Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree But I Will Try to Listen

Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree But I Will Try to Listen

I hear a lot today about agreeing to disagree.

You know, “I see it this way. You see it that way. We’ll just agree to disagree.”

Sorry, I can’t do that. 

As my friend and great social-minded theologian, Samuel Mudge said recently,

“Agreeing to disagree doesn’t work for a whole lot of people because sometimes, two people are discussing something that is an abstract idea to one, and life-and-death to the other.”

Think about that for a second. I’ll use my most personal examples for clarity.

Not having access to plastic straws might kill me.

Doing away with healthcare protections might kill me.

Using mental health or other disabilities as your excuse because you don’t want to talk about guns or other issues might kill me.

That’s how it works.

The same is true when you endorse leaders who overtly or covertly use their power and systems as a means of oppression, exclusion, and hate.

They aren’t all created equal. People are dying! 

I will say this. We do need to listen to each other more.

I do believe most of us are not as far apart as it seems. Outside the top few, the people from the middle down are all being squeezed economically and otherwise.

Let’s work together to answer these more difficult questions. Maybe life isn’t supposed to be completely found in easy answers.

agree agreement ankreuzen arrangement
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We’ve lost our ability to sit across from each other; to hear each other, and to listen to our individual and collective pain. 

This isn’t a suggestion of mere tolerance. I’ll fight as long as I can against racism, ableism, and any other form of oppression, exclusion, and hate.

Inclusion is a table of equity and justice especially for people on the margins. 

That’s what Jesus’ ministry is all about. He restored people to equitable, just community.

This isn’t an over-simplified version of love the sinner, hate the sin. 

That’s just a slight modification of agreeing to disagree with a dash of power mixed in. That’s what got us here.

It’s just a reminder to listen because the cycle will never stop if we don’t do better. 

I hope you’ll join me.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

Justice, Pain, Equity, and Sleep: A Cripple Convergence Story

Justice, Pain, Equity, and Sleep: A Cripple Convergence Story

“Justice”
Judge not.
But, what about justice?
Lord, will there be equity?
How long must we wait,
For heaven’s sake?
Watching others die,
Pain exchanged,
For personal gains.

Reveal your plans,
Here and now,
Let Love transformed,
Become the norm.
Just make it soon.
Can’t you see?
I’m dying too.

inside photography of church
Photo by Adrien Olichon on Pexels.com

Hey Y’all,

I planned to write something else today (and, have it up before now) but, I’m exhausted.

One of the most difficult aspects of chronic pain is that you never know what you’re going to get.

I know I’ve overworked my body recently, which isn’t saying much by nondisabled body standards frankly, but I’m feeling pretty bad. My entire body hurts.

If you are a praying sort, prayers are appreciated.

Positive thoughts are always welcome here. 

Another part of my struggle with chronic pain is what I call painsomnia.

Simply put, that’s insomnia caused by pain and, in case it isn’t clear by now, I don’t sleep much.

So, here I am.

Exhausted and typing for public consumption. There’s probably a law against this somewhere. If it’s in my bedroom, I’ll plead cripple ignorance.

Anyway, I digress…

I know many people have it worse. This is also a frustration of mine.

I think about these things at night while not sleeping.

We live in a world filled with injustice. 

Racism.

People exploiting others for their personal economic gain.

Outright hate.

There’s prejudice of all kinds for many people.

Maybe it’s always existed but it seems worse than in recent memory.

Meanwhile, overtly and covertly, those on top by virtue of privilege are still working to make more, pay less, and take more away from the rest of us. 

Look at healthcare.

The elite are in court right now working to take away the few remaining protections of the Affordable Care Act. (USA) Things like coverage for preexisting conditions.

Social Security and Medicare coming next.

(I feel like I’ve talked about this before, though, I’m too tired to look it up.) 

You don’t have to look too hard to find something happening that will hurt most of us in one way or another in exchange for profits. There are plenty of examples.

Some folks are just marginalized more than others.

That’s intentional. 

If they can keep the fighting focused on the fears of those who have little and those who have less, they win. Divide and conquer.

This strategy is working. They’re on top! 

