Silence, planning and prayer...

After watching the press conference concerning the St. Louis County grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Mr. Michael Brown, I found myself channel surfing for 20 minutes. How, I wondered, would CNN spin this news vs. MSNBC and FOX? How would FOX find some way to denigrate President Obama? How might MSNBC sound like they were acting in support of the President's call for prudent and constructive social engagement while also pandering to their constituents limited perspective? 

It didn't take long for the respective political and media spin doctors to jump into action. Nor did it take much time for some key players in the quest for racial and social justice to articulate what was wrong with today's grand jury verdict. All of which left me wondering: where are the voices of quiet reason and prayer? 

Please don't misunderstand: there is something tragic and ugly about racial profiling, the militarization of America's police forces, urban despair and poverty, gangsta culture and the polarization of our nation that keeps us all in fear and confusion about one another. But here's the thing: with the instant analysis that has become the norm in the USA, we no longer expect any depth, nuance, careful reflection or real understanding from our media. Ours has become a public culture without intellectual discipline or moral focus. And without the ability to use critical thinking to imagine and plan for compassionate and just solutions, we rant for a few minutes before becoming distracted by the next manufactured extravaganza or tragedy.

As I was reading and reacting to the varied posts on Facebook I thought: I
should write something pithy and challenging about all of this. And I started to give it a try but caught myself saying, "Dude, don't become what you hate." Shut up. Be still. Hurry up and do nothing so that you might think and pray and listen for what is sacred in all of this. Then I saw Cathleen Falsani-Possley's MLK icon on Patheos - and her MLK prayer - and took that for a word of confirmation. So I hit delete and wrote instead:

There is more - much more - to be said about this, but for now we should pray. Dr. King also said that when evil people plot, good people must plan.(When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.) So let our plans and responses be of good will, true equality, moral sensitivity and courage in this broken and hurting time.

There is a place for a straight, white clergy person to speak out about racial and economic injustice. There is a place for me to invite my community to take police violence seriously. And there is a place for me to be in solidarity with sisters and brothers of color, too. But not instantaneously - not on auto-pilot - and not reflexively without careful discernment. Already, my national church leaders have issued their necessary quasi-theological broadsides - and there will be more to come. Oh well... now is the time for prayer and grieving. And then it will be on to planning and building from within the glories of love.


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