Giving up injustice for Lent


I’m preaching a three-part series looking at the symbolic meanings of the traditional colors of Mardi Gras. I’ll be posting blog versions here, so check back for parts two and three. 

e2729f76-0acd-4be3-a360-f2d18f07ed09Mardi Gras season, the time of Carnival coinciding with Epiphany, is permanently ingrained in the history of the Gulf Coast. French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville upon landing inside the mouth of the Mississippi River and consulting the calendar named his arrival point Point du Mardi Gras. Soon after nearby Mobile was founded in what would be Alabama and played host in 1703 to the first organized Mardi Gras in the future United States (deal with it, Louisiana!). The very first Mardi Gras parade occurred soon after in 1711, also in Mobile. I’m not sure there was enough Mobile to parade through just yet, but they did it nonetheless. According to tradition, the famous colors of Mardi Gras were selected in 1872 by the Krewe of Rex. After Rex’s 1892 festivities specified the symbolic meanings of purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power as the theme in 1892, the attributions just stuck. This week we’ll be looking at justice.

God has a strong opinion on matters of justice. Justice is at the core of God’s identity and plan for redeeming Creation, yet we neglect it so easily. All of human history, even God’s physical nation,  has struggled with maintaining justice. In Isaiah 58 God confronts a people ready to fast to get what they want but wholly unprepared to reach for what God desires:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

The ancient Greeks gave us the tragedy of Oedipus Rex. The play opens with the assembled priests coming to Oedipus, deeply troubled by the plagues ravaging Thebes. Based on their anxiety they had presumably been doing their jobs as priests to follow worship rituals on behalf of the people and yet were met with a curse. The plagues [spoiler alert!] we later learn were caused by Oedipus’ acts of murder and incest though he was blind to his guilt at the time.  It seems even the ancient Greeks, apart from Yahweh of the Jews, understood the dangers of devotion ruined by injustice, the same concept with which Israel is confronted in Isaiah 58. It is from the Greeks and their plays, after all, from which we receive the word hypocrite, the charge Jesus places on the Pharisees for tithing spices yet forgetting the justice and mercy at the center of the Law.

Mardi Gras and Lent are inextricably linked, as for centuries Christians have reveled in then fasted from pleasure and indulgence in preparation for Easter. Though the fasting in Isaiah 58 isn’t aimed at Easter specifically, similar themes of self-denial and preparation are always present in the spiritual disciplines. So how is that God can talk about denying ourselves injustice as a fast? Injustice is always tied to someone else’s benefit. Often this benefit is something that doesn’t sound so bad. Financial stability. Commodities. Ambition. Comfort. Safety. But when these things come at the cost of someone else, they become idols under which our fellow humans are crushed. The benefits reaped are extra indulgences to deny ourselves in order to follow God more deeply. We have enormous privileges as Westerners. Note that we’re sharing this blog together using a computer or smart device and we’re educated enough to read it. These privileges can be so large as to let us turn away from seeing injustice like avoiding eye contact with a homeless person, but that doesn’t change reality. We, blinded from our own guilt like Israel and Oedipus, can hide in our comforts and empty devotion while wondering why our world burns. Or we can give up injustice for Lent and for always, constantly preparing ourselves for Easter. Only then will our light will break forth like the dawn.

Giving up injustice for Lent

Truth in pro-life advertising

09192efe-8dfb-4f88-b161-4b17203de8bcMuch to my mother’s chagrin, I’ve always found humor in the biting satire and warped comedy of Rocko’s Modern Life, a long-defunct cartoon from the days before Nickelodeon tried to out-Disney Disney. One episode follows the titular wallaby and his friend Heffer as they set out on a business trip for Rocko’s employer. After an avalanche blocks the route, they decide to splurge by taking advantage of a $5 special at a nearby ski resort. After checking in and requesting skis, they soon find out they’ve been had; every thing is five dollars. Skis. Cutting the skis down to size. Lift rides (including subsequent attempts to catch a lift after missing the first one). Bathroom use. Even the “roaring fire” in the lodge has a meter to feed.

It’s a funny episode that hinges almost entirely on a cruel advertising trick which would drive us to rage in real life. When we buy a thing, we want it to be that thing. Whether its the contents of a food product, the efficacy of a medicine, or the performance of a car, we allow for some spin in subjective claims but past a point we demand truth in advertising. Why don’t we in the conservative church demand the same of ourselves?

Pointing to the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, abortion opponents annually fill this week with events such as Sanctity of Life Sunday a few days ago and the March for Life in DC on Friday. If you don’t reside in the conservative Christian community, you may not know about these events but have likely noticed an increase in chatter regarding abortion as a result of the emphasis.

I hesitate to call these events and most of their supporters “pro-life” because I believe in truth in advertising. If only abortion is being addressed, let’s be honest and call it anti-abortion (thankfully some voices stand out; the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commision under Russell Moore’s leadership comes to mind). How can the content of a pro-life material stop at the decision to give birth? Wouldn’t belief in the sanctity of life look to pregnancy and new parent care? And why only pregnancy? Wouldn’t a pro-life ethic have to include addressing poverty, vulnerable populations (like refugeeswidows, orphans, and those in prison as demanded by Scripture), and even the environment on which we all depend and over which God has placed us as stewards? Unfortunately, such topics rarely come up in events, talks, or literature labeled as pro-life; no wonder others mock this position as simply being pro-forced birth. It seems that it’s easier to make quips about Mary not having an abortion than it is to remember that her Son was a genocide survivor and refugee who was tortured and executed as an enemy of the state.

God, however, is wholly pro-life. This past Sunday I preached from Proverbs 24:10-12. This text contains a stern call to action: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” I told my congregation that this text should constantly make us ask ourselves, “What am I personally doing to refute the claims of Death?” The story of Scripture (and thus Christianity and even history) is at its core a story of Death making claims it doesn’t deserve and God working to reclaim Creation. We, through Christ, have both been made the subject of this work and invited to be co-laborers in the rejection of Death in all its forms.

A complete ethic of life is not only logically consistent and biblical imperative but also incredibly freeing. As the old aphorism goes, no one can do everything but everyone can do something. Consider the ongoing plight of Flint, Michigan, a city forced to live with abhorrent lead concentrations in its water since 2014. It will take years to fully see the deadly fallout as this toxin slowly destroys lives. Roughly a year ago, hundreds of union plumbers volunteered to install filters for the residents of Flint while the government continued to squabble ineffectually. This, friends, is a pro-life act. These plumbers, Christians or not I do not know, saw a place where Death was laying claim and moved to overcome it using the skills they possessed. Abortion is an incredibly complex issue, as evidenced by the fall of the abortion rate to the lowest level since Roe v. Wade despite the decision remaining in effect. Not everyone can affect abortion, let alone wider yet thoroughly interconnected pregnancy and parenthood issues. But each and every one of us is at the absolute most merely arm’s length away from something or someone being unjustly claimed by Death. Each and every one of us has been gifted to affect the world around us. Being pro-life means partnering with God through Christ to grab hold of Creation and place it under the claim of Life using our gifts. May our pro-life advertising be true. Let’s get to work.

Truth in pro-life advertising

Perseverance of the Saints

gleasonOn Monday, September 25, 2006, an error in a slide blocking scheme by the Atlanta
Falcons allowed Steve Gleason to pass through the line untouched. Gleason blocked the punt, and Curtis Deloatch recovered the ball for a Saints touchdown. For thirteen months, the city of New Orleans had toiled mentally and physically to stand back up from under the colossal weight of Hurricane Katrina. But in that moment, water stains, black mold, and endless debris evaporated in an explosion of black and gold fervor.

Maybe it seems silly to suggest that a game could alter the psychology of a city, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. This isn’t the kind of noise you make when your sports team does something you like; it’s the kind of noise you make when hope begins to crack through months of pain and agony, even if a sports team applied the final pressure. Quarterback Drew Brees has described how, months prior during his free agency visit to New Orleans, he saw upturned cars and a tugboat blocking their tour. He then knew he needed to come to New Orleans because this was bigger than football. After the decision to rebuild and retain the franchise, a legendary performance by U2 and Green Day along with several local jazz bands, a key divisional win, and one unforgettable play, New Orleans could look at the Superdome and even their city to at least briefly see something other than a torn roof, flooding, and the horrors experienced by those left behind. Doug Thornton, an executive for the facilities management company in charge of the Dome, said of the day, “Ironically I was on the field when U2 and Green Day took the stage. I realized I was standing in almost the exact location I stood when the roof was being blown away. I wanted to see the faces in Section 137, which was exactly where people were huddled when debris was falling. I realized for the first time in a year I was seeing happy faces this time.”

