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To knee or not to knee

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With all the discussion and outrage regarding the kneeling and protesting of professional athletes during the national anthem I decided to organize my thoughts.
I think when you are looking at the issue you have to look at it from different angles. First if you’re looking at it from the point of the protester you have to determine what is the goal. If the goal is to bring maximum attention to an issue; there’s no better time to protest. Because of the polarization of this issue the news cycles have incessantly covered this issue for the last few days. This issue has caused many people to look up who Colin Kaepernick is and put the issue of protest on the forefront of people’s minds; so in that respect the protest was successful. It garnered attention to the issue of police brutality.
I know some people argue that the message of protest against police brutality has been lost; yet despite the mischaracterization the fact still remains that people are aware that athletes are protesting something and in their search they have discovered the true reasons. I’m convinced that there are more people who are aware of the issue because they chose to kneel during the anthem.
The second way to look at kneeling during the anthem is in regards to getting people to join or support your cause, and in this area I think the results are mixed. I want to preface my comments with this thought that protest often are met with resistance because protesting is inherently oppositional. It is an attempt to change something that is common place, something that has been accepted. A protester challenges the status quo, so whenever you protest you should expect resistance. The big question however is whether the method of protesting is creating unnecessary resistance or unforced resistance. Are the athletes making unforced “errors”. It is on this point that I think it was unwise to protest during the national anthem. I believe the decision to protest during the anthem has alienated people who may have otherwise joined and supported the cause, but because of the perceived disrespect have not been able to identify and support the cause.
The fact of the matter is that there are many people who are passionate about that specific way of showing patriotism and respect by standing and saluting the flag with the national anthem. Though others may not see that as the only way to display patriotism others view the failure to salute the flag as un-American, unpatriotic and disrespectful. Appearances are at times more important than reality, which is one reason why scriptures tell us to avoid the appearance of evil. I’m not sure, but I believe the protest would garner more sympathy if they had protested before or after the national anthem. This doesn’t mean that the protest wouldn’t have resistance because as I said earlier all protests are going to have resistance. Some resistance is avoidable. A good example of this was the Dallas Cowboys decision to protest before the national anthem. Even though they protested before they were still met with boos and resistance. Yet they did avoid the trap of their protest being missed characterized as being unpatriotic.
I know some have talked about first amendment rights, but that is not the issue as much as the utility of when to use those rights. I know others have used historical examples of protest but I haven’t seen any protests that do what this specific protest does with the use of symbolic appropriation. The best way I can say it is that if you were remixing songs, this remix chose the mix the national anthem with NWA’s F#$@ the police. You can see how that particular mix wouldn’t sit to well with folk. So my point is that there have been other remixes but none like this. So the Ali examples and the Olympics examples just aren’t the same.
The big issue which is sort of beneath the surface is the power of symbolic appropriation. Symbols are powerful they are not necessarily based on reality but on an ideal. The American flag is based upon an ideal of innocence, of peace and harmony, of a melting pot of people who have merged together to create a unique and unified American culture. What the protest does is that it hijacks that image, calls it a lie, a myth. It screams like the echo of a bucket leaving its chamber that we are not in harmony, that we are not in peace but at war .We are not content and healthy but we are ridden with puss filled blisters and warts that are ready to explode. The protests reveal that we are not united but divided. It’s very uncomfortable, it’s provocative and it’s unsettling that the American apple pie to some is more like a discarded moldy fruitcake.
I don’t want to get into the president’s response to this issue because that brings a whole other set of issues. I only want to say I know he can do better. I do want to analyze this idea of being disrespectful to the flag. Most the time when I picture someone being disrespectful to flag I think of them burning the flag, stomping on the flag or physically harming or soiling the flag. I think of the idea of maybe people talking during the national anthem or laughing and joking or maybe turning their back while people are saluting. Yet none of these things are happening. The players are calm they’re introspective, bowing down, some actually have their hands over their hearts. I just don’t see the huge uproar that it’s been made out to be. Again back to my original position I don’t think it’s the best place or time time to protest if you want to gain support from the people in the middle, however I do think the outrage has been overblown and mis- characterized.
I think for dialogue to be effective the protesters should understand and at least respect the pains of those who see their act as being disrespectful, because like it or not appearances matter. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial.Scripture talks about using my freedoms in a way that won’t cause my brother to stumble. I’m not saying don’t offend anyone, but if you can avoid offending someone and at the same time get your point across, do it.
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5 Thoughts about Charlottesville

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History was made this weekend. Our nation’s under belly has again been exposed. America is indeed a melting pot but its got some serious leaks that if left unaddressed will lead to flooding and destruction.

