The Myth of Power


The Murphy house stood on the outskirts of Ayden, between Roundtree and Ballard’s Crossroads. A large family of Murphys lived in the house. For years the yard was tended and the fields were plowed and much good was yielded as the family’s presence, strength and energy powered the processes of farming and caring for the land and house they inhabited.

Then one day, the Murphys moved – the children grew up. The parents aged out.  When the Murphy’s power waned, kudzu overtook the borders and soon the house. Disrepair and the wear and tear of time ultimately took the house down. Power of a family left, and so did their life on the farm.

Power at best is fleeting, something of an enigma as so many of us think it is ours to keep for all time. A look at history tells the story. Rises and falls of power pepper our history as stories of empires last only so long as power is held over the masses by those at the top.

Rome held territory for longer than most in the history of western civilization. Undisputed power pushed the boundaries of the empire, and held the boundaries in tact until the barbarians were “at the gate” and breeches invited nibbling against the power of the emperor.

One of my favorite verses in Scripture, mostly for the story it tells, is Exodus 1: 8. “Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” The new ruler recognizes the power the Israelites have gained via Joseph’s place in their story. The new king is threatened and declares to “deal shrewdly with them” setting taskmasters over them to “oppress them with forced labor.” One of the greatest stories of the people of God deals with corruption of power and vying for control. Ultimately it ends poorly for the Egyptians as their work force leaves in a great exodus.

The people of the Exodus led by a stuttering Moses rise up in the power and promise of God that they will be saved against the evil of oppressive power. Plato tells us that “the measure of a person is what they do with power.” Power is either granted by the assent of the will of the people, or it is taken by brute force that instills fear and gains control like a game of King of the Hill.

The truth of power is that God holds all the power. Jesus teaches us that “our mistake is that we don’t know the Scriptures and we don’t know the power of God.” Matthew 22: 29. We as the people of God have been given power through the Holy Spirit to use for good in the world. Gandhi says, “Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by fear of punishment (witness the Israelites under the oppression of the Pharaoh) and the other by acts of Love (witness Jesus.).

If we ever think power is ours to hold forever, read a little history. Or read 1984 where George Orwell says that “power is not an end, it is a means.” Power can be a means for evil or good, depending on how we use it and to whom we give it. Machinations, grabs, abuses happen when we think real power belongs to us. O, Lord God, let us not be deluded into thinking power is ours to hold. Power belongs to You, and is only given to us to do your will in the world. Help us remember. Amen.

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Out of the Mud and Filth


The CEB translation of the Psalms does not mince words. In fact, the words read in worship this morning, words from Psalm 40, were quite shocking in the way they spoke into today’s acrimony and incivility of American politics. For all the angst and uneasiness of my own heart, the disappointments and fears of what I am seeing and reading, the ugliness on all sides, the undermining of institutions, the disregard of truth, Psalm 40 was an affirmation that God is listening to our cry for help. And above all the bickering, God is still God.

“I put all my hope in the Lord. God leaned down to me and listened to my cry for help.” God may be the only one listening. My senators don’t listen; my president doesn’t listen.  I write my concerns to them. I am honestly probably more politically active than a lot of people are. I see what I think is wrongdoing and I express my concern as a constituent and a citizen. Since my days at Girl’s State in the 1960s, and my marriage into a family that is politically astute, I have worked to keep up my knowledge and understanding of issues of the day. But in the political arena, I am a bit player. One voice; one vote. Now, here in this Psalm is the God of the Universe responding to me with assurance beyond what any politician on the planet can give; God is listening to this one puny, insignificant voice. Imagine that.

“God lifted me out of the pit of death, out of the mud and filth and set my feet on solid rock. God steadied my legs.” So much of the political landscape is unstable. Facts are negotiable and truth is malleable. I remember the first time I heard Rush Limbaugh talk about “you democrats,” as if the Democrats are the enemy. The blame one side slams the other side with has not only stopped the wheels of good government, it feels like being in a pit, covered with mud and filth. “That’s the way of the world” some say. Take it with a grain of salt. I don’t like salt much, so that’s hard for me to do.

