Resurrected, Not Restored

My last official day of classes for my first year of seminary is Monday.

Thank God.

It’s been a rough year—an even rougher second semester—and I’m ready to switch into the next thing.  (Of course, the next thing is itself an exhausting concept:  I’m going to be basically a hospital chaplain over the summer, so I don’t know how much you’ll be hearing from me since I have to do 24-hour shifts every other weekend.)  I will be heading home more scarred than I came here to The Wicket Gate, metaphorically and literally.  I have grown older and in some ways sadder.

But I have also grown (hopefully) wiser.  I have met some amazing people and had some crazy adventures.  I have stepped into a new part of who I am.  You know how this goes, Reader; you know how change always comes at a price—or, as a great blogger (BeautyBeyondBones) put it:
BeautyBeyondBones change begets change

We are now in the season of Easter—yep, it’s not just one day.  Easter is 50 days long in the liturgical calendar because, well, it kind of took a while to catch on.  Jesus had to keep coming back and telling people yep, the rumors are true, I am no longer dead because let’s face it, Thomas wasn’t the only one who thought such a thing was unbelievable.  We have all of these stories about Jesus appearing to various people and them being surprised each time; I’m actually preaching on the road to Emmaus next week (prayers for such are welcome) because the Resurrection didn’t just settle into being an accepted reality on that first Easter Sunday.

The thing about these appearances of Jesus, though, is that He didn’t come back perfect and shiny and new.  He comes back with scars—“look at My hands,” He tells Thomas.  “Put your finger in my side.”  The Resurrection didn’t—and doesn’t—make the Crucifixion un-happen.

Which kind of blows my mind as a person of faith, actually.  We as Christians have built ourselves around the Good News (and boy howdy is it good news) that Christ is risen, that Death is defeated, that hallelujah the tomb is empty.  Every Sunday is a little Easter.  But our God is not a God of completely erasing that which is broken and painful and ugly; our God is not a God of sweeping things under the rug.  Jesus could well have come back in a body as smooth as the day He was born, hands no longer bearing the small cuts and splinter marks of life as a carpenter, eyes no longer crinkling with the first signs of age.  He could have come back with a perfect body.

But instead He came back with the marks of having lived, and died.  He came back with the white lines of scar tissue on His palms, with the thick and shining flesh across the holes in His wrists, with the gouged-out hole in His side.  He came back with a body that bore witness on every inch of the brown skin of brokenness, of pain, of horrifying violence, of sorrow and abandonment and misery.

He came back with a body that looked an awful lot like our world feels, honestly.

The difference, however, is that His scars were scars, not open wounds.  No blood poured into Thomas’ hands; no bones showed through the criss-crossed cuts on Jesus’ back.  One of the many miraculous and hopeful things about the Resurrection is not that Jesus fought death to be restored to pre-Crucifixion health but that Jesus won over death to ensure the reality of healing.  We who are Easter people follow a God Who knows exactly what it’s like to be broken into pieces and get put back together with the brokenness as part of who we are.

It’s not about it making us stronger—I’ll confess, I actually loathe the motto “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” because I think it’s untrue and harmful.  (There are some things that happen that don’t kill you but you wish they had; there are some things that don’t kill you but maim you; there are some things that don’t kill you but weaken you from the sheer amount of emotional or physical blood loss they cause.)  Christ didn’t die so He could come back stronger, and I don’t think God is calling us to die to ourselves so we can be spiritually stronger like we’re in a weird Christian Gatorade ad.  The Resurrection, I think, is about showing us that we can be healed from even the worst of things—made not stronger, but whole.

kintsugi-225255b325255dThere’s an illustration that I’m pretty sure every pastor has to use at least once in his/her career about this broken/whole thing, namely kintsugi or the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold-brushed lacquer.  It’s a beautiful metaphor, it really is, and it has everything to do with this resurrection that isn’t truly restoration.  What was broken is not remade such that it looks like no harm was done.  It is healed such that the harm is no longer the defining aspect, such that a broken Body can bring an entire world hope.

Happy Easter, Reader, for every one of the fifty days, and every one of the revelations, and every one of the moments Jesus tells us again, yep, still true; I am alive.  Peace; do not be afraid.


