I spent a lot of time this week glued to coverage of events in Ferguson, MO. Here are some of the things I read that were meaningful to me:
- UCC minister Traci Blackmon, pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Ferguson has been at the heart of efforts to bring reconciliation in Ferguson this week. Her church is where Governor Nixon, Senator McCaskell and other leaders met for community meetings. She and her church are a part of the Missouri Mid-South Conference of the United Church of Christ of which we are also apart.
- Emily Bazelon (who is Caucasian) has a powerful essay on why she is reluctant to get law enforcement involved when it comes to African Americans--she knows from experience how the system is stacked against them.
- If you are Caucasian and wondering why African Americans are so upset about the death of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and others, here's an explanation for you.
- Here's some context as to why African Americans in Ferguson don't trust the police.
- Some of the most striking images this week were the St. Louis County police in military gear, armored personnel carriers and high caliber rifles. Where did that come from? It turns out the Pentagon gave away $500 million worth of military gear last year alone to local law enforcement.
- UCC theologian Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite on the demonic nature of police militarization.
- I'm pretty sure that it's a sign of the end times, but I read a piece written by Rand Paul about Ferguson and I agreed with every thing he wrote.
- The Ferguson police fired rubber bullets into a crowd of mostly peaceful protesters. One of the people they hit was a minister in her clergy collar trying to keep the crowd peaceful. The pictures tell the story.
- There was so much bad news from Ferguson this week revealing the worst of humanity, but NPR had an incredible story this week demonstrating the best of humanity about how a minister in Ferguson talked a young African American man out of striking out at the police in his anger.
- "What White People Can Do About the Killing of Black Men in America"
- "It Doesn't Matter if Michael Brown Stole a Box of Cigars"
- "Gated Communities and the Imaginary Black Bogey Man"
- Including Ferguson, 4 unarmed African American men have been killed in the last month in the US by police.
- Schools in Ferguson were cancelled which means that for many kids in the town they will go hungry, because they will not receive the federally provided meals they normally receive at school. A NC school teacher started a crowd sourcing campaign to raise money for the St. Louis food bank which will use the money to help provide meals throughout the school year for kids in Ferguson. To find out more and contribute read this article.
- Did you see this video of what a KCPD officer did when he encountered African American kids in the street? Instead of getting in a confrontation with them, he had a dance off!
- Finally, satirical newspaper The Onion weighed in this week on Ferguson providing Tips for Being an Unarmed Black Teen. I felt it was a great example of satire exposing oppression. Others felt it was making light of a tragedy. I'd love to hear what you think about it.
- One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, has a moving and powerful response to the death of Robin Williams and the search for answers when there are no answers in the face of tragedy.
- UCC theologian Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite asks how Jesus would respond to people suffering like Robin Williams suffered.
- Lewis Diuguid wrote in the KC Star this week about the failure of the mental health system in Missouri and Kansas
- By the way, if you didn't hear the sermon I gave Memorial Day weekend where I share my own experience with depression, it is on the church web site here. I shared it again on social media and had a good response from a number of people who have similar struggles. You may need to hear it or know someone who does. .
- In the Supreme Court case concerning Hobby Lobby and birth control, the majority opinion which was in the corporation's favor cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Those who worked to pass the act never had corporations in mind. Here's an explanation of what that act was intended for and how it was misused by the Supreme Court.
- Conservative culture warriors are realizing they have lost the fight over same gender marriage, so now they are turning their demonization skills to parents of transgender children.
- The categories of heterosexual and homosexual are a relatively recent phenomenon. Here's a helpful and readable overview of the details.
- If you came from an Evangelical background like I did and heard horror stories about the rapture, the tribulation and the second coming, I encourage you to read Rachel Marie Stone's essay about what she "left behind" out of that belief system and what she remains grateful for from it.
- Rabbi Joshua Stanton offers words from the Torah about how the words we use when we are on the internet can cause real world harm.
- Did you know that the United Church of Christ is a major sponsor of the Gay Games?
- I remain deeply troubled about the thousands of children from Central America who have crossed our southern border only to be treated with cruelty. One of the best arguments I have read for allowing the children to stay in America comes from the New Republic.
Okay, add this to your list of Christmas gifts for your pastor. I must have this for my shelf of tacky Bible things!
Grace and Peace,