“Those who put their trust in the Lord, who pay no attention to the proud or to those who follow lies, they are truly happy.” There are a lot of people just like me whose concerns are dismissed too easily. No one person is above the law; no one voice is less important than another. It seems like human ego is on steroids in this time. This is a time to be small, but persistent, in our one voice. Speak our truth even if it simply echoes through the cyber sphere un-encumbered, bumping into the bellicose voices of vitriol and hate. If enough of us speak truth, a tsunami of goodness will swell the tide of change. “You, Lord my God! You’ve done so many things – your wonderful deeds and your plans for us – no one can compare with you. If I were to proclaim and talk about all of them, they would be too numerous to count.” And now, “I have told the good news of your righteousness in the great assembly. I didn’t hold anything back (I almost never do)– as you well know Lord.” Amen.

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Getting Through Death


We do not get over death; we get through it. There is no other way to live with the circumstance and certainties of death that accompany us on life’s journey than to allow the pain of loss to wash over us and trust that the sun will rise and the waters of pain will recede until another tide.

Death takes away life. Death takes away our parents, our friends, our spouses, our children in circumstances that are beyond our control. Consequences of living in a material world that is corrupted by human choices and acts of nature carry blessing and benefit, suffering and death as twins. Wisdom teaches that the sun shines and the rain falls; this is the way of the world.

Death may take away the life of someone dear to us, but still we are alive to deal with the sorrow and pain. We are alive, but are we living through it so that death does not take two lives in a single blow?

There are no easy answers for complicated grief, grief that continues to steal life from the living. Platitudes are often empty and dismissive of the depth of pain grief brings.

As a pastor, I have seen responses to death in a variety of ways. I have seen people whose elderly spouses, riddled with disease, suffering in every day be so distraught in their grief when their spouse dies that they can barely live on themselves. I have also seen people who have lost a spouse, a sibling, a child, who remember their loss, find a way to walk with grief that in time allows them to return to their lives beyond the grief. What makes the difference? I don’t have an easy answer for that one.

What my faith tells me, and what I believe is found in John 14, Jesus’ words of comfort as he is preparing his disciples for his own death. “I go to prepare a place for you that where I am, you shall be also.” Jesus has already told them that his time on earth – all of it – was a call to abundant life. That abundant life is beyond the ills and hurts of the world, above and beyond the circumstances of a broken world to a life that is expectant in hope, bathed in light, washed in joy. This is the promise of Christ; this is the healing balm for the broken-hearted.

Claiming that promise is the hard work of faith.  Jesus’ promise is not an empty promise or a platitude to be easily dismissed. Rather it is a promise to be reckoned with and prayed over and wrestled with. Mustering faith is sometimes like trying to set a fire with wet wood. A period of drying out, and a little lightwood, and a squirt of lighter fluid might shorten the stoking time. Where is the lightwood of your life; who are your fire starters? Find them. Enjoin them in your healing. Trust that the sun will rise and face it with hope.  Amen.

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Ever O’er the Babel Sounds


Edmund Sears was a Unitarian Parish Priest in the early 19th century. His theology tended to be more on the progressive end; his faith in Christ not as an historical event, but as an experiential knowing of God with us: Emmanuel.  Contextualized in a time of rising industrialization, rising social tension, loudening voices on both sides of the issue of slavery, he finds himself in 1849 with great hope in his heart for what can be in the coming of Christ.

Sitting in worship several weeks before Christmas 2019, our congregation sang Edmund Sears most famous hymn, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. Verse two caught my heart like a hook that I still have not been able to extract even after Epiphany is come. “And ever o”er the Babel sounds… the blessed angels sing.”

Babel may be a good story of the human condition that continues to exalt itself and BE God, but when I take a look at the placement of the story of the Tower of Babel in the story of God, it’s plain to see how human history repeats itself. Even with God’s repeated intervention we move from the story of the Garden expulsion, to the great flood, and now to an audacious and ill-conceived notion that we can be almighty, omniscient, and high above all else. Silly, faithless us. And we are not quiet or discreet in our endeavors to “make a name for ourselves”, as the writer of Genesis says.

So God comes down to confuse us – as if we needed a lot of help with that. How very genius of God to make it so we could not hear or understand one another. It flashed through my mind as we were singing – even Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit have not unified us to speak in one voice, to hear each other with hopeful understanding, mutual consideration, and response that blesses the common good. We apparently are stuck in Babel! The ego-soaked din of our time is so loud, so vitriolic and mean spirited, how in the world will we ever hear the angels sing? Do we even believe the angels are around us singing? Or are we so self-interested, even a sweet song of hope is drowned out?