For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.  (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, NKJV)

Good Friday: The Quick and the Dead

In the old-school version (i.e. the one based off of William Tyndale’s English Bible) of the Nicene Creed (and the Apostles’ Creed), it says that we believe Jesus is in Heaven and will return to “judge the quick and the dead.”  “Quick” in this sense is an archaic word for “living, alive”, like quicksand and cutting to the quick.  It was only later that it became a word for speed.  I like this use, this quickness of the heart that still beats, the blood that still flows, the lungs that still pull in even the smallest amount of air.

Today is a day in which I want to gather to myself the slowness; today is the day the heart stops, the blood halts, the lungs cease their rhythmic movement.  Today is the day of Christ’s death.

It’s weird to be observing Good Friday with such a different pattern than I’ve had the last five or so years; I went to work this morning and then to one of my other jobs (I’ll actually go to all three today, come to think of it).  I went to a party for student appreciation—a party on Good Friday, which felt so jarring and yet not jarring at all because I still can’t wrap my head around it being Good Friday.  I didn’t see it coming, didn’t really do anything for Lent this year.  I’m not ready for this death.

The thing of it is, though, that you can never be ready for death.  My family has been on a kind of low-level deathwatch for my one remaining grandparent for a couple of months now—it is definitely her time and her body is shutting down bit by bit.  But I know that even when she dies, we won’t actually be ready for it.  We can’t be.  Death, in all its slowness, comes quick; death steals into even the most-watched spaces.  Death, even the expected kind, is always a surprise.  I can’t even imagine how intense the shock must have been for the disciples.

Think of it—Jesus had been trying for weeks to get the disciples to understand, to prepare themselves even to some small degree, to set up their own kind of deathwatch.  They didn’t take it seriously.  Who could?  Jesus was at the top of His game, in the prime of His life.  A crowd had just laid their own clothing on the dusty ground for Him.  Radical things were happening; there was change in the dry, desert air.

But then there is the inexplicable jumpiness of Judas, and the incomprehensible things Jesus says at the table about bodies and blood, and then there is the garden and the need to stay awake when they don’t know why, don’t know why they couldn’t just sleep; it had been such a long week, after all.  Jesus’ voice is so quick in its frustration, straining against something they don’t understand, a pain they don’t feel—and then there is the crashing of the soldiers, so loud in that quiet space, so bright in the darkness.  Peter lashes out; he always thinks with his body first, speaks the first thought, never reflects.  Peter is quick.  The soldier is too slow and the shriek of pain slices through the murmurs of the crowd, the blood pouring red on red cloth under grey armor and Jesus is quick, too, stooping down to pick up the ear, holding His hand to the man’s head while the blood pours over His fingers and slows, slows, stops.

The trials are not quick.  The walks between the political poles are endless as Jesus’ heart still beats and the disciples cower, quick to refuse any connection others ascribe, anxious not to end up in that same slow circle of accusation and torment where no one takes responsibility.  The crowd is quick to choose Barabbas, opening like a hungry maw to receive him into itself from the platform where Jesus sways slowly, exhausted from holding the world together.  The soldiers hurry Him away and the women who love Him, who stand in the crowd shouting His name against the louder voices of the priests’ plants, do not know they will never again see Him whole like this.

PICEDITOR-SMHThe crucifixion does not feel quick.  Jesus’ last breaths come slowly, His words making sure community remains even as the sweat slides into the blood dripping down His naked skin, the cuts on His back pressing into wooden splinters as He pushes against the nails that hold Him there, splayed for the world and God to see what it looks like to slow, and slow, and die.

It is finished,” He says, and there is no more quickness in Him.

Lighting flashes, a quick bolt shattering the sky suddenly darker than night as the sun and stars hide their faces in grief and the earth shudders at the violence she must bear on her sacred soil.  A curtain tears and God is as naked as Himself, His body and His secret dwelling place both on display in this unthinkable space where Death claims what he believes to be his.

No one was ready.  No one is ever ready for this.


When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  (Matthew 27:54, ESV)

Lent, Week Three: Healed and Broken

I went to see Logan this evening; I love the comic book films, love the characters and worlds and adventures and connections.  And for the longest time I loved the action part of action films—I loved a good fight scene where the hero (rarely a heroine) takes down all the bad guys with fists of fury and a kick-ass rock song.

