A statement from this morning’s service at CrossWay Community Church regarding the recent tragic events concerning Goerge Floyd as well as many others.
OUR MISSION (MISSIOLOGY) – “to make maturing followers of Jesus by the power of the gospel…” (CrossWay MKE). We are called therefore to…
- Embody the transforming effects of the gospel.
- To uniquely demonstrate these things to our surrounding society in the precise moments they long and grasp for these things themselves (=witness).
- Also, inasmuch as we are able, to see the transforming effects of the gospel to pervade and impact our surrounding society.
- to obey all that Christ commanded (Mt 28), carrying these things even into the realms of our society.
- to seek the good of our city in which we are exiles, inasmuch as we have opportunity (Jer 29:7).
DOCTRINE OF HUMANITY (ANTHROPOLOGY) – Every person is made in the image of God; every life is valuable; every person and every people is worthy of dignity and just treatment (there are no “lesser” people).
DOCTRINE OF GOD’S LAW – God commands us to love him with all our heart, mind, and strength (=the greatest commandment); and the second is a necessary corollary of the first–that we love our fellow neighbors who bear his image.
DOCTRINE OF GOD (THEOLOGY) – A God of justice, who is righteously furious and wrathful with injustice; who puts himself on the side of those subjected to mistreatment and oppression. And as those who are his, we are called to reflect his character (“to be holy as he is holy”), to care about what he cares about.
The word that best describes how I feel after watching the video of #GeorgeFloyd is “exasperated.” It angers me. I’m sad that this is people’s experience. I feel exhausted by the seemingly unbreaking repetition and continual occurrence of these types of events. I’m disturbed by our societal callousness and at times dismissive or deflective reflexes. And I’m frustrated that justice so often times feels like an uphill battle rather than the grooves of our humanity. I’m grieved that this is the world we live in.
Of course, as I feel this way, I’m also confronted with the reality that my sense of feeling exasperated — as if this is all just some annoyance I might otherwise choose to ignore if I wanted — is contrasted with the experience of many others for whom this is not something they can avoid even if they desire. In other words, I possess the choice to look at this reality square in the eyes and face the discomfort, if I want to. It pains me to do so. And I feel exhausted by it. But it’s a choice I make. Likewise, I possess a certain position that would equally allow me to look away, ignore it, “escape” it, if I so wanted, because it does not directly affect me. For others, this “discussion,” however, isn’t a choice. The issue is thrust upon them whether they like it or not. They can’t just look away and ignore it; they can’t just choose to walk away. It’s their lived-reality.
I don’t know what it’s like to live black in America. And so as I think about this/these events, even as I’m self-aware of my own sense of exasperation, it causes me to think of my black and brown friends and the POC I know, and how their experience is different than mine in these moments–what I can only imagine is the unsettling feeling that they can’t just choose to walk away from this reality like I could if I wanted. This isn’t just the occasional occurrence in our news cycle, here today and gone tomorrow, “on pause” — out of sight and out of mind — until the “next one” pops up.
The following is a list of discussion questions composed for a CrossWay Community Church small group, Christ & Culture, for use throughout February 2019.
Defining terms (my best attempt):
- Race– A grouping of persons which is (1) socially classified and perceived by certain select physical characteristics, (2) conceived of as an entity distinct from other groups of the same sort, and (3) viewed as an identity which is inherited and passed down generationally (note: a uniquely U.S. conception of race).
- Racism– Prejudice, partiality, or mistreatment of another individual or group of people based on their race.
- Racialization– The condition of a society in which significant disparities exist along racial lines wherein race matters profoundly with respect to life experiences such as relationships, opportunities, advantages/disadvantages, and outcomes.
Resource: “Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement?” by Mika Edmondson
- Bible & theology:
- What does the Bible have to say about race? Does it? Racism? How does it apply to racism?
- What might the Bible have to say about how we evaluate the concept and proposal of the existence of systemic racism (raised below)?
- How does Christ and the gospel in particular provide a solution to racism and racialization?
- Ideological & social-cultural analysis:
- What is racism? Racialization? What’s the difference?
- Does racism exist today?
- Is our society racialized?
- Does systemic (or structural) racism exist? What is it?
- Is “white privilege” real? If so, what does it mean?
- What is “reverse racism”? Is it a reality?
- Is there a danger of emphasizing race or racism too little or too much?
- What’s wrong with racial segregation? Is there a problem with it?
- Intersections: How does race relate to the following subjects in our current dialogue, and how do we evaluate these connections / intersections?
- Criminal justice?
- Police brutality?
- Political representation?
- Evaluating expressions of activism:
- How do we evaluate current movements attempting to curtail or shed light on what they perceive to be racial injustice?
- What do we make of contemporary activist movements such as #BlackLivesMatter? What’s good in them? What’s less than desirable, or faulty? (Or, likewise, seeming counter-movements such as #BlueLivesMatter?)
- Ecclesiology & missiology:
- What is the church’s role in fighting racialized- (or race-related) injustice?
- What is the church’s role, or what should the church be doing, to help address racialization or race-related disparities and/or injustice?
- Is there something wrong, or unhealthy, with an ethnically homogeneous church? If so, what can / should we do about it?
- What does it look like to model racial unity in the church?
- How does the church’s response to race and racial tensions relate to its witness?
- Contextualization & application:
- What issues does our particular setting/context (i.e., Milwaukee) pose with regards to issues related to race and racialization?
- What can we do to be agents of change / difference-makers / “Christian neighbor-lovers” with respect to race-related issues — in our immediate context, or more broadly?
- How can I resist and/or help change systems or realities that privilege me and disadvantage or discriminate against others?
- How can I better listen to and understand those with different experiences than me on account of race?
- Do I harbor any known or unknown racial prejudice or bias?
Police shoot unarmed black man.
You: It’s not about race.
You: We don’t have a race issue. This is an isolated incident.
You: We don’t have all/enough evidence (as a video, probably the most significant piece of evidence–mind you, sits online for your viewing).
You: The guy was a thug ( =red herring).
You: This is all rhetoric, a fabricated, anti-fact narrative pushed by the liberal media.
You: Black people are playing the victim and taking advantage of any situation they can to riot and loot.
You: Cops are good people who protect us. I’ve (a white person) never had a problem with cops. As long as you don’t _______, you won’t have an issue with them (because my experience is, of course, everyone else’s).
You: What about black-on-black crime? ( =red herring that demonstrates complete ignorance of the segregation of our cities where crimes will most likely be committed by those nearest each other, e.g., other black people).
You: It’s a sin issue, not a skin issue (as if sin can’t take on racialized, societal form).