What It Means to Be A “Christian” (Response)

If you have any Christian friends on social media, you’ve probably already come across THIS ARTICLE.

Christian subcultures are an entertaining phenomenon. Multiple brands of Christianity claim the same Lord and read the same Bible, and yet they promote a set of values sometimes as different as apples and orangutans.

When you try to cut out Christians with a religious cookie cutter, you not only tarnish diversity, but you trample on grace. It’s one thing for Christian subcultures to cultivate unique values. But it becomes destructive when those values are chiseled on Sinaitic tablets for all to obey.

Of course, someone like me immediately wonders: “Has that author written his blog post on a Sinaitic tablet, insisting that his view of Cookie Cutter Christians be a view that ALL of us obey?”

But let’s keep reading…

It’s even worse when Christians expect instant holiness from recent converts—holiness, that is, in areas where we think we’ve nailed it…

It’s a shame that some believers have scoffed at some of Shia Labeouf’s recent comments about converting to Christianity, pointing fingers at the fact that he still uses bad language weeks after becoming a Christian…Bad language may take years to weed out.

At this point, someone like me is thinking, “Does Shia Labeouf’s flesh have such control that he can’t keep his fingers from typing profanity-laced messages AND hitting ‘send?'” And, if so, is his soul still in such need of “weeding” that he can’t at least apologize and promise to try harder when someone calls him out?

But, I kept going…

Grace means that we are all works in progress, and God shaves off our rough edges in His timing.

Just look at the thugs God works with in the Bible.

I know we’re programmed to see the 12 apostles as saints with halos and contemplative faces. But actually, they were criminals. These guys were more like prisoners than pastors, and few of them would be let inside our churches today.

Finally, it was here that I realized I needed to write a blog post featuring the apostles, exactly as this author portrays them.

How did the disciples of Jesus act AFTER they met Him, and how would Jesus Himself handle these “thugs?”

Today, I’m imagining the apostles traveled forward in time and fell in love with Preston Sprinkle’s article about Messy Christianity…and then traveled back to their own era in the Middle East to apply what they’d learned.

Here’s how I think that would look:

———————————————————————–

Peter:  God Dammit!!!

John: Yikes, Pete! Don’t forget, the lips of the righteous know what is acceptable. What’s going on with that loose tongue?

Peter: I’m just really worked up about what Matthew is doing. Did you know he still sneaks to his old booth and collects some taxes now and then?

John: Well, yeah.  (*scratches his head*)  I’d heard that.  But… as you know, we can’t expect someone’s life to be changed overnight. Being a friend of Jesus is messy!

Peter: Yeah–I agree with that, I guess.  I mean, I’m sure I agree with it, when it applies to YOU, showing me some grace while I get my shit together. But stealing from poor people seems like kind of a big deal!

John: Oops, here he comes now.

Peter: Oh, shit!

Matthew:  Hey, guys. Did you see the ladies who were talking with Jesus this morning? They’re prostitutes!

John: So? What’s so strange about that? Jesus has changed the hearts of many prostitutes in the past.

Matthew: Yeah, but that’s just it! He told them to change. It’s like Jesus doesn’t know that these gals are works-in-progress. They’re going to be a little messy!

John: Hm, I see your point.  I wonder if Jesus realizes that a sub-culture of Christians might turn his message of change into legalism.  I’m sure He doesn’t want people to think “change” is something to be dogmatic about!

Peter:  Yeah! Screw Fundamentalism!

*Suddenly, Jesus appears out of nowhere*

Jesus:  Have you been keeping my commands, gentlemen? You know that’s how to show your love for me, right?

Peter:  (*out-bursting and pointing at Matthew*) He’s collecting taxes again!!!

Matthew: Oh look who’s talking, Peter Potty Mouth!

John: (*holding up his hand*)  Wait, I can handle this, Jesus. Let’s all remember that you can’t sanitize grace. You can’t stuff it into a blue blazer and make it wear khakis.

Peter: What the Hell are “khakis?”

Jesus: (*squeezing the bridge of his nose*)  Aaaaaaaah, my friends. How long shall I put up with you?…

Matthew: You sound annoyed, Jesus? Can we just remind you that sometimes grace is messy and offensive?

Jesus: Fun fact, Matt. I’ve never been recorded using the word “grace” myself…

(*the Apostles look shocked*)

Jesus: Listen up, guys. Put down the blog post, and listen to what I’M saying…


 

Of course, I don’t have the time or space to copy everything that Jesus said to his disciples.  Nor can I reprint everything the disciples passed down, for the churches they planted.

But I DO think it’s interesting that–whatever Jesus said and modeled for John and Peter and all the others–it led them to write things like:

Peter: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

John: No one who keeps on sinning has either seen [God] or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as God is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

That’s thought-provoking, isn’t it?

Now, granted, there are disputes among Christians about what type of conduct is “sinful” and what type is “holy.”  Smoking and gambling and alcohol and promiscuous dress may be considered “gray areas.” But shouldn’t we be having those conversations about if/when they’re acceptable for Christians?

Wouldn’t it be great if we had the freedom (and the grace) to discuss doctrine, without being told to shut up and let people be messy, without question?

I hope I’m not the only one tired of running head-long into someone’s Grace Shield, which is just an excuse not to take responsibility for our actions.

If what I’m doing is actually, demonstrably wrong, then I can show that I’m a Christian by owning it and letting God change it.   (And that goes for Shia LeBeouf, too.)  :)

Blocking the Truth

I was blocked by somebody on Facebook this week.

Mind you, that’s different from simply being unfollowed or unfriended.  By blocking someone, you prevent them from seeing ANYTHING related to you, even things you’ve written on public pages. A blocked person can no longer search for your profile or contact you via private message.

You’re dead to them.

In truth, “blocking” is a great tool if you run into a child predator or potential ax-murderer.

But what other reason could a person possibly have for so dramatically cutting me off?

The irony this time was that my last conversation with Blocky McBlockerson* had to do with censorship.

(*name has been changed to protect the cowardly)

6-25-16 Private Message with Sarah (Edited 1)

 

Me: I’m baffled by anyone who thinks discussing things is a “distraction.”  If…your philosophy about sexuality is wrong, then deleting comments keeps others from seeing the truth..

Blocky:  Go ahead and discuss it on your page.  I don’t enjoy debate. It takes too much energy.

Me: Someone who knows what they believe doesn’t shy away from explaining themselves.   In my opinion, the least loving thing you can do for a person is withhold the truth when they’re honestly seeking.  A philosophy that doesn’t pass the test of BOTH the heart and the mind isn’t worth having.

 

At this point, Blocky decided to try a different approach. She never explained why she liked the ridiculous meme she had shared (and why I was wrong to suggest that adulterers and pedophiles could use the same meme.)

Instead, she opted for self-pity.

 

6-25-16 Private Message with Sarah (Edited 2)

 

Blocky: I guess I just don’t measure up. Fortunately, my faith allows for people to be whoever they may be and still be of use.  Maybe in a few years, after a few life experiences, you’ll be less rigid in your judgment… If you were my kid and you wanted to talk about what Mom has learned or believes, I’d be happy to talk.  That’s not what this is, and I’m not interested…

Me: I’m not your kid. But I am your sister, am I not? It’s true, you may just choose not to discuss certain things on Facebook. You may have people in “real life” who are allowed to question the areas of your faith that don’t make logical sense. But—again—people who have answers for my questions usually offer them.

That’s when she got really upset!  And that’s okay.  I don’t necessarily believe that being upset with each other is a bad thing. In fact, you can’t have relationships without being upset sometimes…

Blocky: In my experience, people who ask like you do NOT have questions, they have answers. So…your like-minded inner circle, would be the places that your questions/conclusions should be shared. They are only agitation in my little corner. So cut it out… An honest, face-to-face, heartfelt exchange is fuel for my soul. But confrontational, argumentative debate is an energy suck that I can’t afford…and with that, this and any future conversation (in this forum) is over. My boundary has been reached.

But that last bit is the problem for me.

Saying, “That’s it. I won’t talk with you” and offering no explanation for why strikes me as downright contradictory.

So I told her so.

Me: If we were sitting face-to-face, having a heartfelt exchange, I would confess that I don’t know how to move forward. I’m completely stumped about how to have a relationship with a person like you, without being both rejected AND accused of only associating with people who agree with me.

I already said it’s possible that Facebook just isn’t your preferred place for theological discussion. That’s fine. But it’s the only place I have to hear other views…

How do I break free from my “like-minded circle,” when I’m unceremoniously barred from circles like yours? Regularly?

