Restoration & Reconciliation, The-best-ones

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall stand between

 

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
 

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTSH3XR

 

 

Over the past several years, society at large has descended into staunchly divided battlelines. As I’ve stepped back to distance from the clamor, I’ve found myself looking for the people who are standing between. Truth be told, I’m not currently one of them. The current nature of public discourse makes it hard for me to see a middle ground with a leader whose actions threaten the peace of those I love and serve on a daily basis.

When it’s tempting to give up hope altogether, I think back to the stories I’ve heard of faith leaders on the front lines of peacemaking. Beneath the headlines of police brutality against African Americans were faith leaders in the African American church absorbing pain by creating spaces for lament, protest, grief, modeling hope, faith, and love in real time. I am struck by the strength in their hope for tomorrow, by the boldness of their grief, and by the fortitude of their perseverance.

But the sorrow sinks deep as I watch the white church make minimal response to such injustice, stirring longing, passion, and anger within. I pause to remember the white people I know who do care and act on this conviction to console my angst over those who don’t:

  • My youth pastor challenged me to grapple with the realities of racism nearly twenty-five years ago at our very-white-church. He pursues these same conversations with white teenagers in his youth group to this day.
  • A history professor in college dedicated a significant portion of his scholarly endeavors to developing and leading civil rights tours for faculty from a conservative Christian college in the Midwest. His steady and informed presentation of realities never experienced or understood by these faculty provided another narrative for their understanding of the racial history of our country.
  • A pastor of an urban church in Chicago first taught me that it was more important to be honest than perfect. She has lived most of her life advocating for the poor and racial understanding in the church. Her lifelong example models humility and servanthood.

Compiling seasonal “best-ones” articles from my various social media feeds, I find a string of exasperated voices reflecting the reality that equality is no easy battle. My sorrow is comforted by the memory of these bridge-builders as their example shifts my heartsick disgust toward listening to those who attempt to reconcile both ‘sides of the aisle’. In that spirit, I’d like to share a few of the most insightful resources that are guiding me through the current murky waters of Trump’s America:

Phil Vischer PodcastCreator of the popular children’s program Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer spends his podcast exploring the current state of the American church with author Skye Jethani. It is perhaps the most thoughtful Christian podcast I’ve heard, at times leaving me in tears. The episode ‘Does Christian Media Stunt Christian Growth‘ is the most accurate assessment of the white American evangelical church I have ever heard, and helped clarify a lot of the current cultural chaos we’re experiencing.

 

Manwar Ali: Inside the Mind of a Former Radical Jihadist. This TedTalk explores the influences behind radical religion. Manwar drew striking parallels to the dangers of all forms of religious extremism—not just Islam.

 

Sharon Brous: It’s time to reclaim religion. A Jewish rabbi, Sharon refuses to accept the narrative of religion as divisive and marginalizing, advocating instead that religions can instead use our shared values to foster peace, hope, and interconnectedness.

 

Megan Phelps-Roper: I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church: Here’s Why I Left. Megan shares how her interactions on Twitter influenced her change in worldview and shares lessons remarkably applicable to our increasingly polarized society.

 

We need to talk about an injustice by Bryan Stevenson. Bryan’s call for ‘just mercy’ in society provides a model of perseverance and integrity. In his book, he suggests that Christians, like Jesus who stopped the pharisees from stoning the adulterous woman, are stonecatchers.

“There is no such thing as being a Christian and not being a stone catcher,” he says. “But that is exhausting. You’re not going to catch them all. And it hurts. If it doesn’t make you sad to have to do that, then you don’t understand what it means to be engaged in an act of faith….But if you have the right relationship to it, it is less of a burden, finally, than a blessing. It makes you feel stronger.”

The Grand Unraveling by Robynn Bliss.

It takes a prophetic imagination to see the Kingdom beyond and past and outside the borders of the country. It takes a sacred vision to imagine a country so radically different that we wouldn’t recognize if but for the scant shades of blue, white and red worked under the tapestry of red and yellow; black and white. It takes hope to see past the present desolation to the promise of full redemption and restoration.

Election Reflections: Bridging the Gap by Phil Yancey. Yancey explores the three biggest losses of this election: civility, religion, and truth.

Why I Left White Nationalism by Derek Black. Former leader of a popular white nationalist movement, Derek shares how friendships with people willing to dialog about his difference influenced him to abandon his supremacist views.

Have you found other bridge-building resources that are giving you perspective on how to foster civility and respect? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

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After the election: How to build a bridge by Marilyn Gardner.

It is generally acknowledged that the construction of a commodious bridge over a wide, impetuous river is one of the noblest efforts of human genius. In no country that has made any advances in civilization has the art of bridge-building been neglected. On the contrary, it has everywhere been esteemed for its great utility and has engaged the attentive care of enlightened men.

Research says there are ways to reduce racial bias. Calling people racist isn’t one of them. by German Lopez.

But just noting these racial attitudes and biases did not seem to have a huge impact on the election. Despite bigoted policy proposals that at one point even called for banning an entire religious group from the US, and the media’s constant reminders that Trump is racist, Trump won. Clearly, a lot of US voters either shared Trump’s prejudiced views or, at the very least, didn’t find such ideas to be fundamental deal breakers. That suggests there’s a lot of racism — or at least the enabling of it — in America, perhaps even more than one would think in 2016.

Evil, forgiveness, and prayer by Krista Tippett. 

“I no longer ask You for either happiness or paradise; all I ask of You is to listen and let me be aware and worthy of Your listening. I no longer ask You to resolve my questions, only to receive them and make them part of You. I no longer ask You for either rest or wisdom, I only ask You not to close me to gratitude, be it of the most trivial kind, or to surprise and friendship. Love? Love is not Yours to give.”

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Why I left White Nationalism by R. Derek Black. Read the perspective of a former white nationalist and learn about the interactions with others that changed his mind.

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from Christena Cleveland’s instagram account.

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9 ways to seek shalom with immigrants by Sarah Quezada. 9 practical suggestions to “nurture harmony and restoration” with immigrants.

As Donald Trump railed against refugees, a pastor made his life among them by Julie Zauzmer. 

“I think probably the most compelling reason we chose to move into the neighborhood was really the story of Jesus,” Eric So said. “From the Scriptures, I see God sending his son, Jesus, into the world, so that he would dwell among the people.”

The church and the huddled masses by Matthew Soerens. A history of the complicated relationship between the church and immigrants.

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When things fall apart: Saint Augustine of Hippo and the fall of Rome by Taylor Denyer.

“God does not raise up citadels of stone and marble for us; outside of this world he raises up citadels of the Holy Spirit for us, citadels of love which could never collapse, which will for ever stand in glory when this world has been reduced to ashes. … Rome has collapsed and your hearts are outraged by this.  Rome was built by men like yourself.  Since when did you believe that men had the power to build things that are eternal?  Your souls, filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, will not perish.”

An open letter to white feminists by Rhon Manigault-Bryant.

If there is a sentiment we share, it is disappointment. I am disappointed that it has taken you this long to actually get what black women—and namely black feminists and womanists—have been trying to help you see and feel for a very long time. We now, for example, share fear.

Why social media is terrible for multiethnic democracies by Sean Illing.

Donald Trump won the presidency despite losing the popular vote, and he did it by appealing to some of the worst elements of the body politic. Bridging the gap after an embittered, protracted election is always difficult; this year it will be near impossible.

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Church, we’ve got some explaining to do by Phil Vischer.

The world is growing more brown. America is growing more brown. Global Christianity is growing more brown. More and more of our neighbors – those we’re called by Christ to love – are various shades of brown. And yet here we stand, white Christians, having just pushed a man into office who built his campaign on pledges to wall off and otherwise restrict the movements of brown people.

4 problems associated with the white, evangelical support of Trump by Tabiti Anyabwile. 

No one forced this on the movement. An 81 percent return will not allow us to discard these voters as “not truly evangelical.” At the moment, that’s exactly who evangelicalism is.

An Open Letter To The Evangelical Church, From The Black Girl In Your Pew by Illesha Graham.

So, if your words today do not demonstrate love, compassion and kindness towards those who don’t experience life like you, then you should not be speaking them today. Because in the absence of grace, your words ring hollow as the clanging cymbal of privilege.

Global Evangelical Leaders: Trump’s Win Will Harm the Church’s Witness by Kate Shellnut. 

“One of the things that America was stood for in the past was moral leadership and character. Over the past few decades, it has slowly dissipated,” said Hwa Yung, longtime bishop of the Methodist Church in Malaysia. “In this election you have produced two candidates, both of whom are deeply flawed in character. The question people around the world are asking is, ‘Is this what America is today?’ The election has done great damage to your moral standing in the eyes of the world.”

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When White evangelicals gained the world but lost their soul

I know white evangelical who voted for Trump. I have spoken with them about it and know that some of them made this choice with great angst, sorrow, and protest to the conservative platform. In the end, they could not, in good conscience, vote for Hillary for reasons that are personally important to them—not because they are racist. However, the exit polls on the evangelical vote suggest a great deal of blind devotion to a political party who likes the power it gained in the era of the Religious Right.  When you read the history books, this plotline never ends well.

