I ended the previous post by saying I would now attempt a first incision on our RCC Patient (Racially-Charged Culture) by wielding the scalpel of words. I won't analyze white privilege, systemic racism, anti-racism, white fragility, or the 1,000 new ideas on everyone's frontal lobes. My reflection will be about the apparent heart condition of racially-motivated fellow members of Christ's Body. My hypothesis is that, in the urgency of remedying (real or perceived) injustice, many have unconsciously taken their eyes off the Ball. Jesus is the Ball.
Zing. Did my scalpel already draw blood? I'm pretty sure I nicked myself, and some of the blood is my own. I've invested many hours attempting to understand our cultural moment. At my core, I'm a researcher who loves to read, think, and communicate persuasively. I've consumed books, articles, and videos. But have I spent too much time studying a counterfeit, at the expense of studying Jesus, the Authentic One? (Ouch.) Let's jump in.
I've diligently studied to understand polar viewpoints in our national racial debate – including every nuanced stopping point along the continuum. As I've done so, I've now stepped back to ponder the following diagnostic assertion:
"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one seems to want to change themselves." – Leo Tolstoy
A Call to Calm Reflection
When it comes to race, there is nothing more dangerous than attempting to honestly talk about it. Our world is overrun with ideological police, who monitor every word against the lexicon of a new orthodoxy. Step out of line with your words and bear the brunt of cultural incarceration. Alternately, remain silent and be charged with prejudicial complicity. You've seen the signs: "Silence Is Complicity" and "It's Not Enough To Be Non-Racist, You Must Be Anti-Racist." These squelch communication.
On the other hand, many have decided it's safer to toe-the-line by repeating the mantras of the new orthodoxy. They post black boxes on Social media, signalling solidarity for others to see. That's my fear: wanting others to see, to approve, to validate us. The human heart craves commendation, and it'll do anything to find it – even self-soothe via culturally sanctioned acts of righteousness. There is nothing the human heart enjoys more than the feeling of self-righteousness. It's what C.S. Lewis meant when he said,
"As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you."
Questions To Ponder
- Have you read the racially-heated, accusatory language on social media? Do you now hesitate having conversations with friends, fearful it will degenerate into a teenage rampage of outrage?
- Have you noticed in the hurricane of words, there is no 'calm eye' of personal introspection? Instead, do you hear bold demands? Shibboleths that must be uttered, not stuttered, with proper inflection?
- Have you met foul scowls and livid-looks from previously calm, smiling faces? Is the scent of self-absorbed sanctity in the air?
Are We Roosters?
I think roosters like waking people up.
We live in self-righteous days, where we leverage social media to signal we're paragons of virtue (ironic, because no one really cares about your virtue, only their own). Many are newly woke, adopting as their mission to awaken their neighbor. Unfortunately, it's all shouting, screaming, sirens – ribald roosters awakening Rip Van Winkle.
Except ... what if Rip isn't really asleep? What if he's simply thinking? To determined roosters, I ask:
- Why are you so certain you're the woke one, rather than your neighbor who has an alternate viewpoint?
- Where has the practice of self-examination gone?
- Why tweezer (jack hammer?) the speck from your friend's eye, when you may have a plank in yours? Have you at least gazed into the mirror of God's Word, to check your eye?
Some woke warriors are (unconsciously) neo-Gnostics, imbibing new insights and knowledge that vault them toward self-salvation. "I don't need a rescue ... I'm here to rescue you." Nothing satisfies a self-righteous rooster like demanding others wake up. Perhaps it's affirming to be an alarm clock?
Do You Want To Change The World?
Do you want to change the world? Wonderful! Follow Tolstoy's advice by changing yourself first. Humbly. Explore your heart, asking God for help. No need to awaken your brother.
Later, when the Lord convicts you to do something (He probably will), do it! In the meantime, why advertise your wokeness? Why treat your convictions like they need 5th Avenue promotion? If our cause depends on our ability to promote it, it is merely a construct of our own making. On the other hand, if we patiently entrust our convictions to God and live by them, we can walk a counter-intuitive path – the only path God uses to make real change. The one that changes hearts, beginning with my own.
So, what do you think? Next time, I'll probe a bit deeper, attempting to thread the needle better. And I will end the week with a Poem I've written, that gets to the heart of this daunting challenge.