On with it…

At the risk of stating the obvious, I haven’t blogged in a while. I think about it a lot, but just never seem to have the gumption to do anything about it. I seem to have a love/hate relationship with this whole blogging endeavor. I wouldn’t call myself a great writer, but I do love to it. Words are so important to me, and I use writing to sift through the crazy in my head and make sense of it. My journals are filled with the innards of my thought process on all manner of subjects, and very little of it ever makes it to my blog anyway. But over the past five or so years, it has been less so.

As we near the end of one year and consider the new, I have been thinking a bit more about blogging. Notably: Is it worth it for me to maintain my blog going forward? Is it worth the money I spend to maintain my domain name for my blog? Plainly stated: Is it worth it at all? The answers to these questions depend on the day and my mood – and what I’ve read on my Twitter feed.

Blogging was my saving grace when I was in seminary. Back then (2004 – gosh, has it been that long?!), blogging was relatively new. I could blog in relative anonymity, knowing that only the few people I told about the blog would ever happen across it to read it. I used it primarily to help me organize my thoughts around what I was studying. It was an electronic record of my theological reflections as I grew in understanding as a seminary student. I loved it. There was no such thing as “Black Twitter” or “Christian Twitter” – or any kind of Twitter – back then. Facebook was not a “thing” at that point. Pre-social media was a peaceful time…such fond, fond memories.

But now, blogging, vlogging, tweeting, and all manner of social media expression are a way of life. Anyone can start a blog and write about whatever they wish. Facebook and Twitter have become public forums to express whatever you wish, however you wish, to whomever you wish. And if you don’t agree with the prevailing opinion of the day (sometimes the hour), you will be blasted, shamed, and otherwise humiliated for all the world to see.

It’s difficult to know when you’re going to offend someone. And some days it seems that no matter what you say, someone, somewhere is going to take offense. Social media has given us all the ability air our grievances for all to see, put the offender on “blast”, and blow up someone’s online life with 280-character bites and a Twitter thread. Normal people living their normal lives say one wrong thing and they go “viral” in 10 seconds or less, often with alarming results. We feel freer for whatever reason to spew venom on social media on people we don’t even know, and not care at all what the consequences of those words will have. It is our “right”, after all…

Even for Christians.

And I say “we” because I have been an active participant in this sort of thing more times than I would care to admit. It’s so easy to read, react, and then think, especially when your reactive vitriol gets a decent number of likes or retweets. But if it were ever to happen to me, I would be appalled and indignant. And so, I hesitate to show my cards, lay them out there for all to see and scrutinize. How utterly hypocritical, right? Shamefully, yes.

See, this is the thing: I’m no expert. Yes, I went to seminary. I know big theological words, and I’m not afraid to use them. I love big theological words – not because I feel special or superior for knowing them, but because I’m a nerd. I am a theology geek, and I love it. And since I often write about the Bible, I want to be as sure I can be that I’m not writing something crazy or heretical. But expert? I’m not. I’m just an ordinary Christian with a love for writing about Jesus and passion to share it with others.

But here I am, wondering if it is even worth it anymore. I have thoughts, lots of thoughts, about lots of things. Theological issues, social justice issues, race issues, gender issues…boy, do I have thoughts! And opinions! Lots and lots of opinions! But when I journal about those things, I hesitate to post them for a number of reasons: 1. because sometimes my thoughts and opinions are just plain over the top, rough around the edges and are better kept hidden away in my journal; and 2. because I know in the back of my mind that the possibility exists that something I say might trigger someone and take things where I don’t want them to go. Not because I’m some important somebody with a platform; but because that is the way of the Internet. It is way too easy to go “viral” these days for all the wrong reasons!

I also know that I will not be Black enough, liberal enough or woke enough for some – or conservative enough, demure enough, or proper enough for others. Someone will deem me extreme, while another will consider me a sellout or an oreo. And although I’ve heard all of these things more than a few times in my life, it is no less exhausting and dispiriting. I resist being labeled.

But we love our labels.

But I cannot live out these labels in ways that will please everyone all the time – no one can. So I will not try.