The disparity between the top and the bottom is growing while the middle is shrinking.

Meanwhile, all I want to do is sleep. But, sleeping is what brought us here.

And, I get frustrated. I want justice now.

I know Love works toward justice.

I just wonder how many people will die waiting for change? 

I wonder, “Will it be me?”

That’s the thing about justice. Prayers are good. Action is better. 

One of the mantras I repeat most often is “God’s Love works most often through our own hands and hearts.”

God doesn’t need me but God can use me.

I’m reminded of Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

So, here I am.

I’m awake anyway.

How about you?

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

The Deep Scarcity of Love

The Deep Scarcity of Love

My Dream of Love
I dream of progress elsewhere, beyond what is easily seen by today’s eyes, where peace reigns, and gentleness grows as true in practice as it is in spirit.

I dream of life eternal, where love does not dim but, is transformed complete.

I dream,
I hope,
I am.

Love Wins Wheelchair with Stole

It’s difficult to believe in love some days.

Look around.

Hate seems to be winning.

Truth seems to be relative.

Hope is in short supply.

Ironically, that’s when you need hope, truth, and love the most; when they seem so scarce.

That sums up where we are right now.

There’s a deep scarcity of love.

Racism, attacks on women, children, and the disabled. People facing hate and exclusion for whom they love.

We live in scary and dangerous times.

It seems overwhelming.

Yet, I can’t hide from it and neither should you. Being idle only helps perpetuate systemic injustice.

We have a responsibility to participate with love even knowing we won’t complete its task.

Human brokenness comes with a propensity to place one life over another.

Still, we have an obligation to work toward, love, inclusion, and justice for all people.

This is our command to love God and neighbor.

God’s work is about justice and God uses imperfect people to do it.

This is a timeless truth in which I find hope.

There are people just like you and me working to bring restoration in the name of love. We are not alone.

Likewise, we can do the same.

We don’t need love’s transformation to be complete to transformers here and now.

As I’ve heard it said, “God doesn’t call the perfect. He perfects the called.”

God has called plenty of imperfect people to participate in love’s mission.

Just look at me.

I’m as imperfect as they come yet I’m called nevertheless just as the many imperfect people before me were called.

The world needs it.

The world needs you.

Right now.

How will you bring transformational Love today?

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

 

Backlash!

Backlash!

“Fortune”
A Fortune of money is what you seek but a fortunate son is not someone like me.
A broken body, down on my luck, while you’re perched on top out of touch.
Running the business,
It’s always the same,
Making a fortune because you own the game

Heart with People

There’s always backlash.

Whenever an existing power structure feels threatened, you get backlash.

We see it in our world and, not surprisingly, we see it in the church.

It can be civil rights. It can be women. It can be the LGBTQIA+ community. Disability pride. It doesn’t matter.

In fact, it’s all of these things.

Wherever someone seeks equity and inclusion, you get backlash.

As we also often witness, you get cross sectional power players working together too. Think for a moment about how the powerful never seem to clamor for separation of church and state when they are colluding.

The power players all want to be in cahoots then.

It’s only when equity comes into play, such as when the church desired exclusion from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), do power players scream.

There are numerous examples here. Disability is my primary marginalizing experience but, it’s no different with regard to the other people mentioned initially.

You don’t have to go very far to notice the powerful orchestrating together.

I could name names, however, I suspect I don’t have to if you’ve read this far. They’ll even use us as tokens if we’re not careful.

Most of us won’t do this, of course, but it does happen and it only takes a couple for it to become some insulating justification for those in control. However, there is a better way forward.

When working within the existing power structure doesn’t work, and I believe that time is now, the rest of us need to build together too.

I’ve seen some of this, though, not nearly enough. In many cases, I’ve witnessed the opposite with divisions and factions.

The powerful know this and they’re happy to let it continue and even encourage it. If we minimize each other, they can continue their dominance over all of us.

We need to work across communities as allies for each other.

We need to lift up advocates in each their respective areas.

Whenever possible, we need to empower voices of those who are intersectionally marginalized. (Those who face more than one marginalizing identifier.)

