Tag Archives: susan walley schlesman

The Myth of Equality

I read this book in a few days, and books about race are not my normal fare. I have rarely been so impressed by a book that deals with race and inequality, and I’ve never read anything that addressed the issue of white supremacy in a non-Neo-Nazi way. And I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’ve never even considered the concept of “white privilege.” Yes, I realize I’m blessed, and I’ve always been aware of it, and Im really not a snob or a racist. But ignorant, yes. I have been that.

Ken Wytsma addresses white privilege as the underlying cause for racial tension in a fresh honest, and non-judgmental way. His context provides a logical and researched reason for our country’s inability to erase prejudice and  discrimination, despite massive legislative agendas. It lays responsibility squarely at the feet of those in charge–yes, the white-skinned Americans.

I grew up in the Midwest as an average respectful middle-class American white girl. I was the norm and the majority. I did realize that there were stigmas attached to our Native Americans and our Mexican migrant workers, yet I never considered the dichotomy of opportunity and privilege between these races and myself. Altering this perspective changes everything.

Wytsma made so many profound and challenging comments throughout the book. I highlighted and starred many statements. I found this book to be a persuasive, compassionate, non-offensive, and well-informed threats of a national problem. This achievement is remarkable when addressing issues of race and equality. I am looking at my culture and my personal life differently now, and I’m grateful for the challenge. This book also made me want to read his other books. I highly recommend it.

Here are some quotes to get you thinking about race, inequality, and white privilege. Feel free to leave comments:

“If the church becomes an empire unto itself,  self-interested institution concerned with its own power and influence (as the temple had become in Jesus’ day), it is capable of slipping into direct opposition to the kingdom of God–the very thing it is supposed to be nurturing, spreading, and protecting.” (92)

“It’s tempting to think that when we’ve learned a little bit of something that we’re really learned it.” (321)

“An excess of privilege plus a surplus of guilt equals an outflow of compassion.” (162)

“Faith looks outside itself. Fear looks to itself.” (171)

“Justice isn’t just about doing; it’s about being. It isn’t just about changing the world; it’s about changing ourselves.” (188)

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Who is God the Father to you?

Daddy, Dad, Father, Papa, Daddio, Pop.

These titles, and many more, draw up a wide, tumultuous range of emotions for us. Each, in its own way, suggests a level of intimacy and connection, a unique blending of two lives in a relationship of impact and personality development.

Did you know that the names for God do the same thing? Each name that God gives himself describes his personality and his actions, therefore changing our perception of him and our reception of him. His name transforms the incomprehensible concept of deity into concrete terms.

Heavenly Father.

Yes, he’s called father. “God the Father” to Jesus and an adopted father to us, his “children.” But what if the name father means nothing to you? Or what if it means something awful, something cruel, judgmental, or ambivalent? Then how do you grasp this idea of heavenly fatherhood? How do you connect in prayer and faith with a person you can’t see, can’t hear, don’t know, and can’t control?

Who is God the Father to you? Continue reading

3 reasons you should visit a cemetery

This past week, only days after Memorial Day, I ironically found myself attending 2 funerals and visiting 2 cemeteries. I listened to Taps from a Marine bugle, I watched a flag being folded and unfolded by 2 solemn officers, and I straightened plastic flowers at several grave sites. 

This weekend marked my most profound visit to a cemetery to date. I stood over the graves of both my parents. It’s not something you anticipate having to do until your 60s, but I’ve already done it. Then I stood over the graves of my grandparents, uncles, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents.

And I could hear my mom’s voice in my head saying,

“Don’t walk on the graves. Walk in between them. See the space between the headstones? Follow that when you walk.”

“Read the stones. Someone lived a full life, and this is how they are remembered.”

Mom was religious about instilling in us a respect for the dead because, after having been widowed at 31, she was acutely aware of the value of life.

As I ambled through the Illinois cemetery, I reflected on its role in culture. With the current popularity of cremation, I wondered if cemeteries will one day become obsolete? What value, if any, do they hold for life? My own experience has supplied me with three reasons you should visit a cemetery. I will share them with you, on the premise that you will one day find yourself standing over the granite stone of a loved one. Continue reading