My task, my desire, my GOAL in blogging has been to share the love of Jesus and passion for the Word of God that points us to Him! I want to share the truth of God’s Word. I desire to be more biblically literate; and for me, that literacy must entail sharing what I’ve learned with others. I lament the biblical illiteracy that has infected the American Church. I want to play a part, however small, in reversing that trend. If I need or am compelled to approach touchy subjects like race or gender or the like, then so be it. But the goal here is to share words of life, not pick apart our current social or political situation.

Somehow that has gotten lost in all this other….stuff. And while this other stuff is important, it was not the original purpose of this blog. I just get caught up on these rabbit trails and one thing leads to another…you know how it is! But fruitful discourse on issues so weighty cannot be had in these settings, at least as far as I have seen. Or better put: There are those who are expressly called to such a ministry, but I am not one of those expressly called people. So, I stay in my lane. It comes down to this: I have been trying to be something I am not, and it is time to correct course. I am an ordinary Christian who loves God, loves His Word, and wants to share His Word with others. That’s it.

My thoughts and convictions on issues of social concern are largely born out of my local reality, the community in which I live, the local church family to which I belong, and the personal relationships I have with flesh and blood people in my sphere. This is not to say that I am not aware of or do not care about more global issues. Or that I won’t talk about these things as context and conviction require. But I think the difference is one of focus. My focus is considering how to know God through His Word and live a life that faithfully reflect that truth. That focus will require discussion of hard topics, but the limits of the medium will require some humble realism on my part. What I share on a public forum is only a snapshot of a much more complex life, too complex to truly express to people I cannot see and hear and hug and share coffee with (coffee is a must).

This is not a cop-out; it is a conviction I hold, a conviction that shapes how I desire to write and minister and love. Because a part of me is compelled to share in this very public way. But only as far as I deem that it is bearing fruit in my life and the life of whomever happens to read what I have to say.

It may seem unnecessary for me to go to these lengths to explain myself. After all, who am I? I am an unknown, I don’t have a public ministry to speak of, and my readership is relatively low. Chalk this one up to my trying to organize the jumbled mess of thoughts in my head into a coherent conviction. A re-calibration of sorts so I can start off this new year fresh and centered anew on why I began to write in the first place.

Now, on with it…

What are we remembering?

So this is the deal…I can’t not comment about what happened in Charlottesville this past weekend. I’ve held off on saying much because my reaction to what I witnessed on TV, the commentary from Trump, and the barrage of comments on both sides would have resulted in a screed, and much of that screed would not have been very Christlike. I don’t want to contribute to that. But I do have a lot to say.

The other day my cousin posted an awesome response on his Facebook page. His particular focus was on Trump’s equivocation of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Here is what he said:

“If we’re talking about a founding father, i.e., George Washington, yes he was a slave owner, as were most of his contemporaries. He probably didn’t believe slaves should be free or equal. However, he fought another nation for the freedom to create this nation. Because of the government he established our society was able to mature to the point that people of good [will] of all races will have come to where we are today… The distinction I make is that Lee fought to break the union Washington helped fight for and found. Lee fought to further domestic oppression based on race. I get that he was a central figure in the civil war. [He fought on] the side that wanted to preserve a way of life that existed, in part, based on subjugation of non-white people based on race.

The thing [Trump] misses is that despite what he may want to believe, we have evolved as a society. What was acceptable in Washington’s time was divisive in Lee’s time. Today, the idea that we could do that to each other or subscribe to those beliefs is un-American.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself…but I will add to it.

I cannot, in good conscience, be anything but supportive of removing monuments that were erected in public spaces to memorialize or venerate leaders of the Confederacy. The Confederacy came into existence because of one issue: slavery. Yes, there were other issues, but they all coalesced around the issue of slavery and states’ rights to continue that practice (to view the original documents related to the formation of the Confederation, visit this link; this link is also a good resource for source documentation on the Civil War).

So what are we really memorializing? How are leaders who fought to break apart the union considered patriots? I do not doubt the sincerity of their beliefs that what they were doing was right; but as my cousin rightly pointed out, we have evolved as a society. We should be able to look back on this era of our history and see the error of these beliefs, not to celebrate them, but to learn from them.

