Yes, And…

I recently came across this text meme making the rounds on IG stories:

As the world fights to figure everything out, I’ll be holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, saying good morning, keeping babies entertained in grocery lines, stopping to talk to someone who is lonely, tipping generously, waving at police, sharing food, giving children a thumbs-up, being patient with sales clerks, smiling at passersby, and buying a stranger a cup of coffee. WHY? Because I will not stand to live in a world where love is invisible. Join me in showing kindness, understanding, and judging less. Be kind to a stranger, give grace to friends who are having a bad day, be forgiving with yourself.

Cringe aside, these are all fine, kind things to do, though they absolutely ring a bit hollow when coming from a strong place of white suburban privilege (as was the case with my source).

What’s the main issue then? Well, it’s that in the year of our Lord 2022, proudly proclaiming that you’re performing a set of table stakes niceties while “the world fights to figure everything out” just doesn’t cut it as an acceptable course of action for a compassionate human being.

As the improv comedy community would say, “Yes, and…”

Of course you should be practicing acts of kindness, and be…

  • Paying attention to voices that are increasingly being silenced and marginalized, then doing your part to amplify them, consequences be damned.

  • Relentlessly calling out organizations that elevate legalism over love.

  • Coming to grips with the fact that the beloved past you long for with rose-colored glasses wasn’t all that great for so many others (or for the planet itself), and that it’s never, ever coming back.

In other words, things are real bad right now, there’s no sugarcoating it. Trust me though, you don’t want to live in a world where others “figure everything out” while you sit on the sidelines. Be loud. Be mad. Be informed. Be clear-eyed, but also be kind.

The Pit Gets Crowded

Last weekend my wife and I did a brief communion talk at our “new” (in COVID-adjusted terms) church, in which we touched on a few of the points I’d made in my Pit Stop post from a couple years back, surrounding this Bible passage:

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

– Matthew 12:9-11 (NIV)

In a nutshell, the post commented on how painful it was to watch much of white American evangelicalism’s Pharisee-like slow-motion reaction to the continued rise of online misinformation, Christian nationalism/law enforcement hagiography and the ongoing need to address systemic racism and start repenting at the institutional level.

While there’s still an incredibly long way to go, we’ve been fortunate enough to have found a group that’s at least continually taking steps in the right direction and forcing these hard conversations, which I truly appreciate.

All that being said, 2022 keeps on 2022-ing, and the pit is getting more and more crowded. Let’s peer in at two recent additions, shall we?

  1. Buoyed by the current Supreme Court, states are playing around with some fairly terrifying anti-abortion laws, including Missouri, which floated (and seems to now be adjusting based on blowback) restrictions for women with very likely non-viable and potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancies.

    Don’t kid yourselves, these attempts will only get more and more brazen. Will evangelicals toe the party line and simply let women lose their rights and/or be forced to die, or will this be a time for a compassionate awakening and the start of real conversations about the history of abortion rights and conservative Christianity in America?

  2. As all sorts of restrictive laws around LGBTQ rights for minors continue to swirl around, will evangelicals be willing to open their minds (and churches, unlike this sad case) to those in the eye of the storm? Given the elevated suicide risk among these children, is it better to let them die or extend a helping hand in love?

There’s no shortage of overconfident evangelicals that will proudly quote their preferred interpretation of Bible passages as a way to whistle right past these sheep in the pit.

As for what Jesus himself would do? I have a pretty good guess, and it’s time to start loudly and publicly talking about it.

MLK Quote Upgrades

Every year on MLK Day, like clockwork, we see a tidal wave of social media posts from people and institutions willing to check the “acknowledge a sanitized version of Dr. King” box without actually understanding and grappling with his radical and (to many, sadly) still uncomfortable policies. In other words, you’ll see black and white images overlayed with this old chestnut:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Obviously this is a fine sentiment, but in 2022, this “safe for all audiences” cherry-picked example has become the “I don’t see color” of quotes. If you’re going to say something, you can (and should) do better.

This year (and I’m looking quite strongly at you, conservative white Christians with “Thin Blue Line” stickers on your SUVs), take the time to share a different quote. Don’t worry, I’ve made it easy by creating some options for you to grab and post: