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Anyone who says that they love change, in my not-so-humble opinion, is speaking from a position of power.  This is someone who is generally the engine of change. This is not the person who suddenly finds themselves looking for a new doctor since their old one is no longer or their insurance plan.  This is not the woman who learns that she is no longer on Medicaid.

Even positive change is hard if for no other reason than the fact that we need to learn change is needed.

This morning I listened to episode three of “Uncomforable Conversations with a Black Man,” a Youtube show with retired NFL player Emmanuel Acho.  Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper talked about discussing race with their kids.  “We want them to be color blind.”

This is something that you hear white people say.  But Acho explained why that is not what black people want.  It is not what they need.  Instead we need to see people and their cultures and respect them.

I don’t know if Acho and his guests “pre-discuss” the various topics they plan to cover or if it is truly candid, but neither Chip or Joanna batted an eye.  They listened, they heard, and they put in the effort to understand.

We aren’t at the Tower of Babel but sometimes it feels like we may as well be.  For years, the dominant society has been told that things are not fair.  Given how well it was heard, you’d think it was said in a different language.

It is time to listen.  It is time to do.  It isn’t going to be comfortable but God is with us every step of the way.



tower-of-babelThis week, I got a message from someone I knew growing up.  He was one of the “grown ups” at church when we started going there.  I had sent him a friend request on Facebook.  His message sounded a little ominous.  “I’m politically conservative and state my opinions respectfully. Do you still want to be friends?”

Um . . . what? Somehow I felt like I was getting a warning.  Look out!

But then it hit me. He’s was wondering if I was going to be an unholy brat if he disagreed with me. Frankly, I understood why he felt the need to ask.  Let’s face it.  It’s pretty obvious that I’m an unapologetic liberal. And liberals are not looking like a kinder, gentler people lately. We’ve been engaging in a lot of name calling like when CNN reporter Marc Lamont Hill called Bruce LeVell, a member of Trump’s diversity team, one of a group of mediocre Negroes.

This kind of name calling isn’t meant to start a dialogue.  It isn’t going to solve a problem.  It is simply designed to shut . . . someone . . . down.

For another example, have you heard about the controversy surrounding Veronica Roth’s latest young adult novel, Carve the Mark?  One group of people in this fantasy is described as savage, brown and nomadic. I haven’t read the book so I’m taking someone else’s word for that. Those criticizing Roth claim these baddies are another example of demonizing brown people.

Not everyone agrees. Some of her fellow authors believe that Roth has a diverse population of characters and not all “bad guys” are brown, not all “good guys” are white. One of these authors is Sabaa Tahir who was criticized for not falling in line. One commenter berated Tahir questioning whether or not she knows what racism is. Tahir kindly explained just how completely she understands racism, citing numerous racist acts perpetrated against her. She also challenged the notion that minority authors must speak as one, that they cannot have their own opinions, and that there cannot be a dialogue.

Dialogue is a rare commodity in our society.  It is almost like we are creating our own Tower of Babel. How? We seem to have the notion that if someone doesn’t agree with you 100%, you don’t need to listen to them, you don’t need to talk to them, and you can get by with calling them every name in the book.

We support this behavior although name calling creates a divide.  We condone this kind of public criticism although it doesn’t solve any problem.  It is just an attempt to beat someone down.

Seriously, people. We cannot solve problems as Christians as until we are willing to discuss things with people who don’t think exactly like we think.  We have to be willing to listen to people who disagree with us. And it isn’t going to be easy.  Bad habits are hard to break.

But I saw an interview today about how to get it done. Rev. William Barber challenges people to quit using the labels that commonly color our political discourse. We aren’t left and right, black and white, Republican and Democrat, or liberal and conservative.  We are people coming together to address an issue.

The issue takes the floor.

But for this to happen, we have to be willing to step away from the Tower of Babel. We have to be willing to stop the name calling even if we’re just labeling ourselves liberal or conservative.  We have to want to renew our ability to communicate. And to do that, we have to listen.

Can you hear me?



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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