I sat waiting for a friend in a coffee shop recently. In a booth a few tables down there were three college-aged young women. Their conversation was lively and loud as they talked about their meds and their doctors, whether or not they were seeing someone who could prescribe. I felt a sadness for the anxieties that fill our young people and our world, anxiety maybe stoked by the speed of life, the pressure of perfection, the shame of simply being human in a world that is filled with the building of towers of exaltation to self. Perhaps we would be well served with a prescription of silence and stillness, of listening rather than talking, of breathing cold winter air, and doing a good deed for another human being.

The liturgical season of Epiphany is upon us. Wisdom, Light, Seeking become the call. If we ever needed to hear the angels sing, it is now. Perhaps the final verse of Sear’s hymn is a call: “ For lo! the days are hastening on by prophet seen of old, when with the ever circling years shall come the time foretold when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.” O Lord, let it be so. Amen.

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Moorings


Keep us tethered to Your Being, O God. Shelter us in the storm. Hide us in the shadow of your wings. For our little boats are drifting from you and the storm is growing fierce as the sky darkens. Have mercy on us. Keep us safe.

The riverfront in Oriental is dotted with marinas and boatlifts and slips. Boats of all ilk sit in river water tied to poles or anchors or piers. Ropes, chains and cables connect to moorings sunk deep into the river bottom. Pilings of concrete with rebar have little hook eyes or cleats ready to receive and hold a boat. Boat owners count on sturdy moorings, stable piers and poles to keep their boats in place when the storms come.

Unsecured boats slip from moorings. They are tossed about like toys in howling wind. They follow currents to uncharted waters and shoals that threaten. Strong moorings secure a boat with enough slack to ride out a storm without being lost to it. After the storm, we ride through the county and see the boats that have broken loose. They litter the marshes and sink in helplessness to the bottom of the river.

Lyrics of the old hymn by Charles Tindley, Stand By Me, come to mind. “When the storms of life are raging, stand by me. When the world is tossing me like a ship upon the sea, Thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me.” From a different century, a hymn prayer rises as plea to God to stand with us, those in trouble, those who are feeble and old, all of us who fail, and all of us who are misunderstood. Old timey words resonate for a world that seems increasingly unmoored from its foundations.

Human beings are tossed in turbulence, snatched from jobs and families. Our world seems increasingly dangerous as rhetorical arrows pierce civility and our moorings fray. Loss of a boat is a first world problem. The loss of human kindness, generosity, stability and core values is measurable and will impact civilization for a lot longer than we can know.

Years ago when I started writing this little blog, I had a vision that there was a reader somewhere who needed a word of hope, a word of assurance that all would be well. Here is that word for you. All will be well as we are moored to Christ and in Christ. Yes the storms will come and we will be tossed and hurt. We will lose friends and jobs and money and health. But God has not moved the pier. God is still God. It is we who have lost our mooring, we who must awaken to Holy Presence.

This week I have been reading Rachel Held Evans book, Inspired. She devotes her book to new looks at Wisdom and Resistance stories in the Bible. She opens the section on Resistance with the story of Bree Newsome, a young South Carolina woman who scales a flagpole in front of the SC State House to strip the Confederate flag down. One act of resistance, one letter of complaint, one call to an elected official, one vote, one small act of kindness will begin to attach us again to the best of who we are as God’s Beloved.

The stormy voices of hate will be drowned and sunk in the growing chorus of hope. Moorings matter. To what or to whom are you moored? When have you felt lost in the storm? What is your small act that can change the world for good?

“In the midst of tribulation, stand by me, When the hosts of sin assail and my strength begins to fail, Thou who never lost a battle, stand by me.”

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Target Practice at Pierson Point

Ordinarily the POW! POW! POW! of gunfire a few backyards down the road does not chill me like the shots did last Sunday afternoon. There are guns down here at the river. Locked up, taken out sparingly for sport target shooting. Hand eye coordination is required to hit the little tin target hanging on the tree. No harm; no foul. Second Amendment in action, for that time when we need a well armed militia here on the Neuse.

