Observations on the Ferguson Tragedy

I do not know precisely what happened that tragic day when Officer Darrell Wilson shot Michael Brown to death. I’ve read some reports and watched some video, and gone back and forth thinking, “This is unconscionable police brutality and murder” to “Wow, what else could the officer do?” I don’t have all the facts, just press reports and some opinions and a lot more questions than answers. I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one left with some doubts, but most of the opinions I’m reading declaim with certainty and confidence that I just don’t have. Those who opine seem assured that they understand exactly what happened and why. I grow less certain every day.

I watched a video a couple of days ago that fascinated me, made by a man on the scene who started filming soon after the shooting took place.  At the very beginning he said, “The cops shot him for no reason.” Several other bystanders joined him and repeated that almost verbatim. “For no reason.” “For no reason.” Over and over again. Then someone came along who had actually watched the shooting and he explained some of the details. Evidently, they realized, this incident was more than just a calloused (white) cop shooting down an unarmed and helpless (black) man on the streets, “for no reason.” Whether the reason justified the shooting is for others to decide, but the assumptions of the onlookers were shaken by the introduction of facts.

It seems to me that a lot of my friends, bloggers, and commenters here have fallen into the same trap – making a snap judgment and assuming that their perspective is completely accurate.

  • Racist white cops gunning down an innocent black citizen.
  • An unjust system exposed once again.
  • Militarized police acting like soldiers instead of law enforcement officers.
  • Looters! Lawbreakers. Troublemakers.
  • There are Al and Jesse again, just stirring things up.
  • We need law and order! Support your police as they go out to battle crime in your neighborhood.

We’ve seen about as many opinions as we’ve seen opiners. At the risk of oversimplification, I’ve seen

  • Racism and injustice reaction – focused on the continued presence of racism and injustice in law enforcement and the legal system.
  • Law and order reaction – supportive of law enforcement and generally dismissive of the claims of those who see racism and injustice.
  • Police abuse of authority reaction – militarized police and the abuse of authority as cops turn into soldiers, oppressing free speech and the free press.

I’d like to make a few observations about the reporting, discussions and facts as I’ve seen them in this debate.

1. We are very comfortable shooting from the hip.

We make snap judgments on complicated issues. If you pinned me down and forced me to hazard a guess as to what really happened that day, I would guess that Michael Brown was aggressive towards the police and did some things that provoked the men in blue. I’m also thinking that perhaps the police were a little intimidated by this large man and his behavior and responded with force – perhaps more than they needed. The truth might well be somewhere between the extremes of overt racism and completely justified law enforcement action. I don’t know. Maybe someday I will. There is a verse in Proverbs that talks about how one side seems right until the other side presents its case. Most of us will never really know what happened that day.

That does not stop us from drawing firm conclusions, writing strong opinions, and holding fast as if ours was the only view that could possibly be right. Simply put, most of us act like we know a lot more about Ferguson than we actually know.

2. We are quick to paint the other side in bad light.

  • Supporters of Officer Wilson are racists and enable the police state. They ignore justice and turn a blind eye to the systematic oppression of blacks.
  • Critics of Wilson don’t care about law and order, support reverse racism and discrimination and side with Jesse Jackson (them’s fighting words.)
  • And, if you don’t agree with me on this subject, you probably love to drown puppies.

Of course, these are exaggerations which I hope make the point. We stake out our own positions and put those who disagree with that position in the worst possible light. In this fractured, partisan, divided world, that is a natural (if sinful) tendency. Unfortunately, this attitude has spilled over even into the Christian world, where we treat those who disagree with disdain, as if their viewpoint makes them enemies of the Cross, of the Bible and of the Church. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but not by that much. hat is not really hyperbole.

It is a common failing among bloggers, the “you who disagree hate Jesus” response to differences of opinion.

3. While our justice system is based on “innocent until proven guilty,” our opinions are not. 

In our legal system, one accused of a crime is supposed to be regarded by the law as innocent until the crime is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Would that it were always so, but despite frequent failures in application, it is still a fundamental legal principle in America. It is not a principle we hold dear in American public opinion.

Remember Richard Jewell? The press had him tried, convicted and sentenced and public opinion was demanding summary execution against him for his role in the Atlanta Olympic bombing. One problem. He didn’t do it. He was innocent. By the time he was exonerated, his name was smeared in such a way that he never recovered.

We go through that every time. By bedtime on the night of the shooting, most Americans had heard all the evidence they needed, had convicted the guilty party, and were ready to pass sentence. Michael Brown was a hoodlum who attacked the cops and is responsible for his own fate. Darrell Wilson is a murderer, and probably a racist. Ferguson cops are jack-booted thugs ready to turn their town into a police state.

Guilty! Appeal denied!  Lock them up!

4. We see what we want to see. 

Most people see things like this through the lens of their own convictions.

  • Black people, who have been subjected to racism and discrimination all their lives, who know firsthand what DWB is, who are used to being viewed with suspicion because of their skin color – they tend to see this as another instance of brutality by a white cop against a black citizen. They’ve seen it a thousand times. They live it. Why wouldn’t they make this assumption?
  • Many white people, who reject the notion of “white privilege” (denial ain’t just a river in Egypt), who (rightly and honestly) deny that they are racist or have ever discriminated against black people, and who value law and order, see this as another instance of unruly people who are stirred up by Jesse and Al, who overreact and riot and loot.
  • Those with certain political leanings see this primarily through their libertarian lens and focus on police militarization and the loss of liberties, the increasing power of the state and such trends.

And guess what, each of them has a point. Black people have been mistreated in this beloved land for 400 years. It is the most shameful mark on American history and it has left a stain on black culture, an anger that often overflows sometimes into violence. Most of the white people I know are genuinely not racist or discriminatory. They just can’t understand why they should be held liable for the sins of the past. And I join in the concern about the growing power of the federal government, the trend toward police overstepping their bounds and denying civil rights. Reading stories about the cops arresting members of the press for reporting on the situation ought to chill all our bones, even if we view the press as leftist elites who slant their reporting. It’s still better to have a free press than a police state. Most of the sides in this debate seem to have at least a partial hold on truth.

My point is that we tend to look at situations to verify and buttress our opinions and convictions. We approach Ferguson and other such tragedies not with the question, “I wonder what really happened,” but with the attitude, “See, this is just what I’ve been talking about!”

I would never suggest that Christians soften their convictions, but it might be helpful if we tried to look at this from the other side.

  • Members of the Law and Order brigade, maybe you could try to understand what life is like as a minority in America. Sympathize. Empathize. Try to see the other side.
  • The Anti-Racism and Justice league, take a deep breath and see how rioting and looting could cause good, decent people, who are not racists, to withdraw support from your cause.

There are levels and perspectives on this argument and the wise person will try to see all sides. Avoid rushing to judgment and try to hear the facts, not just those that buttress your viewpoint and affirm your convictions. Be careful about the proverbial rush to judgment and the bloodthirst that often develops in the wake of that rush. Most of all, pray for the churches of Ferguson, that God might use them to bring real healing to that city.

Comments

  1. says

    Your last point is spot on Dave, … we do see what we want to see! Ferguson is an attractive photo op… and in this age of “selfies” it does not take long for perspectives to be constructed. There is plenty of evidence in this shooting,…so a clear and concise trail of events should be easily compiled and exposed. I’m confident that the people of Ferguson will get a good look at the truth of this incident. I am not as confident that the people of Ferguson will choose to believe the reality of the truth that will be revealed, whether it be “Hands up, Don’t shoot”, or something quite different.

    • Tarheel says

      Chris J.,

      It’s not just the people of Ferguson….as Dave points out many, many opiners, bloggers, tweeters, and activists have boxed themselves in in very tight corners by thier rhetoric.

      Either way this ends up when all the facts come out the extremists will either have to either publicly and humbly eat crow or continue to stand fast irrespective of facts.

      • says

        I agree,… as there is a specific and well organized group of folks that have seized on this incident to the detriment of Ferguson and the family of MB. To be successful, exposing those opportunists should be an active pursuit for Ferguson in years to come.

        There will always be tweeters, bloggers, activists, etc. Dealing with that clutter is just part of the hard work to keep a community safe and civil.

