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Poll: White Supremacy Gains Traction in Oregon

I came across this news article detailing how people feel about racism and white supremacy. I highly encourage readers to read the article in its entirely to get a grasp of the numbers and poll statements used, but I will note the highlights.

Although sympathy to white supremacy is relatively low compared to appreciation for multiculturalism, it has increased in Oregon.

Let me be clear: White supremacy should be zero. If not that, it should be going down, not up. But that’s not the case in Oregon.

Unfortunately, a lot of white supremacists have a twisted view of Christianity. They try to hijack it–and sometimes they succeed. Christian nationalism has been on the rise in recent years across America and this poll proves it.

Although the numbers are still low, this poll should concern everyone–Christian or not. White supremacists who hijack Christianity do spiritual harm and falsely portray Christians as violent and bigoted. The Jesus I know was loving and accepting of all. He helped the needy and healed the sick. He associated with and healed women at a time when that was unheard of. The Jesus I know practiced revolutionary love.

The Jesus I know was also likely brown. He was not a fair-skinned, blue eyed, gun-toting bigot.

Christians should be concerned about the hijacking of our faith. And that means, among other things, fighting white supremacy.

Statement on Critical Race Theory

The Florida Board of Education banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory. I don’t know that it should be banned–that seems a little drastic–but I think it’s prudent for Critical Race Theory to not be taught.

Critical Race Theory argues that systems are racist and tries to show this. Some argue that it is not evidence-based.

It’s those two points–not the assertion that racism is not a problem or doesn’t exist–that are the issue for me.

As a Christian (and a philosopher), I take the individual to be central–not structures. There are racist people, not racist structures. It is true that there have been–and are–many racist individuals in positions of power and this has caused racist laws and institutions. All of us are fallen, and we each individually need to seek God’s grace.

The work to be done with regard to continuing racism is thus a matter of individuals. That makes it, probably, a much more difficult problem to solve. Doing this work is honorable and Godly.

The evidence I have seen on, for example, unconscious bias, shows that individuals may be more or less racially biased. However, learning this about oneself is the first step to undoing racism.

People on both the Left and the Right have different perspectives on Critical Race Theory. On the Left, there is a worry about denying racism exists and that is very problematic. On the Right–especially the far Right–there is a denial that racism exists and even white supremacy.

The fact of the matter is that we need to have healthier dialogues about race and racism. People on the Right do have a point when they say no child should be taught that they are inherently a victim or an oppressor. That simply isn’t healthy for child development.

We can have healthy discussions about race a racism by going back a bit. In my past, at least, we were taught in college that all human beings are of equal worth and that some of them have been and are unjustly treated because of the color of their skin. The goal for people such as myself–Caucasian people–was to be inclusive, bring people of color up, offer true friendship, and be sensitive to all of this. We tried different foods, experience different dance, and were exposed to different clothes.

God loves each individual, regardless of race. Racism is a problem, but perhaps Critical Race Theory is not the healthiest way to tackle it. Besides, the assumption in much of race discourse these days is fatalist: It suggests that racism is an inescapable part of life and that all white people are doomed as oppressors.

It’s not and they aren’t.

The discourse on racism has become toxic. We can fight white supremacy without Critical Race Theory by seeking true connections across racial lines and being positive and inclusive of people of color.

The work to undo racism is a just and Godly task. It requires patience from all of us. It requires real friendship and love. That may seem like a hard task, but in the end, it is worth it.

Star Trek image with the quote: It’s impossible to fear diversity and to enter the future at the same time.

Stand with Dreamers

A few years ago, I began organizing a peaceful rally to defend DACA recipients. I made the first moves, and then allowed other organizers to help out.

You can see coverage of the rally here.

I mentioned this to people who came to the event, but I wanted to note it here: I know at least one DACA recipient personally. My love and care for him was the start of my move for immigrant rights.

John Nash and the Quiet Life

Before he died, John Nash, the famous Noble prize winning mathematician, said that recovering from schizophrenia was a matter of living a quiet life.

I thought I understood him in the past, but I don’t think I did.

More and more, we live in an era of attention seeking. People seek fame–Tik Tok fame, Twitter fame–and are hungry for money. I don’t begrudge people a living wage, but I do take offense at money hoarders and scammers, who see everything in terms of the bottom line. A lot of people only value relationships for the monetary benefits they can get from them.

I’m not fully recovered yet, but I am happier and healthier than I have been in my life. I told an old friend the other day that I now live a quiet and happy life.

To most, my life would be considered boring. It is uneventful, low stress, and drama free. I like it that way. It aides in my recovery.

Here’s to a quiet life. May more people have one.

One Christian Perspective on the Murder of George Floyd

Many people have weighed in on the conviction of George Floyd’s killer. There have been many things said on both sides of the political aisle. I thought I would give my Christian perspective.

Murder is always a time to mourn. However, without condemning the murderer, we can look at the actions that have been seen on video by millions and take it as a time to assess ourselves.

These days, the loudest people who call themselves Christian aren’t necessarily known for living a Christ-like life. That can make it seem like we should give up on the religion entirely.

I have been encouraged and supported by several faithful Christians over the years. They may not be the loudest, but they have shown me to the love of God. Through them and their love, I have grown stronger in my faith.

But that’s not to say I am perfect. In fact, when I heard of the conviction, I immediately went to the Bible. I took it as an opportunity to assess myself. I believe Christianity is about working on yourself and much as it is showing love for others.

I asked myself: Am I capable of doing something that gruesome? Am I hardened?

I am a small person, and not very strong. It’s unlikely that I have the physical ability to harm someone in that same way. Even so, I checked my heart to find out if I was a hardened soul. It is easy to become hard in this world.

Then, I prayed. I asked God to give me the spirit of gentleness. After that, I read passages on gentleness in the Bible.

Gentleness is listed as a fruit of the spirit. God wants us to be gentle. It is also said that you will know real Christians by their fruits.

God peeled away the hardness I had been carrying with me. I now believe virtue can be a gift from God.

I may be one person who has asked God to change me because of the murder of George Floyd, but one person is more than zero. If more people tried to change themselves this way, we wouldn’t have to worry about police brutality (or the reputation of Christianity!)

I pray, dear reader, that God works upon you to give you the fruit of the spirit. Because, as the Bible says, against them, there is no law.

High School Memories

The other day, my mom was going through a box of papers. She found a note from my high school English teacher, Mrs. Orloff.

The note reads as follows:

“Dear Jennie

Thank you for the gift & the party. I will think of you often. You have challenged me to be a better teacher. I hope to go in a book store someday and see a stack of books by the famous author Jennie Lawson. Be good-be happy.

Mrs. Orloff”

I was close to my high school teachers. I attended a school for teen parents. Back then, it was called Teen Parent East. Now, it is called The Chiles Academy.

We had to fight for our education and the right to have a school that catered to our needs. Because of that, I got involved in politics at an early age. I will always thank my teachers for showing me how to advocate for myself and others.

The school had nutrition classes, parenting classes–in addition to regular classes in English, Math, etc. There was a daycare on site. I was able to breastfeed for two years because of that.

The school is now named The Chiles Academy after the late former governor Lawton Chiles, who visited our school and was supportive.

It is very important to have good teachers in your life. I am thankful that the vast majority of my formal educational experiences have been very positive.