But this—this film was all anger, sorrow, and pain.  I can’t do this level of gore and rage anymore, can’t absorb the sheer amount of ache that we as a culture have reached.  We are in so much pain, Reader; the sickened edges of our never-healed wounds of racism fester in our bellies, the blood we spill on our streets and everyone else’s leaves us weak and stumbling, our throats are raw from throwing up the vapid and unhealthy bullshit we have tried to convince ourselves is any kind of nourishment.  Our illness colors our news, our music, our pastimes and yes, our movies.

healing-touch-sold_We need healing.

It’s funny; I started writing this while half-listening to a Christian radio station and three songs in a row now have dealt with the concept of healing.  Part of that is the Spirit reading over my shoulder, but more of it is that Christianity has a lot to say about healing and the need for it.  After all, one of the many terms for God is “Healer.”

But from what?  Of what?  Oh no, Christiana, don’t be one of those Christians who equate spiritual sin with emotional and bodily malaise, as though some people deserve to be punished with illness.  No, Reader—my best friend has a disease that is frying his brain a little bit more every day, stripping it of its effectiveness.  My good friend’s wife is fighting a cancer that sits sullenly in her femur, spine, and chest.  I myself am gradually going deaf because my body cannot recognize the way it’s supposed to work in order to hear.  I can’t believe in a god who would cause such prolonged torment to satisfy reparation of sin.  That’s sadism, and I don’t roll with a sadistic God.

There’s something to be said, though, for the gulf between Christianity’s language of healing and the reality of just how broken we are in so many ways.  Do we keep breaking ourselves, outpacing God as we find new ways to inflict pain?  Do we never allow ourselves to fully heal, running pell-mell into the next ill-thought thing before our bodies and souls have had time to re-knit?  Perhaps.  I am most certainly guilty of both of these, especially when it comes to myself.  How I haven’t more seriously injured myself on a number of levels, I don’t know.  But I am certainly not whole.  I am broken.

In the film—which I can’t say that I recommend, although it is incredibly well acted, because it is so incredibly violent; there’s a great breakdown of it through the lens of its relationship to religion here—an underlying theme is that you’re never so broken you can’t be at least on the way to healing.  Everybody gets a chance at redemption, at reclaiming the best part of themselves; some take it, some don’t.  Healing comes from being willing to walk back to what you could have been.

I was recently reading an article for class about John Wesley’s ideas of healing and that he had no problem whatsoever with both medicine and prayer as effective tools of healing.  He also never blamed sick people for getting sick.  We live in mortal bodies that are constantly falling apart.  We should definitely take better care of them (preaching to myself) but we can’t stop our own mortality.  We are not Wolverine, able to heal almost instantly, and yelling at sick people about what they should be able to do is both foolish and cruel.  I appreciate that the vast majority of Biblical references to healing have no truck with blaming the broken.  Do they have to do things, like get up or reach out for a hem?  Yes.  Healing requires work on our part.  But do they get shamed into being well?  Nope.  We are all of us broken, so what good would shame do?  How silly is it for one mortal to tell another mortal that their mortality is shameful?

I realize that I’m switching back and forth between a lot of different kinds of healing and brokenness, but that’s a little deliberate (and a little due to my mind being in about fourteen different places right now).  I think it’s all of piece not in that your soul makes you have cancer but that sickness isn’t just a physical thing.  When I am sick—and I’ve been fortunate in never being long-term, all-the-time sick—I definitely notice an impact on my spiritual and emotional self.  And when I’m aware of my broken spirituality, it takes a toll on my physical commitments.

You may choose, good Reader, to push back on any and all of my assertions.  Perhaps, for you, the spirit has nothing to do with the body, or perhaps you’re really uncomfortable with my equating sick and broken because those mean different things to you.  Please, challenge me.  But recognize that in this wilderness of Lent, we are not whole, and we are not healthy.  Even Jesus needed angels at the end to put Him back together from the stress of the environment and the temptations.

I simply want us to consider, as I have been doing in light of the film, where our brokenness is.  Where do we need healing?  What can we do about that, in both the “non-miraculous” medical and the “miraculous” prayer sense?  (Yes, I put those in quotes because I think it’s a false dichotomy.)  And where are we healed that we can celebrate?  Where, in this desert of forty Lenten days, do we already see the bright edges of Easter?



Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch and heal him.  Taking the blind man’s hand, Jesus led him out of the village. After spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on the man, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”  The man looked up and said, “I see people. They look like trees, only they are walking around.”  Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. He looked with his eyes wide open, his sight was restored, and he could see everything clearly.  (Mark 8:22-25, CEB)

Lent, Week Three: Reconciliation

The image quality isn’t very good, I know; I thieved it from a PBS article and am working on an older computer that doesn’t do image capture all that well.  But you get the idea—each red balloon is a mass shooting in the United States.

In 2016.

Reader, it’s not even March yet.  I come to you on this Saturday in Lent because my Friday was thrown off, my whole week was thrown off by the fact that my town is now on this map.  My town now has a little red balloon saying that some are dead, some are injured, all are now on statistics lists of this country’s numerous dead born out of an unnatural love of violence.  My town now has made the national news, the international news, as another place holding vigils and wondering why; as another name that scrolls across the screen while talking heads say maybe this time, maybe this action will be the one that causes us to unfurl our fingers from our guns and step away from the fear that drives us to this mortal embrace.  My town now is another in a chain that will not be that time.

And Reader, I am so, so angry.

The sacrament this week is that of reconciliation, formerly known as penance.  Reconciliation has three aspects:  conversion, confession, and celebration.  Conversion is the recognition of being in the wrong, of turning back toward Christ and the life and choices He would have us lead and make.  Confession is the telling of what went wrong to another—for Catholics, this is a priest; for many Protestants, this is God Herself; for some, this is a pastor or deeply trusted friend.  (You can ask your pastor to do this; it’s not an official sacrament, but many clergy will hear confession as part of spiritual growth.)  Celebration is the recognition that a new way is forged, that the wounded are healed, and that the freshly forgiven are charged to go out into our lives and forgive others in the courage and love of the Spirit.

I find this a somewhat perfect sacrament this week because it is so easy to demand that the shooter be brought to justice.  It is so easy to demand that he be the one to confess, to be crushed by the full force of the law even as he senselessly crushed the lives of so many others.  It is so easy to call for celebration that the wicked shall be judged by a righteous God Who cries with us at the rising death toll.  It is, in fact, too easy.

Reader, I confess that I have harbored anger against a brother, a fellow creation of God.  I confess that I have numbed myself to the suffering of others because I cannot stand the spineless promise of prayers from politicians anymore.  I confess that I have not done as much as I could to petition those same politicians and everyone I can find to change this, to see the way our culture is killing itself one bullet at a time.  I confess that I have walked away from important conversations because I felt too empty to argue any further.  I confess that I have not returned to the spring of living water to fill that emptiness because I am filling it instead with wrathful frustration and scathing cynicism.  I confess that I no longer try to bear the sorrow.

The shooter was wrong.  He was wrong to take life that was not his, he was wrong to drive a community into shock and fear, he was wrong to be so careless about his fellow humans.  I am not in the least advocating for any judicial lessening of this understanding.  But Reader, we cannot continue to demand the reconciliation of the violent without acknowledging our own places of turning away from God.  I cannot rage at the empty speeches of those far away and far removed without acknowledging that I don’t continually write their offices to tell them to fix this.  I cannot despair at the American love of weaponry without acknowledging the many ways I glorify the rough-and-tumble violence that promotes it.  And I cannot call this man evil without seeing that I am not perfectly good.

My heart aches with my anger at this, Reader.  It aches with my sorrow and the pain and my ever-dimming hope that we might one day say we have had enough.  But the only way to soothe that ache is is to turn from my part in creating it, however small; to confess that I have had that part in creating it, that I have left undone various aspects of the Kingdom building God asks of me; and to celebrate that I have been set on a new way that will never be easy and will require more and ever more reconciliation but that will continually bring me closer to my Lord.

Psalm 13 begins, “How long, o Lord?  Will You forget me forever?…How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?”  How long shall we stand vigil for the lost and pray for the fallen?  How long, o Lord, will You leave us to this violence?  Yet verse five is the psalmist’s hope:  “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.”

I do not have the answer to this violence, Reader.  I do not have the shooter’s confession.  I cannot say when we as a nation will turn away from this path.  But I can seek reconciliation for myself; I can ask forgiveness of my God and His people that I might go out into this fallen world and forgive.  And in that, I might celebrate the Spirit that breathes within me to allow forgiveness even of the enablers, even of the silent, even of the shooter.  For God’s love manifests in unconditional forgiveness, drawing us ever and again to Himself that we might never be lost or left behind; in gratitude, may we strive to do the same.