A prayer for the broken-hearted

But this weeping? It is born from fear for personal safety, sanity, and mere existence. These tears aren’t about who votes for or against abortion, the Supreme Court, or Obamacare. They are about the sorrow for the setback of the American Dream—the hope that we are equal under the law, indivisible, with liberty justice for all. The harsh reality for those of us who weep is that the nation’s leader is a man who spoke aggressively against these very ideals, who blatantly denies the impact of his negative behavior, and whose behavior descends far lower than what we would ever allow of our children.

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When God reveals you prefer whiteness: A response to Gaye Clark by Sean Palmer

Most white Americans believe whiteness is normal and preferable. America’s cultural myth is that Caucasians from European descent are the heroes of the American story. It’s what made America great and what some believe will make America great again.

How to raise confident multiracial children by Chantilly Pantino.

While our nation is increasingly diverse, there are still factors that can leave kids feeling less than confident about their heritage and wondering where they fit in.  This can cause them to feel marginalized on both sides or like they have to identify with one ethnicity over the other.

The conservative, Christian case for working women by Jonathan Merritt.

“All women are called to have influence—cultural influence outside of the private sphere of the home,” Beaty said. “It wouldn’t necessarily have to be a career track, but certainly all Christians, including all Christian women, are called to have cultural influence outside the home.”

About those “20 minutes of action”: 20 things we’d better tell our sons right now about being real men by Ann Voskamp

Because a Stanford doesn’t begin with alcohol and it doesn’t begin with partying kids with inflated egos and it doesn’t begin with 20 minutes of not using your head but your hormones.

It begins with a woman like me bringing home a man-child in her arms, one mama unwrapping that blanket and what it means to raise up a man.

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What we can learn from the only white kid on this high school step team by Rachel Pieh Jones

The dance begins. The boys stomp and clap and tumble and flip through the air in an intense and relentless rhythm. Within seconds, the students are on their feet, cheering. They focus on Emmaus and at the end of the performance — when the team points him out and calls him their nickname, “White Chocolate” — the students go nuts shouting and clapping for their classmate.

Picking up the trash of white supremacy by Abby Norman

Essentially white communities are asking black people to live an experience that is set up to be far more difficult for them, and succeed by white standards. AND THEN we are asking them to re-live and explain it all over again in front of us so that we will believe them. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we don’t believe them. And the astounding thing is how many times black women are willing to risk it to help their white sisters understand. But that isn’t their job.

Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local by Taiye Salasi

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Things I’m doing before going to hell by John Pavlovitz

I’m doing them because my deepest faith convictions tell me to try and make this place more like however I believe Heaven to be, and that this will bring justice and mercy along with it.

White savior barbie nails it by Rachel Pieh Jones

Perhaps the lesson of White Savior Barbie is that there is nothing wrong with service or with enjoying another culture but it needs to be done with integrity. Let’s be qualified and well trained for the work we do. Develop authentic relationships based on more than great photo ops. Educate ourselves. Be wary of quick clichés like, “I fell in love with Africa the moment I got off the plane.” Be learners.

Pakistani Muslim villagers are building a church for their Christian neighbors by Relevant Magazine

The BBC has reported from a village in Pakistan where Christians and Muslims are refusing to engage in violence, and instead, live side-by-side in real community.

Angels to block Westboro Baptist Church’s protest at Orland memorial by Beth Spotswood

Angels really do exist — at least in Orlando. When the reviled hate group Westboro Baptist Church announced that it would be picketing the funerals of the victims of the Orlando gay bar shooting tragedy, a group of actors decided to fight back in a decidedly heavenly way.

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A good man justifies a wicked deed: Grudem on Trump by John Mark N. Reynolds

Manifestly men of goodwill can disagree, but they should not, because Donald J. Trump is uniquely unsuited for the most powerful job on the planet. He is morally unfit, unqualified, and advocating for him stains any person who does so.

 Donald Trump and the Violence to Come by Peter Binart

“The United States is headed toward a confrontation, the likes of which it has not seen since 1968, between leftist activists, who believe in physical disruption as a means of drawing attention to injustice, and a candidate eager to forcibly put down that disruption in order to make himself look tough.”

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To the White church who did not pray for the black man on Sunday

But Sunday, if you did not pray for the black man right alongside the police man, you missed the heart of God. If a black man had sat in your midst and heard you pray only for the police man and the police man’s family, but not the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the decades of innocent black men killed by police men, I would not have blamed him for standing and shouting out in the middle of your prayer, “What the hell about me?! Do you care about me at all?!” And I would not have blamed him if he stormed out of your sanctuary and wept on your steps, desperate because he found no sanctuary in your midst.

Onward through the fog: Practicing faith when you can’t see where you’re going

“Onward through the fog,” our program director would tell us as we struggled to understand the broken dynamics shaping the community around us. It’s a phrase I’ve lived ever since. In fact, fog has become one of my go-to analogies for understanding the liminal spaces of life—those thresholds in life when there’s not yet a clear answer.

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Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis by Stephan Bauman and Matthew Soerens. Matt’s first book Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate is one of the best books I have read. This book offers perspective on how we can respond to and support the global refugee crisis.

Pondering Privilege: Toward a Deeper Understanding of Whiteness, Race, and Faith by (yours truly) Jody Wiley Fernando. Revised and now available in a print edition, Pondering Privilege is a quick read that explores issues of racial injustice and privilege for white people, especially those in the US church. It’s a great discussion started for small groups, leadership training, or college classes. Listen to a podcast interview that includes more background on the book at World Citizen Storycast. (The print version will be available on Amazon by next week.)

 

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First Generation by Ijeoma Umebrinyuo

Here’s to the laundry man at the Marriott who told me with the sparkle in his eyes how he was an engineer in Peru. Here’s to the bus driver, the Turkish Sufi who almost danced when I quoted Rumi.

I’m afraid of dying by John Blase

Are you ever afraid of dying?
I’m not talking about
the dying that will deposit you
directly into the Lord’s presence (as some hold).
But the dying that will tear
you from the fabric of here,
here where you’ve seen wonders.
  

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Woman who defied 300 neo-Nazis at Swedish rally speaks of anger

“Now it’s a circus. I am in shock,” said Asplund, who is 5ft 3in and weighs just 50kg (eight stone). “The Nazis are very angry, so I am a little ‘Oh shit, maybe I shouldn’t have done that, I want peace and quiet.’ These guys are big and crazy. It’s a mixed feeling, but I am trying to stay calm.”

Walking the beat in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, where a new day began together by NPR Morning Edition

“Fred came to me and said, ‘I have this idea: You could be a police officer,’ ” recalls Clemmons, speaking with his friend Karl Lindholm during a visit with StoryCorps.

Clemmons says he didn’t like the idea much at first.

“I grew up in the ghetto. I did not have a positive opinion of police officers. Policemen were siccing police dogs and water hoses on people,” he says. “And I really had a hard time putting myself in that role. So I was not excited about being Officer Clemmons at all.”

How I made peace with my boobs in a brothel by Tina Francis

In early April, I accompanied a motley crew of brilliant women to Thailand. We were invited to learn about human trafficking by a nonprofit organization called Exodus Road. They focus on targeted interventions to find and free trafficked minors.

Still very jet-lagged, we prepared to visit Walking Street, a red light district in Pattaya. Our guide Matt warned us, “This is going to feel like baptism by fire.”

He was right.

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Black lives matter and racial tension in America from the Barna Group. Interesting numbers here on all kinds of racial perspectives of liberals, conservations, whites, blacks, evangelicals, mainline, etc.

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Can people of color really make themselves at home? by Kathy Tuan-Mclean

InterVarsity was like a house with all sorts of staff living in it. Most of the white staff felt like they owned the house. They felt free to move the furniture, decorate the walls, put their feet up, and cook the foods they liked to eat. But others on our team, though they “lived” in the house, were just guests. As a guest, it’s impolite to move the furniture or criticize the decor, and if you don’t like the food served, you don’t complain—because if you complain, you’re not invited back.

Let’s talk about white millenial racism by Jenn M. Jackson

Due to globalism and changes in access to travel, many people of color have broadened their worlds and gained exposure to social groups to which they might otherwise have no access. But, many Whites still live in highly segregated, highly isolated communities and report having very few friends of color. That could also be part of the reason many Whites think racism is basically a thing of the past. But, clearly, perpetual racial segregation and “tokenism” is still an issue for many Millennials of color. It’s a tale of two cities in racial politics.

Churches examine white privilege by Adelle M. Banks

In the wake of the continuing deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police officers, some white church leaders say they can no longer check off their racial-justice to-do list by hosting a Black History Month event. Instead, they are holding workshops that address white privilege — not experiencing or knowing the unfair treatment endured by nonwhites.

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The gift of presence, the perils of advice by Parker Palmer

Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.

When you’ve been hurt by church: 5 steps for moving on by Sheri Dacon

We expect the world to be cruel and harsh. We watch the news and we know about the violence and the mean-spiritedness of our society at large.

But those of us raised in Christian homes expect the church to be our safe place, our shelter from the ugliness of the outside, a place where we can be ourselves and be loved and welcomed despite our faults.

