“Loving On Each Other” as a Poor Substitute for Real Love

“We just need to love on each other”

I’ve learned that this phrase, used even by a well-meaning person, typically means that we are going to do nothing to improve the individual or collective well-being. Often it is served up with a side dish of judgement, while having an excuse for not leaving one’s comfort zone.

Kentucky Blugegraa

By accounts, yesterday’s tragic school shooting in Kentucky was the 11th school shooting in the United States for 2018. Let that sink in for a moment. We’ve had eleven school shootings in the first 23 days of the calendar year.

The governor of Kentucky released a statement encouraging folks to “love on each other” during this time.” He might as well just have said “we are going to do nothing while I continue to accept large donations from the NRA.” I will give him credit for adding to the standard thoughts and prayers line by calling upon folks “to love on each other” during this time. He sounds like the misguided youth pastor at the local fundamentalist church.

Let me be clear- love is the focus of my ministry- God’s inclusive love for all people. I believe love is at the center of the lives of all who seek to follow Jesus. In no way do I want to diminish the important role love and the sharing of love plays in our lives and in the lives of the church.

My experience is that when someone uses the phrase, “we just need to love on each other” it rarely has much to do with God’s love. It’s a phrase we use to absolve ourselves from acting. It produces the kind of love that is a poor substitute for real love. You can’t claim that Jesus is your source and example of love and then do nothing about the gun violence in our communities.

Real love will create a deep sense of mourning for the loss of life due to senseless gun violence.

Real love asks us to examine what influences us to have such a fear-based world view in which our youth feel they need to bring a gun to school.

Real love calls us to acknowledge the sinful epidemic of gun violence in our land

Real love asks us to examine our own lives and habits.

Real love calls us to do something because one precious life lost to gun violence is one too many.

Real love is more powerful than the NRA and its influence.

Real love moves us to enforce and enact sensible gun laws because life is more important than our right to bear arms at any cost.

The President Who Would Not Welcome Jesus

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

liberty3.jpg-550x0

These words have stood through time on the to remind us that all are welcome in the United States. We are, for the most part, people from somewhere else who’ve made this our home. We are a nation of immigrants, a melting pot of culture. These truths make us who we are when we are at our best.

The current President does not embody us at our best, he embodies us at our worst. He intentionally seeks dark places where fear takes over. The President deals in fear, fear rooted in racism and classism.

As a citizen, his words trouble me on many levels. As a Christian, I find them to be in direct conflict with any teaching or ethic of Jesus. That this President continues to be lifted as a “Christian” example by several Christian leaders is incomprehensible and disgusting to me. It’s proof that a few will go to great lengths to use religion to curry favor and gain power (Yes, I am talking about you Franklin Graham).

If the President’s racism and classism had its way, he would not welcome Jesus into this nation. Jesus was a poor, dark-skinned person from the Middle East. Sounds to me like the kind of person the President loathes. The truth of the Gospel that all are created by God and all are loved by God is a great threat to the President’s worldview. It’s past time for those who believe in the power of God’s inclusive love to speak up. I know I have too often been silent. No more.

This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats, it’s about human decency. It’s about speaking for the dignity of God’s beloved. It’s about creating a nation that embodies the very words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. We are better than this.

2017 Reading List

I doubt that its best practice to start off 2018 with a 2017 list, but time ran out on me in 2017 (and I honestly didn’t think about it until a couple of days ago) My reading choices this year were not as robust due to a ministry transition and a move. I’ve included everything that I read for the first time or for the first time in a while and all of these books have been read all the way through. There is no particular order to this list, other than a general descending order from December to January. One of my goals for 2018 is to read more fiction, including some classics. Let me know what you think, I’m always up for coffee and conversation. Happy Reading in 2018.

End Game by David Baldicci

The Art of Loading Brush by Wendell Berry 

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal 

Origins by Dan Brown

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek 

Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferris

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kendo

Beartown by Fredrick Backman

The Call by Adam Hamilton

Questions Preachers Ask: Essays in Honor of Thomas G. Long

Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates 

Pre-Post- Racial America by Sandhya Jha 

More Than Words by Erin Wathen

Night School by Lee Child

42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story by Ed Henry

The Myth of Persecution by Candida Moss

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

What is the Bible? by Rob Bell

How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin

The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear by William Barber

Ally by Michael D. Oren 

The Road to Character by David Brooks 

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle

The One Thing by Gary Keller

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

The Whistler by John Grisham

Option B: Sheryl Sandberg

The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the New Companies of Silicon Valley are Changing the World by Brad Stone

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Love Lives Here by Maria Goff

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious by David Dark

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee