and throw them in the bath tub and declare it ‘Salad Bath day’ mad… and sad mad as well – somewhere in between the two.

And by Twitter i don’t mean the whole of Twitter, and i do mean Facebook to a lesser extent as well, but christians on the various social networking sites, especially the Twitterer.

And not all christians on Twitter, thankfully. In fact, i can probably divide it into two camps [and this post in my mind originally contained a bunch of names of people but i think i will leave half of them out, so as not to become that which i am railing against – use the ‘test and see if this is me and if it is take it on and if it’s not don’t’ approach if you read this] and this is somewhat generalised but i think largely true, and of late seemingly worsely so.

THE FIGHTERS AND THE LOVERS

now i have been in the first camp for the majority of my life, i think, and so i am trying to keep my mind on that, while at the same time being able to critique why it has been frustrating me so much lately – but those who more often than not seem to be picking fights with people or issues [although the issues tend to be linked quite closely to people more often than not] and these might be people and issues that are deserving of having fights picked with them, but i think there comes a point when all you are doing seems to be picking fights and take a breather and smell a flower or celebrate something good for a change. not to say these people don’t do that, but the overwhelming nature of some of their voices has seemed more belligerent and fighty of late.

in the midst of all the fightiness and arguing and point-making and name-and-shaming [which, as i’m saying, i feel definitely has its place] on Twitter, i am hit by huge big breaths of fresh air – and this is where i will mention names – Eugene Cho [@eugenecho]talking about One Day’s Wages and the work they are continuing to do in the disaster areas of the Philippines,  Donald Miller [@donaldmiller] who is currently on honeymoon and tweeting out some gems he prepared beforehand but often sharing exciting stories from the Storyline blog he helps put together, Mike Pilavachi [@mikepilav] who generally shares exciting things about exciting kingdom happenings that he gets to be involved with all of the time, whoever is tweeting for Pope Francis [@pontifex] which tend to be inspirational Jesus-focused messages and calls to live like Him, and the Tim Keller Wisdom [@dailykeller] tweets which are often inspiring quotes or scripture verses. as well as anyone who shares C.S.Lewis quotes.

and in the middle of that, on her own planet [and what a fun planet it is] is Jamie Wright [@JamieTheVWM] who bounces between completely serious and mouth-wateringly-sarcastic and vulnerable and crazy and inspiring and fun… so often fresh air in the midst of the fresh air.

light

MORE LIGHT, LESS DARKNESS BASHING

i do believe there is a time to take on the darkness [slavery, woman’s rights, human-trafficking, racism] and maybe there is a case for some people feeling the need to do that more often than not [there are certainly some Old Testament prophets who didn’t get their fair share of the friendly messages to deliver] but i do believe that it is a lot more helpful and inspiring and all-around-fun to shine the light more often and more regularly and with more intensity than taking on the darkness.

so when you need to take on the darkness, by all means do so… but if there is ever a choice, rather shine some light. 

you see, light drives away the darkness simply by being light [not by any active drivingness on its part] and Jesus called us to be light [not hidden light, displayed light]

also i don’t know too much how people are swayed by Twitter fights and Facebook wall arguments and i imagine the watching world does not take away the hugest declaration of ‘You shall be known by the love you have one for another’ from a lot of what has been going on of late.

the responsibility is so huge when you have a huge following as people are strongly influenced by the how as well as the what.

may we be faithful in every aspect of our online presence and may we be surrounded by people who love us well who we invite to call us on stuff when we get it wrong.

thank you to all of you who are drawing people towards Jesus and a Jesus-following life through your efforts, whether it be light-shining or darkness-taking-on.

together for the kingdom. but let us always ‘err’ on the side of Love.

[how about you? who do you follow on Twitter who brings life and light to your day? please leave their name and Twitter handle in the comments section]

facebook

so i mini ranted on Facebook the other day a complete pot-kettle-black question about whether social networking has made many of us a lot more beggy

and i do mean ‘us’ because the other day a carefully subtle form of ‘advertising’ on someone’s status led to the complete surprise gift of two bottles of my favourite chocolate liquer, ‘Nachtmusiek’ [which reminds me, we are still working through those].

but i see people do it all the time – “Working home alone tonite and wouldn’t complain if someone brought a T-Bone steak dinner over” or “Ah the new iPhone 5 is happening – be fun if someone didn’t need their old iPhone 5 any more.”

it is a pretty safe practice, because at the very worst you end up with exactly what you had before [or some jerk writes a blog post about you!] but at the very best, you might just get lucky and find two bottles of… um i mean find that someone has been completely gracious and kind and totally surprises you with what you want.

i guess as a once off or an every-now-and-then it might be more harmless, but when people start using that space regularly for personal wish fulfilment advertising then i guess it feels a little needy… here’s looking at you brett fish anderson…

BUT then, looking at it from a different perspective, i absolutely LOVE the potential of the social networks when it comes to meeting legitimate needs and connecting resources and need.

one of my friends [well more friend of a friend] won a trip overseas with his band [including my friend Dreadlocked Mike] because of using Facebook as a voting platform.

just today i had a friend of mine working with underprivileged youth in an area reach out to me for help and i was able to connect him with another friend of mine working in the same area with the hope that between them there will be someone in the network who will be able to help out with the necessary mentoring.