There are better things than riches by Joshua Becker

The prevailing view is that wealth is good, that it should be pursued, that material possessions and riches enhance our enjoyment in life, and that wealth provides opportunity to find greater fulfillment in life.

But recently, I have come to realize the pursuit of riches is based on a faulty premise. It is based on the incorrect rationale that the presence of money is always good—that it always brings benefit into our lives. This is not always the case.

 

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Sedano’s supermarkets launches new ethnic food aisle for anglos

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I will always choose you by Michaela Evanow.

Once upon a time, I had a little girl. Her smile and curls and doe-brown eyes were a sight to behold. She was mine. My dream. And then, one summer day, Florence was given a terminal diagnosis for her weak muscles: Spinal Muscular Atrophy type one.

In which love looks like spinning our own yarn by Sarah Bessey.

Let’s tell them about the vast middle part of love, too, this part right now, the part that doesn’t show up in movies and love songs, the part where my hips have widened and your temples are greying, and some dreams are languishing, and we’ve become better acquainted with the fruit of faithfulness and gentleness.

In the face of hate – love out loud by Marilyn Gardner

And so we need to speak out. This is outrageous and offensive. This must stop. There is no “other side” to this debate.

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Death, the prosperity gospel, and me by Kate Bowler

Blessed is a loaded term because it blurs the distinction between two very different categories: gift and reward. It can be a term of pure gratitude. “Thank you, God. I could not have secured this for myself.” But it can also imply that it was deserved. “Thank you, me. For being the kind of person who gets it right.” It is a perfect word for an American society that says it believes the American dream is based on hard work, not luck.

How going on vacation might be better than going on a mission by Jamie Wright

An attitude of service should be learned at home and applied in the world, not the other way around.

Further up, further in by Kay Bruner

I could do both, I thought:  trust the Love AND keep all the rules just to be on the safe side.

It turns out, though, going toward the Center means I can’t keep patrolling the walls. 

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White guys in charge frustrated by their ability to silence all women by Fred Clark

There’s a pattern here with angry authoritarian men like Falwell getting puffed up with indignation because this woman is saying intolerable things. (By which they mean there is a woman saying things, without their permission, and that this is, to them, intolerable.)

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11 Things white people need to realize about race by Emma Gray & Jessica Samakow

People of color don’t need to be taught that racism exists — they live it every day. It shouldn’t (and can’t) be on their shoulders to enlighten the rest of us. We have to do that for ourselves.

The Far-Right Revival: A Thirty Year War? by Evan Osnos

“Two hundred years after this country fought a civil war to ensure that black people were officially citizens, and a hundred years after a second battle ensured blacks enjoyed the rights of that citizenship, race will once again divide Americans. And this time white people will lose the prerogatives of majority status.”

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In less than two minutes, this clip from Blackish explains why racism in America isn’t over by Sojourners

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Someone added Donald to the wall of this restroom in Paris

Trump doesn’t pass the decency test by Max Lucado

“I don’t endorse candidates or place bumper stickers on my car. But I am protective of the Christian faith. If a public personality calls on Christ one day and calls someone a “bimbo” the next, is something not awry? And to do so, not once, but repeatedly, unrepentantly and unapologetically? We stand against bullying in schools. Shouldn’t we do the same in presidential politics?”

Stop provoking violence, Mr. Trump

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As People of Color Formerly Employed by Mizzou, We Demand Change

Excellent article offering a clear summary of the realities faced by many faculty of color.

Taking my parents to college by Jeanne Capo Crucett.

I don’t even remember the moment they drove away. I’m told it’s one of those instances you never forget, that second when you realize you’re finally on your own. But for me, it’s not there — perhaps because, when you’re the first in your family to go to college, you never truly feel like they’ve let you go.

10 Ways well-meaning white teachers bring racism into our schools by Jamie Utt.

Though I know there are actively racist teachers out there, most White teachers mean well and have no intention of being racist. Yet as people who are inscribed with Whiteness, it is possible for us to act in racist ways no matter our intentions. Uprooting racism from our daily actions takes a lifetime of work

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Mother & Child are linked at the cellular level by Laura Grace Weldon.

“Sometimes science is filled with transcendent meaning more beautiful than any poem.”

Raising a biracial child as a mother of color by Lara Dotson-Renta

I want my sweet girl to understand that she may not always be judged by her character, that so many have and will face unfair challenges for their ethnic background or skin color, and that conversely there may be times where she will be at an advantage vis-a-vis others because of those same perceptions. As her mother I want to save her from pain, to give her the tools I lacked as I encountered prejudice early on. She is noticing the world, and it is my job to teach her to discern between what feels right and wrong, and how to navigate the gray spaces in which she will often dwell.

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String Bright the Gray by John Blase.

But to shine you must daily,
Jacob-like, grapple with God.
 
Refuse to let go every time.
 

The sanitized stories we tell by Sarah Bessey. 

“If we don’t deal with our trauma, our trauma begins to deal with us. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel our feelings, they have a habit of peeking around the corners of our lives, breaking in at the most inopportune moments.”

Waverly Mae by Shannon McNeil.

My college friends lost their daughter to Sanfilippo syndrome this month. Read this poem, Fermata, about her last breath.

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I like your Christ. I do not like your Christian language by Cindy Brandt.

“The American evangelical subculture has created within itself a Christian lingo that is intelligible only among those who have shared in that culture. Because a top priority of evangelical subculture is to evangelize the gospel, it quite boggles my mind that there hasn’t been more care taken to learn how to communicate said gospel with what actually makes sense to those outside of evangelical culture.”

For you were refugees… by Ben Irwin.

The Bible is the story of refugees. It’s the story of those who were displaced. It’s the story of a family who sought shelter in Egypt when famine decimated their land.

Religious freedom and the common good by Andy Crouch.

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Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

Wheelchair van for the Begs

While my college friends’ daughter was dying, they started a fundraiser to raise money for another family who has three daughters with the same degenerative, fatal genetic illness. In the midst of their great grief, they live out hope.

Born again again by John Blase

Walk the narrow way of the severely astonished.
Bumble around mouth agape at the sheer gift
of the earth mumbling Wouldja look at that?
 

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British man creates app that filters out all Kardashian news.  My kinda guy!

I’m with Ellen, I love growing older…

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and am still a fan of this awesomeness called Socal “winter”!!!

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Not mentioning any names, but this sounds a little like someone I know…

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Misspelled signs written by people who love English.

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Did you know?!?!

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Abused elephant weeps as she begins her new life freed from chains by Stephen Messenger.

For the better part of the last 20 years, this noble elephant named Kabu had been forced to slave away in chains — but now she’s finally free. And just as her body bears the scars of decades of mistreatment, her eyes are now shimmering with signs of hope.

Speaking of… did you catch The wisdom of elephants here on BW?

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101 Culturally Diverse Christian Voices

If you haven’t seen it yet, this list has been pretty popular!

Beyond selfies: Using Instagram to tell whole-hearted stories.

As a culture that places high value on storytelling, I often wonder how the stories we tell reflect our overarching values. Certainly perfection, glamour, and adventure dominate the vast majority of the motives behind how many present their lives. But what gets lost when we hide mundane moments like when we’re stuck in bed with a cold, mildly depressed, and too worn-out to wash the piling dishes? Where’s the place to remember the late-night conversations about insecurities or worries or dreams? Who do we become when we photoshop blemishes out of our lives?

The problem with over-spiritualizing racism.

Let’s press pause on the “unity” button for just a minute. We need to do some sustained reflection on the causes of the “disunity” first.

 

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St. Louis bookstore’s amazing response to losing a customer over Black Lives Matter signs by David Harris Gershon.

What I wish I could convey – white person to white person – is that Black Lives Matter does not mean White People are Bad.  It never did.  Saying someone matters does not mean that nobody else matters.  It just says to someone who feels invisible, “I see you and I value you.”

Dear Mr. Graham, Let me introduce you to some friends… by Marilyn Gardner.

I was raised in the country of Pakistan, daughter of Christian missionaries. The call to prayer was my alarm clock, curry was my staple food, and Muslim women and girls were my aunties and my friends. I experienced extraordinary hospitality at the hands of the people of Pakistan. They offered us friendship, safety, and amazing food. Early on in life, my father would take us to see men praying at the large mosque in our city during the Eid celebrations. I would watch as a sea of white-clad men, all with prayer caps on their heads, bowed in unison as the muezzin chanted from the microphone attached to one of the tall minarets. I did not see terrorism, I saw devotion. I did not see anger, I saw zeal.

What I need you to say in response to the Charleston shooting by Osheta Moore.

I almost wrote this post when there were riots in Ferguson and I almost wrote this post when protestors were holding up signs that read, “I can’t breathe”.  This post was very nearly published when black women stood in the street topless, a prophetic picture of both the African American woman’s vulnerability in this broken world and her strength in the face of brutality. Then I saw Dejerria Becton, a black 15 years old wrestled and held to the ground by a white police officer, so I wept and sat at my computer with these words. And now, nine brothers and sisters lost their lives to racism in Charleston last night and I cannot ignore this post anymore.

