Is Everyone Racist?

racism -- is everyone racist

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Intro to a controversial question: Is everyone racist?

This article from The Onion recently provoked some good thoughts among some of my conservative brethren and really got me thinking about why it is that conservative arguments on various issues are so often dismissed as racist on some level.

The issue of who is racist and to what degree is in a “post-explosive” state at this point. Conservatives are so used to being called racists that many of them have been intimidated into silence, and liberals have taken for granted so deeply the racism of conservatives that liberals are now more or less permanently “on alert” for those opinions and worldviews at all times, ready to pounce and judge as soon as they are expressed by conservatives.

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How to Get Off of Your Hamster-Wheel

hamster-wheel existence

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Meditation and the Hamster-Wheel

The only hope for humanity to get off the hamster-wheel of existence is for every person to take up the discipline of meditation.

It is the only pathway to move beyond human ego, constant want, and inability to see one’s self and one’s motives clearly. Without it, a person will always live half blind, no matter how well-intended their other spiritual pursuits may be.

Without it, there will always be only your side and my side. There will never be an end to the relentless back and forth we see modeled on a global scale between Israel and the Palestinians, and here at home between Republicans and Democrats, and more personally between spouses, partners, and friends.

Without it, there is no way to really fully forgive ego and intransigence in another person because without it you have not yet fully seen it in yourself. Through meditation, you come to see those qualities in yourself more and more clearly, and as this happens you learn to forgive it in yourself. As you see it more clearly in yourself, you see it more clearly in others, and find it easy to forgive it in them as well.

But every person must come individually to this conclusion.

It is deep and substantial work, and no one can or should force it on another. It must be taken up freely by every individual, as each person realizes they are their own worst enemy, and that the duplicity in themselves is perfectly reflected in the duplicity we see in politics and diplomacy at every level, and in all of our personal relationships.

That is the good news.

And that is the bad news.

It really is as simple as that.

But it is not easy at all.

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Stop admiring your heroes and start emulating them!

martin luther king stop admiring your heroes and start emulating them

image from forbes.com

Contempt for the process of becoming great

Many in our society mock the geeky kid singing in the glee club, but revere that same kid when he grows up to be Steven Tyler or Carrie Underwood. Then the former mockers may well claim to be their “biggest fans.”

Similarly, people often mock those who advocate peace, justice, non-violence, and global oneness, dismissing them as soft, impractical, or liberal. That is, until these soft, impractical, and liberal people end up becoming the Martin Luther King Jrs, the Malala Yousafzais, the Jimmy Carters (the statesman, not the president), and the Gandhis of the world. Then they are venerated and honored as the best of the best. Everyone wants to embrace them as their own.

This illustrates both our hypocrisy and lack of understanding of the growth process. We consistently mock the kittens but revere the cats. We idolize those who have arrived, but disregard those who are starting out on that same journey. It’s cool to be a rock star, but it’s uncool to actually learn about music. It’s cool to be a global force for peace in adulthood, but uncool to adopt the values of, say, a Martin Luther King Jr. before one actually becomes famous for those values.

Absolving ourselves from responsibility to be great

In taking these shallow attitudes, we distance ourselves from the great peacemakers of the world, excusing ourselves from ever becoming like them. We say, “I’m no Martin Luther King, Jr.” True as that may be, every person can begin to embrace the universal values King embraced, right from wherever they currently are. Over time those values, lived out consistently, will inevitably bear fruit. But we are distracted. Or spoiled. Or weak-willed. Or fearful. Or ignorant. Or simply unwilling to live for any cause greater than ourselves (though, of course, we deeply admire those who are willing).

Having thus distanced ourselves from living the way the great peacemakers lived, and from responsibility to actually adopt their values, not simply to admire them, we then go about criticizing our leaders, as if we are victims. But our leaders arise out of the same fearful, selfish soup as the rest of us. Yes, it is too bad more of them are not more principled, but it’s far more tragic that we expect our leaders to have already have a depth of character most us don’t even aspire to have. It is either worth having or it isn’t. If it’s worth having, then we ourselves are the hypocrites when we fail to adopt the values that will, inevitably, make us into the towering characters we expect others to be.

Moving beyond admiration to emulation

No, not everyone is meant to be a famous peacemaker, like MLK, Jimmy Carter, or Malala, and that is not the point. Either world-changers are world-changers or they are not. If they are, that comes from their values, principles, and character. If we revere these people, we have a responsibility to become that which we revere, which means going past admiring those qualities in others to developing them in ourselves. This means we must respect and nurture the “kittens,” those among us who may not be famous but who are building these values into their lives and may someday emerge as local, national, and/or global voices for peace.  We should never discourage them, dismiss them as impractical, or reject them because we do not like their politics. We are dense, indeed, if we do not understand that the politics of the world’s true peacemakers, are direct reflections of their deeply cultivated characters.

Question: How are you intentionally setting out to become like the people you most admire? Let me know in the comments section!

Reflections on God and Gays, and Much More

reflections on god and gays

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As expected, my recent post about the Duck Dynasty issue has had tons of readers, a lot of Facebook shares, and sparked incredible debate/dialogue, especially where it appeared on Facebook. If you do not follow my writer page there, I hope you will sign on and join in the conversation! The post below is an edited version of something I just posted on Facebook that I think stands alone as a unique statement on my views not only of homosexuality, but -- more important -- of the relationship between God and all of us.

Note: All scripture links were added after I finished the post, not as I wrote it. My worldview is deeply rooted in the Bible's ancient wisdom, and I wanted to provide these links for all who are interested.

I have gone from thinking about this issue of God and gays theologically to thinking about it relationally (though I think the best theological thinking IS relational thinking). If one of my daughters announced she was gay, it would change NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL. I certainly would not hope for her salvation, at least not any more than anyone else’s, because I believe that if I love my daughters so deeply, God must love them infinitely more, and since my daughters are safe in my care, they must be infinitely safer in God’s. I think the reason Jesus commanded love is precisely because of the way loves biases us so strongly in favor of people, puts us so firmly in their corner and on their side, no matter what.

When I do think of this issue theologically, I see it as something that is evolving culturally, and that that is by no means a bad thing. The Bible pretty much endorses slavery, and for years many used scripture to resist racial equality, but at some point the church began to understand that there simply is no good argument in favor of this terrible thing, regardless of what the Bible seemed to be saying. Yes, even in the face of the Bible’s seeming endorsement of slavery, we can confidently pronounce it a great evil — indeed one of the greatest, because it so fundamentally stands against the spirit of what it means to be human. In the same way, the church will view homosexuality differently in the years to come, and that has already begun. I realize this statement will inflame some people, but anyone who cannot see this is simply not fairly considering past history, current events, and how we know things like this march forward, with the conservative faction dragging their feet but eventually coming along nonetheless.

This simply is the road the church is on and there is no stemming that tide. I say this despite the fact that in some ways my own faith tradition is trying to do exactly that.

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What is Righteousness?

heart with plant growing out of it -- what is righteousness

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Yesterday one of Wildwind‘s small group leaders texted me asking if I wouldn’t mind explaining the Biblical understanding of righteousness. He said the word had, for him and his group members, a bit of a negative connotation. I’m not sure why this is, other than possibly its legalistic undertone and associations (conscious or not) with self-righteousness. He said the best they were understanding it, it was God’s standard of what is right and wrong. I emailed him an answer that, of course, was more like a personalized sermon so, rather than let it go to waste, I thought I’d post it here for anyone who is interested. If you view God as someone who is ready to punish you, or who demands behavioral perfection from you, I encourage you to read this.

Okay, big theological question here. You’ve pretty much got it, but let me nuance it a little bit. Check out this verse in these two translations:

Matthew 5:20 (NIV)
20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20 (MSG)
20 Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

I would encourage you to read the verse in context. Jesus is talking, really, about the impossibility of meeting God’s standard of righteousness. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were impeccable in matters of right living. NO ONE could surpass them, and everyone knew it. So what’s the catch? What is righteousness, then?  

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