Captioning a baptism

The other day I came across this photo from our son’s baptism last fall, of him looking in the direction of the baptismal font, with a “they’re going to do WHAT?” expression on his face.

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After I posted the photo, the good people at Unvirtuous Abbey asked if they could share and invite people to submit their own captions. I’m a firm believer that when the digital monks call for assistance, you answer.

These were some of my favorites submissions…

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(And yes. Bowties are cool.)

 

The day I was Walter Brueggemann

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Last week, I took part in a day-long conversation about the Bible with 20 or so biblical and theological scholars. And by “took part,” I mean I was there to listen, observe, and soak it all in. The conversation revolved around two main questions: what is the Bible? and what should we do with it? Because our gathering included participants from evangelical, mainline, and Catholic traditions, we didn’t all come (or leave) with the same answers. But the conversation was good, really good.

Walter Brueggemann was supposed to discuss the importance of genre in the Hebrew Scriptures. But as we had the good sense to hold our event in the Midwest in January, adverse weather in Chicago kept him on a tarmac in Cincinnati (thus leaving my plan for getting a selfie with Brueggemann in tatters).

It’s just as well. I’ve been told that Brueggemann does not suffer fools, and more than a few of us (scholars included) would have been in full-blown geek-out mode if he’d been there.

Still, we had Brueggemann’s paper. And his blessing to read it in his absence. So for 20 minutes, I got to pretend I was Walter Brueggemann.

I can’t share his paper with you, but I will share a couple of key points I took from my experience impersonating one of the world’s most admired Old Testament scholars:

1. Neither fundamentalism nor rationalism are equipped to deal with the Bible.

For Brueggemann, reading the Bible well requires navigating between two extremes: the literalist impulse of fundamentalism and the historicist impulse of rationalism. One treats everything as literal, historical fact, imposing modern expectations of “accuracy” and “precision” on ancient texts. The other denies any meaningful connection between the text and reality.

Both reflect a reductionist approach to the Bible. Both fail to consider the importance of genre when reading scripture—the codes, if you will, through which the authors described (and critiqued) reality for their audience. We all use codes to explain reality to members of our respective communities. Learning these codes is part of the initiation process into a new community. These codes shape the way parents speak to their children (in the stories they tell), the way churches speak to parishioners (in their liturgies), the way businesses speak to their target audiences (through advertising).

If this didn’t make things challenging enough, we also have to recognize our anachronistic habit of importing our genres into the Bible, when ancient literature had its own unique genres—something Gregory Mobley, author of Return of the Chaos Monsters, noted in his response to me… er, Brueggemann.

One thing we can draw from this without getting too deep into the weeds of genre analysis is that the biblical writers were not mere reporters or scribes taking dictation from God on high. Nor were they simply making stuff up. They were poets and artists, skillfully crafting a story. They weren’t giving a dry report of who did what, where, and when so much as they were envisioning a new, God-soaked reality.

2. We must rediscover the artistry of the Bible so we can read with our imaginations.

Artistry was one of the recurring themes of Brueggemann’s paper. It’s not a word you’ll find in many commentaries or Bible studies. It’s not one I heard often in seminary. The text was something to be parsed, analyzed, and systematized into concrete theological propositions.

But how do you dissect a work of art without robbing it of its power? According to Brueggeman, this is exactly what we’ve done with the Bible. In a 2013 interview with Krista Tippett, he said:

What the church does with its creeds and its doctrinal tradition is flatten out all the images and metaphors [of scripture] to make them fit into a nice little formulation, and it’s deathly. So we have to communicate to people: if you want a God who is healthier than that, you’re going to have to take time to sit with these images and relish them and let them become part of your prayer life and vocabulary and conceptual frame—which again, is why the poetry is so important. The poetry just keeps opening and opening and opening, whereas the doctrinal practice of the church is always to close and close and close until you are left with nothing that has any transformative power.

Acknowledging the artistry of scripture is essential to understanding its impulse toward justice. The “prophetic imagination,” a phrase that might as well be synonymous with Brueggemann’s name, is the creative envisioning (or perhaps summoning) of a new, more just reality—long before one exists, when the existence of one seems impossible.

Prophets, Brueggeman says:

…are moved the way every good poet is moved to describe the world differently. Those who control the power structures do not know what to make of them, so they try to silence them. And what the powers finally discover is that you cannot silence poets.