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Africans are crowd sourcing beautiful images of their lives to fight media stereotypes by Sasha Zients.  Check out #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou on Twitter! This topic also bares re-mentioning the MamaHope video series, Stop the Pity, on YouTube. Check out their video Not Your Mama’s Mama.

What happens when a black man and a white woman speak for each other by Darius Simpson and Scout Bosley.

Farewell to the Missionary Hero by Amy Peterson.

There is a place for inspirational and even idealized missionary stories in stirring up passion for God’s glory and justice among the nations. But there are dangers in glamorizing missionary heroes, particularly an overweening confidence in what missionary work can accomplish.

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What’s wrong with cultural appropriation? These 9 answers reveal its harm by Maisha Z. Johnson.

Cultural appropriation is when somebody adopts aspects of a culture that’s not their own.

But that’s only the most basic definition.

A deeper understanding of cultural appropriation also refers to a particular power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.

White fragility: Why it’s so hard to talk to white people about racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo.

Yes, we will develop strong emotionally laden opinions, but they will not be informed opinions. Our socialization renders us racially illiterate. When you add a lack of humility to that illiteracy (because we don’t know what we don’t know), you get the break-down we so often see when trying to engage white people in meaningful conversations about race.

Are you holding your own daughter back? Here are 5 ways to raise girls to be leaders by Amy Joyce.

Think you’re raising your daughter to be a strong leader? Look more closely: You, and the people around her, may unwittingly be doing just the opposite.

Addy Walker, American Girl: The role of black dolls in American culture by Brit Bennett.

For seventeen years, Addy was the only black historical doll; she was the only nonwhite doll until 1998. If you were a white girl who wanted a historical doll who looked like you, you could imagine yourself in Samantha’s Victorian home or with Kirsten, weathering life on the prairie. If you were a black girl, you could only picture yourself as a runaway slave.

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The psychological advantages of strongly identifying as biracial by Lisa Miller.

Multi-racial births are soaring — to 7 percent of all births in the U.S., according to the last Census — a result of more inter-racial coupling and also a broader cultural acceptance of the tag “multi-racial.” … But even as multi-racial people take prominent and visible places in all the nation’s hierarchies — golf, pop music, cinema, finance, and, of course, in the executive branch of the United States government — very little psychological research has been done on what it means to have a multi-racial identity, and how that identity is different from having a “mono-racial” one.

How Minecraft and duct tape wallets prepare our kids for jobs that don’t exist yet by Zach Klein.

It’s difficult to predict which skills will be valuable in the future, and even more challenging to see the connection between our children’s interests and these skills. Nothing illustrates this better than Minecraft, a popular game that might be best described as virtual LEGOs. Calling it a game belies the transformation it has sparked: An entire generation is learning how to create 3D models using a computer. Now, I wonder, what sort of businesses, communication, entertainment or art will be possible?

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On being carried by Benjamin Moberg.

I was reminded that my mediocre faith in God does not change God’s deep faith in me. Even when I walk away or lose sight or lose my mind, God doesn’t go. The tether, the anchor, the lifeline that I have been slowly sawing away with my cynicism and fear, my need to break free, that has sent me free-floating out into nowhere, isn’t the whole truth of what’s happened, what’s happening.

Love the church you’re in by Dena Dyer.

In an era when many Christians are leaving church, content editor Dena Dyer writes, “God placed a deep desire for community in every Christian. That’s why the scriptures refer to the ‘body of Christ.’ We were never meant to worship, work, or wrestle alone. In reality, it’s dangerous to try.”

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Dear people who live in tiny houses by Kevin Hoth.

Do you actually love living in a fancy tiny house*?

You look so freakin’ happy in that Dwell Magazine article or Buzzfeed post, but c’mon, you can’t tell me that you don’t lie awake at night, your face four inches from the ceiling because the only place your bed fits is above the kitchen sink which also acts as your shower, and think, I’ve made a terrible mistake.

Who stole my metabolism and 15 other thoughts at 39 by Joelle Wisler.

It’s all going very fast. But I’m pretty sure the only reason I would revisit my 20s is so that I could eat some Ben & Jerry’s and not wake up the next day with it sitting in a lumpy little pile on my butt.

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The hundred names of love by Annie Lighthart. A poem for parents who don’t get enough sleep.

We call this home – 3 years around the world travel by Walter Chang.

“Everyday is a journey and the journey itself is home.” – Matsuo Batso

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40 kids who got ridiculous detentions and don’t regret it. (This pretty much sums up my year teaching mostly freshmen…)

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Girl wears wrong shoes to graduation, falls hard. (This struck me as particularly funny since I just sat through a looong graduation with lots of crazy high heels.)

Wonder Woman to Justice League: “If I don’t get pants, nobody gets pants.” by Cynthia Sousa.

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An American girl’s guide to kissing by Sarah Quezada.

Kissing. It’s a relatively simple aspect of Latino cultures. When you say hello or good-bye, it’s customary to include a quick peck on the cheek.  Naturally, this practice sends me into a spiral of what ifs, internal dialogues, and a general state of panic.

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To the One who is Left Behind by Marilyn Gardner. 

I know with each parting, that life will never be quite the same and I’m never quite sure I will be able to handle it. I’m never convinced that this time might be the time where I become undone, where I can no longer pick up the pieces of those left behind — move forward when those I love are gone. But each time I do. Each time I survive, and I smile and laugh again, and though it hurts, somehow it’s okay. 

In my imaginary world, family lives right next door by Marilyn Gardner.

So in my imaginary world, family is right next door. This is one of the things that we who live a mobile life give up. We give up family. To be sure, family arises in different ways, community is born out of need and desperation and it’s good community. It’s necessary. But we give up extended family and that is not easy. We give up grandparents who speak regularly into our children’s lives and teach them what it is to grow old. We give up aunts and uncles who, crazy as they may be, each come with their particular gifts and idiosyncrasies; with a collective wisdom born of good and bad choices. We give up the spiritual dimensions of lives lived well in the realm of faith, we give up family dinners, we give up family fights and the subsequent forgiveness and making up. When we live a mobile life it is really easy to decide we won’t work through the hard, instead choosing to ignore people and not reconcile our differences and our hurts.

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Meth lab found inside Walmart restroom in Indiana by Tribune Media Wire.

This is the Walmart where I used to shop. I was not especially surprised.

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How American parenting is killing the American marriage by Danielle Teller.

In the 21st century, most Americans marry for love. We choose partners who we hope will be our soulmates for life. When children come along, we believe that we can press pause on the soulmate narrative, because parenthood has become our new priority and religion. We raise our children as best we can, and we know that we have succeeded if they leave us, going out into the world to find partners and have children of their own. Once our gods have left us, we try to pick up the pieces of our long neglected marriages and find new purpose.

To the well-intentioned but ignorant parents of teenagers by Kayla Nicole.

You may be thinking “I’m smarter than that. I have a facebook and I watch my kids online.” You might have a Facebook. So do I. And so does my mom and my grandma and all of her friends. But you know who doesn’t have a Facebook? Your kid’s friends. I took an informal poll of my 150 students at the beginning of the year, and 60-80% of my students don’t even have a facebook. They connect with each other onKik, an app that allows users to text each other without exchanging phone numbers. They use Snapchat, an app that allows users to send pictures that supposedly disappear forever after ten seconds. They use Whisper, an app that a user can “anonymously” tell their deepest secrets to a vast community of other secret sharers. They use Yik Yak, Vine, Tumblr, Twitter (do you know about subtweeting? you should.), Instagram, Oovoo, WhatsApp, Meerkat, and sometimes even dating apps, like Tinder.

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I am a pastor. Here’s why I don’t want you to pray for me. by Theresa Latini. 

Please do not pray for me unless you are willing to walk with me.

Know me. Hear the depths of my fear or anguish or whatever it might be and let it affect you.

Then let us bring our (not just my) most profound needs vulnerably before God. Please do not try to escape that vulnerability. Because if you do, you have left me, and that is not prayer. It is not communion with God through Christ by the spirit.

What it means to “hold space” for people, plus eight tips on how to do it well by Heather Plett. 

What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

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The Right Words to Say: On being read as White by Dahlia Grossman-Heinze.

When you meet me for the first time, you read me as if I were a book. Every idea you have about me and every word I say is part of that book.

When you look at me, you will think I am white. I already know this. When you shake my hand and meet me for the first time, you always already read me as white. You will hear me speak English without an accent and think I am white. You will hear or read my last name and think I am white. You read me wrong.

10 images of the Baltimore riots you won’t see on TV by Natasha Norman. 

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Expanding the ways we experience God by Shauna Niequist.

So many people I talk to are trying to find language for what’s happening inside them, and often the closest they can get is that their faith has stopped working. For many of them, I think possibly what they mean is that the tools they’ve been using to experience a life of faith have stopped working.

Confessions of a high church millenial: Is liturgy a fad? by Erik Parker. 

Christian millennials seem to live in this multi-layered world of reading the bible on their iPhone and tweeting in church, while singing ancient plainsong and praying prayers spoken by saints of centuries past.

Until your pride melts by Kim Hall.

What can we do with all our soul trouble? Where can we take it?