      • says

        Additionally, it will be interesting to see how the Federal government monitors and intervenes in the situation. The Attorney General has met with the Brown family and others in the community, so far. I will want to see what the coverage looks like when he meets with the Wilson family. After all, the media is holding the AG up a the head officer in the US and Wilson is part of that group. I’ll be watching to see how the media covers that meeting with Wilson.

        • Nate says

          The Attorney General has already tipped his hand and moved from the impartial official he is supposed to be and stepped right into the mire because he can’t keep his mouth shut and ascertain what the facts are before speaking.

  2. Adam Blosser says

    This is a well balanced look at what has transpired in the aftermath of the situation in Ferguson. Thanks, Dave.

    I have said that regardless of whether or not race played a role in the shooting, it has certainly played a role in the events that have transpired since. This is true on both “sides.”

    If nothing else, it reminds us once again that we live in a world that has been broken by sin. Racism, violence, and a host of other sins are still alive and well.

    I too think that there will be plenty of evidence for a just verdict to be handed down. Whether such will happen, or whether there will be any justice in the way people respond to such a verdict remains to be seen.

  3. says

    I am more of a Christian than a white man. But I am a white man and have some things to say about white people. We are capable of any evil known to mankind. We can be greedy, deceived, slanderous and subject to racist rage. We are capable of a staggering level of selfishness, and can be totally sincere at the same time. We can be certain we know about law, justice, good and evil, and we can spot a mob mentality a mile away, but not if it is our mob.

    We are no better than any other language group, culture or skin shade. We are no worse either.

    We need to be saved from evil desires within us. We need to be rescued from our evil by the living Lord Jesus Christ who is present everywhere. We need to return good for evil by being born of the Spirit and walking humbly as citizens of heaven. We need to stop expecting holiness from an evil world whose citizens need to be saved from their sin just as much as we need a Savior.

    Our Lord was, and is, present everywhere in Ferguson and ready to save any individual who will turn to Him seeking forgiveness of their own sins. Yes, He is able to manifest Himself and solve all the problems and has promised to do so one day soon. Those who have not already sought Him as Savior will not like it very much.

    In the meantime, pray for the family and friends of Michael Brown, Officer Wilson, the convenience store clerk and those individuals who have gone internationally public with their opinions. Their mortal lives will tend to be dominated by these events.

    Pray also that the grace of God will give the official leaders (and unofficial leaders) in Ferguson the wisdom to bring calm to the city.
    And pray that Christians will speak as citizens of the kingdom and re-evaluate their roles as political pundits. Our Lord has made it abundantly clear that He will save individuals from sin, but that He will not bless an evil world that deserves judgment.

    Yes, my skin is fish-belly white, but I am the same race as Michael Brown and Officer Wilson. There is only one race…

  4. Chris Johnson says

    “Yes, my skin is fish-belly white, but I am the same race as Michael Brown and Officer Wilson. There is only one race…”

    Absolutely true!!!

    • Dave Miller says

      That is a noble thought but it doesn’t change the reality that race matters in the way people live their lives in America. Blacks have challenges whites don’t. We are one in Christ but there are still distinctions here in this world.

      • says

        And the straightest, quickest route to an unselfish awareness of the challenges of others is what?

        What makes us think that magnifying an awareness of bigotry will reduce bigotry?

        Bad trees produce bad fruit and the shade of the bark matters little.

      • says

        Dave,…it goes way beyond nobility, its discipleship and the understanding of humanity. If we allow anyone to segregate humanity into race parts and pieces then trouble is just around the corner. That is a well worn path, and one that does not lead to a solution.

        Our duty to humanity and to our Lord…. is not to segregate even when the skin color is more dominate than another.

          • Dave Miller says

            No, I’m saying that the headlong rush by white people in America to assert that we are all one race may ring hollow to black people who have felt the boot of racism all their lives.

            Had we proclaimed “One Race” back in the 50s and 60s, it might be easier for our brothers and sisters with different skin colors to accept us now.

          • says

            got it Dave, thanks for the explanation.

            What I am experiencing in Nashville, which was a hotbed of segregation and turmoil, has been very encouraging, but a whole lot of hard work by many, many people. The neighborhoods that we entered some 20 years ago near downtown Nashville, that had been ravaged by “racially motivated” agendas, are now islands of refuge and not streets of despair. It took 20 years to have the area recognize we care, but it did and does make a significant difference. The difference maker was never about race.

            We have just now opened another ministry next door to where the government has created another low income situation. We have found much of the problem is the governments insistence on manufacturing poverty and then maintaining welfare to increase their own budgets. Our aim, which has been successful in our other location, is to change the mindset that leads to poverty.

          • Tarheel says

            Dave Miller,

            What may or may not “ring hollow” is irrelevant when it comes to the right thing to do. truth is truth. The truth is “race” barriers we erect are sinful…we’re creating and continuing divisions God did not set in place.

            The truth is I can’t do anything about the “400 years of the past” the only thing I can do is the present and the future.

            By your argument line – why should we speak out against abortion since evangelicals were quiet back then? If what our “forefathers” were silent about impedes our standing…then might we end up giving up on many things that weren’t handled well before?

            Lastly …… So, question. What is your solution?

          • Dave Miller says

            Yes you can do something about the past.

            You can be sensitive, be compassionate, be accepting of cultural differences, honor brothers who are different, intentionally work to build bridges and bring minorities into active SBC life.

            For instance, at Baltimore (and before) some of us talked about a commitment to make sure that every year there are qualified minority candidates for office at Annual Meetings. Dennis Kim was a first step.

            We want to intentionally attempt to bring non-white participants to the table.

            But the best answer is to simply get involved in the lives of black pastors in your area. Build relationships.

            That’s my solution.

          • Dave Miller says

            BTW, though I worded that in the 2nd person, it was not to imply that you haven’t done all these things.

          • Dave Miller says

            Race barriers are sinful, but race is not.

            Your argument about abortion is completely non-germane.

            I am saying,

            We, white people, our ancestors, created a culture in which whites get preferential treatment, have better opportunities and are legally preferred over blacks. That is a system created by white racism and oppression. Yes, you and I didn’t do it, but we are its inheritors. The current state of affairs is a product of white sin, white cruelty, white degradation of blacks.

            So, the correction of that system is up to us. We can’t do what we did for 400 years then all of a sudden say, “Okay, everyone needs to be colorblind now.”

            We need to act to repair the corrupt and evil system our forefathers developed. As we live in the blessings of the American political system, we must also accept the consequences of our founding fathers’ sin and acceptance of slavery.

            Whites created the system of inequality. Ought we not to work to fix it?

          • says

            My problem us with your use of the words “we”. “Our” etc. In relation to the Jim Crow type inequality of the past… I was. It involved in any if that….were you?

            Yes – sensitivity, compassion, relational contacts and understanding are things I can do ( and I do these things – thanks for acknowledging that possibility) – but truthfully none of that CHANGES the past – the past is gone – living in it – or wearing the garments of guilt do to what our ancestors (May or May not have done.-as not all whites were a part of that even back then) does nothing to help. Treating people, all people, equally as creations of God in his image is the key. Not creating a softer and better firm of prejudice is crucial. Equal treatment us the key. What you’re describing is not equal treatment it’s just another firm of prejudice – it seems nobler, and certainly comes from a nobler heart, but it’s still prejudice to “tap” people for special treatment on the basis of thier skin color – or more specifically – thier not being white.

          • says

            Also, I certainly did not mean to imply that skin color was sin….I said dividing ourselves on the basis of it is. Wrapping our identity up in it is.

          • Dave Miller says

            50 years ago, my dad and yours lived next door. My dad stole pretty much everything your dad had. So, now, you live in poverty while I live in wealth and privilege.

            Can I just tell you, “Hey, let’s forget the past and move forward to the future!” or would you think I should possibly return some of the money.

            I didn’t steal it, my dad did. True. But I benefit from his actions and you suffer for them.

            It is just an illustration but I think it fits pretty well. Our white ancestors took a lot from the black community. Before we declare everyone colorblind, maybe we should work to give back some of what was taken.