It’s frustrating to meet person after person who has a problem with the WAY I talk….and never wants to address the crux of my points.  You say you’re dropping out of this conversation, but I hope you’ll reconsider. I hope you’re not putting up a boundary between yourself and a God-indwelt member of your spiritual family every time relating with one becomes a challenge…

——

And that’s when she decided she needed to make sure we never talked again.

During a conversation about the importance of hearing other perspectives, she essentially stuck her fingers in her ears and yelled “lalalala!”

It’s astounding.

But I’m afraid that blocking ourselves from confrontation is becoming a Standard Operation for Christians.

It seems that “tolerant” Christians are happy to have coffee with gay people or support the unwed mother… They’re happy to get messy being the hands of Jesus to the tax-collectors. But, when it comes to loving other Christians, they need BOUNDARIES.

(Love sinners–unless they’re arrogant, I guess?)

At least two church leaders recently unfriended a relative of mine, over disagreements about racism.  And the former “Youth Director” of my childhood church dropped into a pretty mild discussion on my page about marriage, before burning our bridge.

———

Meanwhile, I’ve been bantering with Atheists on my dad’s blog for weeks–and they just keep coming back for more. 

They’re mean and frustrated and they keep threatening to leave me wallowing in my ignorance…

…but they can’t help returning.  They come back over and over, like moths to flame.

I remarked to my dad, “It’s like the Gospel is a bug zapper.”   The lost souls are relentlessly drawn to the light, even though it shocks their flesh.

It hurts.

But they’re compelled…as if they sense on a subconscious level that truth is waiting.

——–

What’s happening here, Christians?

Is there more hope for the rebellious pagan than for the half-hearted members of our own churches?

Have we grown so attached to our religion that we must block anything that threatens it?

If we’re so sure we’ve found the truth, then why do we need to protect it like a glass sculpture?

Iron will not sharpen iron if we keep burying our swords. Over and over, I see Christians making “tolerance” and “diversity” into gods–then cutting off the brothers and sisters who try to warn them.

 That’s not tolerance OR diversity, brothers and sisters. And I believe I’m well within my right to point that out.

Are we family, or not?

Are we interested in the truth, or not?

And what does it say about the things we believe, if we come undone when an arrogant, pestering little sister holds our feet to the fire?

6-26-16 Private Message with Sarah (Edited 3)6-26-16 Private Message with Sarah (4).PNG

You Aren’t a Gunman, Either

I saw this helpful picture, making the rounds on social media:

“You weren’t the gunman, but you didn’t want to see gay people kissing in public. You weren’t the gunman, but you don’t like gay characters on TV. You weren’t the gunman, but you think gay people are sinful and need saving.

You weren’t the gunman, but you were upset when gay people gained the right to marry. You weren’t the gunman, but you use slurs for gay people. You weren’t the gunman, but you would vote against protections for gay people.

You weren’t the gunman, but you’re the culture that built him. You’re the bullets in his gun.”

———-

Apparently, a love for personal responsibility isn’t ever going to catch on with this generation.

We’re absolutely determined to blame faceless, unrelated people for every tragedy.

We never miss an opportunity to say “I told ya so!”…even when the person we dislike had nothing to do with what happened.

So, fine. I’ll join the bandwagon.

EVERYONE is guilty for the actions of a few, correct?

Excellent.

Then I expect anyone who considers him/herself a “liberal,” and particularly members of the LGBT community, will meditate on this list of offenses until they feel sufficiently remorseful:

  • You’re not a gunman; but you swear at those who disagree with you on the internet.
  • You’re not a gunman, but you openly mock that religious persecution is a “thing.”
  • You’re not a gunman, but you believe conservatives are bigots who deserve shaming.
  • You’re not a gunman, but you spend all of your time demanding that others focus on your tiny, little world.
  • You’re not a gunman, but you have enemies.
  • You’re not a gunman, but you shoot words like “hateful” and “wing nut” and “fundie”  and “Bible-thumper” and  “Jesus Freak” on people you’ve never taken the time to understand.

YOU’VE NEVER BEHEADED A CHRISTIAN OR JEW OR HOMOSEXUAL IN THE MIDDLE EAST. BUT THEY HEAR YOUR SILENCE LOUD AND CLEAR.