It never occurred to me to think of prophets primarily as poets, even though most of what we label “prophecy” is poetic in form. As Brueggemann reminds us, we pay a heavy price for neglecting the artistry of scripture.

If we read everything literally—flattening the Bible, as Brueggemann says…

Or if we read everything skeptically…

If we dismiss everything as ahistorical fabrication…

Or if we treat prophets like sanctified fortune tellers, divorcing their message from its original context so we can look for signs of “fulfilled prophecy” in our day…

…then all we’re really doing is reading the Bible on our terms, rather than its own.

By reading the Bible this way, we’ve managed to do what the ancient powers could not do: silence the prophets and poets of the Bible.

Reversing this trend will take a mighty act of imagination. That’s what I learned when I spent 20 minutes being Walter Brueggemann.

Well, that and one other thing: if you should ever be called upon to present one of Brueggemann’s papers for him, give it a read beforehand. He’s got one heck of a vocabulary.

Photo by Westminster John Knox Press

How Newsweek got the Bible right… and still got it wrong

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This year I’m planning to write more regularly for Onfaith, mostly about the Bible and how we use it. (I’ll still be writing other posts here.) My first piece is a somewhat belated response to Newsweek cover story on the Bible last month. (Thanks to Dan Chappell for encouraging me to share these reflections.)


Where are all the moderate Christian voices?

That’s what a friend wanted to know in the wake of Newsweek’s recent, much-discussed look at the Bible and the way many Christians believe in it. Conservatives were quick to respond to what they saw as a hit piece, offering plenty of robust, detailed argument – and occasionally stooping to their own hit-piece level with titles like “Newsweek’s tirade against the Bible” and “News Weak.”

But what about moderate Christian voices? Or what about Christian “progressives” like me who still hold to a high view of Scripture and its authority?

Some of what Kurt Eichenwald wrote was greeted with a yawn. Yes, there are two creation stories in Genesis. Yes, the gospels offer different (and sometimes conflicting) accounts of Jesus’ story. Yes, scribes added things to the Bible. For many of us, this is old news.

However, in other cases, Newsweek got some things wrong — rather, it got some things right, but in a wrong way. Here is how…

Read the rest at Onfaith > 


Note: While I wish they had chosen different titles for their responses, Dan Wallace and Ben Witherington offer some very useful critique from a conservative point of view, for those who want to engage with the particulars of Eichenwald’s piece. And Rachel Held Evans has an excellent editorial on CNN.com defending evangelicals against some of the worst caricatures that Eichenwald drew. 

2014 in pictures

It was a crazy, snowy, busy, snowy, beautiful, and snowy year. Here are some photo highlights…

Winter

Grand Rapids had the distinction of being the fourth snowiest city in America last winter, clocking it at 116 inches for the season. It was nice getting reacquainted with our front steps in April.

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Running

I logged 785 miles in 2014, some of them in the aforementioned snow. Mostly just running around the neighborhood, but there were also a few scenic runs, including the Manitou Incline (assuming we use the word “run” in the loosest sense) and the 8-mile loop around Mackinac Island.

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Haiti

In March, I traveled to Haiti to visit a World Vision ADP (area development program). There I saw Haiti’s future…a future where children are valued, protected, and empowered by the community.

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Ways my wife is awesome…

Because she left encouraging notes like this in my office this year…

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The preschooler

Somehow our firstborn became a preschooler in 2014. We’re trying not to blink.

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The newbie

In 2014, we welcomed our son Oliver James into the world. He has brought more joy and light into our family than we ever could have imagined.

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Oliver came a few days early. As it happened, I was brewing with a buddy the day before he was born. I decided to name our red rye ale in honor of Oliver’s first documented smile…

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We had Oliver baptized on All Saints Day. And yes, bowties ARE cool.

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Pure Michigan

As a family, we got to explore some of northern Michigan’s beauty this fall. (It was an amazing fall in our part of the world.)

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And finally…

Winter strikes again

We rounded out the year with the snowiest November in Grand Rapids’ history. At least one person in our household was happy about the return of snow…

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Happy new year!

A look back at 2014

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This time a year ago, I did something I don’t normally do. I made a New Year’s resolution. I vowed to write something every week in 2014, and with one exception (the week my son was born), I kept my resolution.

Altogether, I shared more than 80 posts. I also had opportunities to write for the Huffington Post and Onfaith.