Daddy did not have guns. My husband has never owned guns. I am afraid of guns. There is no particular righteousness in this. Many in my family and many of my friends are gun owners. They know when deer season starts and the gun racks on the backs of trucks are filled with rifles and shotguns. The camo hats and jackets come out and the deer don’t stand a chance. There is the sport of the chase, a great bonding experience for those who share the thrill. I get that.

There is something altogether different happening in the mass shootings that seem to be a regular happening in our country. Believe me, I know the arguments: “Guns don’t kill, people kill.” “We need better mental health systems to stop violence.” “ Video games are the problem exacerbating violence.” I don’t disagree with any of those statements; one excuse is as good as another. But we dance around the issue that is the most controversial: there is too much availability to buy military style assault weapons, and big magazines of ammunition, there are no checks or stops for cross referencing who is buying munitions of mass destruction right beneath our eyes.

Will enough ever be enough? Jesus promises PEACE. My peace I give to you not as the world gives… that’s a good thing, because the world doesn’t seem to want peace. Our elected officials are complicit in the fact that many of their campaigns are funded heavily by the NRA. Their continued silence and inaction speaks volumes about how they want the money to keep their places of power more than they want to serve the nation and work to address this gun problem we have in America.

Alongside the lack of gun control we live, there is the growing unleashing of hate and racism, white nationalism and bullying coming from the highest office in our nation, and nobody seems to want to control it. It is such hypocrisy when the president, who spews hate in ever other tweet says, “We must condemn racism, bigotry, and hate however they show themselves.” He must not read his own tweets.

There is a deep spiritual problem in our country. We have lost our way and are tumbling down a deep hole into a darkness I have not seen in my lifetime. A few gunshots in the back yard remind me of the freedom that is America. What are reasonable controls for gun ownership? My car is licensed; I have to take a test every few years to see if I am competent to drive. Who is driving this conversation about guns? Where is money driving it? Will the violence ever end?

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Pondering Privilege


Nobody wants to talk about privilege; nobody wants to hear about it. But the issue of privilege – white privilege; and more often in America, white male privilege – appears to be front and center in the issues of the day, whether we want to think about it or not.

A film from the 1980s, Free Indeed, was a low-budget teaching tool about what privilege is and how we are partakers of it, we who are white. A little woman gathered a group of teenagers asking them questions like: How is it you have what you have while so many people of color do not? The answers were typical. “We must work harder. We must be smarter.”

In a 30-minute lesson, non-critical, not-guilt producing, not accusatory, a teacher explained the invisibles of privilege, the unaccounted-for advantages of being a white majority that so many of us remain blind to, even as the world browns around us. The tensions rise as privilege is defended. We see it play out in today’s politics and cultural events. 

In America, for a lot of our history, to be born white and male gave advantage to people that they did not work for or earn. In America, white women had advantage via their white male husbands to create a layer of privilege that even without voice or vote, gave them a certain status that was unearned, but enjoyed by many. (Witness: The Help).

As women and people of color found voice there began a push back against systems that protected old status and ingrained privilege, what had been hidden was being revealed, and a new light was shining.

It does not take much to see how privilege works. We are privileged in the court systems. We are advantaged in school choices. Our children will go to the best schools, even if we cheat to get them into those schools. (I will miss Lori Loughlon on Hallmark.)

I have been pondering privilege for years. In eighth grade I read a book, Black Like Me, written by John Howard Griffin, an “American race activist.” It was a seminal book for me. I am not in black skin; I am not a person of color. I was not poor. I was in a good school. The Black Experience is not my experience, yet reading this book about a man who somehow darkened his skin to live the experience of Black people, shaped my early thinking about how much of my own life was not earned, deserved, or chosen. I was born into this.

Privilege cuts across many lines. Race, surely is at the top. But there are also gender, socio-economic, education, and geographical differences that somehow separate us.

I have an example of this. Several years ago, I had a conversation with a white high school friend about the dances we used to have at the Ayden Recreation Center. I told my friend how much I used to enjoy dancing with him and asked him – boldly, 50 years after the fact – “why did you never ask me out on a date?” His response shocked me, “You lived on Terrace Drive. I lived on the other side of the tracks. I could not cross that.” Even where I lived, which I had nothing to do with, had a privilege that separated me from one of the best dancing partners I ever had. How much does privilege continue to separate us one from another?