If you’d rather make up an indirect way your conservative neighbors are responsible for everything than publicly denounce the teaching of Muhammad–YOU are the culture that built this.

pakistan-bombing-at-least-69-killed-in-easter-attack-on-christianspakistani-christian-boypakistani-christians

 

Or, if you don’t think this is your fault, then let’s stop with ALL the “My people” vs. “Your people” stuff, okay?

I read an article this week reminding Christians of the danger of lumping people into groups.

It was well-stated. And convicting.

The “lumpers” in the LGBT community would be wise to read it and take their own advice about building cultures of undeserved blame.

 

Boobs, Babies, and How to Protect Them

This video echos all the rallying cries of the Normalize Breastfeeding movement:

“Some people have breastfeeding fetishes, or whatever. But I GUARANTEE YOU, those people are not walking around in public looking for breastfeeding women to jack off to.
…I’m just feeding my child…

…Shame on you! Shame on your for even thinking there’s a correlation [with sex].”


Unfortunately, just yelling “There’s no correlation!” doesn’t make it so.

In fact, I’m afraid demanding the right to feature our bare breasts in videos and photos is making it easier for sickos to revel in their pleasures online.

Thanks to bumper-sticker simplifications like “Normalize Breastfeeding” and “Boobs for Bernie,” most breastfeeding mothers are gaining confidence that there’s nothing weird–let alone dangerous–about letting strangers catch glimpses of their breasts.

As long as there’s a hungry baby nearby, it’s cool, right?

But, if it’s true that women shouldn’t worry about staying covered when breastfeeding–how do we stop it when someone goes too far and OBVIOUSLY exploits a nursing child?

(Reference: the BreastFeeding channel on YouTube, the Asian Breastfeeding Mom channel, and way, way too many others.)

The videos usually are produced by non-English speakers and have click-bait written all over them–with titles designed to lure in the lewd.  (“Breastfeeding Husband/Breastfeeding Adult” or “Big Girl and a Nice Nurse,” for example.) Usually the mothers are wearing red lipstick and talking in sultry whispers, while smiling coyly at the camera…and then smiling down at the child, who is also on camera.

 

In most other circumstances, YouTube removes videos containing bare breasts….

Just as Facebook doesn’t allow “nudity” in their photos.

But, breastfeeding activists have spent many years insisting on exceptions when the breasts are exposed near the mouth of a child. If Mom says she’s doing it for her kid, then no one can question.

So how far is too far?  (Oops. I questioned.)

breatfeeding-lead

All the major social media sites are afraid of being sued by mothers who want the unrestricted and absolute right to go topless.  (You know. For the babies.)  No one wants to hear another angry Mama Bear lecture about how naaaaatural and beeeeeeautiful their boobs are.

So most websites have policies that go something like, “If a mother has a baby on her lap, none of our rules apply.”

But, when someone DOES cross a line, who’s to say?

As this article explains,  porn slips through the YouTube vetting systemwhen users fail to report inappropriate things.

“The site’s censorship…relies almost entirely on users to flag offensive or sexually explicit content. If a video get’s taken down, another will likely soon replace it, on another person’s channel and with another set of views.”

 

When people see children being exploited in videos or photos, they are responsible for reporting to have them removed.

That’s great, in theory.  Except society has been shamed over and over and over by breastfeeding mothers–to the point we are second-guessing our instincts. We have been called “milk haters” and we’ve been told to “lighten up.”  We’ve been told it’s “not our business” and that we “just need to be educated.”

And if anyone dares to notice that sometimes innocent children REALLY ARE being used by their attention-seeking mothers, for everything from making a political statement to purposefully enticing creeps to click on their videos, it’s the reporters who are told to stop “sexualizing breasts.”

Because, come on, you prude. Miss Whisper-For-The-Camera is just feeding her child!

“She doesn’t want people to watch.”

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“She’s not trying to prove anything.”

 

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“Shame on you for even thinking there’s a correlation!”

 

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Look, I’m ready for the accusations of Mommy Wars and Milk Hatred.

I’m ready.

But while trying to come up with a really good name to call me, just consider this:  once part of your body is available on the internet, it’s out there.  Forever.

Anyone can use those photos of YOU AND YOUR CHILD, as this poor woman discovered when her legitimately innocent video was taken without consent and turned into a viral porno.  (It’s still the top result, when you search her name, MaryAnn Sahoury.)