The season of Lent says to God’s people: “Bring it.” Bring your dry bones, your numb hearts, and your wrecked and weary souls. Bring your shame and the sin that you can’t shake. Yes, it is too much for you, but it is not too much for God. Only He can create a clean heart and a renewed spirit within you.

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Note to Self: Finding balance in the digital age by Manoush Zomorodi.

Formerly known as “New Tech City”, I’ve been listening to this podcast a lot and HIGHLY recommend it – one of the best, most thoughtful shows around. Check it out!!!

Look Up. (Spoken word on the importance of using technology thoughtfully)

I forgot my phone.

 

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Lenses of a faithful follower.

I do not often feel full of faith. As a matter of fact, I am far more frequently filled with questions of hows and whys and whens and what ifs. I have known those who walk away from faith in the face of such seeming unbelief. I, too, have had my moments wondering if my lack of belief equated an insurmountable lack of faith. When I reflect on what I have found faith to be, however, I am astounded by how much more there is to being a faithful follower of Christ than merely belief.

The puzzle of many homes.

Surely God intended some of us to stay and some of us to go, some to plant and some to tend, some seeds to grow deep roots and others to float on the wind. It is a purpose that we struggle to accept when we leave behind loved ones and familiar lands.

101 culturally diverse Christian voices.

Check out this list of voices from many backgrounds!

And just for fun…. Meet Dumbledore, my pet tortoise. He really likes dandelions and exploring the back yard. However, he does not-at-all like it when the dog gets ahold of him and tries to bury him.

Dumbledore the Tortoise loves Dandelions

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These are some of my favorite reads over the past few months. If you’re still snowed in the lands of endless winter, enjoy the cozy & thought-provoking reading time!

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A glut of PhDs means long odds of getting jobs by Brenda Iasevoli. (aka the reason I returned to public school teaching)

Adjuncts and other nontenured faculty now make up three-quarters of college and university teachers. As this shift has taken place, there have been growing complaints that they work for lower wages than their tenured counterparts, and and that they lack access to health care and other benefits.

The tall task of unifying part time professors by Kate Jenkins

Adjunct professors’ troubling working conditions—some qualify for food stamps, and most don’t get health-insurance benefits—have led some to label them “the hypereducated poor.”

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Wholeness parenting – an alternative to helicopter and free range parenting by Lisa Jo Baker

In a generation growing up glued to screens, acting out the heroics of animated, one-dimensional men and plastic women, I want our boys to learn what it feels like to be a hero, rather than just to play one. I want my daughter to wear her beauty on the inside and all three to build with their hands and not just pixelated blocks.

Presence, not praise: How to cultivate a healthy relationship with achievement by Maria Popova

Admiring our children may temporarily lift our self-esteem by signaling to those around us what fantastic parents we are and what terrific kids we have — but it isn’t doing much for a child’s sense of self. In trying so hard to be different from our parents, we’re actually doing much the same thing — doling out empty praise the way an earlier generation doled out thoughtless criticism.

To my children, called in childhood by Laura Kelly Fanucci

“she reminded me that my calling as a mother is to introduce you to the wide world and the God who created it, so that I can help each of you learn how you are called in turn.”

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11 things I love about the Episcopalian church by Ben Irwin

At the altar, we all kneel, as Lindsey Harts put it. We all receive what we cannot do for ourselves. We all confess our weakness—that even the gifts we bring were God’s gifts to us in the first place. We all receive the same body and blood.

We need to do a lot better at cultivating and embracing diversity in our midst…but the altar is as good a place as any to start.

The universe and my aquarium by Philip Yancey

I keep the aquarium as a reminder.  When writer’s loneliness sets in, or suffering hits too close, or the gray of Chicago’s sky and buildings invades to color my mind and moods, I turn and gaze.  There are no mountains out my window, and the nearest blue whale is half a world away, but I do have this small rectangle to remind me of the larger world outside.  Half a million species of beetles, ten thousand wild butterfly designs, a billion fish just like mine poking around in coral reef—a lot of beauty is going on out there, often unobserved by human eyes.  My aquarium reminds me.

Woman, why are you weeping? (when your kid becomes an Episcopalian) by Amy Peterson

We attend an Episcopal church. Twenty years ago, most of the Christians I knew thought there was little true faith to be found in the Episcopal church, what with its rote prayers and female priests and politically liberal congregations. I understood, too, because I’m a mother, and I am beginning to see how impossibly fraught with emotion and responsibility and prayer and vulnerability it is to watch over your child’s spiritual formation.

The continued crucifying of Rob Bell and what it says about the state of modern Christianity by John Pavlovitz

Bell’s been doing something braver than most of the pastors overseeing churches in this country would ever do, yet the same thing that so many in their congregations wish they would do. He’s admitting the real questions that surface in the excavation of deep faith. He’s looking to separate what in this religion is of God and what is of us. He’s asking why we believe what we believe, and asking believers to do the same.

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How real people make shades of real love by Ann Voskamp

None of us ever know whom we marry. And falling in love never made anyone angels… it’s only made it clear how far we’ve fallen. Who we say ‘I do’ to —  is not who we roll over to touch twenty years later. The challenge for the vows is to fall in love with the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

Picturing Love: The stories behind 8 indellible images by Jessie Wender Stunning photos from National Geographic photographers that capture love.

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The proper weight of fear by Rachel Pieh Jones

“In August 23, 2012, before reporter Austin Tice disappeared in Syria, he wrote for The Washington Post, “No, I don’t have a death wish—I have a life wish. So I’m living, in a place, at a time and with a people where life means more than anywhere I’ve ever been—because every single day people here lay down their own for the sake of others. Coming here to Syria is the greatest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s the greatest feeling of my life.” We had a similar life wish, and it propelled us forward.”

Secret millionaire: Vermont janitor bequeaths fortune to hospital, library by Chris Serico

Known as an intensely private man who loved to chop wood and drive his second-hand Toyota Yaris around the Vermont town of Brattleboro, Read didn’t strike locals as the type of guy who had a lot of money to throw around. When the 92-year-old passed away in June, most Brattleboro residents were shocked to learn his estate donated $4.8 million to the local hospital and $1.2 million to the town’s Brooks Memorial Library.

Why we need to slow down our lives by Pico Iyer

As I travel the world, one of the greatest surprises I have encountered has been that the people who seem wisest about the necessity of placing limits on the newest technologies are, often, precisely the ones who helped develop those technologies, which have bulldozed over so many of the limits of old. The very people, in short, who have worked to speed up the world are the same ones most sensitive to the virtue of slowing down.

The most ignored commandment by Nancy Sleeth

Our generation is the first in 2,000 years of church history that is on the go 24/7. But this experiment in Sabbath-less living is taking a huge toll. It’s called time debt. We overcommit. We multi-task. We stay so busy we don’t have enough time for relationships with family and friends, let alone God.

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Thoughts from a recovering racist by Josh Throneburg

“Please, please, please don’t say things like, “Race doesn’t matter – we are all just human” or “Race isn’t the issue here”. Race matters. Race is the issue. Being black is the issue. Being white is the issue Skin color is the issue. And to suggest that these don’t matter devalues the life experience of racial minorities as well as makes you someone they know doesn’t understand – and they can’t trust.”

The rise of biblical counseling by Kathryn Joyce

On Christian blogs and websites, complaints about biblical counseling are starting to accumulate: of abused women counseled to discover their role in their husband’s domestic violence; of molested children declared healed after a one-time, 45-minute counseling session. Biblical counseling has also been cited as a contributing factor to scandals at several prominent conservative Christian colleges.

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Aching thoughts on Ferguson

There is perhaps nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up,” wrote Jesuit priest Alfred Delp in his essay The Shaking of Advent. “Where life is firm we need to sense its firmness; and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, no foundation, we need to know this too and endure it.”

This – both the firm and the unstable – is what the Ferguson headlines, the #blacklivesmatter statements, and yes, even my tiring-teens reveal. Some of us have been living unshaken for far too long.

In honor of the steady faithful

Recently, I’ve started reflecting on the ways that I’ve experienced healing and growth in the midst of the deeply broken places. As I ponder, I remember quiet lives of reconciliation lived with a steady faithfulness and unwavering commitment to heal this deeply broken piece of God’s kingdom.

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Returning to full time work has slowed down my reading significantly, but I’ve still squished in a bit of time here and there! Enjoy some of the best articles I’ve read over the past few months…

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What’s a dad to do when his daughter wants to dress up as Hans Solo for Halloween by Tom M. Burns

But I think my big takeaway from all this will be — equality goes both ways. If I’m going to tell my daughter that she can do almost anything a man can do (excepting some very specific biological acts), then I need to show her that a man can do almost anything a woman can do, too…

Can hyper-involved parents learn to back off? by Brigid Schulte

“There’s such a status thing here: ‘I went Georgetown. I want my kid to go to Georgetown or better.’ It’s such a rat race,” says Bowers, who has lived in McLean for 24 years. “Nobody is taking a step back and asking, ‘Is going to Princeton going to make me happier in the long run? Is this even right for my child?’ Because there are real consequences to living this way.”

How cultures around the world think about parenting by Amy Choi

What can American parents learn from how other cultures look at parenting? A look at child-rearing ideas in Japan, Norway, Spain — and beyond.