The conflict that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had on the debate stage the other night frames the contemporary struggle. I am not going to re-litigate that, but I think what I will say is that it is incumbent for us/ me to recognize the privilege that is mine – as an American, as a white woman, as an educated person, as a person who can afford health care and child care and dental care and groceries and a nice home. This is not all because of my particular goodness or my hard work, or my intellect. This is because I just happened to be born as me. Of course my hard work and good choices enhanced and amplified this, but others work as hard as I and still struggle.

Recognizing how privilege plays into my life, and listening to the pain of those who have little privilege is a step in the right direction. It may be too little too late, but hearing Jesus tell those of privilege, “ those to whom much is given, much is expected,” is a clarion call to action. My life cannot be the free ride of privilege. I am called to right the world that begins at my front door. I pray forgiveness and reconciliation for all people. I pray in hope that one day we all will share God’s abundance as one people.

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Moonstruck


Fifty years ago on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 team landed on the moon. I watched all day and night on a small black and white television holding an almost one-month old baby girl in my arms. She has no memory of this night and all the celebration and tears and ticker tapes surrounding the most incredible feat of aerospace development the world had ever seen.

The 1960s were a remarkable time to be alive. Whether you liked them or not, John Kennedy, and Martin Luther King were at work inspiring a generation just off the heels of World War II. The hope of America was rising as at long last the issue of racism was being openly addressed and reckoned with. There were great impulses for righting wrongs and elevating what was best among us.

Women were finding voice; love was in the air and Woodstock was being planned for August of that same summer of ‘69. As a young woman, I remember being more hopeful for a future with peace, love, and justice. I was confident that American ingenuity, hard work, creativity and brilliance would solve problems that would protect the earth, feed the world, and see to it that the goodness and blessing of America would ripple out into all the world, till every child was educated, every person, regardless of color, ethnicity, or gender had voice and safety, education and health care.

What changed from 1969 till now? Hope never fails us, yet hope seems illusive in the rancor and ugliness we see all over the country, and all around the world today, lingering wars, increasing disparity between wealth and poverty, vast division in education. Ignorance grows fear. Fear grows anger. Anger kills hope. Ultimately, all of these differentials of wealth, education, privilege, begin to divide us into our tribes and camps and echo chambers.

Hate is measurably increasing in our country; we even have such conflict in the church we are being driven apart. Somehow, reflecting on the moon landing of 50 years ago has reminded me of the optimism rising in those years after WWII, the war that would end all wars.

I know these years were not the good old days for all people. Too many were still without rights and a share in the American dream; but there were people fighting for them. In those days, the people fighting for full human rights for all people were not called Socialists, they were called justice seekers who worked and lived to right-size the world once and for all. They were people moonstruck with hope that God was in heaven, and humankind was working to conquer the imponderables.

The phase of the moon today is waning Gibbous. She is growing smaller in her cycle of light. But in a little while, she will rise again for us to wish and hope and dream on. We need another small step for humankind, forward into wholeness, healing and blessing for everyone born. Watch the moon tonight. Be moonstruck with renewed hope for who we can be as God’s Beloved.

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Enough Mud

How much mud is there in the world? We seem to find deep pits of it everywhere and we continue slinging it at each other, one blob after another, until we are covered in it and baking it on in the heat of the summer sun. Republicans sling against Democrats; Democrats against Republicans. Alt-Rights against Far Lefts, even now calling each other names like Communists and chanting things like, “Send her home.” The people slinging mud might look like adults, even leaders, but all I see is the mud pit with little children dirtying each other, smearing each other until someone cries or someone gets hurt or snuffed out.

It’s everybody’s fault that we cannot get anything done. Most of our egos are so bloated it’s easier to blame than to fix. What ever happened to serving the common good?

Many people last Sunday in worship heard the story of the Good Samaritan, from Luke 10. One of my clergy colleagues remembered a sermon Bishop Marion Edwards had preached on this text. Read the Text: Luke 10:25 – 37. Bishop Edwards taught that that there were three responses to the man in the ditch: 1. There were the robbers – those who wanted what the man had and took it. 2. There were the Priest and the Levite – those who wanted to keep what they had and not give it to the man who was injured. 3. There was the Samaritan – the one who said, take what I have. I will take care of you.