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we can’t trust everyone…  And, though we wish we could leave our front doors unlocked, we can’t.  So why keep trying?

It’s simply unwise to leave valuables out on the lawn, no matter how much we should be able let our guard down, in a good situation.

As mothers, we can’t afford to be naive.  Let’s step yelling “Shame, shame!”when people warn that we never know who’s watching in public. (They’re actually correct.)

Let’s remember that our moms and sisters and best friends aren’t the only ones who can see what we’re posting.

And–mostly–let’s stop being angry at those who report our photos when they honestly believe a line has been crossed. (Ask yourself, “If everyone on my friends’ list suddenly walked in while I was posing for this picture, would I be startled and embarrassed?”  If yes, maybe don’t share the moment in digital form.)

Anyway, the people who report are the least of our worries. Just think of the creep who isn’t reporting you…because he really wants to see more.

Dear New Mom

When I had my first baby, I didn’t feel like I was “supposed” to.

I never understood when other parents said, “I wish they could stay little forever!” or “Awwww…I miss that!” or “Looking at newborns makes me want another!”

I never understood “missing” the baby-ness, because the memories surrounding the births of my first two children were NOT pleasant.  

Fear and darkness.  That’s what I remember most.

Every time the sun set, my heart would start to pound.  Mentally, I was completely exhausted; but physically I could not settle down.    Eventually the anxiety snowballed–causing me to get less sleep, which caused even more anxiety. At my most severe, I was getting less than two hours of sleep for several nights in a row…

It’s hard to describe anxiety and depression for someone who has never experienced it. But I wrote about the battle between the two “voices” in my head here.

On one hand, I knew I was dealing with a fairly common hormone issue and just needed time to adjust.  I knew–rationally–that I’d probably be okay with time.

But I FELT like I’d never been happy before and never, ever would be happy again.

I FELT like sadness and despair and terror were suffocating me and that I wouldn’t make it out the other side.

I FELT like I’d made a terrible, terrible mistake by deciding to have my baby…

…and that’s why I’m writing to you, new mama.

I’m writing because no one ever told me that I might have to fight against my “feelings,” until they started feeling the way other moms seemed to feel without trying.

I’m writing in case you’re a mom, like me, who doesn’t feel like you “should.”

—–

You’ll hear it more than once, I promise:

“Pregnancy is full of aches and challenges–but it’s all worth it THE MOMENT you lay eyes on that baby for the first time!”

They really don’t mean to cause unrealistic expectations. In fact, that’s exactly what happens after childbirth for many mothers. The doctor lays a baby on her chest, and she immediately feels a rush of warmth and joy.

So, it’s logical to assume that’s how it works for everyone.

“I’d never felt a love so strong before. We’d waited so long; it was a sweet reward… That day was the best of my life!”

But for me–honestly–I wasn’t overwhelmed with “lovey feelings” right away.

I didn’t cry with joy.

I didn’t stare at her with wonder and refuse to let her go…

Oh, sure, I would have protected her fiercely if anything threatened her safety. But I would classify my feelings closer to “duty” than to “infatuation.”

…and that was even BEFORE the world-changing insomnia and panic-attacks set in.

By the time I went a few nights without sleep, it was a fight to keep myself from believing the lying, hopeless voice.

And the more Veteran Mommies shared their sweet memories and told me to “cherish” my own experience, the more confused (and cheated!) I felt.

Why was my story so much different than theirs?  Where was MY fairy-tale?

Looking back, I can say with certainty that the 1-2 months following the births of my first two babies were the worst experiences of my entire life.

Seriously.

I didn’t feel at all like I “should.”

So, I’m writing in case you are in the same boat (or will be someday), because I want you to know that feelings aren’t as important as…well, not as important as they feel.

Mama, being sad and scared (and even thinking you’ve made a mistake) doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.

In fact, let me tell you a shocking truth:  when you’re still doing the feeding and rocking and nurturing when you don’t feel like it, that’s actually the definition of love.  Meeting the needs of another–regardless of how you feel–is an amazing, selfless, and praise-worthy thing to do.

If you’re caring for baby with a sense of “duty”–because you know it’s the right thing to do–then that’s actually more impressive than doing it when it’s fun or easy.

I have such respect for the Mamas who do the Mama-ing, when the pay-off doesn’t happen right away.