What I find so interesting is that the monuments we speak of were not erected immediately after the Civil War. They were erected in the climate of the post-Reconstruction South, when Jim Crow laws were being formed and rights that had been won during Reconstruction were being taken away from Black people. Their existence was twofold: On the one hand, they were built at a time when Civil War veterans were beginning to age and die. They acted as a memorial to them, many of them erected by family members of fallen soldiers.

But, unfortunately, there was also another purpose. In particular, statues of Confederate leaders acted as a symbol, a message, of the true desire of the Jim Crow South to keep Blacks “in our place”. Their presence, especially in places like county and state courthouses, communicated a message of White supremacy and control. This second purpose is not divorced from their presence, and is the main reason they are a flashpoint of division along racial lines.

A  side note: The Confederate flag returned to prominence during the Civil Rights era, and again was a symbol of racism and oppression against the advance of the Civil Rights cause.

This is my primary point: Removing these monuments is not an erasure of history. In fact, I prefer that these statues not be destroyed so much as relocated. They belong in a museum, as a testament to history. Those monuments that were erected to memorialize to fallen soldiers by their families should also pose no real problem or threat, and perhaps a distinction should be made as we discuss the various monuments and statues in question.

As I think through this issue in my mind I have to ask the question: What history are we remembering here? More importantly, I think the question we must all ask ourselves as we consider this is: Are we remembering history aright? As it pertains specifically to monuments that honor the leaders of the Confederacy: If theses monuments obscure the painful reality of what the Civil War was about, they do not properly represent that history. If they serve to idealize an era that was brutal and painful, and that celebrated a belief that is completely and utterly antithetical to not only what our country is supposed to be about, but most importantly to the truth of Scripture and the message of Christ, then they need to be removed. If they venerate someone who led a fight to dismantle our country for the purpose of maintaining an institution that subjugated and dehumanized a race of people – of whom I am descended – then I cannot support their continued existence in public spaces.

As long as we allow these symbols of our past to remain and be celebrated, without being fully truthful about all facets of that past, we will not heal. The wound of race was inflicted on us upon our founding. We removed a race of people who were already here, and then took yet another from their homes and countries on another continent to build up this land and this country. This is the foundation upon which America was built. We cannot escape that; we must face it and realize that we are simply reaping what we have sown. God has indeed blessed America; but that does not mean He will not call us to account for our wrongdoing.

We cannot point the finger at the indigenous people who were here – and still are here, even if we don’t acknowledge their existence – and blame them. We can’t even blame the African people who helped sell off their own. The slave trade was lucrative for them because we participated in it. Our guilt is as great as theirs. We cannot project it all onto them, for it does not negate the reality of we did.

And I say “we” because I am an American citizen. I may have some general idea of where my family came from in Africa, but I have no tangible connection to it, no names, no understanding of custom. And my ethnic makeup is “mixed” in purely technical terms. I have European blood in my family history too, so where then shall I be placed? What would I “return” to? This is my country. And I care about its future. We must let go of an idealized version of our past in order to see that future.

This is not a theoretical issue for me. The people who marched in Charlottesville have a particular goal in mind: To advance and enact their belief of White superiority over every other nation and race of people. They are not “nice people”; they do not wish anything but harm to people like me. They were chanting “White Power” and “Jews will not replace us” as they marched. Any well-meaning person who sincerely wanted to protest the removal of the Lee statue would have left as soon as they heard these things and saw Nazi salutes flying all around them. There is nothing good or well-meaning about what this movement is about.

You may wish that I “get over” slavery, or “get over race”. But the clinging to and celebration of symbols of an era that was defined by it betrays the fact that we as a country have not yet gotten over it. For all the things the Confederacy may or may not have stood for, one thing it most certainly stood for was the continuation of a brutal, dehumanizing institution. I cannot celebrate it or its leaders. We should remember them, but I firmly believe America should not celebrate them either.

For more information, please check out the following:

Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy

National Geographic: Why the U.S. Capitol Still Hosts Confederate Monuments

How Charlottesville Looks From Germany

Vice News – Charlottesville: Race and Terror – WARNING: This video contains adult language and disturbing imagery. Please mentally and spiritually prepare yourself before watching.


