Tuesday Mind Dump (7/12/16)

Luke Simmons / July 12, 2016
culture, gospel, mind dump

  • Well, I’m back at it after a few weeks of vacation.
  • Went to Toledo, Ohio to visit Molly’s family.
  • Such a fun time with cousins, in-laws, and getting to see my grandma.
  • Weather was cooler, not that humid, and really nice.
  • My in-laws have a basement that is dark and cold — perfect place to sleep.
  • Our girls had a blast playing with their cousins, swimming, playing on the slip-n-slide, learning to sew, and celebrating the 4th of July.
  • Also got to take the older girls to Cedar Point to ride roller coasters and have a blast.
  • Was able to convince Abby to ride the Millennium Force and then the girls must have ridden the Gemini 30 times.
  • Good to have a few weeks away from email and social media.
  • Decided to take a break from reading seminary books and read some other stuff:
    • Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch. Incredible paradigm for understanding how we flourish. In sum, flourishing happens when we have both authority and vulnerability. Will probably re-read this book in the future.
    • You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith. Critiques the common approach to discipleship that assumes we’re mostly brains-on-a-stick who just need more information. Instead, Smith shows how we’re really more formed by the ‘liturgies’ (habits, practices, environments, etc) around us than by what we cognitively believe. This is one I’ll probably have our pastors read together.
    • Lessons From The Finish Line by Ellen Marrs. That’s right—I finally got to read Ellen’s book (she’s part of our staff). I enjoyed it a lot, as some of the stories I knew but many I didn’t. It was a quick, enjoyable read and I’m proud of her for putting it together.
    • Code of Conduct by Brad Thor. Now that I’ve finished all of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books, I’m looking for some new novels. Enjoyed this one and will probably check out another in the series (order doesn’t appear important).
  • Also watched the ESPN documentary series, O.J.: Made in America.
  • It was outstanding.
  • Essentially braids together three strands into a fascinating story: (1) O.J.’s life and relationship with Nicole, (2) O.J.’s relationship with the black community, and (3) the black community’s relationship with the LAPD.
  • Finished watching it just a few days before the latest round of killings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas.
  • Struck me that while some things have changed and improved for African-Americans in our country, the dynamic with police doesn’t seem any better than it did 20 years ago.
  • Still processing a lot of last week’s events and seeking to listen and learn from a variety of people.
  • I don’t know what a good solution would be, but I’m convinced of a few things:
    • Simple solutions don’t exist. It’s easy for white people, who are very much removed from the trials and injustices that African-Americans face, to oversimplify. It’s not a simple thing.
    • African-Americans have experienced hundreds of years of systemic injustice and their struggle is not over. They have to face issues and have conversations with their children that white people don’t have to deal with — especially as it relates to interacting with police. They unquestionably face more I want to listen, understand, empathize, and use whatever influence I have to be a voice for justice.
    • Police officers work really hard, place themselves in frequent danger, are under intense scrutiny, and truly seek to do the right thing with very little conscious sense of a person’s race. Like many in the African-American community, they feel threatened and endangered.
    • Sin is real, deep, and more than just personal. It exists and manifests itself in many institutional and unconscious ways. Christians who have a narrow sense of sin and a shallow sense of the gospel will be continually unhelpful and ignorant (though vocal) in addressing these big, systemic issues.
    • The church can’t fix these issues, but we do need to be a faithful witness to the gospel and its implications for culture, power, injustice, and unity.
  • Here are a few things that have been especially helpful in processing these issues (I don’t fully agree with all of what’s presented, but each has helped me think more deeply and compassionately):
  • So, with a heavy heart about these and so many other issues, I’m back in action.
  • It’s good to be back to work, connecting with our pastors and people, and hearing about what I missed.
  • I’m looking forward to getting back to preaching and preparing for some big things we have coming this fall related to our church’s future.
  • I’m also aware that apart from Christ I can do nothing.
  • It’s a wonderfully humbling, freeing, and dependent place to be.
  • Join me there today.
  • All of life is all for Jesus.
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