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Judging America: Photographer challenges our prejudice by alternating between judgment and reality by Joel Pares

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Christopher Columbus was awful (but this other guy was not) by The Oatmeal

Why there should be no Columbus Day

Overrated: People aren’t projects by Eugene Cho

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Hans Rosling’s 200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes

“Hans Rosling’s famous lectures combine enormous quantities of public data with a sport’s commentator’s style to reveal the story of the world’s past, present and future development. Now he explores stats in a way he has never done before – using augmented reality animation. In this spectacular section of ‘The Joy of Stats’ he tells the story of the world in 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers – in just four minutes. Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Hans shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.”

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When a pastor resigns abruptly by John Ortberg

I was struck, too, by the language quoted in news reports yesterday to describe this situation. The pastor, the board said, had been guilty of arrogance—along with other attitudes and behaviors associated with arrogance. But had not been charged with “immorality.”

When did arrogance cease to be immoral?

Being Midwestern (a four year primer) by Amy L. Peterson.

If I were a graduate of four years in Hoosier Land, what were the required courses I’d taken? What had I learned?

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What does it mean to be white? by Robin DiAngelo

In the U.S., while individual whites might be against racism, they still benefit from their group’s control. Yes, an individual person of color can sit at the tables of power, but the overwhelming majority of decision-makers will be white. Yes, white people can have problems and face barriers, but systematic racism won’t be one of them.

Tips for avoiding racial missteps from the makes of ‘Dear White People’

A great compilation of clips from the new Indie film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwJhmqLU0so

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If you hadn’t yet noticed, I’m on a bit of a hiatus from regular writing, but I am still reading!  Here are a few gems from the web this month:

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Here’s what world cup teams would look like if immigrants weren’t allowed to play.  Graphic representations of world cup teams without immigrants.

Illegal immigration, the unforgivable sin? by Bronwyn Lea. “When I share the story of how brutal the path to citizenship is for us, people are often shocked. We are not what people have in mind when they think of ‘immigrants.’ We are white. We speak English. We have graduate level degrees. And yet even for us, as documented workers, it sometimes seems nearly impossible that we will be able to gain permanent residency. The path is so much narrower and steeper than people realize, so we speak up.”

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On daughters and dating: How to intimidate suitors by Jen Wilkin. “Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own. Because, you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness.”

Thank God for Vaccines by Dr. Emily Gibson. “Maybe some of us have forgotten or are too young to realize the severity of these conditions. Healthcare providers who haven’t had firsthand experience with these contagious diseases don’t always think of them when confronted with classic signs and symptoms. But it’s only been a little over 50 years since vaccinations became routine for childhood killers like tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, and pertussis, or whooping cough.”

How the modesty police are hurting my son by Amy at Bunkers Down . “So when you hint that my son isn’t strong enough to handle himself if a girl wears spaghetti straps or short shorts?  You do him and me a disservice, as you do hundreds (if not thousands) of other sons and parents.  You place a doubt in his brain (and the brain of any male who hears your message) of whether he is stronger than his impulses and if he really needs to be stronger than those impulses.”

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The Call by John Blase. A beautiful little poem on our purpose.

Your Jesus by John Blase. “I’m sorry but I cannot accept your Jesus. Your Jesus is eternally afraid of things like movies and sex and naked questions.”

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When white women talk about race: a case for thoughtful self-censorship by Esther Emery. A thoughtful reflection on the realities of white women talking about race.

Top 10: Conversation Deflections by Austin Channing. “Unfortunately for many people attempting to speak truth to power, sharing our hearts on these issues (not just theories, but how they make us FEEL) is always risky. Sometimes those listening engage well, but we always know there is a chance things will fall apart. It doesn’t always matter what the justice issue is- mass incarceration, education, immigration, or in this case racial justice- there is always a risk that our hearts will leave as broken as when we came.”

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Proud to be. Video created by the National Congress of American Indians protesting the Redskins as a sports team name. Very well done!

The gift of rest. Featuring some alum from my alma mater, this video highlights the work of Jill’s House, an organization that provides skilled care for families with children with special needs.

If Asians said the stuff white people say. A great video showing irony of racial ignorance.

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5 painful realities of white privilege. “Privilege runs deep, and as I continue to ponder the ideas of humility, I keep running smack into its gritty realities. They’re not pretty, but ignoring them won’t make them go away either.”

10 reasons I’m reading Harry Potter to my children. “While they can’t yet fully grasp the evil raging in the world around them, they do have an easier time processing the good they see. The fact that hope still makes more sense than despair may be one of the greatest gifts children give adults. For their sake and mine, I want to instill in them a thirst for goodness, hope, and friendship for the future moments in their lives when all might appear lost.”

4 reasons white people need to talk about race. “This cannot be a discussion of tit-for-tat, of accusations and defensives, and as members of the dominant majority, we need to lead the conversation first with humility and compassion.  We can not let go until we know what it is that we’re holding onto.”

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On Parenting Teenagers by Jen Hatmaker. “Stop imagining that aliens will take over your darling preschooler at age 13. Your sweet boy will get to age 13 one day at a time. There is no abrupt moment where he ceases being the boy you raised and becomes some adolescent you don’t recognize.”

Dear mom of the crying baby on the plane by Rachel Pieh Jones. “I already empathized with you. I remembered the flight when one of my twins came down with a fever halfway between Minneapolis and Denver. I remembered when my youngest had a cold and demanded to be breastfed the entire flight and I think all the passengers around me got full-frontal flashes for hours on end. I remembered my youngest screaming during every single take off and landing. I remembered ceaseless trips to the bathroom, scrambling over our fake-sleeping seatmates.”

What my mother taught me by Shauna Niequest. If you’re a mom, this is a must-watch.

So much more than pretty by Megan Egbert. “Pretty does matter, my sweet girl. It matters very little to me, but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t matter anywhere. But in the very large scheme of things, in the giant puzzle of life, in the thousands of choices of things that matter, pretty is just one piece.”

A letter to my boys (The real reasons I say no to electronics) by Renee Robinson. “I want to talk to you when we are out to eat. I want to listen to your questions. I want to have training opportunities. I want to allow space for conversation that can take us deeper. And if you are always distracted with electronics, well… I might miss those moments.”

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When the Church confuses me and we by Jackson Wu.“Individualism,” as a basic orientation, makes the individual an idol inasmuch as personal freedom becomes the authoritative standard for ethical decisions. By fragmenting identity—separating individual from community— public ethics is rendered impossible since each individual presumes sovereignty in making moral decisions.”

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Guilt is Good by Christena Cleveland.Many of us want to think that true reconciliation can occur without anyone ever bearing the discomfort of guilt. But we only need to take one quick look at the bloody cross to know that that ain’t true.”

UNLearning by Austin Channing.I am unlearning the need to be all things to all {white} people. I am growing a backbone. I am choosing when I want to teach and when I don’t. I am learning that I don’t have to bust out my scars to prove their presence.”

Are millenials really leaving the church? Yes – but mostly white millenials by Bob Smietana. “Almost everyday, it seems, there’s a new story about how “Millennials are leaving the church.” But there’s a problem with these trend pieces: They aren’t true. American Christianity still has plenty of Millennials — they’re just not necessarily in white churches.”

What I learned: Forming a diverse team by Anita Dualeh. “Rather than just inviting individuals of color to join us in what we’re already doing, perhaps we need to take a step backward. Maybe we need to start with questions like, “How should we collectively support our children’s learning?” Certainly, we need to make it a conversation that includes a lot more people.”

To the Princeton Privileged Kid by Violet Baudelaire. “Privilege is not personal. Privilege is institutional and cultural. It is macro. You have privilege because you are part of a group that has privilege. It is not because you are special or different or better in anyway (any more than those without privilege are not special or are worse in any way).”

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The swimsuit guide no woman should have to read by Wendy Aarons.  I also hate these swimsuit guides. They’re supposed to “help” women find a suit that makes them feel like The Princess of the Waterpark, but what they actually do is make women’s self-esteem crash and burn before they’ve even set foot in the badly-lit dressing room at Macy’s.

The world is finally getting the ‘Big Fat Greek Wedding’ sequel it deserves.  Yay! One of my all time favs!

 

 

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Bridging the cultural gap with a mother-in-law in the kitchen by Anne Noyes Saini. “When we met almost a decade ago, my mother-in-law and I had so much more than a generational gap to bridge. But we could cook together, and we filled the silences with talk of spices and recipes.”

Marriage is the beautiful hard by Rachel Pieh Jones.  “I’ve been married fourteen years and there are days I punch my pillow and think ‘who is this crazy stranger strutting around my house like he owns the place?’ Because yes, there are hard things about marriage. This other person has desires and needs. Deep ones, like what continent to live on and how to raise children. Lighter ones like ribs instead of salad for dinner and how to discard coffee grounds. These desires conflict with my own but I didn’t get married so I could always have my own way.”

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Some big words (and helpful ideas) for when the race conversation explodes. “In Christianity, the white evangelical church has spent a great deal of time focusing on orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right practice or behavior) of individuals, but not so much time on orthopathy (right passions, emotions, attitudes) in relation to how we interact with society at large.”

