Confession

** In the wake of the marches on Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11th and 12th I have decided to write about my journey (still in progress) of divesting myself of whiteness, and some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Before getting in to discussions explicitly pertaining to race, I believe it will be helpful to begin here – with a conversation on confession. 

I am a child of the American church. I was born into a United Methodist Church. I spent midweek mornings as a young child in an Evangelical Presbyterian Church while my Mom attended Bible Study. I spent evenings during elementary and middle school attending AWANA clubs at a Southern Baptist Church. The karate class I took was housed in a Pentecostal Holiness Church. My youth group years were smattered across time in Evangelical Presbyterian, Southern Baptist and Willow Creek-inspired churches. During college I was involved in Baptist Student Union, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Campus Crusade for Christ. I have history in U.S. evangelical Christianity. It birthed me, it raised me and it gave me many gifts.

One such gift, is understanding the place for confessing sin. I heard about it every Wednesday night without fail during the Bible study portion of AWANA. Whomever was speaking would end their lesson with an “invitation” – as any good Southern Baptist would – some more jarring than others. The consistent theme in all of the invitations was the opportunity to confess ones sins to God and receive forgiveness. I did this when I was twelve. I was too embarrassed to even raise my hand, as the speaker had requested. Having established quite an excellent reputation at church throughout my elementary school years, I felt like I would be letting everyone down if they knew I had been doing this from a place of self-service rather than obedience to God. So I confessed quietly, in my heart, in my own chair and never said anything to anyone.

I shared a similar practice of confession with people on the beach in Panama City, Florida during spring break in college. Armed with a colorful packet of artistically shot photographs, I marched out on to a beach full of college students to invite them in to conversations about spiritual things over a beer. Except, they were the only ones drinking. I remember sitting cross-legged on a beach towel while debating the existence of God with a guy a few years older than me. His face pink and warm from the sunshine and alcohol. In my head, I silently judged him for his drunkenness and the profanities he wove into our conversation, and I prayed in my head he would confess his sins. He didn’t. And neither did I.

I had forgotten that sitting in a place of self-elevation and judgement of another isn’t the Way Jesus showed us to live either.

My experience of church has always been one where confession was something we talked about a lot, but practiced very little. The unspoken message beneath the weekly invitation was that if you had prayed the words of confession printed on the back of the bulletin once, then you were set for all of eternity. There was also little need for being specific about what we were confessing either. I learned to view humanity through a lens of “total depravity” which, at that point, I understood to mean that I and everyone else was completely sinful and broken and needed total forgiveness. When you believe everything about yourself is wrong and sinful and ugly, you don’t have to practice discernment or be specific when you confess. I had prayed and confessed that I was terrible and wretched without specification silently when I was twelve, so there was no need for further practice of confession as far as I knew.

Five years ago I stumbled upon the Book of Common Prayer, which records prayers and liturgies Christians have prayed and followed for hundreds of years. It gives a structure to a persons’ prayer life and guides a persons reading of Scripture. One of the prayers I discovered in the book was the prayer of confession, to be prayed – according to some – daily:

“Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name.”

Confession for things I have left undone? Confession as part of my daily rhythm of prayer? This was new to me.

Slowly though, I began to develop a sensitivity to the things this prayer spoke to, the ways in which my life does not line up with the example of Christ in the things I think, the words I say, the things I do and the things I fail to do. As I began to come to an awareness in myself of those things, I also began to be able to articulate them to others.

As I begin to look at the ways in which white supremacy is interwoven in to different aspects of our culture and worship in the U.S. I want us to begin here, with confession. Discussions around race and justice are challenging, and can often leave us feeling paralyzed. Confession is one of the paths out of paralysis. In Twelve Step programs, the first steps are to admit powerlessness, seek a Higher Power, turn ourselves over to God for God’s care and then to take a “searching and fearless” inventory of ourselves.

For many who, like me, grew up in evangelical Christian traditions, our faith called us to the first three steps. We realized we were powerless to sin – in such ambiguous terms – and called upon God to save us. Many of us stopped there though, because our sin often tore apart our lives in subtleties and we believed ourselves recovered because our brokenness was not as visible as some. In these tense times though, we are invited to continue working the process. To take a searching and fearless inventory, in this case of the ways in which we are complicit in the system and practice of white supremacy.

