The “nuclear” family and the extended family

I listened to the Holy Post Podcast and this week’s discussion (beginning around 10:30.00) has a discussion on an Atlantic Monthly article by David Brooks on the “nuclear family.” It was a fascinating discussion FOLLOWED BY Part 2 of an interview with Matthew Soerens of World Relief on the subject of immigration. Both discussions were challenging and thought provoking.

The podcast is HERE.

The article by David Brooks is HERE.

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Dr. King writes to the church today

I have made some pretty awful attempts today at writing about Martin Luther King, Jr. I annually reflect on Letters from a Birmingham Jail on this weekend. I have a really long post I pounded out as I reflected not only on Dr. King’s words but the events of this week concerning immigration. That didn’t go well.  Continue reading “Dr. King writes to the church today”

Larry the Cucumber and Illegal Immigration

My kids grew up on Veggie Tales. It was a series of videos using vegetable characters like Larry the Cucumber. One of the creators of the show, Phil Vischer, now has a podcast that mixes his crazy ADHD comments and some serious discussion on current issues in culture with an evangelical Christian perspective.

His latest podcast included an interview with Liz Dong and raises again the incredible misunderstanding we often have when it comes to immigration issues.

During the last election cycle, I would consistently raise issues on immigration and get chided. Someone finally mentioned that when it came to Christians, it’s not immigration that’s the problem, it’s illegal immigration.

Liz Dong demonstrates what happens when we try to give simple answers to complex issues. Liz Dong came to the U.S. with her mom. Due to a series of issues that you need to read about and listen to, Liz Dong, an evangelical Christian, is an illegal immigrant going through her master’s program in Chicago and also working for World Relief.

We can see, “Hey, it’s not about immigration, it’s about illegal immigration,” but when it’s one of our “tribe”, we end up finding another nuance.

Her story is worth getting to know.

The podcast is HERE and worth the time to listen.

You can read a column she wrote HERE.

If you can spare two minutes, watch this video.

We are simply better off as believers if we will take more time to learn and less time to simply react off emotional campaign slogans.

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Immigration

This particular article focusing on a Pentecostal leader and educator demonstrates the complexity of immigration. It also raises the question for me again, as a friend and I discussed last weekend, “Why are many who oppose immigration reform and treating immigrants better calling themselves Christian?” How do you do that?

We can have national security, but the nasty vitriol concerning immigrants themselves is needless. It is pointless, especially coming from those who profess Christ as Lord in their lives.

“Who is doing the greater danger to the rule of law?” he asked at the luncheon. “Immigrants? Or a Congress who knows the system is broken and won’t fix the laws or enforce them?” (Joe Castleberry)

If we are going to respond with bumper sticker answers like, “Build a wall!” or “Ship them all home!”, here are some bumper stickers to think about as well, for believers:

Are immigrants our “enemies?” Consider this bumper sticker: “Love your enemies. — Jesus” (Luke 6:27-36)

Are they NOT your enemies? That would make them your “neighbor.” Here is a bumper sticker: “Love your neighbor as yourself — Jesus” (Mark 12:31)

“For me as a Christian American, to be hostile to people from other places is to violate my spiritual mandate,” said Joe Fuiten, pastor emeritus of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, which has had thriving Iranian, Japanese and Spanish wings.

“Well, they’re not REALLY my neighbor. It’s not like they live down the street from me.”

Try reading this parable to gain perspective on who IS your neighbor, and how you can be a better one.

“But we could be letting in terrorists! We just don’t know!”

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Ps. 56:3)

We can disagree on things. Castleberry doesn’t favor amnesty. I would disagree with him. I favor a path to citizenship that identifies illegals in a way that would help keep those, for instance, who had visas expire but have lived law-abiding years, along with children brought here by families, etc. But many disagree on that as well.

The point is this: we need to sit down and reason together. We don’t throw political hand grenades.

“Sometimes social class values will outweigh religious perspectives,” Castleberry said, adding, “some, not all, working-class white people are taking the bait to blame immigrants for the so-called disappearance of the middle class.”

There are ways to find political solutions, but it is when we sit down and talk. That may seem impossible in today’s deeply divided politics. However, in the meantime, it should also mean we, as believers, find a way to ACT BETTER and with less nasty vitriol.

 

The number is 300,000

While our shallow “journalistic” coverage, only driven by our shallow American desire for, well, all things American and culturally relevant to us… and can really stir up controversy on social media… fixates on one county in Kentucky, the story we refuse to pay attention to, among so many, is the immigrant crisis in Europe.

As we allow the man with the hair problem wax elephants on “immigration” by saying, well, absolutely nothing, we are missing the larger story of a true immigration crisis. Because it is currently in Europe, we ignore it and it will be to our own detriment. We can’t connect dots very well. But that’s an easy call since the numbers of “journalists” in one county in Kentucky now probably outnumbers the actual population of the county.

300,000 is the number. That is how many immigrants have flowed into Europe so far this year. It is a 40 percent increase over ALL of last year. And it’s the first week in September.

If you want one number to explain the mass movement today, start with 60 million. The U.N. says there are 60 million people displaced worldwide — the most since the U.N. started keeping records and the most since World War II.

We are facing a worldwide crisis that we somehow can’t find the time to cover in the United States. ISIS has displaced 3 million, while millions more flee other Middle East and North African conflicts and repressive regimes.

2500 have lost their lives trying to get to freedom. Now millions are stuck in areas because Europe doesn’t know what to do, and smugglers are profiting off of people desperate to make it anywhere safe.

The numbers don’t mean anything, do they?

300,000

2500

Blah, blah, blah.

How about this number: ONE

One picture. A picture of a little boy’s body washed up on a shore. A picture that finally got out and around the world and made us stop for an oh so brief moment and possibly get a tear in our eye.

Five years old. Him, his brother, his mother all lost to the sea and their bodies washed up as they tried to find freedom.

The number is not 300,000. The number is ONE. One picture can turn things around. The question is this: will you let it?

Will you let a picture haunt your soul. Really. I mean it. HAUNT you.

It haunts me. I’ve had times when I couldn’t stop crying thinking of that picture. That boy. The father weeping on TV.

And I think, “What am I doing? What is MY life that I just go on about my business?”

But we all have lives to live. It’s not necessarily about dropping everything and going to Syria. For some, that may be the answer.

Yet, I am drawn again to that number: ONE.

300,000 I get blown away by. ONE. That can mean something.

So… what do I do? Drop everything and find a way to Syria? To Turkey? To France?

No. I’ve asked. I have honestly asked. And the answer is this: “Find the ONE where you are where you can invest in their life and their spiritual body doesn’t end up washed up on some spiritual shore.”

Invest in one.

For me, it’s getting involved in mentoring. I’m pumped for it. I had a kid last year I absolutely loved being with week after week. I long for that again.

ONE. The number is ONE. Right where you are.

Will you do THAT?