Divided Humanity

One of my closest friends, a white American woman, is married to a black Jamaican man. She doesn’t really watch the news and so I was explaining to her what I had read/heard about the situation that has been unfolding in Ferguson, MO. She mentioned her own awakening awareness of racism since marrying a black man and, unfortunately, his introduction to racism since moving to the U.S.

At the age of 22 I worked for the summer at a camp in Wisconsin. Most of the kids coming to the camp were from inner city Chicago. Black city kids at a mosquito infested Christian camp with an almost only white staff. It was a particularly difficult summer for me and likely also for them. This was partly because I had just been kicked out of Bible college,  and my inner brokenness made me more fragile and less capable of connecting with my campers.

White people who want to steer clear of being called racist tend to do an opposite kind of injustice to their fellow brown humans by pretending that skin color is the only difference, missing the rich differences in culture. I have never heard a black person make this same mistake. On my first or second week as a counselor at camp, I was wrestling heavily with the communication-by-insult factor. On my insistence that regardless of how ubiquitous this was in their families and communities, it was still not nice, one savvy 12yr old said with great inflection, “You don’t know many black people, do you?” 

I didn’t bluster and say, “I have black friends” because I honestly didn’t. Growing up in the suburbs of North Seattle did not bring me into contact with very many black people….

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Purposely Provocative

Generally, my desire is to encourage, bolster or soothe people. This is not because I just want people to like me, but because my own troubles stem from an internal chaos of which I long to be free.

Being provoked to passionate feeling is not the opposite of what I’m looking for. In fact, if the provocation is well done and hits in a place I really care about, it will lead me to a greater sense of focus. It banishes chaos equally as well as comfort, although since my ability to change the world seems quite limited, the action that wants to flow out of the focused passion is often frustrated at the door of reality.

These thoughts started with some movies I’ve seen recently which purposely inspired strong feelings about what is wrong with the world. There are many people who prefer soothing because they dislike feeling helpless more than they can’t stand that others really are powerless to truly horrible situations. Slavery, war, violence, addiction. Most of us feel (when we are faced with the real facts on these issues) that there is really nothing we can do to help…

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Let’s Fight

When I was young I had a pretty bad temper. “Seeing red” was a figure of speech that I understood completely.

Back then, we also did our family fighting with really loud voices. When it went on between others and myself, it was cathartic, when it was other members of my family with each other, it tipped over into stressful. I remember one time going into my room, slamming the door and plugging my ears so tightly that I hurt myself, all because of an argument in which I was not involved.

It was for that reason that I began looking for “fixes,” or, more appropriately termed, “diffusers.” Jokes are my favorite- ones that make me the fool usually work out the best because there’s no possibility for things to be taken wrong. Every once in a while I found actual wisdom that calmed things. Not so much like Solomon, but more like the time I encouraged my sister to not stay stubbornly in the car at McDonalds because she’d be hungry later when her anger had cooled.

As an adult there is really never any yelling. I still sometimes get the urge to slam doors, but if I notice the urge in time, I can diffuse it by calling myself out as passive aggressive…

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Conflict Mismanagement

School is quickly nearing its end.

I have learned so much, not only about the more technical aspects of communication, but also about people. Specifically the people here. Myself included.

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Poor communication is not just a problem for those who don’t take time to learn about it, it is a problem for everyone. People who are ‘professional communicators’ also struggle to communicate well within their personal relationships…

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The Generosity of Ravens

In class we’re watching this video by Eric Foley about “transformational giving” vs. “transactional giving”.

I don’t know that I want to talk a lot about the video right now but I was really struck by a particular story the speaker highlighted.

So here is the story he highlights… it’s in 1 Kings 17:7-24.

God takes care of Elijah in the strangest ways. Just before the story I’m focusing on here, God provides food for Elijah with some Ravens! (This happens again with an angel  in chapter 19 when Elijah gets depressed.)
Then God sends him to this “donor”… this person who will take care of his need for food (since there is a drought in the area).

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The donor? A widow. A woman with a son and no husband. When Elijah asks her for a piece of bread she says that not only does she not have any bread, she is about to go home and make one last meal for her and her son with the very last of their food- and then they will die because it is the last of what they have in all the world to eat….

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Unrehearsed Family Bonding

We’re still at Mom’s house in Idaho.

I’m happy to be with these people- you know- family. I’m a little surprised at how many good moments of connection there have been amidst so many thoughts in my head about life and church and family and the future. It’s like I have more senses and I can suddenly multitask  the input from each one without overload.

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The characters here are as follows…

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The golden rule: or Who Made This Mess Anyway?

I often find Mondays difficult. For most people Monday means going back to work and they find that  hard. For me Monday is difficult because I often have it off.
Strange?

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