          • says

            So Dave just being white is enough to make one responsible for our ancestors past mistakes? Really? Consider this.

            My aunt is white. She her ancestors originated from Western Europe, specifically England. One problem, she is not American. She, her parents, her great grandparents, her great great grandparents, ect have all been from the Bahamas. Her family, on both sides, can trace the roots to early British settlement on New Providence (Nassau) and early Puritan settlement on the same island. She only came to America 30 years ago because she married my uncle. Are you Dave, saying she holds responsibility to the sins of the “white” people in this country? Maybe you can make a case for things that happened in the Bahamas, but here? Really?

            What about the millions of folk who are children, grandchildren, great grandchildren ect., from immigrants that came into this country in the early 20th century from all over Europe? Do they have to share the blame?

          • says

            I think it would be unreasonable of me to demand YOU repay what your father stole. I think it would be sinful for me to demand you do so. It’d also be sinful for me to hold a grudge against your father, or you, and be unforgiving.

            I think it’d be silly for you to live on guilt over what your dad did.

            That said in my fall and then sinful nature I would probably struggle with the desire to come over and kick your butt…. But that doesn’t make such thoughts, or action, right.

          • says

            Further it would be unreasonable for me to expect you to return what your father stole to me …. Home your father did not even still it from.

            You’re talking about but I’ll call secondary guilt and retribution and I just don’t think it’s appropriate.

          • Dave Miller says

            Steven, why not try and see life through the eyes of the other side.

            Yes, if we benefit from the cruelty of our predecessors we bear some responsibility to fix the mess they created.

            It’s not like it was 800 years ago. It is STILL happening, that blacks in America are being treated differently in many ways.

            Why is it so important to you to avoid “blame.” Fine, its not your fault, sir. You bear no responsibility.

            But the system is still unfair. Blacks have not been historically equal in America. Wouldn’t simple Christian compassion compel us to act?

            I’d recommend a recent CT article.

            http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/august/its-time-to-listen-saved-and-silent-will-white-evangelicals.html

          • Bill Mac says

            Tarheel,

            You’re falling into the same error. People aren’t tapped because they have a different skin color. But skin color is, often, indicative of a different culture, a different perspective, and that’s the value, especially in an organization like the SBC. Perhaps Dr. Kim’s identity as a Korean immigrant isn’t particularly useful if you are looking for an accountant, but as a leader in the world’s largest protestant Christian denomination, it sure is, especially our traditionally lily white organization wants to reach minority groups with the Gospel.

            This isn’t affirmative action, it’s part of a strategic effort to fulfill the great commission in areas that we, arguably, are traditionally weak in.

          • says

            Bill Mac,

            That was to miller.

            But, to respond to your point.

            I voted for Dr. Kim and it mattered absolutely zero his ethnicity or the color of his skin. To allow it to matter is a form of “racial preference”. I liked his answers to interviews. I felt he had the structure in his church to support his presidency (much of his duties would require his absence and his fellow pastors and office staff to help out)…and he’s not a multi church pastor (umm, I mean multi site – I’m not a fan of this phenomenon)

            Whether bias, preference and “racism” are positive in intent – like what you outline – or negative in intent like Jim Crow – it’s still bias and preference. It’s changing one for the other.

            “One can call it allergy, one can call it itch, but one will scratch just the same.”

          • Bill Mac says

            Tarheel,
            I gave you an example. I don’t think you can say “race doesn’t matter” in every situation. In some situations, race may simply be an observation, but in some cases it might be a qualification. In a mythical utopian society, a group of minorities might implicitly trust and hang on every word of a homogeneous group of white men, but maybe, in the real world, they might give more weight to a person of color and an organization that takes deliberate action to include them.

            Race, and by extension, the perspective and life experience that often goes along with race, can be a qualification. Being colorblind might be admirable but it shouldn’t be a moral absolute. It depends on the situation.

            Suppose you are part of a multi-site church and are on the search committee for a new site in an inner-city black neighborhood. Can you honestly tell me you would give the race of pastoral candidates for this position absolutely no weight?

            The university I work for has a vice-president of minority relations (not sure that’s the correct title). I would be quite surprised if that person was not a minority.

  5. says

    Another consideration is that this shooting incident may have had absolutely nothing to do with race.

    Evidence seems to be mounting that it was a strong arm robbery, an assault on a police officer, and a justified shooting.
    David R. Brumbelow

  6. says

    “…there is only one race.”

    One of the elders in our church is a black man (that’s how he refers to himself, not African American). I ran into him Tuesday in Sams and we had a long conversation about Ferguson. He used to teach in a school in that area. He was so animated as he said to me that he is sick and tired of people of his color always making everything about race and always playing the victim card. He talked about the lack of education often cited as a reason so many blacks are unemployed and angry about the lack of jobs, etc. The man, John, teaches now in a community college and he said there is absolutely NOTHING preventing anyone getting a higher education these days. He said that with the federal help that’s more available than ever before and schools like his that offer free remedial training (so that if a kid has not had a quality education thus far and/or doesn’t have a HS diploma) there is no reason anyone can’t get a college degree and set themselves on a path to a better life. He was/is ashamed of the way blacks have responded in lock step to this situation.

    FYI.

  7. Greg Buchanan says

    DAVID & DWIGHT –

    Both of you should be ashamed that you take the opportunity of a blog post to expose your own prejudice and predispositions for the sake of making a statement to appease your own conscience.

    Both of you are being selfish and should withdraw your posts.

    Both of you are claiming ignorance yet casting judgments by how you do or do not craft your phrases.

    As a result, you are both only advancing your own causes rather than the cause of Christ.

    I can’t comment on false premise thrown in here for fear of being labeled as judgmental: you have determined that there aren’t enough facts to have a solid opinion, therefore one can ONLY be judgmental at this point.

    I can’t comment on Dwight’s false premises for fear of being labeld/dismissed as racist. This is preposterous on the surface because I do not hold to the idea of “races.”

    You Baby-Boomers would do well to advance the idea of “race relations” if you would all just stay out of it and let us “post-racial” folks (Gen X-ers) handle it from here. You guys keep screwing it up and are doing your best to “fix” your own personal cultural memories.

    Unless you old guys pounded it into our heads as kids (see THOSE people over there…. they aren’t like us…) then we generally don’t SEE races. I see people.

    Different personal histories.

    Different cultural backgrounds.

    Sometimes, fascinating new languages to hear.

    In the end, just people.

    Please lets go back to posting on Calvinism or alcohol or dancing and stop trying to help in this area. It’s not working.

    • says

      Greg,

      Full of yourself? Wow. You’ve got everything figured out; don’t you? I’m gonna guess that you’re less than 29 yrs old….I used to be less than 29 yrs. old, too….one time….and, I thought I knew everything, too.

      David

          • Greg Buchanan says

            Chris – Point taken!

            As a matter of fact, I believe they are of the baby-boomer generation:
            – Everything from the 1960s
            – See above

            Not to say they participated (or participated but didn’t inhale) but they lived through it and it affects their outlook on life. However, most folks tend to not be able to see through their own culture colored glasses.

            As far as “old-guys” goes… that was out of bounds. To be old, they’d have to be my dad’s age. These guys aren’t much more than 10yrs older than me.

        • says

          Dan,

          I just thought that much arrogance, rebuking, and ageism had to be coming from a 20 something. I can see it coming from them….

          So, Greg, you’re 40 something yrs. old? Well, you aint that much younger than me….I’m JUST 52……born in 1961….in the South….in Memphis, as a matter of fact.

          David

    • Lydia says

      I am a baby boomer and was raised to see “people” not races. My parents taught us there was only one “race”. Dr King said to judge a person by their character, not their color and many whites in the civil rights movement agreed and sought to live like that. And that is exactly what I was taught as an SBC kid. My first bonafide SS teacher at age 6 was black. A dear friend of my moms.

      But since then I have been told in cultural diversity training after another in corporate America and in government entities throughout the 90’s– it is wrong to NOT see race first. That is a fact. If you can get a hold of the typical curriculum for Diversity Training programs in those days.

      So, there goes your theory. We were also taught to deal in “facts” not presuppositions of groupthink. And that as Americans we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Your Generation has become so Orwellian it scares me to death. Who can speak, who cannot. What they can say, what they can’t. You might regret that one day if you are able to connect dots by then as it is fast becoming the new normal.

      I know, I am from the dark ages.

      • Dave Miller says

        That is wonderful that you were raised that way, Lydia. Not sure that it was the norm, even in SBC or evangelical churches.

    • says

      I agree with you. I was taught to see people as people. Because of that I have friends and family from all over. We got to get off this tired narrative that we are all each other’s enemy. The black community has got to stop telling each other and their children that white people are the enemy who will hold them down. They have to stop viewing white people with suspicion. White people have to stop viewing black people with suspicion. Its got to go both ways. And it will only go both ways when all sides forget what is behind and press on for what is better.

    • Greg Buchanan says

      With all due respect, you often, to be honest, almost always have great spiritual points. I think I’d love to hear you preach.

      However, you seem unable or unwilling to consider a reality without the concept of “race.” I believe that is what Dr King was praying for. I am the product of that. I do not respect skin pigment anymore than eye color.

      In fact, i’m actually a fan of eye color because I am fascinated at the variations in shades, streaking, and spotting that occurs in the muscles of the iris. Such a complex creation with such a simple purpose; no real reason for color to be a part of it, but God saw otherwise.

      But, you have to get past the skin tone to get close enough to see eye color.

      I had two best friends growing up: one was next door and the other was down the street. We did almost everything together (except when my dad wouldn’t let be ride down the hill at the fill-dirt/gravel pit on my bicycle). From my perspective (thank you Dr King) they were Jacob, from Louisiana (with a French last name with letters that weren’t pronounced) and Quan (whose dad flew F-4s for the AFRV (Air-Force of the Republic of Vietnam and also on the 747 that flew the space shuttle around).

      From your perspective, the first was of mixed-race heritage (probably some white slave owner raped an African slave over 100 years prior) and the other is an Asian American immigrant.

      To me, they were just Jacob and Quan. I couldn’t fully appreciate their separate cultural heritages when I was a kid; and, I shouldn’t have had to. They were just my friends and that was enough. As I grew and learned more, who they were became only richer and more dynamic.

      I lost touch with them both when my family moved (the days before FB, much less the Internet or cell phones).

      Why do you want me to remember them as my African-American and Asian-American childhood friends.

      Why can’t they just be my friends?

      • says

        There is a difference between letting race be a divider, and remembering people’s cultural heritage. Granted the two can be merged, such as the southern heritage of racism paraded so proudly with the dixie flag in my home state of Mississippi or neighboring state of Alabama (they can say what they will, but I’ve never met a brazen dixie flag waver who did not also come across as quite the racist).

        But it is one thing to let race divide, it is another to be proud of where we came from (assuming our heritage is something worthy of our pride).

        In that sense, I would say you should be willing to “appreciate their separate cultural heritages” at the same time that you do not allow their skin color to mark a line of division.

        • Ken P. says

          Chris R.

          “(they can say what they will, but I’ve never met a brazen dixie flag waver who did not also come across as quite the racist)”

          I don’t know what you consider “brazen”, but I know plenty of people who are proud of their southern heritage and are not racists. I’m a little of an amateur historian concerning the War Between the States and I know a number of Civil War reenactors. They are well-educated men with a passion for history and heritage, not to mention good Christians, without a racist bone in their bodies. I personally fly Confederate Flags on special occasions, such as Confederate Memorial Day, which is a state holiday here, and I do not consider myself a racist.

          “But it is one thing to let race divide, it is another to be proud of where we came from (assuming our heritage is something worthy of our pride).”

          I hope you are not saying that celebrating Southern Heritage is not worthy of pride, are you?

          “I would say you should be willing to “appreciate their separate cultural heritages” at the same time that you do not allow their skin color to mark a line of division.”

          I personally do not believe that Southern Heritage pride is limited to whites only, but even if it was, Kwanzaa was invented by African Americans for African Americans. That certainly divides along skin color, but I do not begrudge the celebration of Kwanzaa.

          It may be trite, but can’t we all just get along?

          Long time reader, first time poster.

      • Bill Mac says

        Greg: With respect, you have some good points, but they might have been made with a little more grace and a little less insult and assumption. Also I think you set up a false dichotomy. It is perfectly reasonable to have “just friends” and also acknowledge their race and culture. In fact, I think you contradict yourself a bit in this last comment, where you say you learned to appreciate your friends’ unique heritage. Working at a university, I have a lot of opportunity to see lots of different “races” and cultures. I have lots of white friends, but I actively seek out opportunities to become acquainted with and befriend students and colleagues from other cultural and racial backgrounds. It is incredibly enriching. I ask about culture, background, food, religion, etc. I even ask about racial and discrimination issues. I’m not color-blind or culture-blind nor do I think I need to be. I don’t refer to them as my Chinese friends or my African friends or my Croatian friends. They are just friends, but I acknowledge, and am glad that they are Chinese, African, Croatian, etc.

        • Dave Miller says

          “Greg: With respect, you have some good points, but they might have been made with a little more grace and a little less insult and assumption.”

          A good reminder. When you make a point, people listen. When you blast and bluster, people tend to turn you off.

        • Greg Buchanan says

          Bill –

          Thank you for this. However, aside from the “old guys” comment, I’m not certain where I was insulting.

          I understand your point, but disagree that I’m eating a false dichotomy. On the contrary, i’m point it out.

          Who is our president:
          My answer – Barak Obama
          Typical answer – Barak Obama, the FIRST African American President.

          Why can’t he just be Pres Obama? Historically, I understand, but for the every day… I say lets move on. That is because I live in an unracial America. Dave and Dwight usually do not. Maybe they can’t because of their memories and when they grew up.

          For that I’m sad and wish they could move past race as a definitive marker in the lives of men. Then, it is PEOPLE who do great things or PEOPLE who do horrible things; not black or white or arab or asian people, just people.

          It is easier to see that all PEOPLE are sinners and need a savior. Rather, this country tends to see that THESE people have this burden to overcome or that barrier that is thrust upon them.

          God doesn’t respect any circumstances of anyone’s life as an excuse for sin or as an impediment to one’s responsibility to worship Him. Why do we want to continue seeing barriers where He doesn’t see them?

          • says

            Greg,

            As I said in another thread, racial distinctions should not exist but they do exist and will take work – not ignoring – to erase. Part of that means working to undo the damage done when those racial lines were used to force distinctions and discrimination on people. It is worth celebrating any step away from that discrimination of old – particularly since so much work still remains.

            You claim your generation is post-racial. I am sure you know this is not true. Racism and racists exist in every generation. People who see past race exist in every generation. The hope is that we get better and better at seeing past race. We aren’t there yet. Your generation is far from there yet. The generation after you isn’t there yet. Racism remains alive and well in America.

          • Bill Mac says

            Greg: A difference isn’t a barrier, it’s just a difference. I enjoy difference. I’m white. If I see someone who has black skin, or yellow skin, I understand that they are just like me in a lot of ways, but different in so many others. The color of their skin, or their facial features or their hair tells me that they have a different story than mine. They may have a different background, history, lineage, culture. They may have had different struggles. I want to know what those are. I want to understand them, as much as I am able. I want them to understand me. They aren’t barriers, they are opportunities. Society should be color blind in some respects, in areas of opportunities and justice. But in personal relationships? No way. If I have an African-American friend, (granted, I would not normally use that term) then the focus should not be on the words African-American, but on the word friend.

          • Dave Miller says

            Greg, in what universe is THIS not an insult?

            “Both of you should be ashamed that you take the opportunity of a blog post to expose your own prejudice and predispositions for the sake of making a statement to appease your own conscience.

            Both of you are being selfish and should withdraw your posts.

            Both of you are claiming ignorance yet casting judgments by how you do or do not craft your phrases.

            As a result, you are both only advancing your own causes rather than the cause of Christ.”

          • says

            Yeah, what Dave said! Glad I’m never crass or insulting!

            (This is the editor editing this comment – since we don’t have a “Like” button here, I’m officially “liking” this comment as an edit.)

          • Greg Buchanan says

            Chris –

            “racial distinctions should not exist but they do exist and will take work – not ignoring – to erase.”

            I didn’t grow up with “racial” distinctions. That’s my point. I’m not ignoring something. I’m living without them.

          • says

            Kidding guys. But actually, I’m a little surprised that you seem to know so much about Bro McKissic even though you act like you don’t know him. Or maybe you just assume you know him. Can we say on SBC Voices hat “assume” means? No?

  8. Max says

    “Avoid rushing to judgment and try to hear the facts, not just those that buttress your viewpoint and affirm your convictions.”

    Dave, your sentence pretty well sums the response from all sides to date. The world of flesh and blood is full of pitfalls when we see only what we want to see … “I’ll believe it when I see it!” In the spiritual realm, we rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth … “I’ll see it when I believe it!” Christians need to be standing on their knees on this issue … praying that truth will be revealed and that peace will prevail.

    • says

      Amen, Max….which is what I’ve been calling for, as well. Let’s pray that TRUE JUSTICE will prevail….and, that God will bring peace.

      David

  9. Dave Miller says

    As I said in a comment above, if white Americans, especially white American Christians, had been on the leading edge of racial reconciliation, had been proclaiming “We are all one race in Christ” back at the height of the days of segregation, then perhaps our calls would carry more force now.

    But the fact is that evangelical churches – especially southern Southern Baptist churches, were dragged kicking and screaming into the desegregation/equality era and a johnny-come-latelies to racial reconciliation.

    We have to deal with the mess we’ve created – the suspicion and reticence of black communities to believe our expressions of goodwill. When we try to wave the magic wand and say, “let’s be colorblind” it comes from a good heart on our part, perhaps, but it rings hollow to our brothers and sisters sometimes.

    After 400 years of oppression, racism, segregation and treating a group as less than human, we can’t just say, “We’re sorry” and expect all the repercussions, the consequences and the emotional effects to just go away.

    • Dave Miller says

      FYI, I want to make it clear that this post has nothing to do with the comment directly above it. It is a general observation on discussions I’ve read.

    • Job says

      “After 400 years of oppression, racism, segregation and treating a group as less than human, we can’t just say, “We’re sorry” and expect all the repercussions, the consequences and the emotional effects to just go away.”

      Why not? Is not that what the Bible commands Christians to do? Where in the Bible is it written that oppressed and disadvantaged groups are exempt from the Sermon on the Mount? Refusing to hold black Christians to the same standards as white Christians – the standards of the Bible – only harms black Christians (and white ones).

      Suspicion and reticence … if a white person is “suspicious and reticent” of a black person, we justifiably call that white person a racist. Right?

      Incidentally, I am not “colorblind.” The Bible is not colorblind. Quite the contrary, the Bible makes a point of noting the various races, nationalities, ethnic groups, tribes etc. of people especially when they are righteous. Colorblindness is a secular humanist construct. But the Bible celebrates diversity while holding everyone to the same standard.

      Black Christians have the responsibility to forgive. Rejecting forgiveness (by associating it with weakness and surrender) is a core part of left-liberal ideology, which of course is integral to liberal, civil rights and liberation theology.

  10. says

    As pretty much always, Dave, I agree with your viewpoints. This tragedy has brought into light so much of the underlying tensions between blacks and whites in this country. Al Mohler made a good point on today’s Briefing-we need to approach this with empathy. Both sides are suffering in their own ways. We need to be slower to judge and quicker to show neighborly love for people.

  11. says

    Dave I was reluctant to read “Yet Another” blog on Ferguson, but glad I did. Good balance, good warnings but one little thing. Its tiny really, I probably shouldn’t mention it, but…
    OK, here goes, just before the last paragraph, you said the Anti-racism and just league should “take a deep breath and see how rioting and looting could cause good, decent people, who are not racists, to withdraw support…”
    I think they probably do realize that. But this “League” is made up of people of all walks of life, all over the country, who had nothing to do with looting etc. and think its stupid, but that has little to do with the initial injustice of the man who was killed. I don’t really see how looting, etc. has much to do with their opinions.
    I might suggest this particular league, Keep Calm and wait for all the facts to come out, but of course stay vigilant and keep the authorities honest and transparent as possible.
    But that’s just crass ol’d me. ;-)

  12. Paul Mahaffie says

    Wow…Our press has done it yet again. I am not addressing this to any person posting in here, but an overall observation. If this story was reversed & it was a black policeman with a white man shot, there would not be a discussion. Our press continues to focus on issues & fan the flames from their political view point; show pictures to promote their view; use headlines for their view; & provide information as they please.
    Yet many Christians would rather listen to these slanted feeds instead of reading God’s Word. The main stream press has had little to no discussion on the beating the policeman took. He received many blows to his face & head to the point of breaking some bones, all before he drew his gun. But even that does not answer this situation.
    Truth is yet again very simple, it is our sin nature. It is our rebellion against authority, both the law & God. This is a heart problem. Even as I sat here writing this, I had to ask myself, is this writing worth spending time on?
    I am fascinated by our society trying to come up with fixes to the problems of man, when it is all written down in God’s Word. What’s even more puzzling to me is that WE Christians knowing the answer spend time analyzing these issues instead of doing something. I think next time I will spend my time sharing God’s Word.
    Is their prejudice in this world, yes & it’s WRONG; we are all equal in God’s eyes. Society will try on focusing on this & that being the problem, but it is our sin nature. The only solution is for man to see & recognize God for who he is. Then get into a right relationship with him & walk with him. The Holy Spirit will do the rest of the work on their heart. I do not need to tell someone being prejudice is wrong, deep in their heart they know it. This issue & all of the other problems of this world can only be solved through the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit.
    So next time instead of responding….I think I will witness to someone.

  13. says

    There are a lot of godless political pundits on the right and on the left. They define the issues of our day in godless terms. While it can be valuable to learn the godless terms so we know what they are saying, it is entirely possible to define the issues of our day in a Godly way, using Godly terms.

    Often times the godless terms are so alien to God’s definition of reality (His Word) that they are lies. Sometimes the godless terms are just inaccurate. Sometimes the godless terms are accurate. If Christians want to understand God’s point of view they should be willing to view current issues in a way defined by God’s Words.

    Perhaps this is a needed skill. No one made me anyone’s teacher, guide, counselor or comforter, but there is One available.

  14. says

    David Miller,

    Thank you for this post. Thank you for your efforts to generate civil discussion on political issues. I think Bart Barber’s last post could stand a review, yes?

  15. says

    Part of our problem with understanding the situation is caused by the media with its cause celebre approach. Indeed, it seems like the media is seeking to create an atmosphere conducive to a flash point, a thing designed to enflame so many people that they begin to take action with violent consequences. The grand jury concept is a way of blunting this effort, but it takes time for that counter effort to work. This is the second big case of the killing of a Black youth, but what is not noted is that the beginning of blacks attacking Whites began in St. Louis about two years ago and spread across the country. The media has only reluctantly, it seems, begun reporting such attacks and that in a very limited way.

    Let it be said, there are law enforcement people who have prejudices and do use excessive force. There are Whites who really need an education and understanding in Black culture (note the greater number stopped, searched and shot compared to Whites, percentage wise as well numerically).

    However, we have made great progress concerning integration. Our country church has at least five blacks, two interracial marriages, one a White woman married to a Black man and the other a Black woman married to a Black man. We also have a Black teenager who will be attending a community college this Fall to learn welding. This past Sunday he read the scripture for the associate pastor who preached the sermon. He is well-liked and says he would like to be a deacon in the church someday. This country church in North Carolina is a far cry from most of what one would have found back in ’72, when we came to this state to attend seminary, with but a few exceptions. My apprehensions about happenings like the Ferguson affair has been that such might undo the change that is in the process of occurring in the South. My prayer is that the change will continue, that people will wake up to the fact that they need simply to recognize that there will be violations by individuals which will need to be handled judicially.