Speaking with children about race and some tips on how to start. “Because of the reality of living in a racialized society, it’s imperative for all families to speak openly about race – especially white families.”

The difference between oak trees and freeways. “Contrary to the story of the freeways, we are not meant to live at break-neck speed every minute of the day. Unless we build barriers around and stoplights into our lives, we might hurtle ourselves right over the edge without even noticing.”

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Jill’s House: Something for you to consider by Scot McKnight. Some friends from college (who I wrote about here) introduced me to this amazing organization that serves families who have children with disabilities. Watch this video and consider how you might get involved.

Serious reading takes a hit from scanning and skimming, researchers say by Michael S. Rosenwald.  “Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia.”

How to make Facebook’s changes slightly less annoying by Kristen Howerton.By some mystery matrix, Facebook is choosing which posts show up in your news feed, rather than just serving up status updates as they come. The result is that older status updates are showing up at the top, and others aren’t showing up at all.”

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A growing gap: How black and white Christians think about race by Kate Tracy. “The new findings … lay bare the dramatic and growing gap in racial attitudes and experiences in America,” writes David Briggs in releasing the second wave of results from the Portraits of American Life Study

Biracial, and also black by Martha S. Jones. “Ordinarily, I am silent, listening and taking notes. But by the time I heard a third student say “I am mixed-race, from a mixed race family,” I had set down my notebook and was perched at the edge of my seat.

“Me, too,” I heard myself say. And with that, I knew that the class would be anything but routine. Until that moment, I had always told a neater story about my identity. I was, simply put, black. And about my mother being white? That had been irrelevant for me and my“one drop rule” generation.”

How white parents should talk to their kids about race by Melinda Winner Moyer.I’ve avoided talking about race with my kids mainly because I’ve thought that racial bias is learned by direct instruction and imitation—and that if I don’t talk about race or act in explicitly racist ways, my kids won’t pick up prejudices. My sources told me that this notion is pretty common; research suggests that nonwhite parents talk about racial identity much more frequently with their kids than white parents do, but that even minority parents often avoid talking about racial differences.”

This is what the average American will look like by 2050 by The San Francisco Globe. “National Geographic covered the changes in America physically as the country continues to be the melting pot for the world and as interracial marriages become more prevalent. “We’ve become a country where race is no longer so black or white.”

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We, the people of the globe by Laura Parker. We are a people made tender by airport goodbyes and flexible by the travel we log after those tears have dried.  We are those who open Christmas presents over Skype, who sleep in foreign beds in our home countries, who taste the pain of the missed funeral, the birth, and the regular family dinner after church.”

24 charts of leadership styles around the world by Gus Lubin. “Different cultures can have radically different leadership styles, and international organizations would do well to understand them.”

These diagrams reveal how to negociate with people around the world by Gus Lubin. “You can’t expect negotiations with French to be like negotations with Americans, and the same holds true for cultures around the world. British linguist Richard D. Lewis charted communication patterns as well as leadership styles and cultural identities in his book, “When Cultures Collide,” now in a 2005 third edition.”

A year of multicultural picture books for the global child by Meera Sriram. “If you have not been including multicultural books in your reading diet, this is a great beginner’s guide that will last you for the year. The books cover many important and diverse themes like tradition, travel, history, holiday, migration, art and culture. This is a fantastic potpourri of books for children aged three through 12 growing up to be global citizens of tomorrow!”

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We pray for reform by Sarah Quezada.For the families left behind that desperately miss a loved one. For the mamas who worry when the woman you brought into this world hasn’t been heard from in too long. For the wives waiting for money from the States but missing the partner who should be at the table. For the babies who’ve not met their papis. For the teenagers who respect the sacrifice, but barely remember their mama’s touch. We pray for reform.”

5 things I learned from immigrants learning English. Their resilience, fortitude, humor, and kindness are teaching me just as much as I’m teaching them – probably more.  “I teach you English,” I tell them in our serious moments.  “But you teach me life.” 

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The polarization of “Biblical Christianity” by Michael W. Pahl.The World Vision ruckus was only the latest in a line of once-a-month mêlées among Christians appealing to the Bible over some hot-button issue. And as Christians repeat this reactionary, polarizing approach to every issue that comes up, month after month, year after year, sides are indeed being taken. Some are not even taking sides—tragically, they’re abandoning the attempt to be either “Christian” or “biblical.””

A year of grieving dangerously: An interview with Kay Warren by Timothy C. Morgan. “About two weeks ago, Kay Warren’s anger boiled over. The co-founder of Saddleback church wrote on Facebook, “As the one-year anniversary of Matthew’s death approaches, I have been shocked by some subtle and not-so-subtle comments indicating that perhaps I should be ready to ‘move on.’ … I have to tell you – the old Rick and Kay are gone. They’re never coming back. We will never be the same again.”

 

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Funniest texts between parents and their children ever sent.

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29 funny charts that detail painfully “accurate” facts about  daily life by Joey White.

 

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10 things to know about education around the world by Katie Lepi 

Rude hand gestures around the world

What does the world eat for breakfast?

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101 Culturally Diverse Christian VoicesCheck out Christian voices from many perspectives.

What does it mean to be white? Resources on white identity development. Many white people I know haven’t ever given much thought to how their race has influenced them. When other Americans of color talk about their own cultural backgrounds, white people might sheepishly wonder, “What culture?” about their own backgrounds.”

Why we can’t just set race aside. “This is how I perceive the situation,” I’m often known to comment to my husband – even when my perceptions sound so racist I’m embarrassed to admit them, “Help me understand why I think this but feel bad saying it out loud.”

Years of such admissions are slowly helping me understand when my reactions stem from being a cultural majority and when I’m actually allowing more than one perspective to shape my perceptions.”

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New to Between Worlds? Check out these popular posts

If you’re new here, or perhaps read occasionally but are interested in reading more, this is a recap of some of my most popular posts. You can also follow Between Worlds on Facebook by clicking Like in the Facebook sidebar to the right or visit the Between Worlds Facebook page. You can also subscribe by email in the sidebar to the right to get new posts delivered directly to your inbox.

On Race

When white people don’t know they’re being white

We want to say that everything that happens in church is about Jesus, but it’s simply not.  There’s a whole lot of culture and power and history and social structure in there as well.  Until we acknowledge how these realities shape our thinking, we’re going nowhere.

Dear white man:

Yours is a story of dominance, of disrespecting and denying others’ rights and conquering those who are inconvenient to you.  

4 reasons white people need to talk about race

1. We don’t know how to talk about race.
2. We don’t know who we are.
3. We need healing, too.
4. We’re afraid of losing control.
 

4 reasons white people don’t talk about race

1. Fear of conflict
2. Guilt
3. Ignorance
4. Subconscious superiority complex
 

4.5 tips to help white people talk about race

1. Listen
2. Learn
3. Accept
4. Affirm
 

When even Jesus is white

Furious, [my daughter] interrupted me, “NO, mama!  Everyone is white except me.  I’m the onlybrown kid.  Even Jesus is white!”

Why toys need to reflect racial diversity

 As we’ve raised biracial children, we’ve searched long and hard for toys and books that reflect a wide variety of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives.  It hasn’t always been an easy or successful effort, but it’s been an important way we affirm this piece of our children’s identity. 

30 day race challenge: infographic linking to resources for people wanting to develop a deeper understanding of race.

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Speaking with children about race and some tips on how to start

  • Engage, don’t shush.
  • Speak factually
  • Speak figuratively
  • Define race without deficiency
  • Pay attention to the surroundings you create
  • Discuss discrepancies

 

On Culture

101 Culturally Diverse Christian Voices: listing representing the wide variety of Christian voices speaking about or living out their faith in the public sphere.

Iceberg Concept of Culture: One of my favorite ways to teach culture.

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Dear ‘Merica: A Lament

I know firsthand that you don’t easily know what to do with people who are not like you. Our biracial and bicultural and multilingual-but-English-speaking family lived among you in a tiny little cornfield town for 8 long and painful years, enduring glares and scowls, holding hearts and sighing wearily with the very-few-others-like-us.  You love yourselves well, but you did not love us at all. 

What to buy in an Indian Grocery store for dummies: a guide to basic ingredients for cooking South Asian style food.

Confusing the American dream for the good life

“This isn’t what you want,” I challenged my students one day as we discussed the opulence of American culture, “I know it appears enticing, especially in comparison to the poverty, hunger, and injustice people here face on a daily basis.  But what I see being chased – the pride of “image”, the greed of materialism, the selfishness of “independence” – is a façade.”

 

On family

10 reasons I’m reading Harry Potter to my children

At first, I was a bit hesitant, wondering if the evil, the battle, the fear that rages in the story of good vs. evil would be too much for them.  But as we read, I grew more convinced that this was more than an entertaining story, it was food for their souls.

9 ways to help children develop global awareness: Check out these ideas that include books, videos, service, travel, hospitality, generosity, imagination, simplicity.

Dear Dr. King: A thank you note from a white mother of biracial children

The first time I heard you say you had a dream, I didn’t know it would be for my children.  But in those first moments when I stared into their deep brown eyes, held their tiny caramel hands in my pale ones, and paused to consider the ‘content of their character’, my heart whispered your words to them.

