Since coming back from Hiatus, I have laid down a lot of self-imposed blogging limits. No more Mark Driscoll posts. No posts which wouldn't serve as Sunday School material. No more Global Warming posts, no more political posts (those two I haven't made much of, but note it). No more posts about TGC. It seems like all the things you might expect from a menace who must be stopped is ending, and the show is getting new writers.
Anyway, this video turned up last week:
Black and White: Learning from Ferguson Together from Desiring God on Vimeo.
And Thabiti is, frankly one of those guys I only want the best for. He seems like the most human and the most natural of the T4G luminaries, and frankly I just like him. I like his books. I like his blog. Every time I see him speak to people, I like the way he treats people. I want to actually meet him someday, but because I am also swearing off conferences which are not at my local church I think that's entirely unlikely.
Last, before I say what I have to say here, I had a private on-line conversation with him about this subject which, frankly, was not my best interpersonal moment, and while you will never see it, let me say that he was the better man in that exchange who called a brother to repent and to turn away from sin, so I also owe him a spiritual due.
I cannot say enough good about Thabiti because he's obviously full of grace and truth.
So in order to not hurt myself by now saying, "yeah but ...," I am going to offer some bullet points about this video, and this will be my final post about race and theology ever on the internet.
- Time 0:44 - 2:44
- While Thabiti starts by saying there is something he has learned, it's actually about something he wants other people to learn. While I think what he says in the last 60 second of that piece of this video is interesting and useful for me personally (it's a version of this post from 2008), I think that there is something being missed in making that point. Personally, I am 100% confident that the police have done wrong to young black men in America. I'm not sure conflating that with the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson (which is what Thabiti does in making his point) makes this discussion better.
- Time 2:44 - 3:12
- The reason why we shouldn't say more about the issue in the previous 2 minutes is that Thabiti cleans it up himself. He recognizes that there is a problem of conflation, and a problem of profiling on both sides due to (using his phases) the history between blacks and the police. It's right of him to point it out.
- Time 3:12 - 4:15
- My first reaction to this segment about the center of modern civil rights leadership is, "from your lips to God's ear." If this were also true about "white" America, I think a new and more productive dialog could take place.
- Time 4:15 - 6:32
- The question of the discipline of the original civil rights movement vs. the current iteration of community action is a very good one, and his point about the Christian roots of the civil rights movement in the 50's and 60's is utterly necessary. Anyone who ignores this is missing a huge difference between what happened then and what is happening, and how it is lead, right now.
- Time 6:32 - End
- I think this is the weakest part of the whole video for one reason only: the side being tarred as evil (I think: unjustly) is also being lectured for somehow usurping the dignity of the other side for complaining about the injustice of the charges against them. What I think Thabiti has meant to say here is that there's a way to mourn with those who are mourning that gives them dignity while they are mourning, and that there should be a way to distinguish between language from pain and language meant to advance the conversation. What he has instead wound up saying, it seems to me, is that when one group lashes out in pain and labels another group "X", the group labelled "X" doesn't have any ground to object until the time of mourning is over.