I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.  (Psalm 13:6)

Fifteen Minutes of Infamy

When I was in middle school, my older stepbrother had a Nintendo 64 and the game “Goldeneye,” a first-person shooter adventure based on the James Bond film. My first reactions to the deaths of the WDBJ employees this past Wednesday were that it couldn’t be real, this must be a video game; only those have that gun barrel sticking out of the bottom of the screen that way.

I am in no way tying video games to violence, or to this particular act.  I’m merely trying to wrap my mind around someone not only planning to shoot two people but filming himself doing it, later posting it on social media alongside the videos of cats falling off of slick desks and the first time a baby laughs and that moment someone’s friend wakes up after someone else has drawn on his face.  It is boasting, straining for the attention the shooter felt he didn’t get on his own merit, taking to the wide embrace of the Internet to proclaim he has Done Something Big.

And it is sickening.

It is also sickening that it surprises me that I am as broken about this as I am.  I grew up in the schools fettered and frightened by Columbine, adding active shooter drills to those that taught us what to do in the event of fire or tornado.  There have been more than 57 mass shootings in the United States in my lifetime, nearly half of those from 2006-2012.  Even the satirical publication The Onion has half-heartedly jabbed at the frequency of such events in America, the nation of freedom where God and guns are both invoked as inherent rights of (hu)mankind.  I am used to this, used to hearing of yet another series of deaths by the power of fire-hot copper tearing through skin and muscle and bone at 1,126 feet per second.

But on the news this morning (I always have “CBS This Morning” playing in the background as I prepare for work), there was an interview with the boyfriend of one of the dead.  Chris Hurst, fiancée to Alison Parker, spoke of love and plans and hope and life and at the end of the interview he said, “This was two of us, guys.  This was two of us, gunned down.  We will not forget them.”

Somehow, that has stuck with me.  Part of it is that I am always interested in the way that people band together within their careers—it is not only the police who have the thin blue line, although they may be the only ones who give it a color.  Nurses, pastors, journalists, teachers, artists, coaches, scientists, maintenance workers, doctors, writers, firefighters, and so many others continually stand at each other’s sides, supporting those who know what their days are like, who understand what it is to be worn thin and still get up and go to work the next day.

But part of it, I think, is the visibility of this.  The two gunned down worked in television; they were part of a community’s visual understanding of itself, bringing the news each and every morning.  I think of the local morning show I watch, and of “CBS This Morning,” and how attached I have become to these people I don’t actually know by virtue of laughing at their banter and hearing their voices while I try to figure out what to pack for lunch.  The WDBJ murderer was also in television and, to the end, decided what he did needed to be on camera.

I have no wisdom on this, Reader, no soapbox speeches of gun control, no staunch defenses of hometown journalism.  I have only a deep and abiding sadness, a horror that somehow someone thought this was the way to handle feeling left out, downtrodden, insulted.

And I have a fierce, fiery rage at the people who are captializing on this.

My Facebook feed is always an interesting adventure because I have many “liberal” friends who are very much for things like choice in the matter of abortion, gun control, gay marriage, universal healthcare, and so on.  And I have many “conservative” friends who are on the opposite end of the spectrum of all of these.  I very much appreciate being able to connect with this diversity and hear more within an argument than just one facet.  But there are times when people will post things that make me so incredibly frustrated and angry that I have a hard time not yelling at the person for being so dense (which is something I’m planning on looking at in a couple of weeks, actually).  Like this:

I wanted to punch my screen when I saw this, not only because I disagree with everything about it but also because this takes the live broadcast of the execution of two people and makes it about platforms, hashtags, and concepts.  NO VICTIM SHOULD EVER BECOME LESS HUMAN SO THAT OUR LABELS CAN GAIN TRACTION.  Adam Ward and Alison Parker have names, loved ones who weep for them, friends who will never hear their voices in real time again, hopes and dreams and dances that will never happen.  For anyone, anyone to deconstruct them or any other person shot, burned, beheaded, bombed, hanged, drowned, beaten, or any of the myriad of creative ways we have to destroy each other into pieces that we can put into our little boxes of understanding is to take the complex gift of humanity and make it less.  It is to look at a creation of God and say that this is not a person but a composite.

It is this that allows someone to film himself killing someone in cold blood, because that is not a human being and his pain is more important than theirs.