As the year kicked off, I was finalizing the manuscript for my first children’s book. A few days before Christmas, I received my first copy of the real thing. My daughter and I have spent several evenings reading it together, and I can’t wait for you to be able to do the same with your kids this spring.

In 2014, I stumbled across a number of new voices (new for me, anyway) who inspired, challenged, and informed me—including Ben Moberg, Cindy Brandt, Qasim Rashid, Rod Thomas, Nurya Love Parish, Boze HerringtonAustin Channing, R.L. Stollar, and David Hayward, to name a few. You have each broadened my perspective and enriched my faith in various ways. Thank you.

Near the end of 2013, I had my first experience of a post going viral. It happened a few more times in 2014, though I’m still not sure there’s a science to it. (Or that “going viral” is always the best indicator of worthwhile content.)

It was an enriching, sometimes challenging year. I had at least one reminder of why I strive to keep my work life separate from my writing life. Speaking up for what matters to me has cost me a friend or two, but it’s given me the chance to make new friends along the way. It’s allowed me to hear—and learn from—new voices.

I also got quite the reading least in 2014 (and yes, I am still working my way through it…more to come in 2015) when I opened up about the distressing absence of female voices on my bookshelf.

Anyway, if you read, shared, liked (or maybe even disliked) something you read here, thank you for being part of the journey.

Here were my 10 most widely-read blog posts from 2014…

1. Why evangelicals should think twice about equating modern Israel with Israel of the Bible

Ancient Israel was not supposed to have a standing army. They weren’t supposed to stockpile weapons. There were no taxes to fund a permanent military. The prophets considered militarization a form of idolatry—a blatant violation of Israel’s covenant with God. If modern Israel is the same covenant nation written about in the Old Testament, then they are under the same covenant obligations. More >

2. Nurturing your kids’ faith when you haven’t figured out your own

I don’t have my own faith figured out. I keep searching, wondering, fumbling in the dark. I used to be more certain in what I believed, but then, you know… life. I know the pressure to be the perfect Christian parent who raises perfect Christian kids who have all the answers, pray the sinner’s prayer as soon as they can talk, and never question anything. More >

3. If you think “standing with Israel” means never criticizing them, you’re going to have to get a new Bible

If “standing with Israel” means never saying anything negative about the Israeli government and berating anyone who does, then we should have nothing but contempt for the biblical prophets. We should cut them out of our Bibles. They should be condemned for treason against Israel. More >

4. The story that made World Vision trend on Twitter

For a while, World Vision was trending on Twitter. Not because of the 70,000 people they helped gain access to clean water that day, but because of outrage over the fact that a cross-denominational Christian humanitarian organization decided it wasn’t its job to police a theological difference among denominations. More >

5. Stop praying for peace in Ferguson

You want “peace” in Ferguson—by which you mean you don’t want to see any more burning cop cars on TV—but you don’t want to do anything about a system in which people have no other way to make themselves heard? Then what you want isn’t peace. What you want is for your privilege to remain untouched. More >

6. My new reading list

That’s the whole point of reading, isn’t it? To step outside your own limited perspective and allow others to shape it, even if you don’t end up fully agreeing with them? How much of our impoverished discourse can be traced to the fact that we tend to hear only the voices that sound like our own? More >

7. Three things in the Bible you’ll want to avoid if following Kirk Cameron’s parenting advice

The ancient Jewish faith had many rituals, ceremonies, and symbols. And these had a way prompting curiosity. Every time a family would celebrate Passover or break out the phylacteries or build a monument from a pile of stones, kids would ask why. Even worse, it seems this was the whole point: so that kids would request an explanation from their parents. More >

8. An alternative prayer for Memorial Day (pacifist edition)

We confess that evil is real and that it lurks within our hearts. We have been quick to condemn the violence of others while ignoring the deeds we have committed with our own hands. We confess that we have put nation above church, flag above cross. We acknowledge that as followers of Christ, we have but one Memorial Day. It is commemorated with bread and wine, not with beers and barbeque. More >

 9. If this is what a Christian nation looks like, then I don’t want to be a Christian

We’re a nation that uses fear as justification for torture. Despite the fact that “perfect love casts out fear.” We’re a nation worried more about whether torture was effective than whether it was moral, as if the objects of torture are somehow less than human. Despite the fact that all humanity bears the divine imprint. More >

10. Where are all the women? What my bookshelf says about the continuing effects of patriarchy

I can flaunt my egalitarian credentials on the interwebs—without even realizing how bad I’ve been at listening to the voices of women. A theoretical opposition to patriarchy doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve stopped perpetuating it. More >

With more than 35,000 shares, the most popular piece I wrote in 2014 (and Onfaith’s second most-read piece for the year) was “Five Bible verses you need to stop misusing.”