May we continue to show up fearlessly to face injustice and evil wherever it lies in wait whether in our country, our cities, or in our own hearts.

 

Photo credit: Bored_Grrl.

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That We Might Listen to the Story Behind the Cry

Image Credit: Trevor Lowe

Image Credit: Trevor Lowe

It’s becoming something of a broken record.

A needle stuck, dragging through the same depression on nicked vinyl over and over, blurring notes and tones into an unidentifiable blur before yanking free and returning to beautiful music already in progress, only to come around on the next rotation.

Michael Brown.
Tamir Rice.
Eric Garner.
Tony Robinson.
Dontre Hamilton.
Walter Scott.
Freddie Gray.

The record plays on. Same song, second verse, then third and so it goes.

There will be hashtags made, twitter buzz, demonstrations, protests, outrage, riots.
There will be people who thieve by breaking into stores and there will be people who thieve by denying any story but the one they believe to be true.

“Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.” Says Nigerian novelist Chimamaanda Ngozi Adichie.

Power is the ability to look at the past year of uprisings in the U.S. and call protesters “street thugs” who need to “go to work” and “get over it.”

Power is the ability to forget and move on when #BlackLivesMatter stops trending.

Power is having the option of living a story in which you live unchallenged. You read the things you like, you watch news which you agree with, you live with people who value the same things as you and perhaps your greatest grievance is that one neighbor across the street who refuses to take care of their dandelion infestation or their yippy dog.

Power is the position you sit in when you look at Ferguson or Baltimore and all you see are riots, when all you hear is breaking glass and fires raging, when you cannot hear the cry that is welling up and spilling over in the acts you’re too busy condemning.

“Freddie Gray is a culmination of systemic issues that have plagued communities like this all across this country.  I think the children, you know, we raise our children and we say you can be whatever you want, but unfortunately children in urban America at some point feel hopeless. And when you don’t provide them with the right educational structure and they can’t intellectually cry out and beg out their frustration and their anger unfortunately you see them turn to violence.” Notes Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby.

What if the hashtags, the marches, yes, even the riots, what if they are an attempt to tell a story that those in power simply refuse hear?

What if they are the stories of frustration, buried deep inside a young man who is innovative and passionate and hardworking, but who will fight the label of “thug” his whole life because of his skin color and zip code.

I started to listen to the other stories around me five years ago when I moved into a neighborhood where most of my neighbors are of a different culture, race and socioeconomic status than I am.  When my story became the minority story. When I made the choice to be quiet enough to hear something besides myself.

I started to learn the story of valuing the moment you’re in and the people you’re with when I became friends with those who had different rhythms of life than I.  People who would show up 20 minutes late to an appointment, but it was because they were in good conversation with a friend or neighbor, and that person is more important than a clock.

I started to learn the story of vibrant celebration, for birthdays and for graduations because every moment is a gift, and we’re blessed by God to have those moments and so we will celebrate as people who have been blessed.

I learned to laugh when I am happy, to wail when I am sad, to shout when I am angry and to experience the full range of emotions.  That sometimes skeletons need to get out of the closet and dance.

I learned about the strength of African American leaders, beyond just Martin and Malcolm.  I learned that sometimes the strongest community leader is the Grandma down the block who has stayed in that neighborhood through thick and thin, whose knees are worn, whose door is open and whom you best know not to play with.

I learned that I know nothing about what it is like to be black in America.

Or what it’s like to be poor in America.

Or what it’s like to have experienced educational injustice.

And In learning that, I pressed my ear all that much fuller to the ground. Desperate to hear, to try to catch a whisper of the story beneath the cry.

I think there is a story trying to break out. A narrative desperate to be heard.
It’s in the hashtags and Twitter feeds.  It’s marching in the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore.

It’s not the story of poor black babies we need to go rescue.
Nor is it the story of  lazy “street thugs” who would rather pillage than get a job.

It’s the story of a beautiful, vibrant, strong people repeatedly stomped on, immeasurably resilient but also tired so tired of winding their story with no one to hear.  Tired of being told their story is invalid at best or, worse, that it doesn’t exist at all.

