21 July 2016

Trail shorts

Columbia Gorge trail
Spokane River Centennial Trail
Overlooking Dufur, Oregon
Cape Lookout main trail
Short Beach (Oregon Islands nature preserve)
As an earnest, idealistic disciple and veteran Quaker operative, I probably should be spending these days in constant prayerful attention to political events and the worldwide cycles of violence, and even trying to squeeze out a few words of wisdom for this blog. Yearly Meeting sessions are just a few days away, and I have responsibilities!

Instead, I have been enjoying amazing hours on various trails in Oregon and Washington, as Judy and I (and, more recently, our friends Natasha and Elizabeth as well) have come across one spectacular vista after another. Layered bluffs and scarred cliffs reveal the geological processes that built these beautiful landscapes. Snakes and anemones animate the trailsides and tidal pools. Rightly or wrongly, mayhem in city streets and convention halls seems far away and incredibly ephemeral compared with the beauty we saw today just a few miles away from Netarts, Oregon, our last stop before heading for the Northwest Yearly Meeting sessions in Newberg.

Thanks to the all-present Internet, we're not totally shielded from the world's open wounds, of course. In all the controversy around the shootings of armed motorists by police, I had a vision of a terrifying future: the more we citizens claim the right to "open carry" and "concealed carry" their guns, the more we put police officers in impossible situations. Without blaming victims in any tragic episode of police overreaction, isn't it inevitable that police encounters with more and more armed citizens will more frequently result in innocent lives lost?

It's completely correct to point out racial disparities in these awful outcomes. Black citizens who are lawfully carrying guns should not be in any more danger from police than white citizens lawfully carrying guns. The more general point is this: the national romance with guns cannot help making police work even more dangerous, for the police themselves and for everyone else. How is this danger factored into our gun control discussions?

By the way, "More children are victims of Chicago's gunfire..." (a painful reminder to me: my fourteen-year-old sister Ellen was shot to death in Chicago back in 1970).

Nearly a year ago I registered my surprise at the negative reactions to the "Black Lives Matter" movement. Thanks to a recent Trumpcast interview with Nick Confessore on white nationalists' affinities with the Donald Trump presidential campaign, I may have gained a few additional insights into these negative reactions.

One thing that came out in the Trumpcast conversation was the popularity of the "reverse racism" charge. Confessore: "It is now a truism on Fox News that when somebody makes a charge of racism, that charge is itself racist. It's 'playing the race card'." Black people, by this logic, must never make claims of being victimized by racism, and must be perfectly color-blind, long before our society as a whole has shown itself capable of ensuring safety for such behavior.

I think to myself: at this very time, after the nation has been repeatedly shocked by a long series of racially suspicious shootings by mostly white police officers, why in God's name should any nonwhite person give up the healthy habit of being cautious around white people?! As a white person, I feel terrible about this, but until Black Lives Matter just as much as my own, my tender white feelings are entirely irrelevant.

Elaine A. Heath asks the church, "Can we get over ourselves?" Her question is a very good one, but I have a slightly different context for posing the same question. Some of my friends believe that religious freedom is diminished when Christians are not permitted to discriminate in business on the basis of faith. (A famous example is being asked to provide a cake for a lesbian wedding.) I have mixed feelings about the legal trade-offs involved, just as I do about not paying war taxes. However, I want to say to that aggrieved baker, "What relationship does not providing a cake have to any sort of winsome proclamation of the Gospel?" Are Christians to be known for whom we won't sell to, and what holiday cliches we insist on, rather than for the good news we claim to represent?

"The worst prayer I have ever heard." (Caution: political content!) And while we're at it, "Carson, Clinton, Colbert, and ... Lucifer?"

Rethinking apostolicity: Myles Werntz reviews a new book by John G. Flett.
By allowing apostolicity to be reconceived as a process to be undergone rather than a historical-cultural substance to be replicated, Flett convincingly argues for a postcolonial way forward for ecclesiology. The lingering question of ecumenicity remains, however: if the relationship between old and new church is no longer that of host and colony, what is that relationship?
The question on God's lips.

Blues dessert from the late Lynwood Slim:

1 comment:

Daniel Wilcox said...

On its website, BlackLivesMatter‬ claims it "is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise."

This is specious propaganda and untrue. Most police at present in the U.S. aren't against Blacks. They definitely haven't "systematically and intentionally targeted [Blacks] for demise."

In this time of constant distortion, of political and religious warping, all of us need to remember to speak the "truth in love."