Why I Joined a Protest



I was asked why I joined a protest.
First: I am 100% behind the Black Lives Matter movement. Do Black lives matter? A resounding yes.

I also believe we can be 100% behind a movement that is not 100% perfect. We can engage without endorsing every single part of it. This has been true for every movement in history.

If the church dismisses a “secular movement” because it’s too “liberal,” the church will remain a windowless tower. It will isolate itself from all streams of healing and from all wounded people. And if the church cannot be the hands and feet of Jesus in these places, then who? What gospel will they hear except a self-affirming superiority?

I’m reminded of Rev. Dr. MLK Jr, who navigated every social-political sphere and led with leaders like Rabbi Abraham Heschel and monk Thich Naht Hanh. As a Christian minister, Dr. King moved in places he may not have endorsed, but that’s how the secular and sacred worked together. No divide, only divine.

What’s sad to me is that “social justice” has been demonized by church leaders. It’s “not real salvation.” So no longer does the world go to the church like they did to Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. If only the church was the bold beacon of hope it ought to be: movements would come to the church and we could lead together. Just imagine. That’s real evangelism.

It has been centuries now since the church was the pioneers of progress, the cutting edge of arts, science, music, education and human liberation. Now: churches are cultural conversion camps, cut off from a world they deem wrong.

Yes, I can uphold my theology in differing places, and more, my theology compels me to them. If your faith is “contaminated” by partnering with movements, what does that say about your faith? If a movement has to be done a “Christian way,” where are you? In the world, not of the world: that is a skill we must re-learn.

So no, I cannot separate myself from secular spaces, scholars, sources. God is moving there when the church won’t. I want to be there. To walk boldly and compassionately as Jesus did among tax collectors and Roman politicians, across all divisions. And I will always be for the wounded, every time. Every single time.
— J.S.

Only Heroes and Monsters


No one is the one-dimensional, evil caricature that they’re painted to be.
No one is the shiny version of a person that’s worshiped on a pedestal.
It’s easier to hate a cartoon-parody idea; to denigrate a hologram; to blast the artificial; to praise the effigy. It’s easier to demonize a faceless, disembodied, phantom enemy.
If you and I could sit down for coffee, we would discover hidden layers, messy dimensions, buried motives, unspeakable trauma, two fractured people hanging on.
We are wildly struggling, conflicted, complex.
We are not wholly evil nor holy good.
Yes, monsters deserve justice for their crimes. Heroes deserve more applause. But I will pause to consider that we are often both. We can be our own worst enemy, and we are just as capable of being our own heroes, overcoming the worst of us with the best in us.
Across a table, chair to chair, eye to eye, we might disagree—but I hope we will learn how we came to be. To hear the whole story.
— J.S.

It’s Them Or It’s Me: But It’s Probably Me

I’m quick to blame others because 99% of the time, I’m right that they’re wrong. I have these really ironclad, airtight, foolproof reasons why I have to be right. There’s no way other people could have thoughts of their own. I’ve seen every angle, I’m being fair and honest, I see what they can’t, I’m telling both sides of the story as it really is.

They’re holding me down, man. They’re making my job harder. I could do much better if it weren’t for these rules and restrictions. Once I get my own thing going, I’ll do all the things they never let me do. Then they’ll see, you know. They’ll regret not tapping into my unrealized fount of pure raw wisdom.

I think like this all the time. It’s true that they are, in fact, holding me down. It’s true that I’m set aside and stepped on; there are better things being built on my back while I do the grunt work. It’s true these people could care less for my well-being. And yes, I’m right and they’re wrong.

But — I get the sneaking suspicion that maybe I use THEM as an excuse to do the bare minimum. I have a way of doing the easiest part of the work, of slipping away from manual duties, of checking out my brain when I feel this is “beneath me.” It’s pride. It’s selfishness. It’s all the things I’m not willing to say about myself, because it’s a horrifying realization I don’t know how to confront yet.

Maybe they are right about a few things, and I am wrong about many things. And my well-being shouldn’t be based on what’s happening around me, but on the actual opportunities given. We have a way of seeing how we’re held down instead of the places we could build up. Because more than fearing failure, many times I fear success. I am a coward not because I do little, but because I’m afraid of the unimaginable possibilities of real potential for greatness.

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