Sunday, November 09, 2008

THOUGHTS ON THE MORNING AFTER – PART III

Animated discussions are flying around the Christian community about what the election of Barack Obama really means, and there is no shortage of opinions. I have read (although I can’t confirm where) that thirty-two percent of evangelicals voted for Barack Obama. Clearly, they see his election as the dawn of a new day for America. Many others see it as the last nail in the coffin for millions more unborn babies and perhaps for our free nation itself. Some see blessing, others judgment. There are other questions. Was it God’s will, or not? Does God still judge nations today, or did Jesus bear all judgment in this life for us? How much responsibility for what happened rests with an apostate church? What do we, as the church, need to learn from this? Is God done with America, or are our best days still ahead?

All this will be discussed for a long time to come, and I don’t pretend to know the answers. I simply want to look further at the good that could result from the election of America’s first African-American president. While it is surely possible to overstate the potential in this historic event, it’s not possible to overstate its effect on the African-American spirit. It’s worth looking at the possibilities of that boon.

Obama’s election has African-Americans from coast to coast feeling like full citizens of the United States at last, with an unprecedented sense of hope and opportunity. Some will argue that their hope is misplaced in a false messiah. While that is no doubt true for many, my prayer is that their newfound hope will breed a sense of the possible that will cause them to dig deep within the untapped wealth of their own souls for the stuff to participate and succeed in the American Dream. As Don Imus said, now little black children as well as little white children can puff out their chests and say, and believe, “I could be president of the United States someday.” While legal barriers to black advancement have long been removed, now psychological barriers have been removed, as have all excuses. It is time for African-Americans to dream and move forward toward those dreams in the land of opportunity.

Most important, the remaining barriers to full healing of centuries-old wounds and reconciliation between black and white in this country have been torn down. It won’t happen overnight, but we can make great strides toward that end. This should be a high-priority goal for all of us.

Now imagine what strength and power would come into the American economy and the American soul if these things came to pass. Picture an America where citizens of all races believed in, and actively took part in, the goodness and opportunity of this nation. See a country where soul-rending mistrust and hatred between races gave way to trust and a sense of shared destiny. Savor the vision of a nation where old stereotypes melted away and each of us judged a person, as Dr. King envisioned, by his character and not the color of his skin, whether white or black. Such an America would truly fulfill her destiny to be a shining city upon a hill, “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

You may say, “You think all that can come out of the election of one African-American president?” Well, it’s a good first step. These are things for which we should diligently pray and work. I guess I’m just idealistic enough to believe it could happen.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thoughts on the Morning After - Part Deux

I happen to believe that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States represents the beginning of God’s judgment on America, and the American church in particular (I Peter 4:17). However, in his incredible mercy, God’s judgment is redemptive, and there are some good things that will come out of this.

Let’s start with what this election means for African-Americans. Their elated faces and euphoric comments on the news after the election made me realize that for black Americans, Barack Obama’s election means that their emancipation is finally complete. They finally feel like full, equal citizens of the United States. Whoopi Goldberg expressed it well when she blogged on www.wowowow.com:

I realized that for probably the first time in my life, in thinking about myself as an American, it occurred to me that this is really our arrival in the country that said everything was possible. We have finally become part of the fabric of the United States of America.

No white eye rolling out there, please. You and I may believe that African-American equality was secured by the Emancipation Proclamation, the Reconstruction Amendments, or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On paper, that is true, but experiential reality may be quite different. We know very well the horrific treatment of blacks by some whites throughout our earlier history. Yet it remains hard for us to understand why many African-Americans have never felt secure in their equal rights or became invested in their citizenship. Maybe this is because white people assume everyone experiences full equality because we have never had to defend equality for ourselves. But we need to embrace a broader view.

Perhaps we have underestimated the depth of the generational wounds of slavery and post-slavery injustice and overestimated levels of healing and reconciliation. This leads us to think things like, “Why can’t they quit whining and just get over it? That stuff ended forty years ago.” However, that is like an unfaithful husband whose wife is still learning to trust him again and gets upset if he comes home late one evening. He may grouse to her, “I already said I was sorry and I won’t do it again. Why can’t you just get past this?” We would think him a Neanderthal. Deep wounds take a lot of time to heal, and we need to extend grace and understanding, as well as encouragement to overcome and jump into America with both feet.

Of course, there are many African-American attitudes and ways that fall short, too, but we are not responsible for them. What this election has shown me is that I, and probably almost all white people, have seriously underestimated the enormity and pervasiveness of African-American feelings of disenfranchisement. The euphoria will fade and Obama supporters of all races will learn soon enough that he is not a messiah, but a man, a flawed human being like all others. But for now, whatever we think of the man and his policies, let us rejoice and share the shining moment with our African-American countrymen, and pray that God will use this singular event to bring about major breakthroughs. What those might be are for discussion in Part III. (This could go on a long time!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thoughts on the Morning After - Part I

Ironically, as a McCain supporter I was more depressed when I woke up yesterday on Election Day morning than I am on this morning after. Christians prayed fervently for God’s will in this election, and God answered with a win for Barack Obama. We may disagree on whether this represents mercy or judgment on our nation, but regardless, Obama will be our next president. How we Christians deal with this reality may be a test from God to see where our hearts really lie. Will we react like one more angry interest group whose agenda has been thwarted by our political enemy, or will we humble ourselves under God’s sovereign hand, in a spirit of repentance for our own sins and failures, and seek him for more effective and loving ways to be salt and light, in truth and grace, for our nation?

