BTSF in chronological order (most recent articles appear first):

Monday, August 23, 2010


So, while stopping for lunch during a bike ride with my mom (40 miles, thank you very much!), I went into the restroom and there were posters advertising a free lunch day for fire/police/EMT first responders. And my initial thought was "Why would they put these up in the women's restroom?"

See Also:
Still Ignorant
And Then I Realized I was White

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Representatives of Christ

In response to the last post about some of the Church's PR problems Melissa made some important comments that are deserving their own post/thread:
"Here's the question that's been on my mind a lot...with the predominantly negative and oppressive influence Christianity has on so many groups, is it morally right to continue to associate with such a group? If you say yes, do you think that by associating with a mainstream group practicing such horrible things as what is mentioned about makes you more susceptible to practicing those things in turn? Can one stand for greater values like liberty and justice for the oppressed and still be connected to Christian religion with all its history and negative influence on culture? being a part of this religion, how do you keep apart from the ones who might be negatively influencing the culture? For that matter, how do you deal with the possibility that at times you yourself as a Christian are doing more harm than good? By you, that is the implied you all."

My thoughts (share yours below!):
All too common sentiment
I hear more and more people identify themselves as "followers of Christ" rather than as "Christians," and I can understand why. The church is really broken. But I do think it is important to stick with the church and try to work on it from within. To the outside world, "Christians" will always represent Christ, whether they do a good job of it or not. If all of the sane people leave the church, I fear the pain that it causes will only increase.

Christ called us to be one with each other and to gather together into a body of believers. He saw the brokenness of organized religion is His day, and definitely was critical of it, but also did not come to abolish the institution. He called for change, while functioning within the established fellowship of Judaism. I think this is a model for us to follow. Even the most misguided of Christians are our siblings in Christ. I think as best as one can, one should stick with the offending organization. "Be the change you want to see…" and all that.

Same goes for individual churches that are broken. It is so easy to get disgruntled with a pastor, or to feel uncomfortable with a certain worship style, or have a grudge against certain members of the church . But I believe Christ calls us to unity beyond our differences. But it’s not easy. In fact, it can be extremely painful and there are sometimes points where it is better to go separate ways (Paul had moments like this), but it must come only after much deliberation and with an understanding of the witness of disunity it gives to the world. After all, if we cannot love each other, how can people trust us to love them?

The church is a family. And like any family we have our crazy uncles, selfish sisters, racist grandparents, and misbehaving children. We don't have to condone any of that and in fact should speak out against it. But we are still family. It can be dangerous, though, as Melissa implies. It is easy to take on others' habits. But that happens with anyone with whom we choose to hang out, not just our siblings in Christ, so we might as well be work for the betterment of the family at the same time.

We remember as well that as individuals we are sinful, and so often make poor ambassadors for Christ. Paul beats himself up for that all time. "We fall down, but we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down, and got back up,” by God’s grace. And by His grace He continues to let us help as He goes about his work. Like a loving parent letting His little child help with the dishes. He knows that a few of them might get broken, and they won’t be cleansed of all of the grime, and it will take twice as long, but He allows us to be in partnership with Him. We have to have faith that ultimately He is in control through our shortcomings.

Can I stay with an organization that has such a negative history? Absolutely. To do otherwise would be to turn my back on a Church that my God adores deeply. Just as neither Allah nor Muslims around the world are in the slightest way represented by the extremists of 9/11, neither is Christ (nor am I) represented by ‘condemnation Christianity’. Of course we have to understand and account for the fact that when extreme people claim to be working for the team as we do, it makes our job much more difficult. We must be patient with people whose opinions of us are shaped by the negative examples they see, just as we would when working against any negative stereotype .

Christians have caused a lot of pain in the world, but they have also done a tremendous amount of good. Christ designed a network of believer to support each other as we work to bring a bit of His kingdom here on earth. We are broken because we are of this world, but His initial Commission is still at the core of who we are as a body and through tat we can do great things in his name. UMCOR is a great example of that, I think. And there are thousands of other positive examples for Christ both today and in history. Off the top of my head, author and philosopher, Chris Sunami, writes a great book, Hero for Christ, that sites many other examples. Perhaps some other posters can share some favorite testimony of their own?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stuff Church People Do

Macon Dee runs/ran a blog called 'stuff white people do' that explores racism and is a place for white people to go to educate themselves. His bio says "I'm a white guy, trying to find out what that means. Especially the 'white' part." He has had a lot of good stuff up with some excellent guest writers as well. He has recently gone on hiatus for a time, and I posted a comment with the address of this blog as a option for people while he is away. The comment was rejected on the following grounds:

"your blog isn't explicitly anti-racist, and I have no interest in helping to promote Christianity"

His blog, his call. Fair enough. But the decision is worth examining. Although, I am not exactly sure what it means to be anti-racist, I certainly hope this blog is full-heartedly anti-racism. That aside, it is his second comment that is the most important.

More often then not, the church is seen as a roadblock to justice and freedom. For thousands, it is a source of brokenness and rejection, and forcing the needy to seek their fellowship and comfort with secular groups. Many white people come to racial awareness in settings far outside the church. To them, the church  is the epitome of institutionalized close-mindedness, and so they fight religion right along with fighting injustice. And by-in-large we have earned that reputation with a history of indifference and downright propagation of racial injustice. It hurts to receive comments like Macom's, but what hurts more is that I have no response for it. Shame on us church. We have screwed up. Let us be all the more diligent as we move forward in the hope of earning back a little bit of the trust we have squandered.

For some convicting research studies and statistics try Divided by Faith.

See Also:
Representatives of Christ
Why I love the Church for All People
Colbert Report
Small Things Done with Great Love
Creative Commons License
By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at @BTSFblog