You are good
Your intentions, relentless  
Wave after wave,  
Indefatigable  
Lord, break over us
We, of small-minded polity, and punitive theology.
Raise up humanity
In the roar of your love.

Amen.
.

From the Bullet, to the Spit, to the Billy Club, to the Noose

Perhaps nothing about the history of mob violence in the United States is more surprising than how quickly an understanding of the full horror of lynching has receded from the nation’s collective historical memory. —W. Fitzhugh Brundage

Memorial shot from Scott wide.jpg

I took a trip last week through the American SouthEast with men of various shades of color. We intentionally walked some of the most infamous pages of our nation's history. From the bullet that assassinated Dr King in Memphis, to the spit that accumulated on Elizabeth Eckford’s dress the first day of integration in Little Rock, to the billy club that beat back the peaceful protestors in Selma, to the memorial remembering, and giving names to the unfathomable lynchings in Birmingham... we were there. And we were confronted with our nation's pathologically unjust sins.

From the bullet to the spit, to the billy club, to the noose.

Every caucasian American should experience what we did this past week. We should see, and listen, so we can name, and confess. We must name who we were (and whom we would likely continue to be if left to our own devices.) It takes great humility to name things. Our country needs great humility. I have come to believe there is no real future, without acknowledgment of a very real past.

From the bullet to the spit, to the billy club, to the noose.

And every African-American should see what my friends and I saw this past week. They should see, so they can rightly understand what they lost, lament, and begin to forgive. Its possible forgiveness cannot happen without a precise understanding of the things taken away. This takes great humility. Our country needs great humility. I'm not an expert on national reconciliation, but there's probably no real future, without forgiveness of a very real past. 

From the bullet to the spit, to the billy club, to the noose.

And if we pursue confession, and forgiveness there will be a day when the past will no longer define us, except in the sense that we will have learned, and grown from it. Until that happens the corporate personality of our nation will churn on like it always has, pointing fingers, constantly recycling hate into more hate. So long as our peace depends on scapegoats, we never move forward.

So, what is next? What's our strategy? Good question. The bullets, spit, billy clubs, and nooses are never really going to stop this side of the coming Kingdom of Heaven. What can stop, and, by the way, what will usher in the Kingdom of Heaven, is our refusal to activate these weapons. The strategy to rid our world of violence isn't simply telling people to stop being violent. The strategy is to make moves of solidarity to the victim's side. The violence will still be there, but we'll be absorbing, rather than committing. I admit this is extremely dangerous work. Please proceed cautiously. I would never suggest moves of solidarity except I realize more and more that these were the kinds of moves Jesus made. So, if you're ready, find someone, anyone, who is being marginalized. Be with them. Be for them. And you'll be with God. He's our hope, for He's the one who turns swords into plowshares; lynchings into resurrections. 

A Wreck of Love

Relocating Around the Pace of Jesus