A decade and a day later, I had my TV set to the first presidential debate and my computer set to the Saints’ unfortunately failed attempt to capture Monday Night Football lightning in a bottle again. Even with the loss, the images could not be more discordant. As a Southern Baptist Alabamian, I grew up with not simply the impression but the explicitly-relayed knowledge that the GOP was God’s emissary for executing His will in America and, through America, the world. Red meant hope, Christ’s hope. But as the years have gone by, that falsehood has only managed to show its true colors. Promoting torture isn’t hope. Diminishing returns with people who don’t look like me, and at times outright racism, isn’t hope. Being anti-abortion while failing to be pro-life isn’t hope. Last night, the candidate symbolized by red lied repeatedly while being confronted with his failure to pay employees and routine disrespect for others based solely on their physical characteristics. That isn’t the hope of Christ. Leaders like David Jeremiah, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell, Jr., tell us it is not simply acceptable but even our Christian duty to support the red candidate this year. Yet we are shocked when the world sneers at the church.

I thoroughly understand why conservative Christians can’t support Democratic tickets, but that doesn’t mean we are forced to pick red, especially when red is actively lined up against our one true hope. There is another way: let the hope we found be the hope we present to the world. Don’t replace it or veil it behind a color or flag. The God who began a good work in us will complete it; no additional powers or saviors are needed. If the early and persecuted church didn’t need political power to grow the Kingdom, why do we need to contradict our own morals in order to maintain our status? If something as inconsequential as a blocked punt can create deafening rejoicing only thirteen months removed from one of the worst disasters in American history, what can the Body of Christ accomplish? Last night, I saw more hope in a black and gold losing effort than I saw on a red and blue stage. Why do we need to put our time, money, energy, voice, and reputation on the red altar in exchange for scraps of power when the very one through home the world was made has placed Himself on the altar to welcome us as brothers and sisters? The Saints of New Orleans persevered through a storm to lift a city. The saints of Christ can persevere and are persevering to lift a world mired in selfish red and blue power struggles. We do not need them; we only need the hope we’ve found in the Cross.

Perseverance of the Saints

Seeing Jesus in the riot and the storm

Civil War Dead on Antietam BattlefieldOn September 22, 1862, United States President Abraham Lincoln convened his Cabinet. The Battle of Antietam just five days prior claimed its still-standing record as the deadliest single-day battle in American history. By battle’s end 22,717 were dead, wounded, or missing. Even as some of the dead still lingered in field hospitals, Lincoln told the room that he had made a covenant with God: if the Confederacy were driven from Maryland, he would issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Thousands more in blue and gray would pass from this Earth before American chattel slavery was killed, but the wound had been struck.

We greatly shortchange our ancestors on all sides if we fail to realize the enormity of the coming reality Lincoln had inaugurated. The end of slavery was not simply an angering thorn in the side of racists. American chattel slavery is drastically undersold when seen as just an immoral economic shortcut. Slavery, and the view of humanity which undergirded it, was the very fiber of reality. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, minister of New Orleans’ First Presbyterian Church, in the final years before war said of slavery, “This system is interwoven with our entire social fabric. It has fashioned our modes of life, and determined all our habits of thought and feeling, and moulded the very type of our civilization.” After the advent of rebellion, Confederate Vice President said that the “very cornerstone” of Confederate society was the opposite of the Declaration of Independence’s promises of universal equality. The end of such a foundation represented The End itself. Mary Fontaine, the daughter to one CSA general and husband to another, heard whites describing the joyous black crowds at the end of the war, “It was like their idea of the judgment day.” “Perhaps it may be,” she mused.