Much must be done in the realm of how we view weaponry and the availability of tools for causing harm to others.  I quite appreciate this other image I saw today:

But before any action, we must always return to the space of looking at another soul wrapped in skin and say I recognize that you are human, too.


You want what you don’t have, so you kill to get it. You long for what others have, and can’t afford it, so you start a fight to take it away from them.  (James 4:2a-b, TLB)

To Repeat, to Repeat

I am white.

This is not true in the strictest sense of the color white; I do not match the many papers littering my desk.  I am, in fact, a sort of mottled peach covered in light brown freckles.  The insides of some of my fingers are a burnt orange; I’ve never figured out why.  The veins that show through my black tattoos are lavender and teal.

When I was a kid, my family had a foster kid who was black.  This was not true in the strictest sense of the color black, either; she was a deep brown with palms even lighter peach than mine and frizzy black hair.  I called her my chocolate baby because I was three and she was two and the only thing I’d ever seen before that was her color was a Hershey’s bar.  I thought she was beautiful, and I still remember when I figured out that you don’t grow out of your skin color like you can with hair color and that I was, in fact, always going to be white.  It broke my heart.

This week has been so strange in the utter nonsense of the Dolezal mess and then the heartbreaking stupidity of the Charleston massacre.  I have everything and nothing to say to this.  In fact, I would love to let Dr. Greg Hills speak for me, because I agree with what he says.  And I would love to have Jon Stewart speak for me, because I wholeheartedly agree with what he says, too.  I would even let myself speak for me from three years ago, because it’s still true.

But those are easy.  Those are leaning on the words of others so that I don’t have to respond here, now, to the fact that we as a nation are continually ignoring the deep split between our rationality and our actions.  My father sometimes tells the story of growing up seeing segregated water fountains in public places and I always thought oh, how far we’ve come.  How good it is that we would not stand for that anymore.

Is it better or worse that we “allow” everyone to drink from the same water fountain but refuse to stop segregating safety?  Is it better or worse that I can teach a class of students of every shade but know that the darker kids will fight twice as hard to go anywhere with the lessons?  Is it better or worse to know that racism has buried itself in our marrow rather than boldly flying its colors?

I cannot in good conscience look my black, brown, peach, yellow, white, or beige friends in the eyes and say I am beyond angry about the murders in Charleston or the appropriation of oppression of Dolezal if I am myself still shading away from “them” in any sense, if I am not refusing at every opportunity to point out the places built to exclude, if I am not paying attention to the thousand small ways that I keep my comfortable little bubble intact.  But I cannot even begin to understand, Reader, what to do.  I can mourn, as Reverend Gafney calls for, and that is good and necessary.  And I can, in the little daily interactions, refuse to turn away from someone simply because s/he looks different.

But what else?  I’m not much of one for storming the capitol or even organizing a prayer vigil, yet God did not call me to be His feet so that I could sit on them.  Christianity is a faith that walks, runs, leaps through the places where hate destroys to be the light that saves.  It is a faith that demands we hold ourselves and each other accountable to a Kingdom view that says this shit won’t be tolerated, cannot stand in the presence of the God Who Himself was rather darker than the Europeans when He was in human form.  It is a faith with no patience for injustice, and the deaths in Charleston are quite simply that.

Hate is not just.  Unprovoked violence against the defenseless in a sacred space is not just.  Blaming the victims is not just.  Pretending that our social system did not create a place where someone felt it was not only possible but right to plan and enact the murder of nine people is not just.  And we must face that.  We must say it to ourselves, the shocked whispers building to the outraged roar that we are part of injustice and we cannot stay there.  We must not stay there; we must refuse to accept that this is Somewhere Else, that it is a fluke or an accident or a tragedy unconnected to the conversation we have in every level of a society that promotes weapons as though they’re intrinsically harmless, that connects skin color to human value, that belittles the mentally ill by classifying hate as an uncontrollable malfunction.

I have no idea how to do this, but I know that it must be done.  To continue repeating this cycle of violence founded in racial prejudice is to ignore all that we learn every single time about the worth of God’s children—and what good is it to be thinking creations if we do not learn?


And Jesus said, “The things that come out of people are the things that make them unclean.  All these evil things begin inside people, in the mind: evil thoughts, sexual sins, stealing, murder, adultery, greed, evil actions, lying, doing sinful things, jealousy, speaking evil of others, pride, and foolish living.”  (Mark 7:20-23, NCV)