4 items tagged "ferguson"
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The Sunday after nine of its members, including the pastor, were shot dead, the Christians at The Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC gathered to worship and hear the Word of God. Reverend Norvel Goff preached the sermon, an unenviable task. I have never met the Rev. Norvel Goff, though I sincerely long to. I would not recognize him if he walked into my house but I recognized the Spirit by whom he spoke. I have never attended a worship service at Emmanuel nor, as far as I know, have I met any of its members but I recognized the Spirit in whom they assembled, through whom they worshipped and by whom they found comfort in their grief and grace instead of hatred.
This is the very Spirit of Jesus who, in the hour of His own death, prayed to God for the forgiveness of His murderers. The Spirit of Jesus was mighty in St. Stephen, who in Acts 7, even while being stoned to death, prayed the exact same
"Black Lives Matter." That sign has become an enduring logo of the Ferguson debacle. Regardless of what one thinks about the mess there, that sign is true. It is limited to be sure, but true as far as it goes. The fact is lives matter, ALL lives matter. Once one becomes truly convinced of that one great truth, decisions begin to make themselves.
If lives matter, and they do, a massive ethical superstructure rests on that foundation. What one believes about murder, the unborn, the weak and defenseless, the elderly and the handicapped is the vertical and visible ethical high rise, but the foundation upon which it all rests is the inherent value of life. LIVES MATTER. Period.
Any qualification on that foundational truth and the entire edifice trembles ominously. The Nazis said Germanic lives matter. What they meant was that no one else's did. They slaughtered Jews by the millions because in their world view, Jewish lives did not matter. Likewise they wasted millions of
Causes, particularly causes that are "hot" at the moment, draw passionate supporters, as they should. What supporters of such causes, especially the most passionate among them, often encounter and fail to take as seriously as they aught, is the whole "poster child" problem. As I said in last week's Notebook, it is a flawed strategy to wrap a good cause around an unworthy story.
By plastering the wrong face on the posters, supporters damage their own cause. If the story, whatever the story is, turns out to be different from what was thought at first, the cause can get branded with the negative image. Some years ago, a famous rock star announced he had become a Christian, and many Christians went wild with excitement. Many enthusiastically, and without hesitation trumpeted his "conversion" and used the story in countless sermons. I advised
So much has been said about the dreadful state of affairs in Ferguson, MO that it’s a temptation to ignore the whole thing. One always hates to simply add to the ground noise. Furthermore, if I just let others write what they want and stay out of it, I stay clear of the controversy. I certainly don't need the kind of controversy which writing about Ferguson can generate, especially the accusations which I know are almost certain to come. On the other hand, I do feel that there are some things that I'm not hearing said, things which I believe need to be said by somebody. So… acknowledging the aforementioned risks, I am somewhat reluctantly wading in.
I hope I can somehow manage to deal with the leadership issues involved, and steer around the jagged rocks of racial conflict. That sounds a bit naive even to me even as I write it. Passions are enflamed now from coast to coast and hearing reasonable thought on Ferguson from any direction seems impossible. Here's the limited question I want to deal with. Are there any leadership lessons to be learned from this mess which could prove useful in other less riot-happy environs? I believe there are and here are three.