Finally, here are some of my personal favorites from 2014…

I hope you have a happy and enriching 2015!

Halfway out of the dark

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Sunrise after the winter solstice

Advent is almost done. Christmas is nearly here.

We’re halfway out of the dark.

The incarnation—God becoming like us—may be the greatest miracle of all. Maybe even greater than someone rising from the dead.

At Christmas, we celebrate the start of something, not the end. We are heading out of the dark. But we are not there yet.

It’s fitting that Advent and Christmas mark the start of a new church year, in contrast to our Gregorian calendar. During Advent, we anticipate not one but two comings, two in-breakings of God’s presence. Christmas is the celebration of one of those comings. Our redemption is not yet complete.

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A few days ago, we turned a corner on the darkness. The morning after the winter solstice, the longest night of the year—and after more than a week without seeing the sun here in Michigan—we were greeted by a brilliant sunrise pouring in through our bedroom window. There are many more long, dark nights to come, but each will be slightly shorter than the one before. We are heading toward the light. Little by little.

As we celebrate Christmas, we remember that we are halfway out of the dark. God’s light has invaded our world, but darkness still prevails all around us (and in us). We only need to look at events of recent months to see this.

A brutal war in Gaza. (Have we already forgotten that one?)

The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.

The scourge of racism still very much alive in this country and claiming new victims every day.

And of course, the horrific slaying of two police officers just days before Christmas.

We are not yet out of the dark.

Surely God could have wrapped up everything in one incarnation. Surely all he needed was a quick trip to earth, and everything—sin, death, evil, and oppression—would be sorted.

He could have. But he didn’t.

Maybe there’s a reason he left us in partial darkness.

Maybe it’s because he didn’t mean for us to be passive observers in our redemption, in the renewal of all things. Maybe he’s waiting for us to join him in the sacred work of banishing the darkness.

In my children’s book, I describe redemption as “God making the world right and good again.” It’s one of the paradoxes of our faith that only God can do this work, yet he does not do it on his own. He invites us to become part of it.

Christmas is a reminder that our redemption has begun. But it’s also a reminder that God’s work is unfinished. There is more light to be uncovered, more darkness to be banished. In other words, we have work to do.

In the year ahead, may we all do our part to bring this world (and ourselves) a little more out of the dark. May we all shine a little more light of compassion, justice, and inclusion.

And yes, the title of this post is a nod to the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special. Embrace your inner Whovian. 

The day my book arrived

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I remember reading The Story of King Jesus to my daughter for the first time, earlier this year. I’d just seen it in layout, and the publisher let me keep the printouts. I couldn’t wait to get home from Colorado to show it to Elizabeth.

I’m not sure if it was a stalling tactic, but that night before bed, she made me read it twice. (I didn’t object.) The second time through, she began repeating bits of the story under her breath.

Afterward, she asked, “When will it be put together?” I thought she was asking some deep spiritual question, as in, “When will the world be put back together?” (One of the recurring themes of my book is how God is making the world right and good again.) She cut me off after a few seconds of fumbling for an answer and said, “No, dad. When will your book be put together?”

Well, at last I have a good answer. Because this came in the mail yesterday…

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I was so excited, I forgot to change her into her PJs before saying goodnight.

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We read the book at bedtime—this time the proper, bound-up version—because I want Elizabeth to know that even though there is much in our world that’s not as it should be, God made it good, and he is making it good once more.

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I want her to know the gospel is more than just what happens to us when we die. It’s about what we do while we’re alive. That Jesus not only defeated death; he made it possible for us to live.

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I want her to know that Jesus is for everyone.

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I want her to know that the gospel is liberating and life-giving. That if something is oppressive and soul-destroying, then it isn’t the gospel. I want her to know that God invites us all to join him in making the world right and good again.

I can already see glimpses from my daughter that the story is beginning to sink in, that it resonates, that it is life-giving for her.