The consequence of the single story is this:” continues Adichie, “It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

So as the broken record winds it’s way around the track once more, the gauge in the wax inevitably going to catch again, perhaps we should listen more closely.

Listen to the stories of those around you, really listen.

Make friends with someone different than you are. Share your stories. Find ways in which you are surprisingly the same. 

Stop.

Breathe.

Listen again.

Get offended, and then ask yourself why.

Find space that is comfortable, ask yourself why again.

Learn to see everyone around you as a collection of tales, wound throughout their lives instead of a statistic or a stereotype.

Listen for the story behind the cry.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes all taken from her brilliant TED talk “The Danger of a Single Story.

Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby quote taken from his interview with Jose Diaz-Balart on MSNBC’s The Rundown on April 28th, 2015. 

#Justice: A Peek into Urban Violence w/ Megan Westra

“Do you feel safe?”

Well, not always.
I’m getting used to it now. The wide eyes and once-in-awhile gaping mouth. “Where do you live?”
I live in the inner city. On purpose. And I have no plans of leaving.

I have been robbed five times. I have witnessed a drug deal while sitting on my front porch. My block has been taped off with police line while the cops hunted down an armed assailant.

This is the inner city people think of when I talk about where I live, and they’re right. That is part of it.

There is violence and corruption in the inner city, but that’s not all there is…

Read the rest at A Sista’s Journey. 

Thanksgiving Reading (for when you’ve had too much turkey and football for one day)

Best reminder:
Kid President’s 20 Things We Should Say More Often
“I disagree with you, but I still like you as a person who is a human being and I will treat you like that because if I didn’t I would make everything bad.  And that’s what lots of people do and it is lame.”

For as we enter the season of consuming to celebrate Christ:
A Boundary is the Best Present You Can Give Yourself This Year
“Consumerism and indulgence have a cost. We need to stop looking at buying gifts as right or wrong. We need to add up the costs of our lifestyles and how our lifestyles impact our time with God and with one another.”

Don’t read if you’re too full to laugh:
It’s Thanksgiving So We Asked Brits to Label the United States – We’re So Sorry, America

Americans Try to Place European Countries on a Map

Worth It!

This is my brain on hugs

Thought provoking:
Kids don’t play any more
“‘In play, children make their own decisions and solve their own problems,’ Prof. Gray writes. ‘In adult-directed settings, children are weak and vulnerable. In play, they are strong and powerful. The play world is the child’s practice world for being an adult.'”

The world if there were only 100 People (Infographic)

How To Build Something Out of Nothing
“They asked how much money they had to spend and I told them – ‘not much’. They asked how many trained construction people they would have to help them out and I told them – ‘none’. Then they asked who would train the workers if they could find some and I said – ‘you’. So they asked when they had to finish the school construction by and I told them – ‘Next February’.

THEY LOOKED AT EACH OTHER, LOOKED BACK AT ME, CROSSED THEIR ARMS AT THE SAME TIME AND SAID WITH ONE VOICE: ‘WE’RE IN.'”

Too Much Love
“We act shocked when teenage rape/sexting cases hit the news, or when a forced prostitution ring is uncovered. What blissful and damnable ignorance…Why should we be surprised, when the hymns are of rape, and the liturgy on stage is one of assault?”

Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense
“I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It’s not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn’t that I blow five bucks at Wendy’s.”

What We Get Wrong About Submission
“A woman’s worth is not built around the kind of man she marries, but on who she is as an individual person and female entity. And when a woman has an equal say in a relationship, that coming together of bodies and souls is strengthened in ways that far exceed that of a man doing his best to lead alone.”

What Does it Mean that Most Children’s Books Are Still About White Boys?
“How many people would never consider buying Anne of Green Gables or Island of the Blue Dolphins for their 10-year old boy, but don’t pause before giving a daughter Treasure Island or Enders Game? Books featuring girls are, for the most part, understood to be books for girls. Which is interesting as well because, in addition to there not being enough, books featuring girls as protagonists are disproportionately among the most frequently banned children’s books. In a recent Buzzfeed list of 15 commonly banned books for kids, almost half were about girls. Girls who do things apparently scare a lot of people.”