—-

New Mama, always remember that Love isn’t just how you feel.

Love is what you do.

So, with that in mind, there are two things I’m praying for you right now:

#1.  I’m praying that God will make your feelings match your spirit, so you don’t have to argue with yourself over the confusing noise of depression.     Father–it’s hard enough learning to care for a new baby when our emotions are fairly stable…let alone when we can’t trust them at all.  So line up our thoughts and feelings with the Spirit you’ve given us.  Plant our feelings, like breadcrumbs, until they lead us to your Truth.

#2   But IF God sees fit to let you “not feel like you should,” then I pray you remember feelings don’t make you a good mother.  Feelings lie sometimes.  And they come and go.  But it’s what you DO that reveals your heart.   God sees you getting up through the night, patting little backs and losing sleep. He sees you missing showers but making doctor appointments. He sees you shhhhh-ing and soothing and LOVING your baby, though it feels like you’re doing it wrong.

Oh, Mama, I pray you always remember that you LOVE that baby, even when love doesn’t feel like it “should.”

—–

Post Script:   I finally got my fairy-tale with Baby #3.  No anxiety. No insomnia and depression.   I’m actually wistful as I watch her grow, and I’m finding myself thinking it’s going too fast. Now I understand why people say they miss it when it’s over!

Mamas, I pray each one of you gets to have at least one postpartum phase that feels like it “should.”  But, even if that’s not meant to be, please…please, please, please don’t buy the lie that you’re doing it wrong just because it’s not the same story that was written for another.

Love is what you do.

It’s what you do.

To My White Children about Their Black Friends

When I was a kid, a black girl in the neighborhood accused me of being a racist.

I threatened to tattle if she didn’t give my toy back. So, she yelled, “You don’t like me because I’m black!” (I wrote about it here.)

My issue wasn’t that the two of us got into a playground squabble over a digital pet. No, that type of thing happens all the time between kids.

What bothered me was the way this girl was COACHED into the belief that arguments between friends might have something to do with our different colors:

“…there’s not a doubt in my mind that she was told by an influential adult in her life that people would hate her ‘because she’s black,’ and she took it to heart.

I have no way to know whether that same influential person also explained that people wouldn’t like her if she tried to steal their toys.  I also can’t say whether she was taught responsibility and respect for others at some point after this story took place…

But I DO know this young, black girl was given the Race Card before she even hit puberty–and, like any intelligent child would, she tried to use it the first chance she got…

I believe the adult who gave her the ‘because you’re black’ talk ought to be ashamed. It’s entirely possible that my friend and I could have gone our whole lives playing and fighting and making up, without skin ever being mentioned…except someone in that little girl’s life told her to watch out for racism.

So racism became an issue for her.”

I won’t repost my entire essay here. But I encourage you to read it.

I still believe very firmly that well-meaning but misguided parents are causing more race issues than they are solving. I believe it is wrong for well-meaning but misguided parents to tell black children how “different” they are.

And I’m very disappointed to see that a post went viral this week, encouraging white parents to have “the Talk” with their kids about the “differences” between blacks and whites, too…

The author wrote “To the White Parents“:

“I need you to be talking to your child about racism…

I know that in a white family it is easy to use words like ‘colorblind’ and feel like we’re enlightened and progressive. But if you teach your kids to be colorblind, they may not understand the uniquely dangerous situations my child can find himself in. If you tell your kids racism happened a long time ago and now it’s over and use my family as an example of how whites and blacks and browns can all get along together, you are not doing me any favors. Just because you haven’t seen obvious examples of racism in your own life doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

This is disappointing, because just because a black person gets made fun of, or has their hair touched, or even gets shot and killed, it doesn’t mean it was “because of racism,” either.

It’s disappointing because our children shouldn’t have to get over their natural colorblindness, just because their parents see color EVERYWHERE.

It’s disappointing because I have, in fact, “seen obvious examples of racism in my own life”–but, unfortunately, it was the kind caused by “the Talk” that was supposed to prevent it.

I believe wholeheartedly that racism continues to dominate our headlines because parents and teachers are holding onto it with both hands and encouraging the next generation to grab on as well.

I know it’s done out of fear and a desire to protect.  I know they have the best intentions.