  16. Lydia says

    “But the system is still unfair. Blacks have not been historically equal in America. Wouldn’t simple Christian compassion compel us to act?. ”

    I think we have acted as a nation…. by the truckloads. The opportunities are there for the taking. As one who was in org development let me tell you that every single major company has a commitment to diversity. And many medium and small one’s too. They almost always have a designated diversity officer. The many hiring committees I have been on there is a commitment to interview a certain percentage of black and give them preferential treatment as candidates because of the diversity commitment and affirmative action. (Have you ever tried to make sure you are interviewing a black person before social media? How would you know by looking at a resume?)

    Our government (Fed, state and locals) for the most part have a commitment to hiring blacks. And most of my state cabinets have a diversity officer who is black and monitors the hiring policies. For college, Pell grants are there for the taking. Entire tuitions are covered in many state schools. All they have to do is apply and even if grades are bad they can get into community colleges, no problem.

    Not only that but most public schools have all sorts of programs and accommodations for those from poverty level homes.

    The opportunities are there. I think we have done a great service making these opportunities available for the poor and marginalized in society. (And with this economy, more people are becoming poverty level) it is a good thing and I wish more would take advantage of them. Ben Carson did.

      • says

        Chris R.,

        But they do have legs. As Lydia stated and I stated earlier in referencing my black fellow elder, the opportunities are there for the taking. Any poor, barely educated, marginalized feeling person can get free rides to community colleges and get free help catching up via tutors and get an education for zero cost AND actually pocket cash.

        Your statement is what has no legs.

        • says

          The opportunities are the open doors. We need more than that. A person raised in an environment and drugs and broken homes and poverty has a much greater chance of following that example in his own life, no matter what opportunities are out there. There are exceptions, and they tend to be exceptions which prove the rule.

          • says

            Wow. So, Chris…..equality of opportunity is not the goal after all?

            Here I was thinking it was. What exactly is the goal for your great society?

            Also, are you contending that only blacks live in the cycle of poverty and choose (for whatever reason) to not take advantage of the opportunity to be educated?

          • says

            Chris you make people out to be only products of their environment with no moral responsibility. I am a 5 pt calvinist and would be a 10pt calvinist if there were 10 pts but even us calvinists acknowledge and teach that people have responsibility. Your words act as if someone has to be beholden to their environment for ever. Yet I know people from third world countries who grew up in far greater poverty with far fewer opportunities than anyone in America who have take moral responsibility to better themselves and their families. It is your ideology that is modern day slavery. Thomas Sowell wrote a book about how leftist views while trying to sound like they are helping African Americans are actually demeaning and enslaving.

          • says

            Joseph,

            I’m afraid you got that wrong, but I can help. In fact, it is reported that Tammy Wynette said one should “stand by your man” – not by your comments.

    • says

      Our greatest problem Lydia is that the jobs are growing scarce, and the causes are at least three fold: automation, computerization, and robotics. Workers are simply not needed. Several weeks ago my wife was in the hospital being transported by an orderly to e-ray or mri, and suddenly he pulled over and stopped. My wife said the reason was a robot coming down the middle of the hall, evidently, transporting drugs to some nursing station. One wonders if the orderly had any thought that he, too, could be replaced by a robot. Even fast food workers can be computerized and automated out of jobs, something that has been true since sometimes in the 80s. We are facing a great problem that will exacerbate our racial problems. We also need a frontier (space, the stars in particular or, rather, the planets in those solar systems that could be settled, if they are not inhabited already) to relieve the population growth problem. And I dare say we might have the means. After all, if a physicist at the University of Mexico can set forth a theory for faster than light travel in 1994 and then be outdone by the late head of the Skunk Works sof Lockheed telling the graduating class of UCLA in 1993, “We already have the means to go to the stars,” then we are facing some awesome possibilities, possibilities that offer the resolution of many of our racial problems as well as others. And consider building a star ship with a 3-D Printer. Some fellow in England is building a flying saucer with one. Life is changing so rapidly now….

    • Bill Mac says

      I don’t think anyone is asking for more laws. I think what people have been calling for is a little more effort and understanding from everyday people. No one is excusing riots or lawbreaking. Do people really think there is nothing at all that needs to be done or can be done to bridge the gap between white and black? Since we didn’t own slaves personally, we just tell black people to suck it up and deal? Did anyone read that link that Dave posted? That’s life in America for a lot of black people. It’s no use pretending this stuff isn’t real. Does anyone really think this type of thing happens just as much to white people as it does to black people?

      • Lydia says

        It is bridged every day for those of us who work out in the world. In my experience no one is more disgusted with it than many blacks who have worked their tails off to achieve.

        That is one reason Ben Carson is so impressive to me. He has a compassion and balance about this issue that I have not seen before. He says we must get rid of political correctness to even begin a dialogue.

  17. Lydia says

    Chris, So what is the answer? Have you ever heard of Marva Collins and her school in Chicago?

    I saw her 3rd graders reciting many stanzas of Shakespeare, etc at a conference years ago. They are kids from the ghetto who came to a place with extremely high expectations, zero tolerance for bad behavior yet went home to the environment you speak of.

    The difference? What they were taught to think of themselves. Self worth comes from accomplishment. Even very small things. Even trying your best is an accomplishment to a child.

    One of our biggest problems is the bigotry of low expectations. It is insulting. Love and Logic parenting has a really interesting take on this issue. They say the suburban kids have, for the most part, helicopter parents and have little common sense when it comes to navigating life without their parents interference. Mom will bring lunch to school if Jr forgets, for example.

    But the inner city kids can get from one end of town to another with no adult. they get up and come to school with little oversight because they want a breakfast.

    Now, if we can just learn to take that independent spirit and channel it for good, what a difference for them!

    Children are natural sponges for learning. But stats show we start to lose a crop by 3rd grade and another big crop by middle school. That is when they start “checking out”.

    At some point we have to admit our system of education is not working.

    • says

      Part of the answer is demonstrated by your exception that proves the rule: provide better education. It isn’t the fault of low income areas that they tend to have the worst schools. Policy planners need to do better. Contra some of your claims, this isn’t as easy as sending a grant application to the federal government and waiting for money to come rolling in.

      • volfan007 says

        “An atheist does not find God for the same reason a thief does not find a policeman. He is not looking for him.” –Wendell Baxter

          • says

            Dear Chris: When I was an Atheist, I remember that there was one factor that was constant and a given, namely, No experience of anything Divine. From that plus the griefs experienced in childhood (which surely no God with any ethics would allow to happen) I could and did easily conclude that there was no God, none, nada. You can imagine my dismay, my distress, when Jesus showed up one night (Dec.7,1957), facing me, looking at me, with a hand raised like He was knocking at a door, standing about 15 feet in front of me. My response and reaction was to get out of that place, to run the other way, to tell no one. But then something changed my mind about a half hour later, something or, better, someone opened the door for me, so to speak, so that I would call on Him for forgiveness of my sins. I actually felt a burden that I did not know that I even had lifted off of my heart, and I cried tears of joy, joy for the first time in my life.

            Years later I would be told by Jesus in dream why such tragedies happened, and I laughed a happy, healthy laughter. Strangely, enough I have no idea what He said. And I suppose my greatest experience of His making Himself known was that of His invisibility which lasted for a solid half hour, involving tears of joy and happiness. This was about a month before I would experience a great tragedy, the murder of my mother, two half sisters, and the suicide of my step-father. During that week I would actually have a sense of someone standing at my should behind me, so much so that I would turn to see who it was. This happened many times. What was interesting to me was how all of this fit the Bible’s teachings and how the Bible was so much deeper than I had every imagined (I had thought it beneath my attention all together – after all, if there is no God, then the Book is a waste of time). During that time I had been making converts to Atheism (Misery loves comfort, I suppose), and, after my conversion, I sought with some success to undo the harm I had done.

            I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ might be pleased to make Himself known to you by His very presence. I can only say that He is very convincing in His way, when He is pleased to make Himself known or, at least, such has been my experience and the experience of people in the Bile and in Christian History.

          • says

            James,

            Dave has requested that every thread not be turned into an argument about atheism. Why do you and David wish to go against that, particularly with ridiculous arguments?

  18. Lydia says

    “Our greatest problem Lydia is that the jobs are growing scarce, and the causes are at least three fold: automation, computerization, and robotics. ”

    I would say it is “socialism, socialism, and crony capitalism” which is a form of fascism where gov and business are in bed together. Like bailouts, health care and Wall street)

    So that leaves us competing for the same shrinking pie instead of baking new and better ones. It is becoming harder and harder to do so. Cost prohibitive for the little guy.