Val and i have been given use of vehicles on so many occasions [back in South Africa and here in Oakland] when we needed them through people who had a spare one, or were able to give us theirs for a time, so generously jumping in and helping out.

same with cellphones  we had one phone and two sim cards and made an appeal online and now we have something like 5 phones and it became an embarrassment of riches.

help with removing a stain or a recipe? jump online and pose the question and call on the collective wisdom of your friends and their friends [if Uncle Google doesn’t sort you out first] but a tried and tested solution often beats something you randomly look up online and hope will work.

this is where, for me, social networking becomes so useful and exciting as a tool – raising prayer and support for issues like with what just happened in the Philippines – suddenly via Val’s dad who was going to be there and Eugene Cho who was Twittering about One Day’s Wages as one possible organisation that could help and a whole bunch of other avenues of how to get involved.

as with any tool, i guess it’s success and value lies in how well you use it – and so the challenge is up to us to use it for far more of the latter [helping people out in need and joining available resources to areas of lack]

i would LOVE to hear your opinion and thoughts on this and maybe even more importantly hear your stories… missing people being found, old friends being reunited, mass encouragement for someone who is struggling a bit, positive flash mobbing – these are all amazing ideas and ways of using the social networks for good, rather than me-vil.

In the meantime, as you ponder upon these things, if you could follow this link and go and vote for my super hardcore design for a Christmas sweater [complete with dinosaurs, abominable snowmen, dolphins and ninjas] the top 100 that get voted for will actually be made and that would be a lot of fun.

 

hm. so i couldn’t sleep. just had too much going on in my head. so i thought i’ll jump on here and throw a little bit at the screen. probably more for me than any of you, but that’s okay.

the one thing is the crisis in Syria. which to be honest i don’t really know a whole lot about. not enough by any stretch of the imagination.

i know that a while back over 600 people had been killed. but i also know that chemical attacks were made. i know the death toll is well over 1000 now.

i know that America are paused to intervene. i know that UK, France, Germany and Turkey have joined the calls for intervention.

i know that America does not have the greatest reputation both in terms of their motivation for getting involved in world skirmishes and also their actual involvement in a number of countries, both in the middle east and beyond.

i read that Kevin Rudd, prime minister of Australia had this to say: “I do not believe the world can simply turn a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons against a civilian population resulting in nearly 300 deaths, or more, and some 3,600 people hospitalised.” [The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/26/syria-us-un-inspection-kerry]

AND THEN THERE WAS MILEY

meanwhile from the corners of the CNN.com website to the front page of the Onion satirical online news site, from Twitter to Facebook and beyond, a huge number of people seemed to be spending the last 24 hours obsessed with the goings on at the Video Music Awards show.

in particular, Miley Cyrus and the number she performed with Robin Thicke, that was so sexually explicit and in-your-face dodgy it sent a picture of the reaction of Will Smith and his family while she was performing viral just by their looks of disbelief and what-the-heck-is-going-on-here-ness

i watched the video and it was too much of too much. as Robin Thicke’s mom commented after she was shown it, “I can’t unsee that.”

it is bothering me that the Miley Cyrus thing clogged up the Facebook status and Twitter feeds and only here are there is there mention of what is happening in Syria

[it should bother me equally as much that i spent more time following information about Mileygate than i did researching the situation in Syria, although Val and i both ended the evening sharing information with each other as we read up on different reports of it]

also remembering that the previous 24 hours had been completely taken up by the internet’s overwhelmment at the news that Ben Affleck would be playing Batman in the new Superman vs Batman movie [to date more than 50,000 signatures have been added to a petition asking for him to be deBatmanned]

THE EUGENE CHO CONVERSATIONS

Eugene Cho is someone who i follow on Twitter. He is a follower of Jesus and from what evidence I have of his life I have a lot of respect for him. He challenges and encourages me regularly by what he writes and shares.

he tweeted some stuff about the war in Syria and got all sorts of conversations going:

Eugene Cho ‏@EugeneCho: We can’t do nothing in the face of genocide in Syria. It may not be popular but one we must make.Praying for wisdom and courage for leaders.

