Category Archives: Politics

Think Paula Deen’s a Racist? You Might Be Too If… ~ A Tutorial for the “Accidental Racist”

By | Politics, Spirit, Uncategorized | No Comments

Is this your image of a racist?

This weekend, we were all bombarded with reports of  racist comments made by Paula Deen, the Food Network’s former Queen of Southern cookin’.

She and her brother are being sued for sexual harassment and racial discrimination. According to Deen’s deposition, she used the “N” word (long ago) and expressed the desire to throw a plantation wedding reception served by “middle-aged black men” wearing “beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie” to mirror a by-gone era in the South. I bet her lawyers were sweating while she answered the questions. She did not do herself any favors.

People who hold racist ideas or use racist language don’t necessarily have neo Nazi tats, shaved heads or sport giant Confederate flags on their pickup trucks.

Racists can dress modestly, own successful businesses, go to church and believe they have good intentions toward the neighbors, even the ones they just insulted with the “N” word. They might be relatives, friends or even *GULP*, us.

Unfortunately, racist ideas are still deeply imbedded in our culture and often unrecognized by those who hold them.

Racial discrimination is not a problem whose time has passed in America. In many ways, its influence is more insidious than in times past when racial discrimination was legal.

In fact, I hear racist comments all the time from people who don’t even seem to notice that they’ve made them. So, I’m compiling a few for you today with the hope that this post will cause us all to examine our words and our attitudes as they relate to the equality of ALL people. 

These are some comments I have heard only recently. I’ve included a tutorial to explain why the statements are racist for those of you who don’t understand why it’s not ok to say things like this. 

You might be racist if you say…

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“He was a black man but he was very intelligent (or) kind (or) good looking.” 

I’ve heard all of these in their various forms. The problem in this statement is in the “but”. To describe someone by their color and add that “but they’re still ok” infers that you somehow think they are usually inferior in these areas solely based on their color.

A better compliment?

“He is a very intelligent/kind/good looking man.” Just skip the race observation, ‘kay?

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“She is black and from the South. I don’t know if this has anything to do with her not performing well at her job.”

See #1. If you have a problem with someone’s job performance, address it apart from race.

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“They are such a friendly/generous people.”

“They may be poor but they’re so much more content than we are.”

or

“I love ‘the people’ of Mexico”

(or Africa, or any country where the majority are not the same color as you).

Really? ALL The people of Mexico? Stereotyping an entire group of people – even with attributes generally considered positive, belittles the complexity of who they are as individuals and reduces them to simplistic, almost “friendly pet” status. In every people group, there are the good, the bad and the indifferent. Don’t lump people together based on their color. That’s like saying all Asians are great pianists. Yup. That is racism.

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“There are a lot of drunk Indians living in that area. You know they can’t hold their liquor.”

Yes. Someone actually said this to me lately. I almost fell over in shock. Are we living in the Old West? Who still thinks this?

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This weekend, a friend shared a comment she overheard while working as a makeup artist,

“Your makeup looks really good! No offense, but most Native Americans I see don’t do much to fix themselves up.”  

My response to this besides open-mouthed shock? If you need to say, “No offense” at the start of your comment, it’s probably wise not to finish it.

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All of these kinds of comments are born out of an outdated, never true, pseudo-scientific belief that a person of color is somehow intellectually, morally and socially inferior to the person making the statement.

Note the use of the word “pseudo”. Meaning, there is no basis in fact for this belief!! Ideas like this motivated our forefathers to enslave people based on their color, to push Mexicans and Indians off their land and imprison Japanese in containment camps during World War 2. Those are just a few shameful examples of the racism that has tainted our history.

From the perspective of a person of faith, I don’t want to be guilty of treating people in any way other than the one Jesus defined for us – with love. In Luke 10, He identified the two greatest commandments  – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself. I encourage you to take a minute and read the story. As I read it, I asked myself, “How can I say I follow Jesus teachings and example if I think I am better than another person?”

A final note on Ms. Deen…

She did take the time to make videos apologizing for her comments to her family, her customers and her many fans. I truly hope she is sincere. But her story is a reminder to us that we all have the opportunity to face, sometimes painful, moments of truth about ourselves. We can either dig in our heels and insist we are right or we can humbly choose to learn a lesson that help us grown into a better version of ourselves. It’s possible that this will be one of those moments for Ms. Deen. It certainly is for me and I hope it is for you too.