  1. White Supremacy as well as any view that holds one ethnicity as superior over others is a demonic ideology that should be justly denounced by all people especially Christians.

2. Our country is being driven by extremists and people stuck in their ideological caves who can’t bear listening or trying to understand the beliefs or positions of others. Our culture loves screaming. Whether its in sports entertainment or politics, civil conversation and dialogue has been tossed out the door.  We need civility. We need a national conversation on race, and maybe a national review of history because its clear that many people want to revisit times when the church and government stood quiet in the midst of state sponsored and condoned terrorism. Our laws grant the right to protest, and to be able to express our beliefs as long as we do it peacefully. The merits of those beliefs are what need to be laid plain in public debate.  The ideology that  justified the extermination of the original natives of the land,  one that drove government policy to place Japanese in externment camps,  hang blacks, and lock them up for not having identification is akin to the ideology that is animating these protests. It is one that views all other races as subordinate to the White Race. It is abysmal. Let’s not get it twisted, the protests were not just about protesting the removal of a historical monument, but the rise of the New White Supremacists is a response to the growing minority population and a reaction to the charges of being called racist for wanting to hold on to the memories of a White America.

3. For our nation to thrive we must focus on the things that unite us without ignoring the areas where we are different. Our politics are more polarized then ever. We have gotten to the point where supporters of the other political party are considered our enemies. I have read comments suggesting they be hung, executed and or deported. This is ridiculous. We hate our neighbors next door, we are distrustful of anyone that doesn’t look, speak, or dress like us. We listen to our own media channels, and worse call anything that we doesn’t agree with our position, “fake news”. Its so easy to control you if you cannot even look or listen to other outlets. We have to use critical thinking. Remember the source and the character of the person you are listening to. Scripture points out that you will find wisdom in the multitude of council. If you cannot trust the media, then all you have is propaganda. If we have propaganda, then we no longer have an informed electorate and the basis of our democracy is dead. We are being controlled and manipulated by much larger forces, who are looking for more power and control of our government, our lives and our mind. The Devil is having a field day with all this hate. If you are getting to the point where you hate anyone who does not look like you, then you have lost.  That is what White Supremacy is about and on the other hand there are elements of other ethnic or sexual superiority on the other end of the spectrum. For Christians we are taught to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us. How can we be christians when we hate our brothers who are of a different political party. How can we be christians when we are quick to break up families of people with different skin tones. How can we be christians when we are scared of muslims? I’m not even talking about the radical ones in the middle east, but any one with a a burqua or hoody. This is crazy.

4. Scriptures call us to speak out against sin.

Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God 

10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

As believers we have to condemn Racism, in all of its forms. We cannot give a platform to bigotry. However the gates of hell have started to open up and if believers, especially White evangelicals stay silent, we will see it sweep through the populace, even in the church.

5. Finally we must continue to pray.  The American Church is being tested. What will we stand for? We cannot give in whole heartedly to any political side, for the kingdom of God is much grander and will not be supplanted by a political ideology. We have a gospel to proclaim, and not just one that saves us from individual sins, but against crooked systems.

29“The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. 30I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 

The judgment of God is near, and we as the church need to intercede for our country, for our leaders, for our elected officials and for our brethren. We must stand against corruption, bribery, systematic oppression and for the poor, the needy and the immigrant that is passing through. My brothers, let us pray, for God is in the midst of separating the wheat from the chaff. There are dark forces that have arisen from the shadows, that will not return except through love, prayer and condemnation.

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