Quick thoughts: A note to self…


Oh the myriad ways I toil as I seek to master the Word of God. How incredibly foolish to consider that I can even think I can “master” it.

It should be mastering me. Shaping me. Molding me. Changing me. So I say to myself…

Slow down.
Drink Deep.
Linger long.

Pay attention to the taste of it, the small, the texture.
Listen to its melody and note its cadence.
Sit and absorb like a sponge.
Attend to your thoughts, initial reactions,
confusion, delight, sorrow, joy, anger, fear.
Be present in them. Let yourself feel them.
You have permission to feel.
You have permission to emote.
You have permission to laugh. To cry. To yell.
You have permission to be silent.
You have permission to speak.

But you do not have permission to change what He has said.

Wrestle. Confess. Challenge.

But bow.

His Word is the final word.
Let it stand firm in Your heart.


Righting the ship…


I think it’s time for me to reestablish why I blog in the first place.

I first started blogging when I was in seminary. Blogging was new and exciting and I loved it! I never really blogged for anyone in particular; I was really just trying to flesh out the things I was learning in my classes, and blogging seemed the perfect outlet for that. At the time, the blogosphere was not as congested as it is today; there wasn’t this competition of sorts for clicks and followers. It was just a simple way to connect my thoughts with my words, and have a record of it for all later times.

Blogging is now an industry in and of itself. Competition is fierce, even in the Christian sphere, and it’s so frustrating to me. I’m not expecting to offer anything new and amazing; I just seek to witness to the things the Lord has taught me, to help myself remember His goodness, and hopefully, help you remember as well.

But why do I write? Much of what I’ve written lately has been about what’s going on with American politics and culture. I am a new junkie; I’m also highly opinionated. Those two things are not always a good combination. Social media has trained us that we have the right to voice our opinion on anything at anytime to anyone in any way we see fit. What you say in public is fair game, right? I suppose. But we seem to have lost our ability to be civil in the process.

Which brings me to the point of this post. It’s time to right the ship here. When I reworked my blog, my original intent was not to become a political commentary page. As much as I love a good debate, that is not my desire. My desire is to uplift and encourage.

And, to state the obvious (I hope), I am a Christian. I happen to believe Christianity is true and that there are good reasons to believe. Unfortunately, we Christians have not been living that out well lately, and history is littered with examples of ways in which we’ve slapped a Christian sticker on things that aren’t even remotely so. But that doesn’t make it any less true. I don’t wish to add to the pile of grievances that could be used to obscure that truth. I want to be a witness to it, not the focus of attention.

So this post is a manifesto of sorts, a recallibration, and a reminder of why I started to write in the first place.

I am a woman who loves Jesus, loves to sing about Him, and tell others about His Word. I have opinions. Lots of them. Ask anyone who knows me well. But my task is not to share them with everyone. There are other more qualified people whose opinions and recommendations are far superior and more valuable than mine. So I wish to defer to that gifting in them and get out of the way.

But my gifting is much simpler. Love, pray, sing, teach.

Love Jesus – Because He loves me first and best. The desire is to shift my heart and focus on His love for me and making that the fuel the drives my passion and work. Prayer and Bible study; solitude and silence; praise and worship. And this love is not complete until it works its way through me to others in my life. It cannot end with me. It’s not about just more information per se, but more connection. Connecting what I know to what I do.

Pray – This is the backbone of relationship with God. It is not talking to the air; it is a living, breathing relationship with a real God and the true God. That He has so condescended to give us such privilege is amazing. How often we take it for granted and don’t talk to Him regularly. How can we expect that relationship to grow? It can’t, simply put. We cut ourselves off from the supply of love, comfort, support, and strength that He wants to provide for us when we neglect to pray.

Sing – This is my heart. There is no other way to explain it or define it. Singing is my heart language with Jesus. I speak to Him most intimately there – He speaks to me most tenderly in those moments. Healing happens. Peace is restored. It is when I feel the most alive.