This morning on my Facebook feed there was a reposting from a person I do not know, but who sounded like the Priest and the Levite in the story. She said, and I quote: “Immigrants, not Americans, must adapt. Take it or leave it. We speak English, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. Therefore if you want to become part of out society, learn the language. This is not some Christian Right wing political push, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles founded this nation. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture. This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, AND OUR LIFESTYLE. IF YOU AREN’T HAPPY HERE LEAVE.” End of quote. Actually, this is an edited quote; the rant was longer that what I felt like typing.

I felt mud covered just reading this post. But this is not the only post full of vitriol, mistrust and hate that appear frequently in my social media. The story of the Good Samaritan, alongside the other readings of last Sunday speak to a kingdom where every life is valued, every person welcomed and fed and taken care of. I for one am tired of the mud from the evangelical church, from my state senators, from evangelical Christian leaders who have broad platforms, and from a president who never seems to hit his lowest point. No one owns God; and so far as this land being “ours” first it was God’s. Then it was inhabited by native peoples from the eastern shores of America across the continent who were brown people. We just shoved them over, never learning their language or even their story.

We who are Christian claim to be washed in the Blood of the Lamb and cleansed and born anew in the waters of Baptism until we are clean from the inside out. I pray the life giving water of grace will rinse out our mouths and our hearts until we are right with God and right with each other, like Christ wants us to be. I pray that our silences, our blindness, our vitriol will be washed away and we will be free to be whole people who care for each other and for this fragile creation we all call home.

Dry mud cakes and turns to dust. Dust to dust. Life is too beautiful and too brief to bury each other in the mud. What would a world that lived with generous abandon, abundant forgiveness, acceptance, and fearlessness look like? Maybe it would look like the kingdom of God.

Sent from my iPad

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Slippery Slope Christianity


Over the past weekend, a highly elected North Carolina official preached in the Cornerstone Church in Salisbury, NC. The quote from his sermon that is stirring controversy is this: “No other nation has ever survived the diversity and multiculturalism that America faces today because of lack of assimilation, because of this division, because of this identity politics.” First let me say, I don’t doubt this man’s sincere faith, however misguided it might be. All Americans are given freedom of religion. It’s what our founding fathers wrote in the Constitution.

What gives me pause is that other sincere Christians were sitting in the pews, hearing a message that is not grounded in anything Jesus said, or taught, or lived. And there were probably a few nodding their approval of a speaker who is using a pulpit to begin his campaign for Governor of North Carolina. From what I read of this man’s talk, it seemed all about ginning up distrust for the other, skepticism about multiculturalism, and fear of pluralism.

When hegemonies are lost, people rise up in fear. Historically the hatred that is born of fear manifests itself in nationalism and religious piety that excludes, villainizes, and persecutes any one who threatens status quo power or pushes back at systems that work better for the few than for the many. This is what is going on in America today as people of color, people of gender difference, and women – who have only had voting rights for about 100 years, are rising up to say, not so fast you who would work to disadvantage, silence, or suppress any of us.

For such rhetoric as was preached in the Cornerstone Church in Salisbury, NC, pandering church folk who are just there to praise Jesus, is slippery slope Christianity. Where do we think this will grow the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven?

Diversity is God’s design. Just look out the window and see the birds of the air and the plants of the garden and the river that flows right in front of me. The birds fly and sing their own song, the plants bear their unique fruit, the fish and crabs inhabit the same river. All creation, the whole biosphere is diverse, different by design, yet symbiotic and interdependent in its coequal-habitation. To say that nations have not survived diversity is simply not true.

When we look at Japan, Korea, Germany under Hitler, and others who have worked to eliminate diversity, people have experienced great suffering, pain and ultimate loss. So, Mr. Candidate for Governor, and any who preach nationalism and exclusion, how do we speak to a diversity that is edifying for all people, enriching the blessing that is Christianity at its purest and America as its best?

We can love one another as God has loved. We can listen to one another until we hear the cry of the needy. We can seek common ground, realizing that we are all in this life together for better or worse. We can lay down our pride and self-righteous rhetoric.

Sliding down slippery slopes often ends in a crash. I speak from experience. Neither the church nor the government will fare well sliding down slippery slopes that take us off the path of righteousness, fairness, justice, and kindness. Dignity and diversity, acceptance and productive co-existence will grow a truly great America and a truly faithful church. This is more than political; this is life.  

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