I believe Lincoln’s announcement means more for today, September 22, 2016, than just an anniversary on which to pause and remember. As someone who grew up in integrated Southern schools, I often think I have no idea what it must feel like to watch the most basic underpinnings of society snatched away like tent stakes in a storm. But then I turn on the news, and in my own way and my own time I sense moments of connection to my ancestors. Doesn’t it feel like all things are coming undone? The veneer peeling off American hegemony, or sometimes bursting into flames. American voter demographics shifting more quickly than nearly any other time without a constitutional amendment changing who may vote. Radical upheaval in morality. Unprecedented scrutiny of police. The mercurial shift of exotic threats from traditional armies to organized terror, and then to individualized terror.

Folks, it’s totally understandable to feel that fear. Mrs. Fontaine certainly did. But what if fear and upheaval aren’t the only things we share across 154 years? Many people, both black and white, suffered enormously as emancipation came and the transition was made. A journey so immense and so important is always painful. But what was gained was greater and truer and more Christlike than what was risked. With the end of chattel slavery, we grew that much closer to fulfilling the command of God: Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” There is so very much suffering in our time. And many changes we face are admittedly not for the best, leading only to more suffering. But who among us can honestly say that there aren’t still great gulfs of oppression to overcome? Racism and systemic injustice aren’t dead, though they mourn their cousin chattel slavery and welcome the enormity of modern slavery. Poverty and hunger gnaw at will. Human justice is still all too dependent on how and where you were born. What if the storm we feel is real, but rather than unwarranted disaster it is the tempest that comes from the world shaking its fist at the long march to justice? Through such storms, Jesus calls to us, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 

I understand the fear, for I have felt it. In addition to the simple act of being alive in such times, I’m a white straight male Baptist pastor. According to the world, it makes sense for me to support a candidate who points back to the good ol’ days for white straight male Baptist pastors. It makes sense for me to shake my head at police protests. It makes sense for me to write off entire populations every time a bomb goes off, to let fear control my response. But when I am calm, I hear the same voice the disciples heard. “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” I remember that Judgment Day and judgment days come with a promise of restoration on the other side. And no matter the storm, I know that I should more fear what kills my brothers and sisters on this shore than what awaits me on the journey to God’s justice.

 

Seeing Jesus in the riot and the storm

Two Will Ferrells: American Christians on July 4

It’s the Sunday before the 4th of July, which means a lot of preachers have spent hours, days, weeks, or even months deciding what to do with the enormous red, white, and blue gorilla in the room. Some very publicly embrace it, with the hymnody of patriotism reverberating through the sanctuary. Others stand opposed, decrying the proximity of national flag and eternal cross. Those in the middle either make meek acknowledgement, or simply pray their congregations will listen to the sermon rather than be distracted by the sparklers being frantically waved by the patriotism gorilla.

This annual tension is inseparably tied to debate over whether the United States is currently or ever has been a “Christian nation” and, from there, how should this affect public policy and private life. Personally, I’m not sure how a temporal nationstate can be “Christian” any more than an avocado or aardvark can be Christian. But no matter where we stand on July 4th in church or the veracity of Christian nation claims, I imagine most of us can agree that the United States as it stands politically and culturally in 2016 does not align with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

So, what is an American Christian on July 4th to do? I think a look at scripture in one hand and that most American art form, dumb comedy, in the other hand can guide us. When faced with disenfranchisement, the loss of cultural hegemony, and exile, the Israelites deported to Babylon receive what I’m sure was a surprising word from God through the prophet Jeremiah: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

Don’t miss the profundity of that. Israel did not debate its religious status like we do; it openly prided itself on being God’s chosen people. And yet, the nation had been torn asunder by two of the most vicious military powers of the day. The noble, the intellectual, and the skilled hauled to Babylon to assimilate and augment the conquerer; the commoner classes left behind under the thumb of a polytheistic power. And in that dark moment, when despondency or panic seems almost logical, God clearly says not to panic. And moreover, rather than retreat into a bubble, the exiles are to actively go out and seek the good of their new cities, awash in a culture whose very foundation stands in opposition to their own.

two will ferrellsThough not nearly as dire (please do not devalue serious Christian persecution by dropping the “p” word on the overwhelming majority of negative things we might face here), we do face a similar choice. We can panic. It would be understandable. It would be awfully human. But it would only make matters worse. In 2008’s Semi-Pro, an ill-advised bear wrestling promotion at a basketball game turns to chaos as the bear escapes. The crowd, hung in a moment of uncertainty, is tossed into pandemonium when Will Ferrell’s character screams, “Everybody panic!” through the mic. Panic begets panic, and everyone’s safety is at risk. Too often I hear the same guttural cry from Christians alarmed by our changing culture. But such panic begets panic and increases danger for everyone. The world sees our fear, and knows our talk of blessed assurance must be nothing more than spiritual snake oil.

