Racial This, Ethnic That…

The first step is admitting you have a problem. Or, in this case, the first step is admitting you have an identity.

A racial identity.

An ethnic identity.

Once more I received notice from something/somewhere United Methodist offering “racial/ethnic scholarship”

Does this mean that anyone who has a racial or ethnic identification, but only those who have such identification can apply?

Of course not!  It clearly means that emphasis is being made to attract and include people of racial and ethnic minority groups to participate.

Am I opposed to that?  As Pete the Cat would say, “Oh, heavens no!”

Rather, I think that recognizing the condition of racial ethnic minorities as such is not enough.

I think that we ought all recognize our own racial and ethnic identities.

Using “racial/ethnic” as shorthand for “racial/ethnic minorities” maintains the fiction that some of us have no identity except as individuals.  It’s just all those other people – the hyphenateds – who have some specific identity.

That some people have an identity as individuals and others don’t is fiction.

All of us have a story.  More importantly, every one of us has a story and is part of a larger story.

If or when some of us pretend we all have the same story we deny the reality of another person’s story.

If or when some of us pretend that we have no story at all, that we are each just absolute individuals in the moment, we deny social reality and the fact that we live in time.

There is no subset of humanity that can be defined as “racial/ethnic.” We all are.

And I am quite confident we will be better off once we admit it.

Racial This, Ethnic That…

Thinking without thinking

We had a fascinating discussion yesterday at our Lenten Wednesday Lunch Study.  As you might expect, the discussion really got me thinking.

We were talking about being righteous. Specifically about whether or not we are. Righteous, that is; whether or not we are righteous.

Of course, the talk quickly moved toward our being righteous “in God’s eyes.”  This, many Christians understand, is the work and gift of Jesus.

God sees us as righteous thanks to Jesus’ life and sacrificial death on the cross.

Good news, right?

Yes, except that thinking of ourselves as righteous tends to get us into trouble.  (See “self-righteous”)

On the other hand, refusing to recognize that Jesus actually opens this opportunity to us, leaves us as miserable sinners, condemned always to fail.

How do we carve out space in the middle – acknowledging AND accepting this good gift from God – to understand that, thanks to Jesus, we are (first) seen as righteous by God and (second) actually grow in righteousness as we follow Jesus?

I’ve got a few ideas, and invite yours as well.

  1. We must keep in mind that the righteousness that indeed becomes ours is given – offered freely – to us.
  2. In would likely help if we focused more on recognizing everyone else as someone who has been offered this gift even more than remembering that we (ourselves) have been offered the gift.  In other words, practice this: every person you see, think to yourself “God sees that person as righteous through Jesus’ gift.”
  3. Take some time each day to reflect on the ways God has worked in your life that day.
Thinking without thinking

Do you really want what you want?

snowroofAfter a few fleeting moments of playing in the snow this morning, the kids were inside, warm, and dry. And ready to watch something.

Hello, Netflix!

Eliza wanted to watch Annie.

Liam wanted to watch Mater’s Tale Tales. Then Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

It turns out it was Liam’s turn to choose, so two things happened:

1) we started Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and
2) Eliza threw a small fit.

It was a very small fit: actually fairly worthy of the moment, and quickly left behind.
Within minutes – no more than 10 – both of them were enjoying the movie.

This is how it often goes with our kids.  Loudly (and proudly?) claim your preference.  Get louder if someone else claims an alternative preference.

Stand your ground

Raise the stakes

Refuse to listen, negotiate, or compromise.

Throw a fit if you don’t get your way.

I realized yesterday that we don’t necessarily unlearn this pattern as we grow up.

We don’t always want what we want. Sometimes we just don’t want to let someone else have a say.

It’s hard to listen when you are shouting, “My way or the highway!”

While this is worth considering for anyone, I particularly hope my church, the United Methodist Church #UMC, will give it thought.

We’ve not been listening so well to each other lately.  On some things, we have dug in for decades and refused to actually listen.

We want what we want. Or do we?

Do you really want what you want?

A little change here, a little change there…

…and soon you might be looking at something substantial.

Suvir Mirchandani is a 14 year old boy from near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He has found a way for the US Government to save $136 million a year.  By changing fonts.

Mirchandani found that if the Government Printing Office changed to the Garamond font for all their printing, they would save this amount of money.

$136 million is a lot of money to you and me, but, admittedly, it is chump change on the scale of the dollars the Federal Government deals with.

I am less interested in entering a debate about government spending than I am in you and I grasping the value of available for our lives.  What may seem like a small change can actually add up to something rather significant.

During this season of Lent, what small change are you willing to make in your life that might become a significant improvement in your following of Jesus?

If it is a small change you are willing to share, please share it here: I an quite sure someone else can learn from your introspection.

A little change here, a little change there…

Changing Your Mind

Are you at the mercy of whatever happens to enter your mind?  Sometimes this becomes an excuse we make.  It is one tool we use to justify a lack of transformation in our lives.

Now, you may (or may not) want any transformation in your life, but people of God are promised, offered, commanded it.

So here we go. Can we, indeed, change our minds?

I did so last night.  I am still surprised that it happened, and the degree to which it succeeded.

You see, I had a particular song in my head.  It doesn’t matter what song it was, but you know how this works.  Sometimes you get a song in your head and it just stays.  (I once had the theme from the A-Team in my head for over a year, but don’t hold that against me)

I was tired of this particular song, whatever it was, so I set to thinking of a different song.  I hoped to replace one song with another.

It worked.  I don’t mind telling you, either, that, for whatever reason, the new song, that I now cannot get out of my head is Shine, by the Newsboys. (Thank you, Glen Lake Camp, for making sure that song was in my recall files.)

Changing what is in one’s mind is not always this easy, but it IS possible.  More than that, perhaps it will help you to know that God is interested in changing our minds (Romans 12:2 & 2 Corinthians 10:5, for example).

Give it a try.  Start with something little, like a song in your head.

God’s it for it. Are you?

Changing Your Mind

Starting Again

Another year, another… new 2014


Got plans?  Resolutions?  Regrets?  Wishes? Hope? Dreams? Fears?

What will change 2014 for you?  What is it about a new year, a new calendar, a new January that gives us hope or commitment to change, grow, etc.?

Eliza, my daughter who will turn 4 this year, woke up the morning of December 26th suggesting we have Christmas again.  In fact, if the world worked on Eliza’s terms, every day would be Christmas Day.

Which reminded me of a line in a song (as so much of life does):  “Every morning is Easter morning from now on!”

I shared this lyric with Eliza and suggested Easter is an even better day to celebrate everyday than Christmas.  (She is yet unimpressed with most of the theological points I make, but I will not give up!)

What Eliza helped me realize is that each day is important and valuable and worth living.  Each day is a day full of opportunity for renewal, restart, resolve.  Eliza helped me remember again and from a different angle something Jesus said a long time ago: “stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

Starting Again