Teach – For me, the learning circle is not complete until I share what I’ve learned. That’s how God wired me. This is not exclusive to spiritual things. But teaching about spiritual things is my favorite subject. I seemed to have forgotten that along the way…It’s time to return.

More later…grace and peace…


LA92: A must-see documentary…

I don’t know if it was the wisest thing to watch given my mood on Friday, but last night I watched National Geographic’s documentary on the LA riots of 1992. It’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years, most painfully because we are in a place where I believe it would not take much for us to return to see this happen yet again.

The most striking part of the documentary was the juxtaposition of the riots of 1992 to the Watts Riots of 1965. Both were sparked by clashes between LAPD and the Black community, issues with police brutality, and the city’s tone-deaf response to these issues. What made the Rodney King incident different was that his March 1991 beating at the hands of four white police officers was recorded. The four officers were actually charged for the incident, but were later acquitted of all charges. Their acquittal on April 29, 1992 was the spark that lit the match of unrest and anger.

Another thing the documentary brought out was the compounding of frustrations that made the verdicts even more painful. In the same month that King was beaten by the officers, a Korean convenience store owner shot and killed a 15-year-old girl named Latasha Harlins as she walked out of the store after a dispute over orange juice. This also was videotaped. Harlins can be seen walking to the counter with orange juice and money in hand. An argument ensued, with the store owner, Soon Ja Du grabbing for Harlins’ backpack. Du believed Harlins was trying to steal the orange juice, despite the presence of money in the girl’s hands. The two argued, and Harlins turned around to leave the store, money in hand and without orange juice. Du threw a stool at her and then grabbed her gun and shot Harlins in the back of the head.

Du was found guilty of manslaughter, but received a sentence of 5 years probation and 400 hours of community service for the crime. In her ruling, judge Joyce Karlin cited her belief that Du was unlikely to be a repeat offender as part of her reasoning for the sentence, saying that it was not at time for “revenge but for healing”. This was not sufficient for the Harlins family or the community and was seen as an appalling act of injustice and devaluing of the life of a Black teenager.

In essence, this verdict reinforced their belief that Black life meant nothing to the criminal justice system, therefore was deemed not worth defending. While revenge was not on the minds of most, justice most certainly was; and probation for the senseless death of a teenager did not feel like justice. As one person who was interviewed stated: “It is not racism that a Korean woman shot Latasha; it is racism that the justice system let her get away with it.” Tensions were high in the community as a result, and this is the atmosphere into which the King verdict was released. Like open flame to natural gas, it exploded on that fateful day.

Watching the documentary was hard. There was no commentary; it consisted completely of original footage from that time. In piecing together the story from the perspective of the police, the courts, city officials, state and federal government, and the news media, the producers excelled in portraying the build up of tension that led to the violent outbreak. The actions of news outlets seeking to bring the reality into the homes of Americans made what some would call crazy decisions as they covered the story, risking their lives to record the drama unfolding. One of the most dramatic scenes for me was a shootout in Koreatown, as Korean business owners armed themselves to protect their businesses from looters. With shots being fired all around them, you can hear the newscaster shout “Someone has been shot in that car? I think we need to get out of here.”  The footage is raw and graphic, the anger and frustration and pain palpable. The senselessness of it all clear and poignant.

Rioting is a phenomenon I will never fully understand. I cannot condone it, but I can see and feel the pain and frustration that brings it to life. The feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. When you have nothing to lose, you can come to a point where you cease to care. When you have turned to the one place where you think you can find relief, and it lets you down, you feel as if you have nothing left to do. The anger and fury demand an outlet, and violence becomes the only option that seems available. It will get the attention of those who have refused to listen, those who have shown indifference to your pain, those who have even derided and demeaned you for those things that are out of your control.

