When I look at what’s happening across the country, I see a common theme that for the most part has remained unnamed. The current news reports—of demonstrations, restrictions on free speech, increasing numbers of murders and other crimes, hate-filled rhetoric, accusations and “cancellations”—highlight symptoms of a far larger issue. Ultimately, it’s not about politics, or the environment, or even morality and social justice. The root of it all is spiritual.
Cancel Culture is big in the news this morning, as a number of liberal celebrities have signed onto a letter calling for an end to it. Of course, as soon as Harper’s published the letter, others started attacking it, which leaves us with people attempting to cancel a letter urging us to cancel cancel culture.
It’s in the news, and plastered all over social media. Everywhere you turn, the focus is on race. With a few unfortunate exceptions, people want to be part of the solution, but what exactly does that mean?
I’ve read numerous articles outlining how I, as a person of western European (and Jewish) descent, am supposed to respond. Most stress writing my politicians, speaking out on social media, and perhaps joining a demonstration. To me, that means a lot of talk, but not much productive action. I don’t want to just talk about racism, I want to do something that makes an actual difference for those who deal with it on a sometimes daily basis. In that light, I’ve come up with a few suggestions.
I haven’t written lately. Partly this is because I had nothing I felt compelled to say, and partly it’s because, as you are quite aware if you follow the news and/or social media, I worried that anything I did say could and would be used against me. After all, business leaders and other public figures are stepping down or being fired at an alarming rate for even the most minor “transgressions.”* Then, this morning I finally realized that I do have something to contribute to the conversation—something worth the possible repercussions. It’s time to post my two cents’ worth.
- From ABC7 News in California: “Reopening California: State superintendent says ‘We will not ask for schools to start until it is safe’”
- From GoAnacortes, in Washington: “The town photo, parade and patriotic program are canceled, and the city is postponing its community fireworks display until it is safe for larger groups to gather, ‘hopefully later in the summer,’ according to a statement Tuesday from the Mayor’s Office.”
- From the NewsReview in Charlevoix, Michigan: “Greensky Hill Indian United Methodist Church invites the community to continue practicing both physical distancing and social connection by continuing online worship, discipleship and fellowship until it is safe to gather in person again; and staying connected by calling and writing each other, especially those unable to connect online.”
- From the Montgomery County, Maryland .gov site: “Our team is ready to provide services and welcome the community back to our facilities, but we will not do so until it is safe,” said Director of Montgomery County Recreation Robin Riley.
- And it’s not just here in the US. Here’s a headline from the Glasgow Times of Scotland: “No return to work until it’s safe to do so says Nicola Sturgeon”
I understand the concern—we don’t want to encourage people to gather if it leads to some of them getting seriously ill, or dying, as a result. However, when did the lockdown become something designed to keep us safe?
Be careful what you pray for! It’s a well-known principle that when you ask God for patience, you can expect trials. When we tell Him we want to love more, He sends us the unlovable. And when you want to strengthen your prayer life, well, you can be sure that you’re going to have something to pray about.
One of my goals for 2020 was to improve my prayer life. I dared to ask God to teach me to be a better pray-er—to hear His voice more clearly, to feel His heart more strongly, and to pray with more faith and more passion. Please don’t blame me for a global pandemic, but I have to admit, we’ve all had plenty to pray about lately. Between the coronavirus itself and the resulting economic fallout, we could spend hours on our knees. God has our attention, and He’s taking full advantage. But sometimes, God aims closer to home.
What do you do when the answer is no?
Do you get frustrated? Angry? Do you feel out of control?
Lately, a lot of us are hearing no on a regular basis. No, we can’t go see our family or friends. No, we can’t go out. No, we can’t take that trip. Sure, we can think of things to do at home—try that recipe (if you can get the ingredients), tackle that project, garden, wash our hands—but we’re used to having the freedom to do so much more, and now we can’t.
It reminds me of other times I’ve encountered a lot of no’s.
COVID-19 is now all the news, all the time. Many of the articles and newscasts appear designed to inspire fear and create panic. Dire predictions dominate, not only of people getting sick and dying, but of shortages and an economic depression. With all the closures and cancellations affecting us daily, it’s easy to buy in, to start building our own hoard of masks, disinfectant, and whatever else we determine we can’t live without, and to succumb to anxiety.
But wait. God hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s still in control. He still loves us. Worry is the opposite of faith—a way of telling God we don’t trust Him to care for us (see 1 Peter 5:7). Perhaps all this disruption is a reminder that we’re not the ones running the show. That we need to keep an eternal perspective. Perhaps God is giving us an opportunity to love one another.
If you follow the church calendar, we’re now in the season of Lent, a time of introspection and confession leading up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. The idea is to do some personal housecleaning, and hopefully grow closer to God as a result. Instead of giving up meat—or chocolate, or TV (which I rarely watch anyway), I’m trying something a bit different this year. Since I’ve been reading Deuteronomy, I’m asking God to search my heart as I focus on each of the Ten Commandments. How am I doing with obeying God?
One of the most controversial subjects in the church is that of creation. Did God create the world in billions of years, or six, 24-hour days? Did it happen by a Big Bang, or did God breath creation into existence a few thousand years ago? Did animals evolve on their own, under God’s direction, or were they created in less than a week? What kind of day is “yom” referring to? How does a believer reconcile faith and science?