Are You Angry or Irritated?

Do you know the story of John Crawford? John Crawford is yet another unarmed African American man shot and killed in our gun crazed society.

We have a major gun problem in our country and people of faith and values should be angry enough at all this needless death to change that.

God has given us the ability to create life and it is past time that we resist the temptation to end it.

1339278683_5911_gun2

We must be angry enough to rid our world of gun violence.

The example of Mr. Crawford illustrates what happens when we continuously ignore our culture of gun death. He was a married man and a father of two who was shot by (white) police officers in an aisle of a Wal-Mart supercenter while swinging a toy BB gun as he was pacing while on the phone with his wife.

0

This should make you angry but it shouldn’t surprise you.Most of us have heard the stories of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner.

To this point, there has been little reform to ensure black males or anybody else are any safer in the midst of law enforcement bullies.

In the face of this, I am shocked, saddened, and angry.

However, if I am willing to keep scrolling about my business without committing myself to ending this senseless violence, I must accept the fact that I am not yet angry, but simply irritated.

Nearly two years ago, 20 students and 6 adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We as a nation were shocked, saddened, and angry. Political promises were made, and seemingly, we have fatigued in our anger and simply stayed irritated. Meanwhile, out of the spotlight of the national media 15 major gun incidents have occurred at schools since Sandy Hook.

Are we angry? Or are we merely irritated?

Guns have done irreparable damage at the hands of children, young adults, grownups, criminals, and law enforcement alike. It is time to decide that the damage that has been done, to innocent minorities, to innocent children, to loved ones and to strangers, has made us angry.

I scroll through things that irritate me everyday – annoying status updates, an internet hoax with a three-breasted woman, and tons of political crap-talk that amounts to nothing. If I am not paying attention, the stories of Eric Garner, and John Crawford and the stories of more senseless gun violence blend right in with the other things that simply irritate me.

But it’s time to start paying attention. And it’s time to be angry.

Our children, our communities, and our safety are depending on us to connect with and act in the name of the Jesus who was not afraid to turn over the tables of the corrupted temple. Our system has become corrupted by gun violence and we need to flip this system upside down.

Let us follow that model and heed the call of Jeremiah (3:23) who warns us, “Do no wrong or violence” especially against vulnerable populations.

Make no mistake. Today, African American males are made vulnerable by racism, by militarized police forces, and by a lack of accountability in our political leaders.

Are you angry? Or merely irritated?

Jesus and the Millenials

 

Have you heard about the Millenials?

Generation M

 

The “Millenials” means those Americans born after 1980 who began to come of age around the year 2000. According to the Pew Research forum, “fully one-in-four members of the millennial generation are unaffiliated with any particular faith.”

Before I identified as a Millenial, I was a Christian. The longer I identify as a Millenial, the harder it is for me to identify as a Christian.

We Millenials crave connection. I think every human on the planet craves connection but for Millenials we are so inundated with connections (through messages, screens, phones, social media, school groups, work groups, community groups) that we are weary of connections that are fruitless or based on false pretenses.

I, as a Millenial, am not anti-church. I am just not inclined to be as critical of the church as I am with every other source of connection – spiritual, physical, or intellectual.

There is much conversation about “Why Millennials are Leaving the Church” and “Why Millenials Love God but Not Church” and here are my two cents:

Millenials don’t want to talk about what we are not, we want to talk about who we are. We relate to a Jesus whose connections were meaningful and on a first-name basis. We crave to be caught up in action instead of talk.

Here’s an example of students at James Madison University living out Jesus’ call to love one another.

At our worse, Millenials have a tendency to become over-connected and under-developed from the weight of so much. Perhaps too, the church is suffocating itself under the weight of so much that can be argued about and neglecting our responsibility to the Great Commandment: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength, and to love our neighbors as ourself.

I believe these three things:

– The message of God’s love for humanity offers the grace, peace, and belonging that humanity (even Millennials!) desperately need.

– The majority of millennials have thoroughly rejected the tenants of the shallow, narrow-minded, homophobic church.

– The more time that we waste our voice in futile arguments with these sinful churches the more we will be tuned out and deemed irrelevant too.

We must offer up a transformative song of love in our churches that is loud enough to drown out the arguments that millennials, you, and I are tired of hearing anyway.

Do you agree? What would this look like in your church?

Ray Rice: Now We See Him, Soon We Won’t

I am a Christian.

I like sports, and I have a daughter.

I have a daughter who will one day ride in elevators with the partner of her choosing and in a few months I will have a son who will eventually grow up to ride in elevators with the partner of his choosing.

IMG_3853 Christians, fathers, and sports enthusiasts all need to do a better job of stopping violence against women. The recent NFL scandal about Ray Rice battering his fiancé in an elevator isn’t going to get that done.

I have watched the footage of Ray Rice and Janay Palmer (now, Janay Rice) in the elevator; several times.

article-0-1BA6330300000578-989_634x416

 

I wonder what that says about me as a man, as a Christian, as a sports enthusiast, and as a father.

We fathers, Christians, feminists, and sports enthusiasts need to own up to this: the Ray Rice scandal is not so much about domestic violence as it is about the NFL covering their PR butts, the rage of media members who were lied to by suits who make millions of dollars manipulating the media every day, and the love of scandal.

I understand why I was drawn to the video.

I love scandal. I feel entitled to know everything there is to be known.

I am of a generation that expects that which is public to include all that was intentionally private and I spend embarrassing amounts of time calculating in my private time those photos, thoughts, and plans that I wish to make public.

But here’s what I wonder:

What exactly does this video footage change tell us that was not already documented?

In a few weeks, Ray Rice’s headshot will be lightyears from the news and the National Football League and its billions of dollars will be invested into winning some other public relations battle.

Domestic violence, however, will still go on. And on. And on.

My greatest fear is that the response towards this awful situation is spurned more by our craving to be in the front row for scandal than it is a concern for the human spirit.

And my greatest hope is that I am wrong.

This story began as personal for me because I have a fantasy football team, a subscription to the NFL Sunday Ticket, and I listen religiously to sports radio.

After reflection, however, it is personal to me because I am a father, a husband, and a Christian.

Sensationalized violence doesn’t fix the problem, it IS the problem!

Here’s what makes it better: Directing our anger towards domestic abusers as opposed to NFL owners and holding ourselves accountable as fathers, husbands, and Christians; not NFL commissioners.

The NFL is A problem not THE problem. Domestic Violence is the problem. So let’s do something about it.

What Would You DO?