But the rioting only causes those who were innocent to suffer, to lose. It brings attention, but not necessarily the kind that will bring lasting, tangible, real results that will make things better. And in the end, all lose, as the community where people must now live is left in disarray and devastation. Even more devastating than the loss of property and livelihood is the loss of life, and the reality that law enforcement now has tangible justification for heavy-handed tactics to tamp down crime, . And the vicious cycle continues on…

In the aftermath of the riots, over 1,000 structures were damaged or destroyed by looting and/or fire. Whole city blocks were reduced to smoldering rubble. South LA and Koreatown were the hardest hit, but fires were also set in areas like Hollywood. More than 60 people died during the riots, most of them Black and Latino. More than 2,000 people were injured. The cost of the damage has been estimated at over $1 billion.

The LA Riots of 1992 lasted for five days.

In many ways, I don’t believe we have gotten over the LA Riots. As I watched the documentary, I felt a tremble in my soul, as if to say, this can and will happen again. Comparing the Watts Riots of ’65 with the LA Riots of ’92, the same spark started the flame, the same frustrations mounted and were ignited with a single “final straw incident”, and the outcome was the same. People died and property was destroyed. Community leaders came together in the aftermath to clean up and call for peace and unity. City officials made promises to do better and address legitimate issues. But as time wore on and the memory faded, status quo returned, frustrations began to mount anew, as one incident piled on top of another with no resolution in sight until critical mass was reached. And we sit in this place now, walking ever closer to the edge of a large precipice that will plunge us into chaos yet again.

In his address to the nation, then President George H.W. Bush appealed to the rule of law, stating that we must allow the system to do its “slow work of justice”, even when we disagree with it. He denounced the rioting without acknowledging the underlying injustices that lead to such frustration and rage. We have waited for the “slow work of justice” – but in this case, it was the justice system that failed the people. It was the justice system that failed Latasha Harlins’ family. It was the justice system that the people did not trust. And it is the justice system that we still cannot trust. How then, shall we wait for it to “work”?

Tears streamed down my face as I watched last night. As if to add insult to injury, I watched a second time, and wept even louder. I am not a prophet, but I cannot shake the feeling that this will happen again. And who knows how it will turn out this time given who we have in the White House and at the helm of our Justice Department.

So much more to be said, but no time right now. More to come…

Grace and peace…

What am I forgetting…

During my second year in seminary, I participated in a trip called a “Sankofa journey”. The word “Sankofa” is a word from the Kwi language of Ghana and translates to “go back and get it”. There is a proverb that uses this word that says, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten” (Wikipedia).

In the spirit of this proverb, a Sankofa journey is a walk through history, a discovery or rediscovery of a forgotten past. For us, that meant traveling to important places in the story of the Civil Rights Movement. We started at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, site of the Civil Rights Museum, and the place where Martin Luther King was murdered. We then traveled to Birmingham and worshiped at the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four little girls were murdered in a bombing; we walked through the park where attack dogs and fire hoses were unleashed on young people marching for the right to cross the street into the all-White business district. We spoke to one of the women who marched that day, and learned why Birmingham’s nickname was “Bombingham”. From there we traveled to Selma and then to Georgia before journeying back home.

For me, the most profound moment of our trip was when we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The bridge is a huge arch, and as we made it to the top of the arch and looked down, I could imagine in my mind’s eye the imposing line of police officers mounted on their horses, billy clubs in hand, defying the marchers to continue their trek to Montgomery. They were marching for the right to vote, and the officers were tasked with stopping them. In one breathless moment, they stood, protesters and law enforcement, face to face. No words were spoken in that moment. And then it happened. John Lewis was one of the marchers in the front of the crowd, and as they took their first steps over the county line, the officers charged forward, pursuing the marchers back over the bridge, beating and tear gassing them.

None of these marchers were armed. They were not violent. They did not fight back or resist. They simply wanted the rights of full citizens of this country. And they were beaten for it. I cried that day as I walked. I cry now as I write this post.

Many people would say that we need to forget the past. That the reason we can’t move on is because we refuse to forget. I would disagree; I would say it is because we refuse to remember.

The history of my family is the history of slavery; of Reconstruction; of Jim Crow; of lynching; of Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma; and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. It is not for pity that I remember, but for strength. It is a reminder that what I am today, who I am today is due in large part to the very real suffering, strength, vision, and courage of those who came before me. It would be a dishonor to their sacrifice to forget.

I do not remember to make people feel guilty.