As I wrote earlier in the week, a great place to start would be on our knees on this Wednesday morning. After that, we might try looking for the silver lining in what we may consider the dark cloud of the Obama win. Here are a few thoughts:

1. Let’s start with the obvious: America has just elected her first African-American president. If we can find little else to celebrate in an Obama victory, we can all certainly rejoice in this colossal milestone for our country. I grew up in the segregated South and still vividly remember the “Orangeburg Massacre” in my town, a race riot that ended in the police killing of three black college students, all because a couple of young black men dared to ask for service at the snack bar in the local bowling alley. How far we have come in forty years! And who would have thought then that the state whose borders held the capital of the Confederacy would go blue for Barack Obama in 2008? This is a victory for America and for humanity.

2. Those who use the accusation of racism to excuse every personal or political failure, or to not even try to achieve in life, no longer have that excuse. The perceived barrier has been broken. Don Imus said yesterday that, although he voted for McCain, he would be happy for an Obama win because it would give black children across America the ability to dream, perhaps for the first time, that they really can be anything they want to be, even president of the United States. What people believe about themselves has a far greater impact on their lives than government entitlements ever could.

3. The reality of numbers 1 and 2 above make a far better case for American blacks in this land opportunity than all the liberal carping about the hopeless socio-economic situation of blacks and others. Ironically, Obama’s very success begins to undermine the presuppositions supporting wealth redistribution and entitlement programs. Sometimes unintended consequences are positive.

4. It may be hard to overestimate the hope the historic Obama victory brings to American citizens, even those of us who oppose his policies, in this time of economic doom saying. I’ll wager his election will do more for the markets than that bailout boondoggle.

Some believers will, unfortunately, refuse to see any positive implications of an Obama presidency and bitterly focus on the disasters that could result. Those who do, give in to fear, which never serves us well, and they forget that God is still on his throne.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Civilized Genocide

by Jim Mills

Note to readers: For those of you who don't know Jim Mills, he is a missionary, singer/musician, theologian, historian,culture warrior,and general renaissance man who lives with his wife in Belgium and has ministered throughout Europe for over thirty years. I had the pleasure of meeting them when I lived in Latvia. He had sent this essay to me in response to my last blog post, and I asked him if I could share it here.


In 1945, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces ordered as many films and photos and testimonies be gathered as remotely possible of the devastation and horror found in the Nazi concentration camps. It wasn’t an infatuation with gruesomeness that prompted American General Dwight D. Eisenhower to give this order. Rather it was so that future generations would never question that the holocaust actually took place. In his own words, “Collect as much proof through films, testimonies, photographs. . .because the day will come when some son of a bitch will say this never happened.”

Six million Jews, 20 million Russians, and ten million Christians and priests were executed in this tragic chapter of history in western civilization. Most of the holocaust took place in three to five years. If the war had not ended when it did, perhaps there would have been multiplied millions more who would have lost their lives.

There is also ample evidence of the horrific genocide that has taken place in Rwanda, the Congo, Sudan, Darfur, and elsewhere. Thanks to the media, we in the West can be made aware of the atrocities and then take some kind of action. The question to ask: Have we taken action?

Though the number of horrors is staggering in the last 20-60 years, there is an even greater horror that has taken place throughout the so-called civilized world. A civilized genocide has taken place in which as many as 150,000,000 around the world have been murdered, butchered, and some simply left to die without any assistance. The holocaust in America alone stands at 50,000,000. The blood of these precious and innocent children cry out. Do we have ears to hear?

In the next eight years new Supreme Court justices will be set in by the newly elected president of the USA. Both candidates have made their position clear.
John McCain will appoint judges that will eradicate the horrible practice known as partial-birth abortion, as well as work to overturn Roe vs. Wade that launched this civilized genocide in the USA 34 years ago.

Barak Obama has also made his position known. He said,

“The first thing I'd do as President is sign the 'Freedom of Choice Act' (known as FOCA). This proposed legislation would create a federally guaranteed 'fundamental right' to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, including, as Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has noted in a statement condemning the proposed Act, 'a right to abort a fully developed child in the final weeks for undefined health reasons.'"


In essence, FOCA would abolish virtually every existing state and federal limitation on abortion, including parental consent and notification laws for minors, state and federal funding restrictions on abortion, and conscience protections for pro-life citizens working in the health-care industry, in other words, protections against being forced to participate in the practice of abortion or else lose their jobs.

The question is, do we have ears to hear the cries of the ca. 50,000,000? Many throw up their hands and say, "What can we do?"

There is something you can do to resist the triumph of evil. Recall to mind the words of Edmund Burke, who famously said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [and I add "and women"] do nothing.” Do something. Vote for life.

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