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It’s hard to love others if you don’t love yourself first. Take a moment to read a lesson in self love.

Chik-fil-A’s Stand for Christ. That’s Right. I’m a Jesus Freak.

By | Politics, Spirit | 19 Comments

It seems like everyone has weighed in on the Chick-fil-A controversy so I will too. I can no longer contain my disappointment and OUTRAGE.

As a follower of Christ, I feel the Christian community has handled the situation with sagacity and compassion.

In fact, I see Jesus everywhere in the way the conservative community in particular has responded both in obeying Christ’s direct instructions about sharing the gospel and in trying to follow the example of His life, especially in the political arena.

In particular, Christians have really followed Jesus’s instructions to go into the world and preach the gospel to every place, especially to friends who agree with them, on Facebook and even where they go to eat fried chicken.

Second, Christians have done a very thorough job of letting gays and non-Christians everywhere know that people in “traditional marriages” are morally and intellectually superior to those who are depraved enough to marry someone of the same sex.

Of course we love gay people while hating their sin. In this instance, love obviously doesn’t require me to know any “real” gay people or maintain an actual friendship with them.

But we are compelled, by scripture, to respond to this situation with point by point blog posts about how narrow-minded, hateful, hypocritical, bigoted and (possibly) high (or mentally ill) these liberals really are.

Clearly.

( I have a feeling when this whole controversy blows over, gay people are going to come flocking to our churches to get to know the Jesus who inspires such a righteous political stand. ‘Cause argument and, you know, political successes have a way of winning hearts and minds to Christ. Wouldn’t you agree?)

The righteous anger with which we’ve supported poor (well, actually super, super wealthy – *whatever*), picked-on Dan Cathy is absolutely admirable. Cathy is like a martyr for the faith.

After all, he is being persecuted for standing up for Jesus and following Christ’s instructions to politically enforce God’s law in all areas of civic life.

I mean, even Billy Graham is coming out of political retirement to eat a chicken sandwich. Hello!

I personally believe these moments are among the primary reasons Jesus came to America.

Oops. I meant earth.

We are so lucky to have lots of examples from Jesus of how to handle these little Christian marketing snafus.

I made it a point this weekend to look up a few in the Holy Scriptures.

Jesus made a practice of making people “stop sinning” before he would save them. If they wouldn’t stop, He set a precedent of using the law to regulate the behavior of non-believers so that they were forced to obey.

He especially practiced this form of proselytizing with Zacchaeus ( Luke 19:1-10) and Levi (Luke 5:27-32), both tax collectors who were utterly reviled in their own culture.

Wait.

Guess I was wrong there. Just read the passage in Luke 5. To Levi, Jesus only said “Follow me.” And the power of Christ’s love and His call causes Levi to forsake his fortune and corrupt ways to follow Jesus.

Huh. Whatever. That’s just one verse. I’m sure in the story of  Zacchaeus, Jesus expected change first, salvation next.

Or not.

In Luke 19, news of Jesus’ life changing power reached Zacchaeus before Christ even arrived. The Z-man was so enticed by the stories of Jesus’ power and love, he climbed a tree to catch a glimpse. Jesus went home with the Z-man to eat and drink with him (translation: Hang out) – all before Zacchaeus changed a darn thing.

After dinner, Zacchaeus seemed to get the idea that Jesus loved him – just the way he was (silly right?). The power of Christ’s love and presence caused Zacchaeus to repent of his corrupt ways on the spot. He promised restitution to his victims – times 4~!

Ok, so I was wrong in these two cases. But these guys were only tax collectors (thieves in their day). They weren’t gay.

I searched for verses to support how angry I am supposed to be at the gay community and the liberals for threatening the status of marriage in America, thus threatening the foundation of our culture and our status as a “Christian nation”.

Here’s what I found.

I started reading story after story about how Jesus interacted with people who were clearly in terrible need of him. He actually sought to love the people most disenfranchised because of behavior that defied cultural “norms”.

Instead of discovering scriptures supporting the righteous conservative Republican political agenda I know Jesus endorses, I keep running into verses about loving my neighbor, being humble, slow to anger and slow to speak.

Instructions from Jesus like:

These from the Sermon on the Mount as portrayed in Matthew 5:44-48, when Jesus said not only should we pray for our enemies, we’re supposed to love them.