I remember because it encourages me to go forward. It teaches me lessons to take down the road with me. I cannot compartmentalize my life to edit these things out. I’m a “what you see is what you get” kind of girl. I am not ashamed of my heritage; and I am not fearful of my future. This is the life story I have been given by my Father in Heaven. I want to use it for His glory. And to do that, I must be real about it.

On this day, I choose to remember. I choose to go back for what I have forgotten, so I can press on with greater wisdom toward what is ahead.

Because freedom is never free.

Forgetting is not an option…

This weekend I read a very interesting quote from Elie Weisel: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” He made this statement during a Nobel Lecture on December 11, 1986. Weisel, a Holocaust survivor, knew that of which he spoke. How much more poignantly can you define helplessness in face of injustice than the Holocaust? The atrocities of the Third Reich defy comprehension, and all those who were led to their deaths had no power to change their fate.

Weisel did not survive his experience in a Nazi concentration camp to become a bitter man filled with hatred. He went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his efforts to advance the cause of human rights around the world. This was his life’s work. And I wonder if, as a young boy, he would have imagined a world in which he would be called to such a duty. The circumstances of his life and his people made it so, and we are enriched by his presence and the message of his life. If we choose to heed the wisdom of his counsel and his experience.

When I read the speech from this this quote originates, I am struck by another interesting statement:

Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered. New Year’s Day, Rosh Hashana, is also called Yom Hazikaron, the day of memory. On that day, the day of universal judgment, man appeals to God to remember: our salvation depends on it. If God wishes to remember our suffering, all will be well; if He refuses, all will be lost. Thus, the rejection of memory becomes a divine curse, one that would doom us to repeat past disasters, past wars.

We are called to remember. Remembering is hard; it is painful. But it is necessary.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Lenten season. Not all branches of the Christian church observe Lent; I grew up in a tradition that did not. But over the years, as I’ve learned more and more about the liturgical calendar, the more I have been drawn to this season of reflection and repentance. Of remembering. It is a way of focusing the heart on the significance of the cross.

Remember that you are dust; and to dust you shall return.

These are the words uttered as the ashes are placed on your forehead in the shape of a cross. It is a reminder of need. The need for salvation, for restoration, for healing. It is a confirmation that the Christian faith is about remembering; just as the Israelites who were called to remember their deliverance from bondage to Egypt, we are called to remember our deliverance from bondage to sin. And in our remembrance, we live a life of faithfulness to God our Deliverer.

We cannot do that if we don’t remember. Not to wallow in our sin and misery, but to build courage and resolve to live our future differently than our past through the power of the Holy Spirit. To live toward the promise we’ve been given through the deliverance we’ve received.

We also must remember that sin still lives in the hearts of men and women. And that our world is fallen. Fallen humanity build institutions and structures that then perpetuate that fallenness. This can produce horrible consequences, some so far reaching that they live on for generations. If we do not take the time to remember, and to face those realities with the courage and willingness to change them, we are doomed to repeat them; the cycle will not end.

We are living in a time when much of what has been a part of our history as a country is repeating itself. I firmly believe it is because we choose not to remember. We don’t want to remember because it is not pleasant; it doesn’t fit into our identity of an “exceptional nation”. It is jarring to our sense of self as Americans. I get it. But in refusing to see our past as it is, good, bad, ugly, we risk destroying what we wish to protect. Choosing to forget means we risk repeating the ugly realities of our past. And in fact, we already are. And lest we think this is something that is only happening “out there”, we as the Church in America must face the uncomfortable truth that we look much like the rest of our culture, and have since our beginnings.

Every year, it is customary to consider something you wish to “give up” for Lent. This year, I choose to give up fear. I choose to give up forgetting. I must remember. And even when I am powerless to change things, I still must speak. I must protest. I don’t know why this is so strong in me; it is burning in my belly. Perhaps it is a outworking of my faith in the God of this universe, who is making all things new. But I cannot separate my individual faith from my place in community. Where one is wounded, we all are wounded, whether we realize it or not.

I realize this is not the popular path. But it is the only path for me.

Because for me, forgetting is most certainly not an option.

Grace and peace…