What I am reading and listening to

My reading and listening keeps my mind working and my prayer life sharp. I now drive a lot in my work so I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks.

I started into Taylor Branch’s work on Martin Luther King, Jr. In book form, it’s a massive trilogy, so I thought I would tackle the audiobooks. I finished the first one and THEN realized it was severely abridged. That was disappointing. There were far too many things left out and details that weren’t explored in the audio version. I’ll listen to the remaining two, but I realize I need to get the books and plow through them.

The Holy Post podcast continues to challenge me. Skye Jethani’s interview segments are pure gold much of the time. This podcast interviews David Fitch on his new book: Us vs. Them. Fitch explores how the American evangelical church creates enemies because that’s how “winning” happens. The interview stars around 33:40 of the podcast.

Since I am in the South, and particularly Alabama, I am learning more about the Civil Rights movement and the deep history of segregation. This dovetails into my work with racial reconciliation. A podcast series called “White Lies” tells the story of the murder of James Reeb. His murder happened the week after Bloody Sunday in Selma (1965). His murder was never solved and this story dives into the reasons.

A recent episode of “Pass the Mic” went into issues surrounding the black church. This discussion is great because it reveals that we all have issues with church! Black churches, white churches, Latino churches… we all have issues. This was a great discussion.

Alabama being my current home state, I try to absorb as much in history as possible to keep learning about where we are today. (Thus the podcast on “White Lies” and diving into MLK’s biography.) This article shows the struggle currently felt in Alabama. Just like everywhere else, they deal with a very mixed bag of issues.

Finally, a challenging article on immigration and the crisis at the border. A recent newsletter from oldtime evangelical hero James Dobson (think of “Focus on the Family”, “Adventures in Odyssey”, etc.) talked about his experience at the border and his views on what is happening and why we need to let Trump be Trump. I fully expected that letter to be shared through a certain group among my Facebook friends, and it was. Dobson had some moving experiences. His conclusions were wrong. This article goes into why Dobson is wrong and why we need to keep working at this as American Christians.

The crisis at the border is horrifying and we, as American Christians, continue to make this partisan in politics rather than responding as horrified believers who need to act in compassion. My wife wrote a beautiful poem mourning the situation of the children at the border held in detention and posted it on her social media. Immediately she was attacked for partisan political reasons. No one acknowledged the pain of the children. She wrote the poem as a prayer and was met with partisan straw man attacks.

When we respond with arguments over the plight of suffering, we need to back off and take a deep breath. When we respond to a current crisis with “Yeah, well the OTHER PARTY in a previous administration did this…” (And I refer to stories that would blame former Democratic or Republican administrations on different issues, not just immigration)… we need to pause. Blame who you want, but THIS is what we have and why, as believers, are we not crushed in our spirits over THIS condition? Whatever brought us to this point, can we not weep over this situation and ask the Lord what WE do?

I have broken from long years of “white American evangelical” expectations and it has disappointed a lot of people. I have made sure to let people know that doesn’t mean I’m a Democrat, either, but that point goes unnoticed. We have failed so thoroughly to stand in the prophetic stream of Christianity that we are left with pathetic partisan defenses and I am long done with this. People will continue to be disappointed in my shift. Some will argue. Most will simply keep silent and ignore me rather than engage in some thoughtful discussion. As for me, though, I am finished with acting like a partisan hack. There is far more at stake here than a Supreme Court seat or overturning Roe vs. Wade. This is the soul of the American Church and we are found wanting. What I need in this hour is to stand in the prophetic stream of the historical Church and be able to point out the way of the Kingdom. This will offend both the “right” and the “left” at times. So be it. There is too much at stake to be otherwise.

God help us.

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