Ugh.  I’m praying all right…For their complete political defeat!

This one in Matthew 22:35-40 where Jesus says the law and the prophets depend on Loving God with all our hearts, souls and minds – and our neighbors as ourselves.”

Maybe this verse supports the kind of “love” that encourages me to let someone know how much they’re sinning before they know Jesus, right? Especially if they are gay.

Although, this passage in 1 Corinthians 13 doesn’t seem to support that idea… It says all these asinine things like “love is patient, kind…doesn’t seek it’s own, is not arrogant or easily provoked” blah, blah, blah…

Eh. That’s just a poem people read at weddings to fill space and it obviously only applies to people who already agree with me. Obviously if a political opponent is being stupid and illogical, I can make fun of them on Facebook or at least point out their obvious errors in logic.

People stupid enough to disagree with me need to get over any ideas they have about my unkind words standing between them and Jesus.

In John 8:1-11, a group of Pharisees brings a woman actually caught (in the act!) of committing adultery to Jesus for judgment. Finally, some hard core moral people.

Levitical law says she should be stoned (Ha! Proof that we can govern moral behavior in civic law). Jesus acts all calm, like she’s not leading the culture straight to hell, and says that the person in the crowd who hasn’t sinned should throw the first rock. The accusers slink away like cowards.

Wimps. It’s the law. Give me the rock! 

In John 4:1-41, Jesus goes out of His way to converse with a Samaritan woman, someone with whom a Jewish person wouldn’t normally associate. Not only is she socially undesirable based on her ethnic background, she’s clearly debauched even by our cultural norms.

Five marriages??? Sheesh.

But when Jesus sees her at a well, not only does He greet her, He asks her for a drink and stays to talk. She sees truth and love in His eyes and hears it in His words. She chooses to follow Him and so do a bunch of her friends.

Huh. Maybe these “love” methods worked back in HIS day but we’re Americans and we have a right and duty to uphold morality through government intervention in daily life (as long as it has nothing to do with our money).

So, I checked the Old Testament too – to find out if there was some hard core sacrifice I could give to prove my faith.

You know, like giving money to a political organization that ensures sinful people like the gays don’t get to do gross stuff in front of my kids like kiss or get married. That undermines the family far more than divorce. I’m not putting any money toward enforcing civil sanctions against people who commit adultery. Or maybe I should…?

Instead I found this verse in Micah about loving my neighbor and being humble before God.

No matter where I look for answers, I keep finding Jesus saying things like…

the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost Luke 19:10

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance Luke 5:32

Everywhere I look in scripture, Jesus isn’t banging people over the head with his Old Testament scroll, shouting, “You’re so gross and deviant! We’re changing and enforcing moral laws to make you do the right thing!” After all, He was God right? Couldn’t he have been a hard core enforcer?

For some reason, he’s really kind of a wuss when it comes to showing off His power in enforcing morality. He seems interested in a more lasting, internal kind of change.

Jesus meets each person exactly where he or she is, dirty and broken, sinful and defiant. He meets each person’s (perceived or real) physical need for healing, food, water and friendship (yes, FRIENDSHIP with “worldly” people!) before convicting them of whatever it is in their life that needs to change. 

When Jesus sends His disciples into the world as He is leaving, He tells them to preach the gospel to every nation. When he tells them they’re the light of the world, a “city on a hill”, he’s talking about their good works, not their political agenda.

I.am.so.DISAPPOINTED  in this version of Jesus.

He is nothing like the strong, powerful policy changer I anticipated.

I was sure He came to save me from the heavy weight of a government that clearly overreaches its powers to interpret the Constitution, taxes me to the point of oppression and fails to properly legislate morality.

Seems like all He really cares about is reconciling my broken connection to God. He even says in Isaiah 64:6 my good works are like dirty rags – Mine! He doesn’t seem to get that the consequences of my very small, white sins are not nearly as gross and unnatural as those of the deviant liberal people, and therefore less sinful.

The Jesus I keep finding in the Bible seems more interested in offering me a restored relationship with God and healing the broken parts of me than He is about my being His bully enforcer.