In which this is also about the men
“Women cannot be the ally our men deserve in the Kingdom of God when we are bowing down in a misguided attempt to lift them up.”

A Spiritual Survival Guide for the Suburbs
“They don’t need me, but I need them. I need a life that is free from the facade of lukewarm vanilla living. I need to measure something other than the length of the grass on my lawn and the shade of paint on the walls of my suburban home. I need to measure my life in things that actually matter. I need to un-Martha Stewart myself until I can actually feel again. Until I can admit my own weakness and laugh at my need for control. Until I can see others for who they really are and stop judging them on what they are wearing or their latest highlights.”

Weekend Reading

Rape Culture in the Church
We Christians care a great deal about modesty, but we teach it in a way that is completely backwards.
I want to tell you that it is not a woman’s responsibility to prevent men from lusting. Not to mention, telling women to “cover up” for the sake of helping out their brothers in Christ is demeaning to both sexes…
Men, I don’t know about you, but I’m highly offended by the implication that your brain is next to your balls. If men become animals and lose all self-control at the sight of a suggestively-dressed woman, and seemingly have no ‘choice’ but to either lust after her, or assault her, then what we’re saying is that the default status of all men is ‘rapist.'”

Teaching Kids Consent, Ages 1-21
“teach your child that his or her ‘no’s’ are to be honored. Explain that just like we always stop doing something when someone says ‘no’, that our friends need to always stop when we say ‘no’, too.  If a friend doesn’t stop when we say ‘no,’ then we need to think about whether or not we feel good, and safe, playing with them. If not, it’s okay to choose other friends.”

Friendly Fire
“So, angry, debating ladies… here’s the thing. My daughter is watching me AND you to learn what it means to be a woman. And I’d like her to learn that a woman’s value is determined less by her career choices and more by how she treats other women, in particular, women who are different than she is. I’d like her to learn that her strength is defined by her honesty and her ability to exist in grey areas without succumbing to masking her insecurities with generalizations or accusations. And I’d like her to learn that the only way to be both graceful and powerful is to dance among the endless definitions of the word woman… and to refuse to organize women into categories…”

Protecting Children from Toxic Stress
“Almost all of the parents that Child First works with (mostly single mothers, but sometimes fathers or grandparents) have experienced trauma themselves. They’ve grown up with limited models for understanding their children’s behavior. ‘What often gets missed,’ observes Judy Adel, one of Child First’s clinical directors, ‘is that every mother says, ‘I want something better for my children.’ They just don’t know what it looks like.'”

Milwaukee: A Hub for Child Sex Trafficking
“about 15 percent of men nationwide have purchased sex. He cites a study from the Shapiro Group in Atlanta in which about four percent of would-be johns asked for an adolescent prostitute – but about 42 percent accepted one when offered.”

Dear Patriarchy
I see girls running, free and loved.

I see women, their full size. Not shrinking, not over-compensating. Not hiding.
Not cowering. Not covering.
I see women taking our place where we belong. Owning our power.

Not power at the cost of another. Not your kind of power.
Not your kind that takes, starves, cuts, diminishes, demeans, hates, wars, orders, chokes, enslaves.

I see a power that brings, enlarges, serves, sees and loves.”

 

5 (Dead) Women Every Egalitarian Should Know
“‘Above all else, it places the current trends of the church in historical perspective…While the feminist movement has had a significant impact on the more liberal churches that have in recent decades granted full equality to women in ministry, it has not necessarily been the motivating force behind the Evangelical women who have sought ordination and leadership positions. Women in Evangelical churches have a long heritage of seeking (and sometimes obtaining) meaningful positions in the church for the purpose of serving God more effectively.'”

 

Dangerous Presence – What About Bob?

This post is the second in a series discussing the book Dangerous Presence: Following Jesus Into the City by Jason Butler.  You can read more about or purchase the book here

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What About Bob?

Butler begins his second chapter by introducing readers to his friend Bob.  “[Bob is] older than most of my friends.  At seventy-five, he has a passion for engaging in systematic issues of oppression in the city…Bob has made a lot of money in his life, working his way up to CEO for a retirement community.  He knows what success looks like in the business world.”