But, because parents are having “the Talk” about racism with their kids, I have to discuss it with mine as well…and it won’t sound like the mothers of black sons may want.  

Instead, I’ll need to have a Talk with my kids about why so many parents are having a “Talk” with their kids.

This is what mine will sound like:

“Things may be changing between you and your black friends. And this makes me very sad. But black boys and girls are often told by their parents/teachers/television that they will eventually be treated badly by people with your skin color.

So, the kids you love playing with now may start to look at you with suspicion and frustration later.

It’s not their parents’ fault. They simply believe that all black children have a different experience growing up in American than what white children have. And they believe they’re protecting your black friends when they tell the ‘things-are-different-for-you’ story. Parents of black children honestly don’t realize they’re making things worse when they interrupt your beautiful, colorblind relationship by insisting that colorblindness is bad.

They believe they’re doing the right thing when they teach your black friends to ‘celebrate’ something as tiny and insignificant as skin pigmentation.  
So, though I don’t want to have this conversation, I feel you deserve to know why things could be more complicated as you continue doing life with your different-colored friends.

United humans are a dangerous force, so there are those who would put wedges between as many of us as possible. One way they succeed is by maintaining the story that black people have always (and will always) be treated ‘differently’ from white ones. Our enemy wants us to believe that skin-color prevents people from truly, completely understanding each other. And, if you really want to continue a relationship with your black friends, the only way is to agree that their appearance makes things very different for them in ways you’ll never fully grasp.
Please be patient with them. Be more patient and loving than I have been myself. Hold on to the things you’ve always enjoyed doing with your black friends, and don’t let your anger with the Enemy turn into hatred for the many people (like their parents) who have fallen for his lies. I pray that you will be armed with the truth, but also the Wisdom for how to use it while interacting with your peers.

Don’t apologize for injustices that don’t actually exist–because that’s the same as lying. But don’t just throw up your hands and walk away if/when your friends become obsessed with color, either.

Because seeing those friendships fall apart isn’t what ANY of your parents really want….even if the things we’ve done with the best intentions have actually made that harder.”

When You Don’t Think Like a Black Man

Let’s imagine that you know a guy who clearly is intelligent and who clearly is a good, thoughtful person when you’re interacting face-to-face…

But he says things that challenge your worldview.

How do you wrap your mind around this man’s great, likable qualities–when his political views are sooooo bad?

Well, if you’re a young liberal, you might start by saying really nice things about him at first…and THEN wrap those compliments inside a disguised insult, because, Lord knows, a black man like Ben Carson must be very confused.

——

A very distant acquaintance wrote this for social media recently:

Ben Carson has been brainwashed by Privileged People

If it’s too small to read, it starts off:

“I owe my life to two black men. One of them is Dr. Ben Carson, who was my pediatric neurosurgeon…

Dr. Carson has an amazing story. He is one of the most gentle, patient people you will ever meet, and he has always treated my family with grace and poise.”

And there you have the compliments I was talking about in the first paragraph. Compliments help establish credibility and niceness. They make readers feel less badly about the “but” that comes later…

Then the writer continues:

[But] It is hard for me as an adult to understand Carson’s stance on political issues…”

Thus, the conflict.

Dr. Carson is a talented and gracious man. He’s accomplished and successful, while being kind and compassionate.

He saved her life.

But that one challenging strike against Dr. Carson remains: he doesn’t agree with her about government and politics. 

“How is standing against affordable healthcare in line with DO NO HARM? How does keeping Gitmo open encourage peace and welfare for all humanity, when we are torturing other humans? How is stating that gay people are a result of prison rape evidence-based? For someone who has overcome an incredible amount of disadvantage and trauma, I see very little self-awareness [in Dr. Carson]…”

Now at this point in the commentary, the author is just questioning… She’s genuinely confused that she doesn’t share the same views about government with a man she assumed would be an ally.

It doesn’t bother me when  a social justice spokesperson wrestles with these questions, because I imagine it would be hard to fathom a smart, black man who doesn’t believe (as all of her peers do) that government money is a great solution for inner-city issues…

But, I DO have a problem if you explain away Dr. Carson’s beliefs, by suggesting he is blinded by the “White Culture” into which he “escaped”: 

“Dr. Carson has some strong opinions about young black males and black-on-black violence. He cites the need for moral education and instilling values. I don’t really know what to say when I see a black hero talk like this to a community so devastated by decades of community and generational oppression and daily microaggressions.

…Dr. C–I know you escaped into (very) upper-class White culture, and I’m afraid that your experience is being exploited by those with more privilege than you…”

In the original Facebook post, that last statement (I put in bold) was pretty well buried by the rest of the paragraph. But it’s the important part of this speech because it’s exactly what black conservatives like Dr. Carson are tired of hearing.

I’m sure he would notice (and appreciate the irony) when white people can’t accept that he really believes what he claims to believe…because he doesn’t sound enough like their other black friends.

Maybe Dr. Carson would even be amused by the way she works through the conflict in her mind.

She reasons he must have been sidetracked by his (very) wealthy neighbors….or…

Maybe he’s being “exploited!”  (Yes, that sounds better, doesn’t it? Let’s assume he means well. But he’s just being overpowered by the truly bad guys.)

In other words, she reasons, Dr. Carson is a victim of oppression, just like all black people.

For liberals, black victimhood is unquestionable. Black people just ARE exploited daily in this country. Period. Thus, the writer concludes (regardless of what Dr. Carson himself says) that he must be the victim of exploitation, too…and he just doesn’t realize it.

And that, dear reader, is how a liberal sleeps at night, knowing a brilliant, articulate, successful black man disagrees with almost every one of her sacred beliefs about social justice. 

It’s perfect, because they still get to feel nice and talk about how thankful they are for Dr. Carson’s practice.

But they still end up discrediting him with the same, narrow stereotypes as those who call Carson an “Uncle Tom” or “Race-Traitor.”  The assumptions are the same: black conservatives have lived in White Land for so long that they don’t represent the black community anymore.

And, I can tell you from personal experience, no one likes being told they don’t act enough like the minority group they represent.

Are you an educated woman who doesn’t identify as a Feminist?

You’re brainwashed.  You’re either a helpless doormat by choice because you like seeing women mistreated, or you’re being exploited so badly you don’t even realize how much of a victim you are.

Are you a brilliant neurosurgeon who believes Obamacare is bad for the country?

You’re being exploited. You either like the wealth and power you’ve found in Whitesville so much that you’re throwing the black community under the bus OR you’re not smart enough to understand how much your political beliefs are hurting the black people whose perspective on race really matters.

It’s no fun having your opinion explained away, just because you don’t sound the way a woman or black man is supposed to sound.

No matter how clearly you explain your views, or how obviously NOT oppressed you are, there are people who will believe theories about “microaggressions” more firmly than they believe their own experience with you as a smart, caring person. 

And those people would rather view Dr. Carson as an “exploited” puppet than to doubt their own beliefs that government can and will solve the issues in the black community.

It’s a shame, because Dr. Carson is a good enough communicator to answer all of those sincere “how” and “why” questions.

If you listen, instead of coming up with reasons to dismiss him, he’ll explain why so-called “affordable healthcare” may have unforeseen consequences:

“Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery….And it is [slavery] in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”

If you’d listen, Dr. Carson would explain why he talks so much about personal responsibility:

“It doesn’t matter if you come from the inner city. People who fail in life are people who find lots of excuses. It’s never too late for a person to recognize that they have potential in themselves.”

I would like people to recognize in looking at my story that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you. It’s not the environment, it’s not the other people who were there trying to help you or trying to stop you. It’s what you decide to do and how much effort you put behind it.”

If you listen, you’ll hear someone deeply concerned for the black community:

“What I feel, instead of people pointing fingers at each other and just creating strife, what we need to be talking about is how do we solve the problem in the black community of murder…For a young black male, in the inner city, homicide is the most likely cause of death. That’s ridiculous.

Most of those occur at the hands of other young black males. We need to be talking about, ‘Why is that occurring?’ We need to be talking about, ‘How do we instill values into people again?’ And those are family and faith.”

I’m not saying you have to agree with every word he says.

But young liberals who like him as a person really need to do a better job trying to understand his position, instead of lazily writing him off as “exploited.”

Because, frankly, that’s insulting.

When the kind, compassionate, successful brain surgeon starts disagreeing with your Strategy for changing the world, a wise person would at least consider that maybe your strategy isn’t that wonderful.  

Maybe it’s not some invisible, scary White Privilege that makes dear, sweet Dr. Carson think all those crazy, not-very-black-man things.