Sep 262016

In racially charged early twenty-first century America, we are witnessing a resurgence of the ugly lynch mobs of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But vigilante justice is not about race. It never was.

A lynch mob seeks to circumvent the normal judicial process, which it see as flawed or too slow to act. A lynch mob is a group of people acting as one out of fear and anger. A lynch mob – any mob, for that matter – is dangerous to the rule of law, our Constitution, the Republic, our nation, and our way of life.

When we think of a lynch mob, we think of a white person, usually a young women, murdered. A black man is accused. Accusations of sexual assault likely follow. If a trail occurs, it is a show trial and is over before it starts. Guilt was predetermined, never in doubt. Facts aren’t necessary. Evidence is ignored. Anything pointing to innocence would only complicate matters. What is important is punishment. Punishment which is swift, public, and complete.

Why? Why a rush to blame? a rush to judge? A rush to punishment?

To protect the community. Historically, the white community. Change must take place. Control must be reestablished. Power must be asserted. And any wrongdoing by anyone in the white community must certainly be covered-up.

The same rush to blame, the same rush to judgment — complete with a willingness to ignore evidence — and the same rush to punishment can be found today’s twenty-first century lynch mob along with the same rationale: to protect the community.

Today, however, the tables have been turned. The black community provides the lynch mob, the police community provides the culprit. We find the black community trying to bring about change, establish control and assert power, along with a willingness to cover-up wrongdoing by anyone in the community when necessary.

My point has nothing to do with race or racial divisions. Quite the contrary. My point has everything to do with our common humanity. We are encountering a shared sociological phenomenon. A shared psychological phenomenon. We are encountering a shared human phenomenon. People are responding – as humans and human communities do – to a perceived threat.

Still, mobs were bad for our nation in the past, they are bad for our nation in the present, and they will be bad for our nation in the future if they are allowed to persist. Mob rule is no rule, and anarchy is no way to live. Yet we have reason to be optimistic.

That black Americans in early twenty-first century America feel empowered enough to form what is in effect a lynch mob is a sign of progress. That we still divide ourselves into racial communities is a sign we still have much work to do. We cannot rest until we live in a society where all lives matter, regardless of skin color.

Sep 192016

If you can read this, thank a teacher. We’ve all heard that one. We’ve likely all read it it. If you were born – and who reading this wasn’t? – especially if you were born after 1973 and post Roe vs. Wade, thank your mother. If you are home schooled, thank your mother for both.

If you value freedom, you should thank a veteran. All veterans. That is to say, any veteran. Any one who served deserves our thanks. Any one who fought, and especially anyone who fell, should never be forgotten.

Surely someone taught us to read, so we should thank those who teach others to read. Undoubtedly we are all here because our mothers bore us. Thank you mothers. And if veterans had not been willing to fight and die to preserve our freedoms, we would not still have those freedoms. Never forget.

There is another slogan similar to those above. If you ate today, thank a farmer. But that doesn’t seem right at all. We don’t owe a debt of gratitude to farmers if we ate today, we owe them a debt of gratitude if we have ever eaten. At all. At any time.

Without farmers, we wouldn’t have our daily bread. But we need our daily bread every day. That’s why it’s daily bread and not just today’s bread. It isn’t just bread, either.

It doesn’t matter if you are vegan or a paleo carnivore. A gourmet or a gourmand. A fast food aficionado or gluten free. All natural, no preservatives, no artificial flavors and no preservatives or a connoisseur of overly processed snacks. If you eat, it’s because a farmer raised it.

Even babies who are breast fed wouldn’t eat without farmers. Moms have to eat, too.

I suppose if you are completely self sufficient, growing all of your own food in your isolated bunker where you hope to live out the coming zombie apocalypse, market meltdown, energy crisis, alien invasion, nuclear attack or what ever paranoid doomsday you fear, you can just thank yourself. But you probably are off the grid, off line, and will never see this anyway.

For the rest of us, Winston Churchill’s words uttered in a different context come to mind. Never was so much owed by so many to so few. Of course, he was referring to the Royal Air Force and their efforts in the Battle of Britain and an unprecedented situation in the history of conflict, not a basic necessity of human survival.

I’m certain Winston Churchill never imagined the agricultural conditions of early twenty-first century America, where a sizable percentage of the population thinks food comes from the grocery store just electricity comes from the light switch. A place where zero-order thinking prevails.

Hopefully, you are not one of these people.

Who do you think of for your daily bread? When next you express thanks and bless your food, think of those who, by the help and grace of God, provided it, and bless them as well.

Sep 122016

Conflating two fabulous quotes by G.K. Chesterton, only those who stand on their heads see the world right-side up. This paradox sounds worthy of Mr. Chesterton, who was known as the prince of paradox, but it is not exactly what he said. What he did say was “a paradox is often a truth standing on its head to get our attention” and “He who has seen the vision of his city upside-down has seen it the right way up.”

So often we can tell something is just not right about this life. Sometimes life in this world just seems off. It seems upside down. The first step in setting things right is to see life the way it ought to be.

The point is this: In a world turned upside down by sin, only those who stand on their heads can see it right-side up. If the world has been stood on its head, we must stand on ours to encounter it the right way.

Put another way, if the world is foolish with sin, we must be foolish with Christ. If we encountered someone walking down the street on his hands we would certainly think him foolish. But if the world really is upside down, perhaps he is making his way by grasping handholds on the ceiling while we who try to stand on our own two feet are in danger of falling. Rather than firmly planting our feet in this world, we need to grasp the handholds from Heaven as we walk through this life.

In twenty-first century America, we experience a culture built on luxurious self-indulgence and an ingrained sense of entitlement. How strange to encounter someone like Saint Teresa of Calcutta – whom those in my generation will forever remember as Mother Teresa – who built her life around impoverished self-giving and humble humility.

Something else G.K. Chesterton said: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found hard and left untried.” For those who are home or classically schooled, this is an excellent example of the rhetorical device of reversal, but it is no paradox. Following Christ really is hard.

In a world upside down and foolish with sin, Christ calls us to stand on our heads, walk on our hands, and be foolish not with sin, but with Him. It is the only right way to make our way through a world which has been stood on its head, and perhaps the only way to draw the world’s attention to the truth of Christ.