But there’s another path. A path of following the same God who called to the exiles and empowered the charity and defiance of early Christians in Rome. We have access to the same God, who has decided to send us to this land, replete with political, legal, economic, and technological advantages of which our forebearers could never dream. We are truly without excuse when compared to their hardships. So let’s seize hold of what God has promised us as well as what history has provided us. A catchphrase, forever tied in my mind to 2006’s Talladega Nights seems applicable: “Drive it like you stole it!” We didn’t do anything to earn God’s promise to be with us always. If we were born here, we didn’t choose to be born here any more than the exiles chose to go to Babylon. But here we are. So this July 4th, let’s realize the unmerited blessings around us, drive it like we stole it, and always seek the welfare of where we’ve been placed, “Christian” or not.

Two Will Ferrells: American Christians on July 4

Zero-turn mowers, Scripture, and sex

I’ve been in Waco since the fall of 2009, and I’ve never seen it this green. The rains have come down in historic amounts, the lake is 22 feet above level, and every green thing is exploding. Every pay-per-visit landscaping company must be seeing green as well, as the lush grass seems to spring back up before the mower is even done with it. Waco is alive with the hum of zero-turn mowers, racing across rebellious patches of centipede and St. Augustine.

zeroturnZero-turn mowers are fascinating to watch, as they defy many of our driving instincts. From early childhood, we play with wheels, imagining ourselves to be explorers, or race car drivers, or even just our parents driving home. We know long before we can legally drive that turning right takes us to the right; turning left takes us to the left. Zero-turn mowers, however, offer a much more direct control over trajectory, one that I imagine has crossed up many a first-time home user. On many such mowers, the right lever increases the speed of the right wheel relative to the left wheel…taking the mower to the left. The right wheel covers territory faster than the now slower left wheel. But as the left wheel anchors the mower, the right wheel is pulled in a circle and turns the mower to the left. The left lever similarly turns the mower to the right.

I’m afraid not enough of the church (including the conservative branch of the church universal in which I find myself and my focus) remembers this basic lesson of physics. We see the following of the Jesus Way as a binary. We look for the harsh line down the middle; the further from that line, the more holy or more profane we are, depending on which side of the line is in play. But Scripture is filled with language that describes the Jesus Way as precisely that: a way, as in a path or road. The author of Proverbs instructs us, Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” This wisdom builds on a long tradition woven throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, including God’s commission and charge to Joshua after Moses’ death. Following Jesus is not avoiding a line and pain beyond it (or flirting with one we want but fear to cross) but instead holding to a line, a path on both sides of which waits ruin for those who go astray.

There is perhaps no arena of the human experience more affected by this error than sex and sexuality. In my own experience, conservative Christians can become so blatant as to use “crossing the line” language to describe our views on Scripture and sex. Instead, honoring God here as with all things means following a path. On the one hand we find a falling away from God’s Law; on the other we risk being crushed under the weight of the Law. We fear falling off the first side, or even sounding like we might have a less conservative view of of sex, so greatly that we put the lever of the Law through the floor. Power races to one wheel. Fear holds back the other. And we go careening off the Way.

What pain is created by these failures to ponder the path? We don’t stand up when women our constantly bombarded by sexist and lewd jokes that aren’t “a big deal”, both behind their backs and to their faces. We don’t want to sound feminist, so the dignity of an entire gender made in God’s image is crushed beneath rampaging wheels. We trot out the same old rhetoric every summer about women covering up to stop male lust, telling women they are to blame for others’ failings and telling boys they are nothing more than untrainable animals. It’s much simpler to talk in such “strong” rules than to balance both levers with nuance, so off we go. Do not ever discount the effect such things have on the female psyche, and do not ever discount the effect such things have on the formation and maturation of young men.