And that is the best Christmas present I could ask for.

The Story of King Jesus is available for preorder now

Why Russell Moore is right: racial injustice IS a gospel issue

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I worry a bit when we start labeling ever divisive matter a “gospel issue.” Surely not everything rises to this threshold. Surely if you play the “gospel” card too many times—if you argue that “the gospel is at stake” in practically every debate—pretty soon the word loses all meaning. It becomes little more than a rhetorical club for stifling debate, for insinuating that anyone who disagrees with you hates the baby Jesus.

Yet sometimes the gospel IS at stake. The other day, Russell Moore when he called racial injustice a “gospel issue.” And I think he was right.

That was the day we learned that Eric Garner’s killer would not face charges. One of the first responses I saw in my Twitter feed came from Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was a transcript of a radio show he recorded moments after the news broke.

His comments are well worth reading:

A government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice.

What we need to do is to have churches that come together and know one another and are knitted together across these racial lines. I have gotten responses [to this]… that are right out of the White Citizen’s Council material from 1964 in my home state of Mississippi… people saying there is no gospel issue involved in racial reconciliation. Are you kidding me? There is nothing that is clearer in the New Testament [than] that the gospel breaks down the dividing walls that we have between one another.

If [this] is not a gospel issue, then I don’t know what is.

Russell Moore spoke not just for his tribe, but for the whole church. He spoke with prophetic urgency as he rightly declared that racial injustice is indeed a gospel issue.

It’s a gospel issue because the gospel Christ proclaimed is about more than just our personal relationship with God. It’s about our relationship with each other—and with all of creation, for that matter.

It’s the renewal of all things, the reconciliation of all things. The gospel destroys the dividing wall of hostility between people. It creates a new humanity; it knits together a new family where divisions based on ethnicity, caste, or gender are rendered not just obsolete but sinful.

This is what it means to be “in Christ.” You cannot embrace Christ without embracing his mission to remake the world, to destroy all the old barriers of sin and oppression and division.

Some theologians use the term “human flourishing” to describe this mission. Which to me is just another way of saying a world where everyone can breathe.

That’s what Christ’s mission is about. That’s why racial injustice is indeed a gospel issue. To swear allegiance to Christ is to commit yourself to this mission, period. To tolerate injustice, oppression, or exclusion—to turn a deaf ear on the cries emanating from marginalized communities—is to embrace an anti-gospel.

You cannot hate your neighbor and love God, as Dr. Moore eloquently reminded listeners in the wake of the Eric Garner non-indictment. And in case you’re thinking, I don’t hate my neighbor, remember this: the Bible equates apathy with hatred.

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Yet if this is true when Eric Garner has the life choked from his body by a prejudiced and unaccountable police force, it is also be true when a gay teenager is bullied into suicide, whatever our understanding of sexual ethics might be. It is also true when women are relegated to second-class status in our homes and churches. What was it Martin Luther King, Jr. said?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In other words, we don’t get to choose which marginalized communities we embrace and which we leave out in the cold. We don’t get to choose which “dividing walls of hostility” to tear down and which ones to leave standing.

Either it’s the reconciliation of all things or not.

Russell Moore is right Racial injustice is a gospel issue. But it’s not the only one we should be concerned about.

Photo by Geraint Rowland on Flickr

If this is what a Christian nation looks like, then I don’t want to be a Christian.

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We’re a nation that uses fear as justification for torture.

Despite the fact that, according to scripture, “perfect love casts out fear.”

We’re a nation worried more about whether torture was effective than whether it was moral, as if the objects of torture are somehow less than human.

Despite the fact that all humanity bears the divine imprint. Despite the fact that torturing human flesh is an assault on the image and likeness of God.

We’re a nation that held a mentally impaired man hostage, using him as leverage to extract information from a relative. We’re a nation of secret prisons, in which roughly a quarter of known detainees, perhaps more, were wrongfully held.

Despite the prophets’ condemnation of those who “deny justice to the innocent,” despite their warning that the Lord’s anger would burn hot against such people.

We’re a nation that engaged in simulated hangings, that forced detainees to stand—in their own excrement—for days at a time, and subjected them to a particularly vile technique called “rectal feeding.”

Despite the fact that Paul railed against those who “invent ways of doing evil”—a phrase that comes from a passage we love to quote, confident it was meant for someone else and not us. Which is to miss the whole point of Paul’s rhetoric.

