The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Monday, June 20, 2016

My Epiphany After Pulse Nightclub Murders in Orlando

Up front (full disclosure): if you haven't read my blog before, cards on the table, I'm an American Baptist minister with a complicated background, having been a editor and author, along with a professional archaeologist. I've been a Baptist all my life, starting with the Southern Baptists long ago when things there were different and now having moved on. I was trained at Palmer Theological Seminary, which taught working for others all over the world, treating all God's children (everybody just so we're clear) humanely, and serving humbly. I was raised to help others too. There you go. That's what you need to know where we are going next.

I believe in the power of God's Holy Spirit to give us good hard pushes when needed. I had never understood the phrase I'd heard over the years "the power of the Spirit burning within you." I understood when the earthquake in Haiti left so many people suffering back in 2010. Seeking what could be done, I ran across an article from the American Baptist Women's Ministry on creating shoe boxes filled with basic supplies or infant supplies that would be gathered at a central collection point and sent on the Haiti. For the first time in my life, I burned to do something in response. I felt an excitement in my chest unlike anything I'd ever felt. I didn't know exactly how every bit of the process was going to work, but I barreled forward anyway. Working with many people in my church, we all got to work and created a whole lot of those shoe boxes, which we sent on to help others. 

Well, on Sunday when the mass murder in Orlando first hit the news, I started to burn again. I was guided by the Spirit once more. I was schooled in the idea that just railing against this on social media would not get the job done. With the convergence of mass murder against one community based on hate speech, ridiculous laws, and loose canon mouths on politicians and media pundits inflaming the minds of those prone to violence, I was convicted to do more with my faith. Since then, I've written senators and congresspersons on a range of issues, joined several peace and justice organizations working against hate speech, violence, injustice, etc. and signed numerous petitions.

In a cynical world, you might ask what any of that will accomplish. Well, I firmly believe we are here to be agents for good in this world. Every act for justice, mercy, peace, and love makes a difference that is cumulative. I will always assert that in the long run, love will win out over evil. I will work for love. 

One of my pet peeves is fanatical fringe groups attempting to redefine my Christian or Baptist faith in twisted hateful terms of their own making, terms that have nothing to do with being a Christ follower. I have been infuriated that the news media have turned to such hate-twisted fringe speakers when needing a "Christian" voice for their story. So, when Faithful America (an advocacy group I joined some time ago) sent around an electronic petition calling for ABC This Week not to feature Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (which has been offering a great deal of false, vitriolic anti-LGBTQ disinformation) as representative of Christianity. 

It is a relief to see one of my many new efforts to work for love and justice pay off so quickly. It is affirming of the Holy Spirit's fire burning within me and my lifelong path working for justice from now on. 

If you wish to work against gun violence, please reference this article from my denomination and the organizations mentioned, join them, and let your voice join with many others as a powerful force working against violence, hatred and murder (sigh, and no, I don't want to take all your guns away, but I DO insist on sensible, reasoned ways to move forward in lowering the gun murder rate at home and abroad):

Update: Shame on MSNBC for picking up Tony Perkins after ABC dropped him. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified him as the head of a hate group. MSNBC allowed him to represent Christians on the issue of Donald J. Trump and evangelicals. Let me state for the record that I do not recognize anyone as a Christ follower who peddles hate. That's not what Jesus stood for. Please find a way to let MSNBC know this is not acceptable behavior.

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