He wants me to follow some CRAZY – humble, servant-like, felon loving, poor-people-feeding & clothing path. Matthew 25:31-4

Yuck, yuck, yuck! – more instructions and verses I don’t like!!! He even suggests He’ll judge me by these standards instead of my voting record or my volunteer work – at church.

Bugger. I really thought He was going to be impressed with my industrious nature and conservative political leanings.

Instead, He wants to know why I keep calling Him “Lord” while not wanting to follow His instructions and example of humility and love for all people. Luke 6:46-49.

I’ll tell you why I don’t want to follow it.

I don’t like this version of Jesus.

There. I said it.

This isn’t the Christ I signed up to support.

I need –

my

own.

personal.

Jesus.

I’ll let you know when I’ve scripted a Jesus who better fits my agenda and that of my political party.

Failing that, I’ll just go eat a chicken sandwich and some waffle fries.

I know how to stand up for American Jesus.

 

* This post is based on actual events like public FB remarks, verbal comments & blog responses by real people over the last few weeks.*

For those baffled by the style of this post, I offer the following vocabulary review. 

The word for today is Satire. Defined, courtesy of Dictionary.com, as “A literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision or ridicule.”

If you, too, are disappointed in this version of Jesus, please share this post on Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media tool. 

Keep the comments civil, please.

 

Other posts on this topic, Gay or Bigot, Do We Have to Choose?

Gay or Bigot. Do We Have to Choose One?

By | Politics | 14 Comments

People often say they hate negative campaigning but I don’t believe it. The truth is, negative campaigns are very effective because they accomplish their purpose, which is to create two distinct camps – “US” and “THEM”. This works because it offers voters an identity. Negative campaigning by either side creates a bad guy and a good guy so that the voter has an incentive to get to the polls and be on the winning side, the side that will crush the opposition. We all love the idea that we are the good guy and the winner, don’t we?

While I can see the power negative campaigning lends to a political agenda, I believe in day to day interactions it is detrimental to the kind of change I’d love to see in the world.

Because the truth is, political power doesn’t equal lasting change. No one side can hold power forever.  After years of being the loser, the underdog usually gets tired of being stepped on and finds a way to rally the troops, rise above the “oppression” and get on top, until the other side takes them down again. If you don’t believe me, just look at some significant examples from history like the demise of Rome at the hands of the barbarians it sought to rule, the emergence of the United States as a power separate from England and the rise of Hitler after World War 1.

In the U.S.A., we frequently see the underdog regain dominance in our elections. Republicans and Democrats wrest power from each other constantly by demonizing the other side, while Independents scream from the sidelines that both parties in power are corrupt.

Unfortunately, the result of negative campaigning is that we get used to it to the point that as non-politicians, we carry into our daily interactions with people whose opinions differ from ours. Campaigns end and politicians find a way to work with their opponents by means of negotiation and power plays to get what their constituents want. But negative campaigning often continues in the way the rest of us communicate with each other on matters social, religious and political.

Am I one of those people who believes we should all just hold hands and get along or doesn’t believe in politics? Nope. Political power is important and has obviously changed the world for the better at times. But that’s a topic for another day.

I know we will never all agree on any one creed – and that is ok with me. But, I am an American and I’m passionate about defending my right and yours to independent beliefs and free speech. And if you’ve known me long, you know I enjoy a spirited debate as well. But, I also believe that real, lasting change starts with relationships, not slogans, and drifts upward.

Why in the world am I thinking about this today in the midst of struggling with sleepless nights, keeping baby bottles filled and little people occupied indoors during a very hot summer?

I’ll tell you why.

Because a dear friend posted a meme on Facebook last night calling anyone whose opinion differed from hers on a controversial subject – a bigot. It was meant to be a hip social statement but it got under my skin in the same way one I saw last year did. That one led to a post about why I am sometimes embarrassed to say I’m a Christian  (hint: It’s not because I’m embarrassed of Jesus!).

Here it is.

First, I laughed because whoever created the meme obviously forgot to look up the definition of bigot.

A bigot is someone who is intolerant of another’s creed or belief system to the point of hating or oppressing that person. Notice the way that this meme seems to be against bigotry while actually promoting it. Truthfully, a person who believes homosexuality is a sin can still believe that gay people (like ALL people) deserve love, respect and friendship. But saying you can no longer befriend someone who holds a different opinion from yours is pretty close to the definition of bigot.

