Right now I think it’s easy to wonder, Is God paying attention? What’s on his mind? The words, music and facial expressions in this powerful collaboration by dozens of churches in the UK provide and answer: He is for you. It’s the same message wherever we live. I encourage you to take a few minutes […]
Those were my words when the first accusations against Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek, came out in the Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today last spring. My words were in response to a group of men who asked how it felt for me, knowing I had served on staff at the church for four years in the 1990’s.
Those words still hold true for me today; they are just stronger. As weeks have gone by more women have courageously stepped forward to reveal shocking stories of harassment, intimidation and inappropriate behavior they say they experienced from Hybels. He still denies the accusations and the elders are now re-investigating the claims, after months of their own denials and unkind characterizations against the women.
In my previous post, Random Male Violence, Part I I began to unravel the mystery of why the random violence we regularly encounter happens in the U.S. on a level unlike any other country. Our soul searching requires that we recognize that we are developing wounded males. But all countries have wounded males.
There’s another inescapable reason random mass slaughter happens within American borders so much more than anywhere else— the ease with which anyone, regardless of capabilities, mental health or training can get their hands on assault rifles—weapons of mass destruction. The solution to this issue has proven exceptionally difficult to find, but I don’t think there is any question that this is a central part of the problem.
Once again we wrestle with piercing feelings of grief, bewilderment and anger. Yet again a young American male has unleashed his wrath against a vulnerable group of students. Our hearts ache, our heads shake and our minds reel. How can this keep happening? What can we do to make sure this never happens again?
We’re familiar with the spectrum of suggested causes as well as solutions—it’s a mental health issue, it’s a gun access issue, it’s a cultural issue. It’s all of those to some degree, but in my option it’s a horrific case of American Exceptionalism.
I love my country, but I really dislike the way that term is typically used. It implies that American culture is first and best, as if we’re all in a global competition for a mythical cultural gold medal. Having traveled to more than 60 countries over the years I’ve experienced qualities in every one of them that are admirable as well as unfortunate. Mine included.
It’s taken me quite awhile to learn this lesson. I now know it’s true.
Wisdom from Seth Godin:
What “no” means
I’m too busy
I don’t trust you
This isn’t on my list
My boss won’t let me
I’m afraid of moving this forward
I’m not the person you think I am
I don’t have the resources you think I do
I’m not the kind of person that does things like this
I don’t want to open the door to a long-term engagement
Thinking about this will cause me to think about other things I just don’t want to deal with
What it doesn’t mean:
Author Richard Rohr makes an intriguing observation about the uniqueness of biblical authors versus most authors:
“The vast majority of people throughout history has been poor, disabled, or oppressed in some way (i.e., “on the bottom”) and would have experienced history in terms of a need for change. The people who wrote the books and controlled the social institutions, however, have almost always been the comfortable people on the top. Much of history has been recorded from the side of the winners, except for the unique revelation of the Bible, which is an alternative history from the bottom: from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, culminating in the scapegoat figure of Jesus himself.
I never knew this before, but apparently many African American families do.
Some parents of black kids have this talk in order to increase the odds that their kids will get home safely if they encounter the police when they are away from home: “10 Rules of Survival if Stopped By Police.”
I never had this talk with my kids; it never crossed my mind. I’m pretty sure none of my grandchildren will ever hear this talk from their parents. But it’s considered crucial parenting wisdom for black families. I had no idea; perhaps that’s the case for others of you who are white.
“I violated my values and it was wrong. I behaved shamefully.”
Those are the words of Christopher Correa, the former scouting director of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, recently convicted of hacking into the player personnel system of another major league team. He has lost his dream job, faces 46 months in prison and has been ordered to pay a fine of nearly $280,000.
What he would do if he could only turn back time and make another choice when faced with temptation to further his reputation as a winner! Too late; the secret is out.
How sadly often it is that we read very similar stories in the news:
- Head football coach Art Briles, a man of faith, whose decision to ignore, hide or discredit the stories of numerous women who reported sexual assaults by his football players, cost him his job and has cast a dark shadow over the outstanding reputation of Baylor University. He is not an exception; he is only the most public and recent of coaches to betray their own beliefs, and those who trusted him, for the sake of success.
Once again, I’m stunned at the video footage that confronts all of us:
- 49 patrons of an Orlando dance club are brutally slaughtered by a man who apparently hates gays, non-Muslims or both
- A black man in Louisiana shot twice in the chest as he’s wrestled to the ground by two officers
- A black man in Minnesota is shot four times after getting pulled over by an officer for a broken taillight, as his wife and 4 year-old daughter watch in horror
- A protest in Minneapolis turns into a virtual riot as firecrackers, Molotov Cocktails and bricks are thrown at police, who then response with smoke and tear-gas. Dozens on both sides are injured
- A peaceful protest in Dallas, in response to these shootings, turns into a sniper attack where a black man kills five police officers and wounds several others