I say this because I do believe you can be marginalized by one trait (as I am with my disability) while also being privileged in other ways (as I am as a white man.)

Yes, there will be times for me to speak. There will also be times for me to yield the floor.

There is time for both and too many times for all of us as it is today.

That’s the backlash to seeking equity. The truly powerful, the ones dominating our world today, will not go easily, quietly, or willingly. That’s where we are.

It’s also why it’s important for us to work together, building each other up. Because, they don’t have to tear us down if we do it for them.

Next time, I’ll look at how Jesus and his early disciples resisted the powerful in their time.

I hope you’ll check back because I believe this is an important lesson for us no matter if you believe exactly as I do or not. Solidarity.

Wherever you find yourself this day, thanks for journeying with me and remember in the world of Justice and Love, Love Accepts You No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

If Your Faith Excludes You’re Wrong

If Your Faith Excludes You’re Wrong

“Love: Our Universal Truth”
If Love is our universal truth, then why is it so hard?
We keep each other far away as if to stand on guard.
But Love calls us to open up if we long to be set free.
And, in this way we share a Love that connects eternally.

Love Wins Wheelchair with Stole

I wrote these above words a few days ago because I believe Love and kindness is the key to everything. Love saves whereas hate destroys.

Yet, we live in a word so often characterized by hate. Even worse, just as we sometimes see, hate can be a great unifier for people. It can be a unifier that is, until it destroys and, make no mistake, it does destroy. Hate always needs something to consume.

Sure, it will destroy your identified target at first. Only, it doesn’t stop there. Hate is a scourge. It destroys everything. Eventually, it will even destroy itself.

Those, united by hate, will hate each other when nobody else is left.

Love on the other hand is different. Love saves. Love provides life. As a Christian specifically, and as a person of faith more broadly, I believe in this message.

This is what I find so troubling about people who use religion as an instrument of hate.

Since I’m a Jesus follower, I will speak directly to those who claim my faith tradition. It may be a universal truth, but I have a special responsibility to speak to my people. It’s also what I see most often in the world directly outside my font door.

If your use faith as a tool for hate, you are doing it wrong.

Put another way, you can’t rightfully claim to be a Christian while also supporting people and systems of hate and exclusion without being wrong.

As I wrote on social media,

“It would be nice if power hungry, exclusionist, patriarchal, lock up children, people of color, the disabled, and others Christians gave more consideration to the upside down and interdependent nature of the biblical narrative instead of using it as a tool for hate.” (1Corinthians 12:21-27, Matthew 5:1-12)

Love seeks justice.
Love uplifts.
Love supports.
Love sustains.
Love always expands to include people on the margins.

Love takes the force of power and hate and turns it upside down. That’s the message of Jesus.

Furthermore, yes, Love will win but we also are charged with living it into our world today. (1 Corinthians 13, Luke 10:25-37)

Maybe you still want to hate and exclude but, you can’t claim to be a Christian while doing it.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Education and Exclusion

Education and Exclusion

The following guest post from my friend, Tim Vermande, is a continuation in a series of discussions on Inclusion and Exclusion. You can read more about this in my last post, Do You Struggle with Legalism? I plan to continue this discussion, following up from Tim’s words and continuing to focus on disability, next time. Tim’s original post and other work can be found at Flying Kitty Monster.

What does it mean to be “educated”? The author of this meme on Facebook has an idea:
59845774_2401633766535083_3806936720570580992_n
As most people will tell you, education is not just being able to spout information (or misinformation) in response to questions. While that kind of learning can be profitable, as recently watchers of “Jeopardy” might know, it does not mean that one is able to discern how these things happened (as watchers of the same show also found, at least until a librarian with discernment learned to beat the champion at his game).

Along with the signs of history repeating itself, there is a need to understand diverse events and discern their commonality. This is why professors ask students to write essays about apparently unrelated topics (one of my favorites was the link shared by movable type, color lithography, peanut butter, Spam, Clarence Birdseye, and avocado green).