    Obama has not only had a bad effect on the financial economy but on the psychological economy. And yes, there is one.

  19. says

    Dave, this is a great post. Encouraged as always by your balanced view of things. Especially encouraged by your discussion in the comment stream. We as Southern Baptists are making real progress toward racial unity, but we have a long way to go. And one important step is to hear our African American brothers and acknowledge their experience. I have been encouraged since my post last week about how many white Southern Baptists have taken up this issue in articles and blogs. I have been encouraged the current series at Christianity Today encouraging white readers to listen to Black voices on racial justice issues. We have a long way to go, but waking up to racial injustice (whatever the facts may be in Ferguson) is an encouraging trend.

  20. says

    Dave, thanks for your perspective on this. Ferguson has challenged me to listen and reminded me of how much we interpret events through the lens of our own experience.

    And as I’ve watched the news, I’ve wondered what we can do. Listening is an important start. But if in his death Jesus tore down the dividing wall, reconciling us to God as well as one another, what would it look like if we lived that out? What if black churches and white churches were intentional about finding ways to help one another in their mission? Traded pastors and choirs a couple times a year? Met for joint services on occassion? Would that be a beginning?

    As I’ve watched Ferguson, I’ve also remembered Jena. It’ wasn’t that long ago Jena, Louisiana, was also torn by racial tensions. But after the dust cleared and the media left, Jena broke out in revival. Ferguson’s story is also the story of children not able to go to school, families having to cope with tear gas blowing into their homes, business owners coping with vandalism and losses. It is a community in need of healing, and after the cameras stop rolling we need to continue to be in prayer for the churches and believers who continue to minister there. It’s my prayer that what God did for Jena, he’ll do for Ferguson. I hope the next time Ferguson makes the news it’s because there’s been a revival.

  21. Dwight McKissic says

    Leigh,

    You have captured God’s heart on the matter. May it come to pass according to your desires, as your desires are aligned with His desires.

    • Tarheel says

      Amen, Leigh, Les, and Dwight!

      Revival and salvation of the lost are the only answers that will bring real and lasting peace and justice to Ferguson, or anywhere else for that matter.

      Brother Dwight, despite our obvious differences on the way to get there….I we both agree that the gospel tears down the walls of separation. I think we both share a “holy hatred” for racism – and long for a day when it is no more.

      Perhaps we can take joint comfort in this; God is reconciling all things to Himself …it is in that day that we truly see every being created in God’s image on the same plane – with no bias or discrimination – no injustice – no persecution – no hatred – no sadness – only jointly and forever in complete unity praising the Lamb who was slain and redeemed for himself a people from every nation, tribe and tongue!

      Until that is completed we will continue to see through a glass darkly and as children of God will continue long to see accomplished what only He can bring to pass.

      I think I have long since passed the time when I have said enough for now on this issue.

      God bless you, brother.

    • says

      I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening since the Fall of 1973. Thomas Kidd in his work, The Great Awakening, tells of a free Black in Charleston, SC, who attended a gathering to hear Ev. George Whitefield preach. His intention was to disrupt the service. However, as he walk into the crowd, Whitefield pointed his finger at him and quoted his text, “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel,” and the man went flying backwards and collapsed (like the soldiers sent to take Jesus in Jn.18). Whitefield appointed the pastor of the FBC of Charleston, Rev. Oliver Hart, to see to the man who was led to Christ by Hart a few days later. That Black man became a minister and eventually a missionary to Africa, preceding even the Rev. George Lisle by several years. At the moment my copy of Kidd’s work is not available and my memory is short, so I will have to forego trying to name him. Interestingly enough, our next great evangelist could be an African American. A noted British historian of the 20th century suggested that the renewal of western civilization would well come from the African Americans, and he could be right.

      • says

        Perhaps you meant the fourth (or fifth depending on who you talk to), but is fairly well established among historians that the Third Great Awakening happened during the second half of the 19th century. Now the question of whether the rise of the Pentacostal/Charismatic movement and events like the SBC Conservative resurgence are/should be considered the fourth great awakening is disputed. Some historians say yes, others say no.

        • says

          Svmuschany: I do not consider the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement or even events like the SBC Conservative resurgence as the Fourth or even the Third. Neither do I consider what happened in the second half of the 19th century to be the Third. Of course, I could be wrong, but my measure is what happened in the First and Second, what was involved, what was the theology, and how did it effect and affect human behavior. While I do allow for some element of the gift of a foreign language to this day, it is very limited. In fact, I can name only two or three examples that I think are true manifestations of God acting sovereignly in the issue of languages requisite for particular situations. My reasons for being so strict has been the profound disturbances caused by Pentecostals/Charismatics that I have seen from my childhood through 50= years as a minister (and this is not to say that they are not saved…some are I think), plus many other things in the movement that has made it suspect in my opinion. I do not go so far as the Cessationists, but I bend that way for the most part. I lean that way from the middle as my son explained to a leading Charismatic about two weeks ago.

          Supernaturalism as experienced in the Awakenings has a tendency in conjunction with the way the truths are structured and framed and presented and work in believers to make them balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic.

  22. Dwight McKissic says

    Tarheel,

    I can’t say that I’ve said all that I am going to say, but, we agree that Lehigh has said what’s most important to say. Glad to be in agreement with u for a change.
    Now to a point of disagreement-:). I heard in TV last night that Officer Darren Wilson did not fill out an incident report because it would be advantageous to him in a court of law to have not filled one out. This is reprehensible. It is policy to full out such a report. For not doing so, that should be grounds for immediate dismissal. Certainly Tarheel, you don’t condone such action? Do you? I am saddened and sickened by this breech of protocol with no punishment. SV, certainly, you don ‘t support Officer Wilson not having filled out an incident report? Do you?

    • says

      How is it reprehensible? First consider that he was quickly taken to the hospital for the injuries he sustained which included a fractured eye socket. So of course one would not be written right away.

      However second, and more importantly, as this likely, from the beginning, was going to be headed to trial, the officer has a 5th Ammendment right not to incriminate himself. No matter how carefully he worded any police report, the fact that it could be used against him in a court of law gives prudence not to write one. Are you suggesting that by being a law enforcement officer, his job to write a report trumps his right to 5th Amendment securities? Are you suggesting he should be forced to potentially incriminate himself? Trust me, lawyers are good at taking statements, making them sound different than they were intended, and getting the jury to believe something that was not originally intended. That is the very reason why we have Miranda rights. That everybody has the right to consult with a lawyer before making any statements to law enforcement or prosecutors. Given these circumstances it is COMPLETELY reasonable for the officer not to write a report. That is unless you have already presumed his guilt and are only looking for more reasons to hang him.

      • says

        sv,

        An anonymous source claimed the fractured eye socket. Other sources have said this report was false – he had facial bruising, no damage to the eye socket. But even if that convenient lie did happen to be true, surely there has since been plenty of time. Nice attempt to use that anonymous report to absolve him of his responsibility to file a report.

        • says

          So even if you want to deny the first point, what do you have to say about the second? Do you think the officer should be forced to wave his 5th amendment rights?

          • says

            A reasonable consideration to a degree, but I’m not aware that the 5th amendment allows people to neglect responsibilities of their job, even if fulfilling their responsibility could get them into trouble. Police are required to fill out reports of their activities. The bill of rights does not give employees the right to shirk otherwise lawful job responsibilities.

          • Tarheel says

            Chris, are you privy to the rules that are required regarding the completion of incident reports?

            I know that I am not.

            I am however willing to admit that there is a possibility that your obvious vast knowledge on this issue is deeper than mine. Especially regarding the specific rules and laws regarding this in Freguson, Missouri.

            I offer this concession because your statement to SV seems to imply that you KNOW for certain that (if it is even true that Ofc Wilson did not fill out a report) that Wilson has been negligent in his duty.

            I apologize in advance if you are abreast with the laws and rules of Ferguson, MO regarding this.

