Archived: Weekly Message from T. J.

I Am Angry

I am angry. The scenes of chaos, terror, and dread on the streets of yet another city made me sad for a time, but now, mostly, I’m angry.

Violence in Our Lives

The New York Times Editorial Board ran an article on Monday about mass shootings. In the 477 days since June 12, 2016, the night of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, there have been 521 mass shootings in this nation. And in that time congress has done nothing to curb or slow access to deadly firearms. In fact, restrictions have been loosened. But honestly, my anger isn’t really toward congress. They’re only doing what politicians in this nation have done for generations.

Margaret Atwood is credited with saying something to the effect of this: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at him. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” Whether Atwood said this is less important than the deadly truth it holds. Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of mass shooting crimes. But sincerely, my anger is not toward men either.

Questions in Our Hearts

My anger comes from somewhere else. Beginning this Saturday and throughout next week, a group of leaders from local Christian churches will hold a set of discussions about “welcoming members of the LGBTQ community.” This is a program with good intentions, I know. The people participating in the program are loving, generous, hopeful religious leaders. But it makes me angry that these discussions are needed at all. It makes me angry that even one more child in our human family, in one more pew, might hear that they are not welcome, not wanted, not acceptable in the sight of their creator, or worse, their family, because they do not love others in the way that a few verses of text (arguably) say that they should. That is what makes me angry.

Answers in Our Hands

For me, in my anger, I struggle at times to separate systems of commerce and governance that worship a perceived right to place high powered deadly weapons into the hands of men from systems of belief whose history and foundational documents place every tool, every privilege, and every ounce of power into the hands of men. Of course, the rebel of first century Palestine, the child of a laborer, who never spoke a word about who gets the privilege to love one’s neighbor or one’s enemy in the transformative ways he preached, who toppled tables in the temple, and spoke the only truth he knew to the greatest power on earth–Jesus had some opinions about these systems, too. And I solemnly pray that those members of our human family looking for answers in these times will find them, as we each always should, in the invitation to love each other so powerfully and so fully that not a soul wandering this earth ever has to wonder whether they are loved, whether they are enough, or whether they are welcome.

Yours in Faith and in Love,

T. J.