Intercultural marriage: A model of reconciliation

 While comparatively few are called to such an intimate cross-cultural partnership, all Christians have a responsibility to seek reconciliation across barriers.

A long(er) view of intercultural marriage. Exploring characteristics of ‘deeper intercultural marriage’: grace, insight, sacrifice, flexibility, patience, patience, honesty, friendship.

What my grandpa knew

The dementia had stolen him from us one-slow-day-at-a-time, and replaced his jolly warmth with violent reactions and confused arguments. It was like having a three-year-old in the family all over again.

For my children on their baptism

Though I cannot promise you it will be a simple path, I can attest mightily to its richness and depth.  For in every failure, there is forgiveness, in every brokenness – healing, and in every sorrow – restoration. It will surely not appear in the ways you expect, nor as easily as you hope, but as you walk in Christ’s way, it will come, steadfast and sure.

The value of traveling with young children

In the earliest years of parenting, our decision to travel with our children was merely a hunch that it would be good for them in the long run.  “Start as you mean to go on” became our motto, for we wanted the world to be something that was as much a part of them as their hometown, and we knew that to do this, it should be something they had always known.

On raising children to dance

The warm breeze blew romantically that evening, enticing me to relish that moment of my children dancing, twirling in their joy-filled innocence. It will not last long.

 

On Faith

A skeptic falls off her soap box

I’d now climbed right up on my own soapbox behind Annie, fully entrenched in my private choruses of “You go, girl!”  She’d hit the nail on the head.  These rogues – they were crazy.  They converted unethically, didn’t think about anything critically, and threw their Bibles around carelessly defending their narrow-minded political causes.

Finding hope in the shadows

Truly, the heart is deceitful above all things; and it was in marriage that we finally were forced to face our long denied deceit of stubborn habits, selfish expectations, and unrealistic dreams.

Survival tactics for truth-tellers, hole-pokers, and skeptics

Truth-tellers are wired to poke holes, ask questions, point out inconsistencies, question accepted norms – often for the value of the greater-good, but usually at the cost of keeping-the-peace.

Jesus doesn’t ride a carpet and other myths of American faith

From the movies, I learned that love was a magic carpet ride full of wonder and adventure, a prince arriving to save me at just the right moment, or swirling around a ball-room in a place I didn’t really deserve to be.  I learned that ‘being in love’ meant swooning emotions, pretty dresses and palpitating hearts.  

There were no Disney movies, however, about crying angrily on the way home from church or getting up with screaming babies six times in the middle of the night or being overly snippy with your spouse.  

What comes after the bend-til-you-break days

Sometimes, I wondered if the enduring years would ever end.

Why I still believe

As the years have passed, I’ve discovered ways of walking with God that offer more sustenance than my questions.  These paths are why I’ve stayed, and why I continue to seek life in Jesus even when I don’t fully know all the answers.

Favorites

Still want to read more?!? Check out my monthly compilations of some of the best reads on the web here.

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Urban church planting plantations by Christena Cleveland.  “In Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Boston , Charlotte and many other cities, I’ve seen predominantly white, wealthy suburban churches take an imperialistic glance at the urban center, decide that they are called to “take back the city” and then proceed with all of the honor and finesse of a military invasion.”

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In which I don’t mind if my tinies see me on the computer by Sarah Bessey.  “So, is it a shameful thing for a mother to work on the computer while her children are present? Nope. Not only is it not damaging to my tinies to see me – gasp! – working on the computer while they’re here, I believe it’s downright good for them.”

Recline: Why “lean in” is killing us by Rosa Brooks.  “Long ago, before Sandberg’s book Lean In convinced me to change my ways, I had a life. I had friends. I had hobbies. I could generally be relied upon to remember my children’s names, though I sometimes skipped their adorable little preschool events to take naps and read novels. I had a job, too, of course, but I also took occasional vacations, knocked off work at a sensible hour and got eight hours of sleep each night. Then I read Lean In and realized that I was self-sabotaging slacker.”

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Praise bands are the new medieval priests by Erik Parker. The title grabbed my attention, but his thoughts on the value of liturgy are important.

Of symbols and sacraments by Juan Carlos Lopez. “I used to think that Evangelical meant someone who preached the Gospel. Now, not so much. It’s only a way to express our political affiliations.”

The higher cost of loving by John Blase. “But Christ’s wounds keep him forever alien, not fully home, not fully prodigal.”

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Please don’t say “They are poor but they are happy” by Rachel Pieh Jones. “If the poor are so happy, that alleviates some of the rich person’s guilt. The wealthy outsider can praise their good attitudes, their thankfulness, they can categorize their smiles in the face of dire circumstances as evidence of happiness. And in doing so, they remove the burden of guilt, complicity, and the pressure to act. The also remove the poor person’s natural human ability to feel complex emotions, happiness being one of the most simplistic emotions there is.”

The immigrant’s dilemma by Tori Marlan. “José Ángel says that if he has no opportunity to adjust his legal status, there are two likely outcomes. The thought of the first, family separation, is unbearable to him. “I’m married to an American citizen, and I have an American child, and I might not be able to stay with them and see my daughter grow up—that’s the part that terrifies me the most, not being with them.” The other, moving the family to Mexico, is almost as terrifying. “It wouldn’t be if Mexico were a more stable country,” he says. “But the news is filled with horror stories: violence, corruption, pollution, lack of opportunity. This is what is waiting for us if we have to go. I don’t want my child to grow up in an environment like that.”

10 reasons why we need research literacy, not scare columns by David Kleeman.  “The children and media research community has been buzzing with frustration at the viral circulation of Cris Rowan’s Huffington Post column, “10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12.” The piece pretty well defines “hack-ademic” writing, in which an author throws lots of learned-sounding terms and citations at a lay reader, while obscuring misinterpretations and fuzzy logic. Here are 10 reasons why Rowan’s column is flawed.”

I’m not lazy, I’m a millenial by Megan Egbert. “Escapism from parenting didn’t start with smart phones. It didn’t start with television. Parents escape through a multitude of ways because parenting is flat out hard.  My generation sometimes does it through handing their child a device to play on or playing on a device themselves.  Those are the tools we know and are familiar with when we need to escape. ”

“I am not their product” music video.  Don’t miss watching this music video taking our photoshopping culture to task!

World Vision, Gay Marriage, and a Different Way Through by Jen Hatmaker. “I am starving for reasonable, measured Christ-followers to become the dominant voices in the ongoing culture wars. We needn’t race to our laptops with our hair on fire every time another Christian offends our personal sensibilities.”

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Where are the people of color in children’s books by Walter Dean Myers. “Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? Where are the future white personnel managers going to get their ideas of people of color? Where are the future white loan officers and future white politicians going to get their knowledge of people of color? Where are black children going to get a sense of who they are and what they can be?”

Metaphysical Dilemma Part 2 by Austin Channing. “Can I be really honest and tell you that as much as I love conferences, I enter them with a certain level of fear and trepidation? My fear is not that I will experience an overt act of racism. I have no fears that I will be stopped at the door or rejected. I have no fears that someone will say or do anything unkind. My fear is not at all physical. Rather I fear the number of ways I will feel devalued, unimportant, sidelined, monolithic, or invisible. I never fear that I will standout. I fear that I will never be seen at all.”

White Privilege Weariness by Austin Channing. “My weariness is rooted in realizing how often starting the race conversation with white privilege automatically centers the experience of white folks. ”

Students see many slights as ‘racial microagressions’ by Tanzina Vega. “What is less clear is how much is truly aggressive and how much is pretty micro — whether the issues raised are a useful way of bringing to light often elusive slights in a world where overt prejudice is seldom tolerated, or a new form of divisive hypersensitivity, in which casual remarks are blown out of proportion.”

Speaking fear, praying Shalom by Osheta Moore. “Baby, we’re black. It’s not safe for us. They’ll shoot first without asking questions, and your stealing only gives them permission not to trust us. It makes murdering us okay. Look at Trayvon Martin. They’re afraid of us. Don’t you see?”

Church: The racial subtext by Kelsey Munger. “How did Best Friend get to the point where she honestly thought there weren’t any good Christian black men in America? Because she’d grown up in a family, a church, and a community that was not only extremely white, they were extremely disengaged and uninterested in issues related to race.”

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The list | A year of reading around the world by Ann Morgan. Read a book a nation.

 

A billboard that condenses water from humidity.  Now that’s a great idea!

 

Lammily: the accurately proportioned alternative to Barbie.

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101 Culturally Diverse Christian Voices“I’m just tired of only hearing white, mainstream evangelical voices,” a good friend lamented to me recently. “Why aren’t voices from other backgrounds listened to in the same way as the white voices?” I heard the weariness of consistent exclusion in his question, and frankly, wondered the same thing myself.

30 Day Race Challenge: Use this graphic to spend a concentrated time pondering racial issues more deeply.

Speaking with children about race and some tips on how to start: “Because of the reality of living in a racialized society (make sure to watch the video above to understand the full impact of this on children), it’s imperative for all families to speak openly about race – especially white families.”