This is also why we like open discussions, because people bring in new connections. One of these connections came to mind during the last week, while discussing church opposition to the Americans with Disabilities Act. As it progressed, we developed a feeling that the early church was very inclusive. Jesus was denounced by the religious authorities for partying with sinners and undesirables. The book of Acts and the Epistles tell of attempts to exclude people–all of which collapsed. The Christian world expanded to include Gentiles, Romans who ate meat sacrificed to idols, Samaritans, and a host of other undesirables. Paul, constantly aware of his own past, constantly sought to include everyone.

But somewhere, that was lost. Part of this was self-survival. Creeds arose to draw boundaries. In the process, they did not just define a boundary, but to exclude (writers such as Elaine Pagels have explored this idea further). The Apostles Creed was a low-level form of this tendency, but the Nicene creed spelled out a great many doctrinal points and anathematized anyone who diverted from them.

Along the way, such definitions came to merge with cultural ideas (for an example in one field, see my review here), and in the late 1900s, disabled people found themselves excluded from the provisions of the ADA when it came to churches. Nearly every day I read on a disability site about this. As I and others have found, you can get in trouble faster for insisting that the accessible parking (if it exists) at a church be reserved for people with disabilities than for preaching heresy–I distinctly recall one incident related by a friend who was told that it “wasn’t very Christian” to call police for a violation (I asked if they had mentioned that it wasn’t very Christian to park there without the proper permit). And, as this article asks, why are so many excluded from ministry positions? Will we face the challenge, and will our allies rise to join us?

By the way, if you’re wondering about the exam question, here’s a hint: the link has do with technology that was popularized and made profitable by someone other than the inventor.

Do You Struggle with Religious Legalism?

Do You Struggle with Religious Legalism?

Hey All,

I’m sorry I missed a day or two of posting. I’ve been struggling. I intend to do better.

My depression has kicked up. My sadness. My inability to understand the exclusion in our world.

Maybe it’s being at church meetings. The United Methodist Church is on the verge of breaking apart over the issue of sexuality.

Maybe it’s frustration about my disabilities. I’m not always the inspirational overcomer many nondisabled  people want to see.

Maybe it’s because I don’t check many boxes so easily which makes it more difficult to gain an audience for the words I hope to share.

It’s probably all of these things.

Do you ever feel like you’re struggling. Like you don’t quite fit in? For whatever reason. Your reasons don’t have to be my reasons. It can be anything. Be you.

There are two things I know for sure. 

  1. You are created to be you.
  2. Love always seeks justice and inclusion.

Love loves you no matter what anyone else says or does. Love is. Period. Even when you’re struggling, even when others question your worth or belonging, you are loved.

And, they are loved too but, again, Love always seeks justice. Love always seeks equity. Love always seeks to bring people from the margins into its circle.

I’m a Christian and I know for certain Jesus tells us everything begins with Love and that we are called to do live this way too. (Luke 10:25-37)

This is what I don’t understand about religious legalists.

Of course, they often use terms like traditional so it sounds better, like saying they hold a “traditional view of scripture.”

That’s what’s so nefarious about it. It’s made out to be ok, even good. It’s made to seem like theirs is a higher view of scripture. At least, it’s an acceptable difference of opinion. At worst, theirs is a righteous cause for holiness. It’s none of those things. It’s exclusion and hate that harms people, both directly and indirectly, disguised as caring.

Further, I’m here to tell you, there is nothing traditional about exclusion. That’s not what Love does and it’s certainly not what Jesus does regardless of what you believe or don’t about faith. It’s actually the opposite.

Jesus always tells us to put people above rules.

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So, the next time someone makes you feel like you don’t belong because of their internalized legalism lived out, stay strong. You are not alone. Love loves you and so do I.

You are worthy of Love.

It’s time to call bullshit on anything less. The forces against Love don’t have the right to spin this story whether brought about internally or externally.

Wherever you find yourself this day, thanks for journeying with me and remember in the world of justice and Love, Love Accepts You No Exceptions.

Peace Love and AcceptanceLastly, Before You Go (And, It’s Not Money!)
Writing helps me. I hope my words help you too as this is why I’m out here. Your input also help sustain me. So, please let me know what you think about my post by leaving a comment because my hope is to begin a conversation. Love always works in community. Thanks!