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.


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.


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?

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.



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?

One Week After Sandy: A New Kind of Power

Donna Schaper is a friend of mine who I met when I was far too young to understand her brilliance. Sometimes, I worry that I am still too young to understand her brilliance.

She is a pastor at Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square in New York City. Recently Donna has been posting updates about her experiences in the first several hours after Sandy. You may read them here.

The other day, after leading a community vigil, Donna shared these thoughts.

Hear the brilliance in the grief and hope she shares:

Many Different Kinds of Power

Last night at Judson about 20 of us gathered, along with one dog, to light candles, sing a few songs and say a few prayers. We also walked the giant canvas labyrinth, which was easy to put out in the dark. It has white stripes. We observed what our hearts know: there are many different kinds of power. Too many people are saying they are “out of power,” or “powerless.” More precisely, we are without electrical power.

Last Sunday I innocently preached about the need for new folkways, new rituals, and new ways of being. I actually said, “For most of us, the major ritual of our lives is to remember to plug in our cell phones.” I pontified, “Wouldn’t it be great if we kept a good Sabbath with such rigor or also prayed intentionally before we ate or before we slept? Not to mention how great a Jubilee, an automatic normalized forgiveness of debts, would mark our political economy?” Well. Since Sandy hit, we have been wandering around with cell cords in hand in lower Manhattan, looking for a plug that had power. No lights, no traffic lights, no hot water, and no working plugs: that is the reality post Sandy. It is dark outside and sometimes also dark inside.

To keep from being a complete fibber, we just had to do a service. We had to remind ourselves that there are different kinds of power than the kind we don’t have. There is people power and candlepower, physical power (you can’t volunteer for the Red Cross if you can’t lift 50 pounds or stay for 12 hours), magical power, the kind that makes you think the A train will be humming again soon. There is the power to hear words anew: infrastructure, nature, air, wind, fire. There is the power to recognize, as the labyrinth shows, that in every end there is a beginning. New York will never be the same. We know that. Worship helps us say what we know out loud. The word Katrina came to mind. We have known for a long time about climate change and aging infrastructure. Now we know that we know, in a different kind of power, the kind that moves people to change.

As we went back to our dark homes and our meager food, we didn’t forget to give thanks for the Sabbath we had just had because nature had demonstrated astonishing infrastructural failure.