The year that got us: my look at 2020 in the rear view mirror

As the year is wrapping up, I’d thought I’d share some reflections and personal updates because it’s been quite the year. I’ll do my best to keep it from being rambling or disjointed. Truth is, I’ve not been writing as I typically do, which is evidenced in the sporadic posts I’ve had this year. The last one was September so what does that tell you. It’s not for a lack of wanting or material, either. I’ve actually started several posts but never finished them. I do have one almost complete in which I’ve already committed over 1,200 words so hopefully that will come soon.

I think a contributing reason to the writing malaise is that its just been a hard year and one that wears on the soul. I recognized early on in the pandemic that the sense of disorientation and “fogginess” is actually kind of normal for what has been a most un-normal year. My hats off to those who seized the opportunity of slow down to fill it up in fruitful ways. I just wasn’t able and I learned that is ok, too.

If there is one thing I can say about this year, it’s been one of exposure of hearts and where our loyalties really lie. I say this primarily of the Christian whose first loyalty should be to Christ and his kingdom with loose commitments to the social and political factions of this age. But this year with all that’s happened–from COVID, more police shootings of unarmed black people, lockdowns, and a bizarre election cycle–has pulled back whatever veneer resided over socio-political orientations we tried to mask with our Christian presentation. Not to mention the tensions that have ramped up in the church over the issue of Critical Race Theory that has created more divisions. That’s why I say it’s the year that got us. It exposed us. It showed what we truly valued. We can no longer hide.

Nor should we. In fact, I’d say with everything 2020 has wrought also gives us the opportunity to take a good hard look at the priorities of our Christian commitment and the lenses through which we filter it. It’s easy to say I love Jesus when it’s also accompanied by affirmations of cultural comfort. I love Jesus and my freedom. I love Jesus and my blackness. I love Jesus and my fight for justice. I love Jesus and my president….loves that put caveats on faithfulness. But the church has always been tempted to follow the spirit of the age and we do well to ask some deep hard questions about our propensity to follow it. That’s something that ultimately comes through conviction of the Holy Spirit. We should not grieve or quench him. John’s divinely inspired words ring true here, “little children keep yourself from idols.” (1 Jn. 5:21)

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When Jesus changes everything: one sister’s reflection on today’s woke movement

Well it’s been a month now since my wedding and I hope to get back to writing soon. You’ll notice some small changes on the blog site, primarily involving the name change. In the meantime, I present this guest post by Latanya Yarbrough and her thoughts on the Woke Movement that has gripped Christ’s church. 

I used to be so pro-black that I was anti-white. Idealizing and idolizing black culture eventually caused me to despise white people and white culture. Although I would have never admitted this to an “outsider,” in my heart I worshipped blackness and loathed white people.

These were my attitudes when I was unconverted. Before Christ I was steeped in the ideologies of black consciousness, black pride, black superiority, etc. I was tuned in to the social injustices and racial disparities around me–those that had taken place before my birth as well as those that prevailed during the 80’s and 90’s. Like most African Americans I knew there was a battle taking place within me as I struggled with being both black and American.

Yet, at the same time, the views I had of myself were also influenced by the perceptions white Americans held about black Americans. As these two opposing views struggled for dominance I struggled to define who I was as a black American while also trying to resist the temptation to yield to the views of white Americans, views which I perceived to be both hurtful and racist.

W.E.B. Dubois in his book, The Souls of Black Folks, described this war of opposing ideals as a “double consciousness.” Because of my social consciousness and my internal struggles you could say that I was “woke.” My consciousness was shaped not only by what was happening at the time (reduced expenditures for public institutions of all kinds as well as a strong white backlash to the civil rights movement, which was being expressed by opposing both school desegregation and affirmative action programs) but also by the books I read and the lectures I listened to. Continue reading

Happy (Kind Of) Independence Day

liberty bell w_fireworksWell, this is certainly a different kind of post for me. But this 4th of July celebration falls upon a week of much uproar over the Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. At the heart of the fall out is basically disagreement regarding individual rights and religious freedom. There have been plenty of posts dissecting, analyzing, supporting, castigating or otherwise blasting the decision. To be sure, there has been over-the-top fact-twisting rhetoric amid some calmer, knowledgeable and more insightful pieces on this decision. So much has been written so there is no need to add to that pot.

But the uproar over the case does make me reflect on what it says about where we are as a country. At the same time July 4th gives us opportunity to reflect on who we were established to be as a country. And I find the contrast kind of ironic.  Why do I say that? July 4th is a commemoration of colonists declaration of independence from Britain. It was a group of people who said no to government tyranny and its ability to rule over the conscience of the people.

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, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

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