Eugene Cho ‏@EugeneCho: Stunning and shameful. Over 1,000,000 children have fled Syria and another 2,000,000 children are displaced within the country. #WeMustAct

Eugene Cho ‏@EugeneCho: I’m so torn but…Yes, I do support military intervention in Syria. There’s a distinction between military aggression & military protection.

to which he got some huge pushback – some was more accusatory:

wondermirk ‏@wondermirk: @EugeneCho Really bro? I can’t retweet that. Violence is simply not acceptable. Fighting for peace is like fornicating for virginity.

Maxwell Mooney ‏@MaxwellAMooney: @EugeneCho come a long way from the pacifism you endorsed not long ago. Could it have to do with your recent political ties with the Prez?

while others were more just wrestling with the question themselves:

Warwick Rendell ‏@WarWraith: @EugeneCho It’s something we were discussing earlier. How do you protect the oppressed from the violent oppressor without violence?

And as someone who has a strong focus on non-violence [certainly a more focused intentional view on non-violence since our time over here as we have faced the idea and concept and questions related to it a lot more] it feels like a huge catch-22. If doing nothing means we see another potential Rwanda, then surely there has to be a better answer? But if entering violently just escalates the violence and creates flashbacks to time in Iraq and a lot of the mess that happened there, then what?

WHEN MILEY MEETS SYRIA

Back to Eugene Cho, who feeling similiar to me about the fact that the Miley Cyrus dodgefest was receiving more focus and attention than Syria tweeted these:

Eugene Cho ‏@EugeneCho: That so many would be outraged by #MileyCyrus and yet, so apathetic by what’s going on in Syria, Congo,& North Korea…is truly outrageous.

Which made perfect sense, until this conversation happened on Facebook:

Eugene Cho: That so many would be outraged by ‪#‎MileyCyrus and yet, so apathetic or uninformed by what’s going on in Syria, Congo, and North Korea…is truly outrageous. The former is entertainment. Yes, bad entertainment but the latter is real life.

Tracy Bieger: While I wholeheartedly agree about the horrible atrocities taking place here, I think the former is also real life. The very real implications of a young woman who is looked at by other young girls as a “role model”, and the objectification and sexualization of young girls is still okay. This only fuels human trafficking, and the rape culture we still live in. Very real life.

Eugene Cho: Tracy Bieger – Appreciate that comment. Fair pushback. Really fair and important. Another reminder why we need to be open to pushback. Thanks for sharpening me.

WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US, ME?

To be honest, feeling pretty helpless.

What is there to do besides making statuses, tweeting my interest/horror/outrage and then moving on again next week when the next big thing hits?

And how do i differentiate in my mind the “big” thing that is Ben Affleck as the new Batman or Miley Cyrus twerking Robin Thicke inappropriately and the “big thing” that is a war that has currently seen more than 1000 people die?

To me, both are glaringly obvious symptoms that we live in a broken, messed up world. Which is both quite scary, but also quite encouraging in a sense as it just makes a whole lot of the Jesus-following stuff i believe a lot more clear.

The world is definitely in need of some saving. And i happen to know a Saviour. I don’t think that’s a huge coincidence, but I do think I need to figure out some more stuff in terms of the ‘what do we do with this stuff’ness of it all.

Anyone got any thoughts or ideas?

Are you tired of hearing about “this whole Trayvon Martin case thing”? Well I’m pretty sure Trayvon’s family and friends are tired of him being dead, so maybe take a few minutes more on it…

‘A few of the boys were from Miami and one had gone to the same high school as Trayvon Martin. He began to cry, lamenting that Trayvon did not deserve to die. The other kids circled him, and as he opened up to express his fears, the other followed as well. And these kids, all potential Barack Obamas, and all potential Trayvon Martins, became very scared. As advisors, we felt powerless to protect them. ‘[Madison Gray, I am still Trayvon Martin]

I have spent the last few days reading a lot of different articles, stories and opinions related to the recent Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case that ended just recently following the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman on the night of February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida in the United States of America. Martin was a 17 year old African American high school student and George Zimmerman, a 28 year-old mixed-race Hispanic who was the neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily staying.

This is unusual for me, to have such great interest in a news story, but this time around I have been realising the severe and deep-lasting implications of this incident and trial and the fact that George Zimmerman, who initiated the confrontation [despite apparently being advised not to], walked away free and completely unaccountable for the events that transpired. This is not an isolated event, but something that has profound impact and connection to probably every black person in America.

handsAnd therein lies a huge part of the problem. This is not, and should not be seen as ‘a problem for black people’ or even ‘a problem for people of colour’. There is no justice at all, until there is justice for all. The racism, stereotyping and racial profiling and related issues affect us all. What stood out for me strongly in one of the article I read was the idea that on the Sunday following the not guilty verdict, the case was at the heart of every single black church service in America, whereas it would more than likely get nothing more than a brief mention, if that, in the white churches.