The insight Bob shares with Butler over breakfast one morning hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Bob told me, ‘I have spent my whole life doing what I wanted to do and asking God to bless it.  I’m tired of living that way.  I want to start doing what God wants me to do.'”

How often have I done this exact thing?

I go on a trip and I pray for God’s blessing and protection.

I plan an event and I ask for God to bring people to it.

I coordinate a program and ask God to bring the participants and the volunteers.

Bless me!  Bless me!  Bless me!

I think if we’re honest, many of us approach God in this way.  Attempting to serve and engage in what God is doing, but not within the context of God’s Lordship over our lives.  Rather than showing up as the beggars we are with open hands and hearts rendered, we show up with our list of strengths and talents, gifts and passions. Bullet pointed, spread sheeted, pie charted ideas on how we can best be utilized by our Creator and Sustainer

…or maybe that’s just me.

Butler writes about a similar experience of coming to God with all his plans and dreams, all his vision as he struggled to plant Transformation City Church in the inner city of Milwaukee.

“I remember the moment of epiphany for me.  I was driving.  I had been praying a mix of laments (‘Oh God, why is this happening to me? Where are you?’) and deal brokering (‘God, if you open up a door for another chance, I will serve you with all that I am.’)  Basically I was trying to make a deal with God to get me out of this terrible situation.”

We are often seduced by the lie of self-preservation, sometimes to the point of trying to wheel and deal with the One who knows our every thought before we dare to whisper it and our knows the root of our every need.  Yet it is only when we surrender ourselves, our wants, our dreams, our plans and our desires that we can truly identify the siren song of the Liar for what it is.

“God doesn’t really love you. God is withholding something from you. God doesn’t see or care. God doesn’t want you to be happy.”

This is the intoxicating, mind numbing, soul atrophying song of the Liar.  Listening to this song leads us to believe the most valuable thing we could do would be to protect, promote and make much of ourselves, because God certainly does not care nor is God at work.

But

When we identify the Liar’s song as what it is – a terrible lie from the pit of hell – we can begin to have our ears tuned to hear another voice.  The voice of God and the voices which God hears.

“In that moment, I started following Jesus.
For so many years, I had been listening to the voices promising personal success.  When those noises were finally silenced, things got very quiet.  I heard something new, something I had not heard before: the cry of my city, the cry of the oppressed, the marginalized, the enslaved.  And when I heard that cry, it overwhelmed me in such a way that I could not hear anything else.”

Scripture tells us over and over again that God hears the cry of the oppressed.  God sees the misery of people.

God hears. God sees. God responds.

And God uses us to do it.

For Butler, he heard the cry of the oppressed in Milwaukee.

According to the 2010 census, Milwaukee is the fourth poorest city in the U.S., it is the single most racially segregated, it has a 55% unemployment rate among African-American men, and the high school graduation rate is just scraping above 50%.

Stats like these are what brought me to Milwaukee.

Ben and I heard the cry clear in the mountains of West Virginia.

Since we moved here though, the cry has gotten closer.  It’s gotten personal.  It’s up in my business.  It sounds like my neighbors, my friends.

I’ve had single mom’s who work first and third shift and take classes in their “spare time” try to sell me food stamps so they could buy their child diapers.
…and I once would have called them “lazy.”

I’ve walked with fifth grade boys who are talented and passionate, but who cannot read.
…and I once would have written them off as “failures” and “drop outs.”

I’ve struggled with single mothers being evicted from their homes with three days notice, all because they refused to pay their rent until their landlord fixed the roof that was literally caving in on their infant child’s bedroom.
…and I would have once called her “irresponsible” and accused her of not caring for her children.

“Injustice begins to break down when someone chooses to move closer.”

But first it will break your heart, scare you half to death and make you angrier than a bull.

The write-offs become neighbors.  The drop-outs become friends.

The gang members tell their people to stay away from you, because in some weird way you’re their family too.

You get broken into, things get stolen, your space gets violated, but you realize it doesn’t matter.

Because you can’t preserve yourself, only God can do that.

You are called horrific names, the cops stop and frisk you on your morning walk for being a white person in a black neighborhood, men ask your husband if they can “borrow you.”

But you’re not scared.

You don’t stop.

Because you’ve stopped listening to the Liar.

