yesterday at churches across the nation, pastors grappled with how to address the tragic events at sandy hook with their congregations.
the entire country was captivated by the horrific news on friday in which a lone gunman shot his own mother four times in the head before subsequently entering sandy hook elementary school, killing 26 people – 20 of whom were children, ages 6 and 7.
the question on everyone’s mind ::
how could God let this happen?
this week a popular christian magazine picked up on the recently released annual hate crime statistics report for 2011 from the FBI, noting that for the first time, hate crimes against gays outnumber those against religion.
incidents of religious bias previously outnumbered incidents of sexual orientation bias – but not any longer. hate crimes against the LGBT community have taken the #2 spot on the bureau’s list, with nearly 21% of over 7,240 incidents motivated by sexual-orientation bias.
hate crimes against our LGBT brothers and sisters are on the rise.
i sometimes get a little bent out of shape.
injustices against humanity. bad theology perpetuated in the name of christ.
apathy toward either of those.
it’s tempting to get caught up in unhelpful and emotional responses – declaring others as ‘missing it’ or being ‘wrong’ without providing a more hopeful way forward.
yet occasionally, i’m reminded of deeper, more foundational truths that resonate in and soothe my soul, bearing witness to the Divine. in these moments, i find myself swept up in celebration and hope of the lovingkindness of YHVH – his hesed.
God’s heart is bent toward us.
last night, sensational hip hop artist macklemore played his hit song ‘thrift shop’ on jimmy fallon. it’s a pretty entertaining music video, too. macklemore shocked the nation when his debut solo album, The Heist, reached number 1 on iTunes within hours of its release october 9 with no mainstream promotion or support, and landed at number 2 (only behind mumford & sons) on the billboard charts. ‘thrift shop’ is a fun, playful tune – as are many of the hits from the artist described as creating ‘Christian hip hop – only without all the religion.’
still, ‘thrift shop’ and other hits are less likely to ruffle feathers as his second-most popular iTunes hit supporting marriage equality entitled, ‘same love.‘
Just as it was written by those prophets of old, the last days of the Earth overflowed with suffering and pain. In those dark days a huge pale horse rode through the Earth with Death upon its back and Hell in its wake. During this great tribulation, the Earth was scorched with the fires of war, rivers ran red with blood, the soil withheld its fruit, and disease descended like a mist. One by one, all the nations of the Earth were brought to their knees.
Far from all the suffering, high up in the heavenly realm, God watched the events unfold with a heavy heart. An ominous silence had descended upon Heaven as the angels witnessed the Earth being plunged into darkness and despair. But as this could only continue for so long, at the designated time, God stood upright, breathed deeply, and addressed the angels, “The time has now come for me to separate the sheep from the goats, the healthy wheat from the inedible chaff.”
the court’s announcement that it would hear two cases challenging laws prohibiting same-sex marriage has reinvigorated one of the most hotly contentious social debates in our country’s history.
proceed with caution.
let’s face it – something is broken. the christian faith has become known for being in the business of interpreting and escaping our world rather than transforming and healing it – which may mean that we’re missing the point.
as i engage the disconnect between the teachings of jesus and 21st century evangelical christianity (or even my own life), i occasionally stumble upon teachers or authors with whom my spirit resonates – and though i may not agree with all of their answers and conclusions, i find myself more often than not enjoying the work of those that many would deem ‘dangerous‘ or ‘radical‘ – even ‘heretical.’
people like peter rollins.
‘the doctrine of the incarnation contains at its heart the divine welcome of the Other; and embodying that same welcome is at the heart of our obedient response to God’s grace. the God who is for us and with us in jesus christ incites us, by the work of the spirit, to be for and with one another.’
–william stacy johnson
it’s been a rough week in the blogosphere.
so many of the church’s words and so much of its demeanor concerning people with whom we disagree (in doctrine or practice) are profoundly contrary to what the gospel proclaims.