Posts Tagged ‘Hatred’

What Now?

November 7, 2016

Most likely by the time you read this writing you will either have already voted, as I have, or the election will be over. I write this on Monday November 7, the day before the election of our next President and many representatives, senators, and judges. On the evening of Tuesday November 8 emotions will continue to run high, either with hope and relief or concern and disappointment, even, perhaps apathy and continued cynicism about the whole of our system of campaigns, elections, and government.

I have a friend, colleague, and mentor, Bill Selby, who shared the other day, “These are some of the most exciting times to be the church!” I believe there is truth in the statement. The church, the community of faith, and all those who long for a more civil, compassionate, just, and loving world have an incredible opportunity to be a voice and channel for healing and grace. With the election of a new president and other leadership, there will be continued challenge and opportunity to reach across aisles and tables to engage in conversation and work toward the common good for all.

I read colleague Eric Folkerth’s  writing  the other day addressing the state of mind of so many of us in our country. He described this state of mind as a kind of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. I hear and listen to our own parishioners as well as other friends and colleagues, who share tears and fears about the future. There has been, according to many, an unprecedented amount of hatred, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, and fear-laden vitriol language associated with this campaign season. I have likened it more than once to the continued ripping off of a scab from a wound we thought had begun to heal over the years, decades, perhaps even centuries.

With all that has boiled to the surface over the past several years, regardless of which leaders we elect, these issues are not going to go away. The hate and vitriol language will still be present whether it is blatantly out in the open or it returns to just under the surface in subversive and clandestine ways. There is going to need to be focused work on healing, conversation, civility, listening, and compassionate reaching out to those who are hurting and fearful, and to those with whom we disagree. As a country, as communities, as the church, as communities of faith, religious, and non-religious, we cannot afford to sweep these emotions and fears under the rug and hope they just disappear after our particular candidate is or is not elected. The church has to find a way to keep the struggle before us in constructive, redemptive, and justice seeking ways.

Being the church in this atmosphere is difficult work. While that is true, I agree with my friend and colleague, this is an exciting, though difficult time to be the church. We have an opportunity to be a unique and critical voice of reason and compassion in a country and world torn by fear, distrust, and anger. Too many times in days such as this the church has retreated from the difficult work of being a voice of justice, kindness, and humility in the world. Too often, the church chooses the broader way of exclusion, reflecting our fears rather than our grace. We cannot afford to shrink from the responsibility we carry set forth by the one we follow who challenges and disturbs us to “Love your enemies,” to “Turn the other cheek,” to engage others, even those with whom we passionately disagree, in ways that draw us to the table as opposed to close the table off.

I am drawn again and again to not only the words of Jesus but to those of Martin Luther King Jr., “We will either learn to live together as brothers and [sisters], or we will perish together as fools.” It is a narrow path, it is one fraught with difficulty and being uncomfortable, but it is the Way, the only Way we, we ALL of us, will find healing and mercy for our hearts and souls.

I hope you will join us this Sunday, November 13, 2016 at College Hill United Methodist Church for a worship service dedicated to keeping the difficulties before us, while offering hope, healing, and grace in this difficult time. It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community.  Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,

Pastor Kent

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A Rock, a Gun, and Our Addiction to Violence

June 18, 2015

Office Table
A friend of mine walked in my office the other day and handed me a rock. She said she had had it for some time and wanted to share it with me. It has found a place on my small pondering table in my office along with a Tibetan singing bowl, small prayer mat from a Muslim friend, a weeping Buddha, a book of selected scriptures, communion chalice, prayer beads, and a stole from Guatemala. It is a simple rock, with a simple message. Engraved in the rock is the word, “Listen.” I placed it on the table in the midst of so many expressions of faith to remind me to listen, to listen to a variety of voices, to listen for the Spirit, to listen to the world, and to listen to my heart.

This morning I am listening and it is difficult. This morning I am listening to a cry as I read of another senseless, violent act against innocents with a firearm borne out of racism, bigotry, and unbridled hatred. Listening to the cry rips my heart apart, brings tears to my eyes, and a welling anger within.

I was raised by a father who loved to hunt, he and I spent hours together participating in various forms. I have, years ago, lost that desire to go hunting though I still own two guns, one is mine, and one was my fathers. I have fond memories of our time together walking fields, crawling up on ponds, or sitting in a blind.

But that was hunting, and even though I no long participate in that activity the memories are good ones. I do not understand our country’s love affair with firearms, with tools of violence. I do not understand the desire to stockpile, buying more and more guns and ammunition. The idea that putting more guns on the street will make us safer, in my mind is simply ludicrous.

I have written about this before on my blog, and I hesitated to do it again as I didn’t want to sound like a broken record, but, Lord have mercy how long does this have to go on? How many innocent lives do we have to lose before our addiction to violence, hatred, and weapons kills someone in our own family? When will we finally listen to the cries of our mothers and fathers, our grandfathers and grandmothers, our friends and families, how many children have to die before we admit we and our warped fascination with weapons designed to kill is the problem? When will we listen?

There is rampant violence across our nation, rampant hatred, bigotry, and racism that continues to raise its ugly and evil head, and the continued passing of laws that allow for the purchase of guns without background checks, registration, and training is irresponsible, ignorant, and killing our friends and families, our children! Gun control is not the enemy! Guns in the hands of those who long for violent resolution are the enemy and we need sensible gun laws NOW! When will we finally say, ENOUGH?! When will we finally admit we have a problem? We are indeed….reaping what we are sow.

We live in a culture and society that is ever polarized. We live in a culture and society that would rather sensationalize and demonize with sound bites than really sit and listen. Hatred, racism, bigotry, vitriol language and action are served up on a daily basis. We have lost the art of listening and understanding. We have lost the art of compassion and humility. We have lost the art of responding and engaging respectfully.

It seems we would rather secure the right to own a gun than feed the hungry children in our schools and neighborhoods. We would rather secure the right to cry religious discrimination than find common ground with those of differing faith tradition. We would rather deny the right to adequate health care and coverage than make sure the most vulnerable in our society are cared for. We would rather make sure we can burn our fuels than find ways to care for our planet. We are losing our souls to greed, hatred, violence, bigotry, and racism. We have sold our souls to the highest bidders of lobbyists, politicians, and corporate money.

This morning I find myself stunned once again at our lack of compassion and common sense. We have become our own worst enemy. Bowing at the altar of the gun lobbies, and until we stand and admit we have a problem not just with humankind, but with guns, there will be more such incidents like this most recent tragedy in Charleston. So I write and I sit with my rock, my faith in a God who is weeping once again, the Spirit within who calls me to listen, …listen… and cry out, “How long O Lord, how long?” Not much longer I pray. May the One who holds us all be most profoundly present in Charleston this day and in the coming days as well as with all those who suffer at the hands of senseless violence. May it be soon… May it be soon!