This status I saw on my friend Ben McBride’s page sums a lot of it up for me: “I think we can lift up is the honest wrestling we all have at times, including me, with the tension of images of young men of color. I think it would be great to see how we start creating conversation with people, not about the case, but rather how we restore invisible humanity back to people with whom our society has aided our subconscious to have no emotional reaction to outside of fear.” [Michael McBride]

The strong likelihood in this story seems to be that if Trayvon Martin had been a white guy in a hoodie in that neighborhood that night, that none of this would have happened. And for all of the white people jumping in and making ridiculous statements about their frustration with “black people playing the race card” and sharing incidents and stories where black people were shown to be racist, I need to ask you to be quiet for a moment and take a step back from your defensiveness and just really try and listen for a moment and ask some honest questions. And be prepared for the answers you might receive.

Val and I heard the news of Zimmerman’s acquittal on the way back from Vegas where we had been for a week. In the ride home from the airport we heard from our friend who drove us home, who works with a number of young black people, some of the stories of how some of his young guys have been treated simply because of the colour of their skin. This story was not an unrelated incident. This is the truth for so many young black men and women in particular, but also for their friends and families and communities.

As my friend Dave Gale responded to the Facebook status above,  the answer might be in our willingness to understand and embrace people around us who are not ‘just like us’ – seeing diversity as a rich and empowering thing, not as a threat. As simple as engaging in conversation, offering basic hospitality. Stepping out of our comfort zones to do that?’

For those of you who are trying to make excuses of stick the blame on Trayvon Martin for what happened, it might be interesting to watch this short video clip and hear the ‘threee facts’ that the reporter presents at the end. For those of you who might be tempted to see this as an isolated incident or not fully grasp the ramifications on racial profiling and stereotypes, this ABC experiment on race dynamics might be helpful or mind-blowing.

But for those of you who ‘get’ this and who are looking for answers and trying to figure out the best way to respond, or just want to be inspired by some of the positive stories and messages that are out there regarding this case, I encourage you to spend a little more time on this.

Start with the story of Trayvon’s mother and her reaction to this during the trial when she publically held on to her faith as support and encouragement as she walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

Spend a few moments witnessing the encounter that a white pastor had the Sunday after the verdict when she felt God telling her that she had to go and visit the church of Trayvon Martin and his community.

Share in this ‘Lament from a White Father’ by head of Sojourners, Jim Wallis, as he shares a white father’s perspective on the event and gives a call to white people to ask black parents what they were talking about with their children this weekend:

‘Death is horrible enough. But systematic injustice — one that allows white boys to assume success, yet leads black boys to cower from the very institutions created to protect our own wellbeing — is a travesty. Listen to the stories from Saturday and Sunday nights, of 12-year-old black boys who asked to sleep in bed with their parents because they were afraid. If black youth in America can’t rely on the police, the law, or their own neighborhood for protection — where can they go?’

Spend a few minutes reading the account of Madison Gray who, ‘as the George Zimmerman verdict loomed, spent several days with 60 African-American boys and saw the sting of their lives being cheapened.’

But if you take time to read anything in this post, then I encourage you to take some time on these last two:

The story of Wesley Hall and what he wants you to know about being a young black man in America. Hopefully, as you read his account, you will be nodding your head to the sense that he is making in terms of how his parents raised him to be and at the same time completely becoming angrier and more frustrated that this has had to be his reality.

And finally this amazing piece by Eugene Cho who I believe is a strong prophetic voice for the kingdom in the world today – this was the best response piece I have read so far on this whole case and I hope we will take this seriously. Especially the white people. Stop the excuses. Stop justifying or diverting attention or being defensive. f our black brothers and sisters are hurting why can’t we just shut up and mourn with them?

These words stuck out for me strongly:

‘Please don’t reduce this story to a mere 24 hour social media frenzy.

Examine yourself. Count the costs.

Commit yourself to justice, reconciliation, and peacemaking. God invites and calls us to be agents of reconciliation to a world in need of much mending, healing, and grace.

We must take this call to heart.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20′

This has been a long post, especially if you have taken time to read the different articles and watch the video clips and if you haven’t then I encourage you to do so. This is such an important moment in America’s history [and so representative of the same kind of issues in South Africa and the UK and probably most other countries where there is more than one race or culture of people living] and it can so easily blow over until the next one happens, or it can be a transformative catalyst for change. It needs to be this. Which is why instead of being tired of people talking about ‘The Trayvon Martin case” get tired about the circumstances that allowed for it to happen in the first place. Get tired and angry enough to do something about it.
As I was reading through these various accounts relating to a whole number of different aspects of race-related issues, I was struck by the amount of grace and love and hopefulness that existed in so many people who could have chosen to respond differently. And in the space of being a white person caught up in something that has all the appearances of being a systemic black problem [it’s not, this problem is all of ours] and wondering what is my response to this? What can I do to make and be a difference? I was reminded of this prayer by Francis of Assisi, which is a great starting point and call to action:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

 

 

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