And instead all you hear is the love song of Creator singing the high notes over you and the cry of the oppressed, a dissonant harmony that aches for resolution.

And that compels you.  That keeps you up at night.  That keeps you rooted when the world tells you to run away.  That “those people” aren’t even worth reaching.

“As everyone else flees from the pain in our cities we are being called into the city. We are saying softly, ‘God has heard your cry. Jesus is here. He’s been here all along. And because you are here and Jesus is here, we want to be here too.  We will not leave you. We will stand with you, no matter what. We don’t have all the answers, and we don’t know how this will turn out, but we stand with you against whatever oppressive force seeks to tear you down.’  We may lose something in this endeavor, but we may find something as well.”

Weekend Reading (best enjoyed with a pumpkin spice latte)

If you do nothing else, please watch this:

The reads:

Faith, Doubt and the Idol of Certainty
“An idol, I argue, is anything we use in place of God to meet this core need. While many people try to meet this need with the idols of wealth, power, success, sex and other such things, many Christians try to meet it with the idol of certainty-seeking faith. The quest to feel certain becomes an idol when a person’s sense of significance to God and security before God is anchored not in their simple trust of God’s character, as revealed on the cross, but in how certain they feel about the rightness of their beliefs.”

Come Hither Men, For I Have Sex Demons
(Thanks for sharing this one, Beth!)
“In my Church youth group, one the youth leaders lamented what I was doing wrong.  He too, wanted to know why young men were always coming on to me.  He was ‘ashamed of me,’ he said.  The words cut in, drug down slowly, twisted and lacerated my back deep enough to puncture my soul.  Because, again.  There it was.  It was my shame.  It was my fault.  Perhaps, he pontificated, you have ‘hyper sexualized demons’ communicating with other men with the same set of demons.”

A Little Bit of Judgement can Kill a Lot of Gospel
“To me, the Gospel begins with a God who is walking the garden in the cool of the evening calling out to us. And though we hide ourselves in shame, that call to COME remains. It’s woven throughout the Old Testament as the prophets told the Israelites that God felt like a jilted lover. It’s there in the tears of Jesus as he mourned over Jerusalem before his death. It’s in the final words of the Bible as the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!'”

Red Lines: Rape is a Prohibited Weapon of War
“In whose world is the rape of millions and millions and millions of women an unimportant side-effect? Only someone whose worldview intrinsically strips women of their full humanity and equal right to justice. These rapes failed to be considered significant enough, ‘unjust’ enough, to change the moral equation of war. This is so patently absurd that it’s difficult not to respond by just laughing at how pervasively misogynistic our international standards for behavior, and justice, are.”

100% Natural Products Can Be Chock Full of GMOs
“The customer service representative confirmed that there is a 70-80% likelihood that any and all Lean Cuisine products (including this Honestly Good line) contain GMOs and could not guarantee their product labeled 100% natural is free of GMOs.”

From the Mouths of Rapists: The Lyrics of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines
“Ultimately, Robin Thicke’s rape anthem is about male desire and male dominance over a woman’s personal sexual agency. The rigid definition of masculinity makes the man unable to accept the idea that sometimes his advances are not welcome. Thus, instead of treating a woman like a human being and respecting her subjectivity, she’s relegated to the role of living sex doll whose existence is naught but for the pleasure of a man.”

God so ‘dvu’-d the World
“There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men. Finally they responded. ‘Do you know what this would mean?  This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.'”

Dear parents, you need to control your kids. Sincerely, non-parents
(Thanks for sharing, Emili!)
“I’m no math major, but that calculus makes no sense. A kid going berserk at a grocery store doesn’t indicate the quality of his parents, anymore than a guy getting pneumonia after he spends six hours naked in the snow indicates the quality of his doctor. Grocery stores are designed to send children into crying fits. All of the sugary food, the bright packaging, the toys, the candy — it’s a minefield. The occasional meltdown is unavoidable, the real test is how you deal with it.”

Why does Wisconsin send so many black people to jail?
“The state that locks up the highest percentage of black men is Wisconsin. The national average is 6.7%, but in Wisconsin it’s 12.8% – more than three percentage points higher than the second-placed state, Oklahoma.”