Here’s the thing. I’m not gonna post my opinions on homosexuality and whether it’s wrong or right. That’s not the point.

The point is that if we as non-politicians continue to use negative campaigning to get our points across, we’ll never really make a powerful difference in our world. Campaigning like this might win elections but it does not foster understanding. It does not encourage compassion. It does not create connection.

You see, I don’t want to live in a world where people of different political, social and religious opinions simply co-exist with each other. I’m not interested in a substandard method of connection like mere tolerance. I challenge myself, my children and you – to seek a far more powerful and world altering choice.

LOVE.

My passion and my mission while I breathe this air and share this space with my fellow men and women is to create connections between people by first seeking to understand them and then by loving them even if we do not or cannot agree. This is what is means to be in a community. Some of the most powerful, life altering relationships in my experience have been with people who hold opinions in complete opposition to mine.

Relationships with people whose opinions are different from mine require me to put aside my fear, my pride and my own prejudices to truly hear the heart of another. They require that I take the time to listen and re-examine my own beliefs for inconsistencies. They require me to stretch intellectually and take the time to carefully work through both arguments. They require me to be respectful and loving in my responses.

Saying you really care about change and actually learning to BE that change are two very different things. The next time you think about posting some polarizing, negative slogan that will cause your friends to slap you on the back and make anyone who disagrees with you feel bad or get angry, consider this. Negative campaigning that ridicules, belittles or minimizes another person’s beliefs only creates barriers between people who disagree.

What is your true intention? Looking cool and being on the “winning” side – or truly bringing change to the world? You can still stand up for your beliefs without diminishing your opponent. A good argument transcends name calling.

Change requires connection with people of opposing viewpoints and connection requires time, humility and patience. Angry slogans and shouted opinions rarely win anyone away from their deeply held beliefs.

Learning to connect with others in a significant, vulnerable and genuine manner is the true path to change. Love is far more powerful than the negative campaign. It takes thought and effort and a lot more time than a meme or a soundbite require. But I’m willing to put in the work if it means I might change the path of my small circle, my community and maybe my world to create a place where we learn to understand and love each other better.

Are you with me?

 

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Gift from an American Soldier

By | Politics | No Comments

We are rather lax about our mailbox duties at times because it seems like most of the time, mail means just another bill. But, this week, we received a beautiful gift.

Look at this.

Excuse the fold job. It’s hard to refold a flag properly by yourself!

A very dear friend of ours is currently serving our country in Afghanistan. He and his crew flew this flag on the tail of a C-17A during a combat mission and then sent it to us.  The gift was so meaningful to both Rob and I, we have been choked up for several days.

In these recent years, America has come under heavy criticism for so much of what happened after 9/11. But, for me, the sight of an American flag still conveys images of much that is dear to my heart. It signifies the sacrifice of time, intellect, blood and life. It signifies hope. It signifies a force for good.

I am not ignorant as to the many times our country has failed to live up to the fullest version of our image as a “righteous nation”. After all, I have a degree in History and a minor in Political Science. But, I would still rather my children grow up here than anywhere else in the world because of the opportunities and freedoms we have as Americans to choose to do right, live well and to offer that hope to others.

When I see the flag, some of the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence repeat in my mind.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

The powerful words of Thomas Jefferson ring in my heart as  I am reminded that the founders of our country risked all for the most incredible experiment of government ever attempted. And, they succeeded. I often wonder if as part of the “governed” I do enough to ensure the success of our country’s founders’ continues in our day.

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily activities of life and talk about government as “those politicians” or forget about them entirely. But, if we want America to be a place worth fighting for, we all have a part to play. We are already teaching our daughters, even at 5 and 2, about their American heritage – the good and the less desirable parts. We want them to know that good government is our responsibility and America’s success as a free and honorable nation depends on our involvement. I am grateful they live in this century, where woman have the greatest opportunity they’ve ever had to not only vote but to participate in government and to shape policy.

And our friend, whose courage and duty reminded us of this lesson in civil responsibility? We appreciate you and the service you do our country daily in the name of freedom. We know you have to be separated from your family for long periods of time and we’re so grateful for your willingness to serve. We love you and pray for your safe return to American soil.

This weekend, we’re putting up a flag holder so that we can fly our flag regularly as a reminder of the men and women who daily offer their lives for our freedom to participate in self government and a free nation.