          • says

            The right not to incriminate oneself is immutable. Given that a report but he officer will be, for all intensive purposes, his testimony to the event, he has every right to withhold that testimony until such time as he has hand the chance to consult with a lawyer. Just because you have already presupposed his guilt does not mean he does not have the right to due process.

          • Tarheel says

            Um, I did.

            “Police are required to fill out reports of their activities. The bill of rights does not give employees the right to shirk otherwise lawful job responsibilities.”

            You clearly said that he is REQUIRED to fill out the report and that he has shirked his responsiblut by not doing so.

            Therefore, I am asking do you know that it is REQUIRED in this case? …or are you guessing? And if he is REQUIRED to do that….do you KNOW he did not?

          • says

            BTW for the record Chris, United States V Hubble, quite clearly indicates that a person does not have to produce documents that could result in their incrimination. Your refusal to understand simple case law does not make it any the less true.

          • says

            A quick use of Google reveals quite clearly that US vs Hubbell has nothing to do with this particular case. The issue is completely unrelated. Reading. It does a body good.

          • says

            One addendum: I had forgotten that an incident report was finally released. Took almost two weeks, but the Ferguson police did release a report. Contrary to the various personal accounts they released about the store robbery in an attempt to turn opinion against Michael Brown, the shooting report contained only the barest of details with no individual accounts, no actual details of what they claim took place. So it is possible that they will claim (1) the officer did what was required in filling out a report (while neglecting to mention he left out the most important part), and (2) they satisfied the public information request by releasing this report (even though it contains none of the details people actually want to hear). One still wonders what they are hiding.

          • says

            Chris, yes reading does indeed do a body good. From NBC:

            “Police in Ferguson, Missouri, did not file an “incident report” on the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Michael Brown because they turned the case over to St. Louis County police almost immediately, the county prosecutor’s office tells NBC News.

            The reason, according to the office of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch, is that it doesn’t exist.

            The St. Louis County police department presumably did file an incident report, but any such documents will not be made public until a grand jury investigating the officer-involved shooting concludes its investigation, according to officials from the office who briefed NBC News on the case.”

            http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/michael-brown-shooting-why-ferguson-police-never-filed-incident-report-n186431

          • says

            Oh and Chris, it is like I have stated here several times. Some documents and interviews, etc. are not being released because an investigation is ongoing. And now a Grand Jury has the case. Try to keep up man. :)

          • says

            Chris, I frankly don’t have the time or desire to go through case law and jurist prudence with you. I fear it will little effect no matter how in-depth I go. But you are entirely wrong in what you just said.

            United States v Hubbell confirms an already established legal precedent of “act of production”. Simply put a person has the right to invoke the 5th Amendment to prevent the production of documents if those documents or the act of producing those documents would (or could) incriminate ones self.

            In the Hubbell case, the defendant was required by subpoena to produce a number of documents. He was given immunity for the “crime” that was being investigated, but in the production of those documents, the prosecutor charge him with a completely separate crime. The decision stated that a person does not have to produce any documents, even under subpoena if producing those documents could lead to them incriminating himself.

            So yes, this decision does clearly play a role in the case of the officer in Ferguson. He CANNNOT be forced to produce any document that could lead to him incriminating himself. Again, trying to convince you of established case law is not something that I think will ever happen.

          • says

            Les and sv,

            Inasmuch as I love a good argument, there’s no point in drawing this out further. To summarize most of what’s been said today in the most age-appropriate and comprehensible way possible: I’m right, you’re wrong, what else is there to say?

          • says

            Yes Chris, you just described your arguments very nicely. Seeing as both Les and I have produced supporting evidence for our positions, and you have not.

    • Tarheel says

      Brother Dwight,

      I am trying to back away here..LOL. But to address your question.

      I would be concerned if that is true. I have not heard that. I hope it is not true because IMO spontaneous statements tend to carry more weight than those prepared later. This is true whatever witness (on whichever side) one might be talking about.

      I would be concerned for several reasons. One being a lack of transparency. That, if true, sounds to be a legal move probably cautioned him by attorneys who understand the system all too well. I am not saying I condone it – in fact, I am saying that if true it is a sad commentary on the legal system.

      Another concern I have is that that policing has become so politicized and snap judgments are made concerning their actions and then the narrative is immediately set is stone long before facts are released and investigations completed – like this one has been- that officers (most of which are honest and hard working) have to constantly think about such things in the carrying out of any duty we as citizens task them (and pay them poorly) to do.

      Could it be that because this is such a high profile case that his statements given to county and state investigators would suffice as an incident report? Perhaps his stay in the hospital with the injuries to his face precluded the writing of an incident report in traditional form? I am not saying either of the above scenarios are the case….but couldn’t they be? Could it be that there is no nefarious action here?

      Or must there be, in your mind, nefarious coverups going on?

    • says

      Dear Brother Dwight: I must admit to being really bothered by the excessive gun fire. It does suggest to me that the officer was in a rage. It might well be true that the boy had slugged him, but the fear of retribution for excessive response would explain why the officer did not fill out a report, a matter deserving a stern rebuke to say the least. One wonders how much training the police of Ferguson had with reference to racial matters. Fear is also a factor, but criminals are just as readily found among Whites as among Blacks. These days with the decline in opportunities for work (workers are not needed due to robotics, automation, and computerization), the whole of our civilization seems to be teetering on the brink of disaster. And there are groups here, one suspects, ready to take advantage of any developing situation. Just consider how many the arrests in Ferguson were from people who were not residents of that town. I just pray for cooler heads to prevail and justice to be done.

      • Tarheel says

        The number of shots that hit him is concerning given that it was one officer and not several officers firing.

        It COULD suggest the officer was in a rage and just kept firing in which case the officer would be in the wrong and should be punished for his loss of control as an officer of the law.

        It COULD suggest that the officer reacted in fear and made a seriously bad judgment…in which case he should be also be punished because as an officer of the law he has to act in sound judgment even in fearful situations.

        Or it COULD suggest that MB was charging the officer after having already beaten him and struggled to obtain his weapon and the cop had to shoot him that many times to stop the man from advancing…in which case the shooting would be justified.

        it COULD suggest a lot of things…but Could’s by definition are conjecture and not really that productive in seeking true justice.

        This is why we in this country have fair investigations and trials.

        • says

          Tarheel: I would not argue with all of the possibilities you have raised. Anyone of them could be true. And I want justice to take its due course, but I would not say that all of the decisions rendered in our courts of law are just, impartial, fair, etc. After all, we have had far too many miscarriages of justice, of innocent people being sent to prison or even executed, when the truth was later proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be otherwise. We also have smart lawyers who can get people off. We even have the terrible reality of judicial decisions being truly rendered, where the mass media rendered them null and void. Just consider the Scopes Trial. The mass media, the newspapers and radios of that day, made William Jennings Bryan and the cause he represented to look terrible, while Darrow and those aligned with him were presented as sweetness and light. But when one looks more closely, one finds there were many other factors involved. For example, the most educated of the two lawyers was Bryan with three earned degrees, while Darrow was lacking in such training. He was self taught, read for the bar (a practice followed by Lincoln and so not to be ruled out for that reason alone). However, Bryan’s remark in response to the tooth of Nebraska man turned out to be true; it was a pig’s tooth, indeed, an early form of the peccary as was later decided. Also the legal summary was written by a man who practiced law for more than 12 years before the bar of the US Supreme Court and never lost a case. There is also the reality that the whole thing was a legal show put on by the merchants of Dayton, Tennessee to drum up trade. Today that case stands as a grotesque representation of the biblical views on human origins and those who follow them. The courts can be used, and American History is replete with examples.

          • Tarheel says

            Yes, certainly they are failings…but those failings effect all of us.

            We sometimes see people will all sorts of skin tones and those of both genders getting convicted for crimes they did not commit, or acquitted for ones they did.

            I think the process is designed to be fair and impartial but because we are fallen beings it sometimes ends up not being.

            It is not perfect for sure (our justice system) but it sure as the world beats mob justice and snap judgments.

  23. says

    One thing that could help restore trust is statewide legislation to require an outside investigation of every police shooting. I would certainly prefer the federal government stay out of it, though.