I’ve seen this failure far too close to home. My beloved Baylor is in the midst of a future-defining struggle over how sexual assault is handled. According to the summary of the investigation recently released, “investigations [into assaults involving students] were conducted in the context of a broader culture and belief by many administrators that sexual violence ‘doesn’t happen here.’ Administrators engaged in conduct that could be perceived as victim-blaming, focusing on the complainant’s choices and actions, rather than robustly investigating the allegations, including the actions of the respondent.” Baylor is not the first nor probably the last to make such errors. Talking about sex sparingly and only in terms of hushed taboos is far easier than holding to a path, so we hold down our lever until a rut is carved, hoping that will hold back evil. But our little ruts only give error a chance to grow, as young men and women are left without the tools and language to talk  at all about love, sex, or violence, let alone in ways which honor God and affirm humans. We fear any failure to immediately confront the admission of things we’ve made stands against in the past will make us “soft” on those subjects, but a rapist goes without confrontation while we wring our hands about alcohol or modern dating. We struggle to find balance so again the lever of the Law is punched, and the whirl of the blade grinds down a beautiful life already damaged. Meanwhile, the weed of evil continues to choke out all life around it while we spin in circles.

Folks, nuance is hard. I use “we” language above not simply for rhetorical ownership or because I claim membership within the conservative church and wider church universal but because I’ve struggled with it. But that’s how we must follow the Way. This is not a call to abandon traditional readings of God’s Law but a call to hold them in a way that fully and properly honors God and loves humans. When we let our fear and frustration pull us to either side, we fail both humanity and God. We allow, or even directly create, horrific damage to those we should love as God loves them. We short-circuit God’s good plan for human thriving. May we instead be strong and very courageous, not turning to the right hand or to the left, that we may have good success wherever we go.

Zero-turn mowers, Scripture, and sex

The myth of Godless places

classroomEducation has always been incredibly important to me, but my interest in the intersection of politics and education has increased dramatically since I began working in the education system between preaching the weekends. Working with both the students and faculty has been an absolute blessing dropped into my lap by divine providence, so needless to say I was more than a bit angered to hear the latest education rumblings from Austin.

While Governor Greg Abbott has rather surprisingly embraced the idea of enhancing optional pre-K, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s advisory panel has sent a letter to state legislators decrying pre-K because it, among other perceived evils, keeps children in a “Godless environment.”

Godless environment. It doesn’t matter that I’m a pastor, or even a Christian, or that God led me to where I am as only He can. I, according to these fearmongerers, work to corrupt children in a Godless environment. To the enormous number of my colleagues who unashamedly call upon the name of Christ, in many cases having gone into education as an outpouring of their Christocentric love for others and desire to make a difference, your faith and intentions apparently don’t matter; our halls and classrooms are Godless, a threat to the sanctity of the American family.

But here’s the thing about Godless environments: they don’t exist. At all. Paul wrote to the Christians in Colossae that all things were made through and for Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus is “before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Everything, the stars and solar systems, the beating of our hearts, the intermolecular forces holding together the desks in my classroom, everything is held together by the power, creativity, and love of Jesus the Son of God. When God is holding everything together, it’s pretty much impossible to find a place without Him.

Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly Christianless places, where we have failed to be the witness we are called to be. There are places where proclaiming God’s love can be harder, and perceiving Him even harder. There are places where humans have done all they can to flee God, marring the image of God impressed on them and their victims. But as God intimately holds the universe together, rather than letting it unwind as the clockmaker who starts the mechanism and steps away, there is nowhere we can go to find a “Godless” place. Even when we go to the most broken places imaginable, we don’t go to bring them God; we go to partner with what God is already doing there and will still be doing long after we’re gone. And there isn’t a border, or law, or weapon, or ideology that can do anything to limit His reach and His promises.

Don’t believe the fearmongerers; they just want your vote and your allegiance. They profit from terror and feed on your fear. It is in their best interest that you bunker down with a Bible, a gun, and a straight party voting ticket. Go boldly out into the world, even into Texas’ allegedly Godless classrooms, knowing that there is nowhere you can outrun God, whose Son commands all power in Heaven and Earth and promises to be with us always. 

The myth of Godless places