Monday Randomness…

I now have a group of friends that are holding me accountable to publish a blog post at least once a week. So you’ll be hearing more from me. Yay! I’m grateful for good sister/friends that are seeking to lift each other up. That is so very important.

After a long, arduous journey, I am slowly rediscovering my love of writing. Really my need for it. I process my thoughts through the words I write, and I am doing A LOT of processing right now. Processing and changing.

So let me just be real with you. I am in the midst of a major thought shift. I can’t quite put my finger on the source, and I have no idea the outcome, but I do know my heart and mind are changing about a few things. Where I will land is anyone’s guess, but I thought I’d share with you where I am in the process.

A few weeks ago, I spent some time walking through my foundational beliefs. The question I posed to myself was this: What are those things that are absolutely non-negotiables for you and what are “peripheral” issues that you have beliefs about, but that you hold more loosely. Peripherals can be things where I don’t feel I have enough information, or where I have information and think I know what I believe about the topic, but still feel like there are grey areas that are open for debate.

The litmus test for a non-negotiable is it has to be a belief or doctrine that makes us “wise unto salvation”. This list is surprisingly and delightfully small. Things like the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, Resurrection. While each of these items can branch off onto all sorts of rabbit trails, my goal was not to adjudicate every possible split of every theological hair related to each item. The point is that I believe in the Trinity, in the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Inspiration of Scripture and so forth. If I desire to be consistent, I can’t not believe these things and still consider myself “Christian”. These are the biblical and theological hills upon which I will die.

But those peripheral issues…whoa boy. That is where it all got complicated. After three pages worth of discussion about race, and a page and a half about so-called “biblical manhood and womanhood”, I had to take a break. These are easily the biggest topics, at least for me, and it seems for the American church today.

I am not going to get into the discussion about race for the purposes of this post. I’m not even close to a place where I can discuss that. And my mind and attention have been moved to another hot-button issue – womanhood.

What is meant by “biblical womanhood”? How do I know if I am a “biblical woman”? Much of this debate centers around two camps: Complementarians and Egalitarians. Complementarians say that men and women are both created in the image of God, and therefore are equal in worth and dignity. However, there are distinctive roles and functions that are specific to each gender; primarily, the focus is on the headship of the man and the submission of the woman in the church and home. In contrast, Egalitarians focus on the mutual submission of believers to one another and consider gifting to be the determining factor for leadership in the church and home, regardless of gender. These are generalizations and are not intended to bring out the nuances of each position. But these are the nutshell definitions as far as I understand them.

This is a hotly contested subject that shows no signs of abating. And as a woman who is passionate about ministry, theology and the Bible, I have a stake in this conversation. I long to be faithful to the testimony of Scripture, and truthful about the reality of life on the ground. My reality right now: I can’t say that I’m “Complementarian”, but I don’t know if I’m “Egalitarian” either. Are these the only two options? Is there a third way? And how do I find the answer?

This is the crazy thing about it…both sides appeal to Scripture to argue their point and make their stand. Both groups are passionate about their position, and fully convinced they are correct. Some go so far as to question someone’s salvation or commitment to the gospel if they do not fall in line with the “correct” position. These extreme reactions are what I wish to avoid like the plague.

But what is the “correct” position? That is what I seek to explore. And perhaps it will take me my entire life to figure it out, but I want to be free and open about where I am on the journey.

The Pandora’s box has been opened. Let the fun begin…

Broken crayons, patience, and grace…

I used to love getting that brand new box of crayons at the beginning of each school year. You would have thought I’d won the lottery. And those few times I was able to convince my parents to get me the big 64-color box with the sharpener on the back? Watch out! I was in heaven!

The frustrating thing for me was that those crayons wouldn’t stay “new” for long. As I would use them, they would slowly wear away, or worse, get broken. I wasn’t much for coloring with broken crayons. Even that fancy sharpener on the back of the box couldn’t fix that. And so I would long for the next school year to start, or for that magic moment when my crayons looked too awful and I would appeal to my parents for a new box.

At times, we can treat our lives and our relationships in this same fashion. That breathless feeling of a new relationship; the promise of a new job; or the excitement of moving to a new city can be intoxicating. But when that newness wears away, we can sometimes start to fade away. We can get restless and impatient, and our wanderlust kicks in as we search for the next new and exciting thing to give us that euphoric feeling again.

Life cannot be this way all the time. Life is not an endless stream of adventure and new things. Much of life is slow and steady. Predictable. Normal. Ordinary.

This year, the Lord has been walking me through this idea of ordinariness. There is nothing wrong with being “ordinary”, especially when you consider what ordinary means. It is in the normal ebb and flow of life that roots form and deepen, habits are formed, relationships are established and fortified, and commitments are confirmed. Even the process of writing requires that steady, methodical rhythm of routine and discipline. Ah yes…the “D” word. How we love that. Patient, steady faithfulness requires it.

Don’t despise the ordinary in your life. God uses it to bring depth and color to your life. Much of our lives will be filled with these large spaces of simple, faithful living. Walking out or callings or vocations, loving our families, cultivating our friendships, taking care of our homes. We need patience and grace to fulfill this calling, to fill these spaces with the rich color of faithfulness and dedication. Integrity and character.

This is the thing about broken crayons: they are great for filling in large spaces with deep, rich color. You need a sharp edge to make sure you are coloring “within the lines”; but to fill in that big spaces, the soften wedge of a broken crayon cannot be matched. We need our broken crayons. We need those parts of our lives that feel broken, ordinary, or mundane, to fill out our character and grow us up. As we walk through this life, it is easy for us to feel like those crayons, once so sharp and new, being broken and worn and frayed. But oh, how rich the color our lives can bring to our world if we surrender our brokenness to the Lord and faithfully walk with Him.

More later…until then, grace and peace…

 

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…

Instruction

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.

Selah.

Righting the ship…

lightstock.com

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…