We’re also a nation in which not all the hangings are simulated. We’re a nation that lynched thousands of blacks for “crimes” such as talking to white women. We’re a nation that continues to lynch unarmed black men—only, now we hide it behind a badge instead of a hood. We’re a nation where a black man can have the life choked out of him for allegedly selling cigarettes. We’re a nation where blacks and whites experience two radically different forms of “justice.”

Despite scripture’s declaration that there are no longer any ethnic or social divisions among the faithful—which seems to be more a statement of aspiration than reality.

We’re a nation that threatened to harm the children of detainees, that threatened to rape one detainee’s mother and to slit the throat of another. We’re a nation that told one man he could never be released alive because “we can never let the world know what [we] have done to you.”

Despite Isaiah’s harsh words for those who “go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’ ” Such people, Isaiah says, are far from God.

Yet God help us if someone doesn’t wish us a Merry Christmas this season. Because we’re a Christian nation, after all.

We twitch with manufactured rage if so much as one underpaid Gap clerk greets us with a “happy holidays” (which is to say, happy holy days, but never mind). We call it the “War on Christmas,” and we allow it to distract us from the very real war being waged on our humanity.

We are the persecutors thinking we’re the persecuted.

We may have managed to keep Christ in Christmas, but we have shut him out from everywhere else. We’ve shut him out of our justice system. We’ve shut him out of our secret prisons. We’ve shut him out of the immigration debate.

It’s funny how we insist on being a Christian nation, yet we are so quick to dismiss the teachings of Christ as irrelevant or impractical when it comes to the “war on terror,” the torture debate, or other issues that are fundamental to human dignity. But we will not rest until our annual orgy of consumerism is baptized in religious garb.

If this is what it means to be a Christian nation, then I want no part of it.

Tamir Rice and the rationalization of systemic racism

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He should’ve just gotten on the sidewalk.

He shouldn’t have resisted.

He shouldn’t have been playing with a fake gun.

These are the excuses we use to rationalize the murder of unarmed black males by those sworn to protect. They’re the excuses we use to deny the systemic racism that pervades our society—a society where black teens are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than whites, a society where blacks receive longer prison sentences than whites for the SAME CRIMES (HT Qasim Rashid), a society where you can’t even get a grand jury indictment in a death the medical examiner ruled a homicide.

The double standard is breathtaking.

Like Tamir Rice, gunned down by police for playing with a fake gun. The police cruiser that came careening up to him (honestly, how would you have reacted?) barely came to a stop when Officer Timothy Loehmann opened fire, killing the 12 year-old boy.

As I watched the footage of Tamir’s murder (let’s call it what it is, shall we?), all I could think was, I played with fake guns as a kid. And I never had to fear for my life.

Of course I didn’t.

No police vehicles ever came charging at me, cops barreling out the door with guns blazing.

None of my neighbors ever entertained the possibility that the toy gun in my hands was anything but a toy.

None of them mistook me for a grown man, either. The police officer who killed Tamir Rice reported that he was 20 years old. (He was 12.) It’s a well-established fact that police officers routinely mistake black boys as older than they really are (HT Kristen Howerton). Because that’s what happens in a society that tolerates pervasive bias against blacks, mostly by pretending it doesn’t exist.

I never had to worry about someone mistaking my toy gun for a real one because I was a white kid living in a white neighborhood. White privilege meant my friends and I could brandish our toy guns (some of which looked real enough) in public without fear of being shot dead.

White privilege also means white gun lovers can brandish their weapons on streets and in restaurants, they can harass anyone who questions their right to do so, they can even plan marches through predominantly black neighborhoods—all without so much as a raised eyebrow from police. Some even laud these open carry zealots as heroes.

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If you’re a black kid playing with a fake gun, it’s a capital offense. If you’re a white guy brandishing a loaded semiautomatic in public, it’s your constitutional right.

Do you still want to argue that systemic racism is a thing of the past?

It’s time we see the double standard for what it is. It’s time we acknowledge that racism doesn’t always wear a hood. Sometimes it comes dressed in a suit, to paraphrase Duke University sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. It’s time that those of us who are white realize that we benefit from an unjust system—one in which police can kill unarmed black males with impunity. And so long as we say and do nothing about it, we’re guilty of perpetuating that system.

Photos: Cleveland.com, Mother Jones