- A breakup?
- A family trauma?
- That time they were mistreated/betrayed/abused?
We human beings grieve our losses at different paces and a truly good friend keeps listening until the story no longer needs to be told. Also, talented therapists are among God’s greatest gifts.
I was talking with a clergy colleague the other day about systemic racism – as you do – and he said something brilliant:
We need to talk this to death because resurrection only comes after death.
I find myself talking about systemic racism and white privilege quite often these days and some people are tired of hearing about it. But there’s so much we need to address as People of Faith: police shooting unarmed black people, the high incidence of incarceration among black men, the condition of schools in poor (often black or brown) neighborhoods, Confederate monuments, our nation’s history of lynching people of color.
As Debby Irving notes in Waking Up White, most brown and black families regularly talk about race around the dinner table, in the car, shopping, playing, sitting in waiting rooms. In other words: everywhere. Most white people do not talk about race because we don’t have to. We assume we belong wherever we go. We assume that “white” is the default skin color, at least in the United States, Canada, and western Europe.
Many people – including myself – don’t like to talk about unpleasant things. But following Jesus means engaging in the world’s injustices. I’ve even had Christians weaponize Philippians 4:8 – accusing me of not being faithful when I bring up certain realities of life that are in no way honorable, just or pure. Dirty water in Flint, people without electricity in Puerto Rico, and DACA kids come to mind. Human trafficking. Opioid addiction. For-profit prisons. People with no health insurance.
When we read our Bibles, notice how many times Jesus participated in conversations or activities that some might call “unpleasant.” Here are a few. Remember that he wasn’t crucified for making everybody happy.
Until the world becomes as God created it to be, we need to talk about dishonorable, unjust, and impure topics to death. Sometimes when we talk and talk and talk about life’s difficult realities, somebody decides to step up and take action.
Don’t we want resurrection for everyone?
Image is from the cover of Roz Chast’s memoir, drawn by the author. (2014)