Accountability Voices

Just a note to get us thinking about whiteness and Christianity… yesterday at a Pride event I attended, a white middle-aged male calling himself Christian walked through the crowds…he was well dressed and had a Bible verse on his t-shirt…he came for one purpose only…to protest. How did he choose to do that? He yelled at people walking past him–mean language and condemnation of people he had never met…he spit on people–yes, spit–people who were just having a fun day at a family-friendly event.

What was happening at Pride? Autozone was there handing out free chips…someone gave out free sno-cones…bands were playing…people were giving hugs and stickers and candy…I met a grandmother who brought her grandson…my son ran around with a lot of his friends…a group of Blue Suede Sisters helped me pick out a birthday present for Augie…Moe’s sold burritos and chips and queso…somebody was selling pasta…several churches were there giving encouragement…music was good…I got free sunglasses and a tote bag and a frisbee and treats for my dogs from Hollywood Feed…Suntrust bank gave out lots of fun things…vendors sold everything from soap to shirts to food to hats…

So whatever you think happens at Pride…well…there you go…

But that’s beside the point…as wonderful as the day was, this man spit on people and told everyone around him that we were all going to hell…

So, friends of mine who are white and Christian, let’s hold each other accountable…let’s make sure people know that’s not what Christianity looks like…and let’s be clear what our privilege looks like. This nice looking white man was NOT arrested for yelling at kids, making preteens cry, and spitting on youth.

He calls it his right to protest…well, many of you called for BLM protestors who peacefully blocked traffic for a moment to be arrested (and they have been given indictments) and for Colin Kaepernick to be fired and banned because he took a knee for his beliefs…yet this man can spit on people and have no serious consequences…can show up at his job on Monday…can go to church today and be applauded…

He calls it his right to live out his beliefs as a Christian…yet when other Christians want to support the rights for others to live freely and we stand with refugees and we speak out against racism, you tell us we can’t live out our religious beliefs…

He spit on people…he yelled…yes, he was eventually made to leave, but he wasn’t arrested…if a gay person had come to a Christian prayer walk and spit on anyone, they would have been arrested and possibly hit or harmed by people there….if a black man spit on white children at the fair, he would have faced serious consequences…

No one at Pride fought back or spit back…we are used to the “yelling Christians,” but for those of us who call our selves Christians….well, we need to speak out….and for us white people…we need to hold people like him accountable…he needs consequences…what is demanded for others in the name of justice, we need to demand for people like “this nice white man who wanted the right to protest and live out his religious beliefs.”

There you go…I love you all…hugs for everyone…and thanks for reading…please think about this…because I love the people who were spit on…and I have no tolerance for anyone hurting others…

Sourly Patched Theology

This poem was written out of my frustration with comments I have heard recently from people who call themselves Christian. I am a Christian…I remember my grandmother’s faith and strength and that of her siblings. I went to what was then a small country church when I was a child…I loved VBS, Sunday school, and all things between. And I still love the words of Jesus.

But some people have left love and hope out of their faith. They use their faith to exclude others and judge others. That’s not from the faith I know and follow. My faith tells me to welcome and sit with strangers, to hug people who hav been rejected by others, to encourage and love those with broken hearts…to be a Mama Bear…to speak out against abuse…to speak out for children being harmed…to give hope…to be a light in darkness…to care…to listen…to be open to leaning something new…to embrace the diversity of God’s creation…

Sourly Patched Theology

I wade through the murky bog
filled with your misconceptions
and self-informed thoughts
of who I am and I watch you
live out your sourly patched theology—
patched together with verses
cut from the whole and
stitched together to wrap
you comfortably in your
creation that you name truth…
the sweet for those you choose,
the sour for those who differ,
and gone when we don’t bend
to the pressures of your
need for others to conform
to your convenient readings
of the Holy Word you toss
around to prove the rightness
you need to cling to so
your house built on comfort and
convenience doesn’t
wash away with the
waves of truth our presence
sends into your life, and
I wonder why you
withhold seats at the table
and close doors and build
shelters from those you
claim to fear when you
have locked yourself away
from the joys being sent your way
and from the love waiting
just outside of the walls
you say are God-designed,
and you offer a superficial smile
and quick hugs to the peers
who join you in your
steeple-topped fortress
and polished pews
often built or cleaned
by the hands you push away
and your stained glass
hides the view of the hurting
and the hunger and the brokenness
you deem deserved by those
who carry the load, and
you toss out demands
to push any wanderers
farther away from
the hope you have locked
away by your own false fears
and your moat filled
with self-ordaining
holy water
that drowns out
the cries of those
clinging to the cross
you claim as yours
and yours alone…
your birthright to
the land you claimed as holy…
your inherited right
as one of the chosen few…
your legal right
as a citizen of the inner circle…
your claimed right
as a person who deserves
to feel happy and secure.

I wade through the waters
you called baptismal
but had tainted with your
own rumors of who
I needed to become
when I arose from
the cleansing depths,
and I pushed through
the falsehoods you
heaped upon me
and spewed about me…
thoughts born of your own
prejudices and fears and
assumptions believed
because you declare that
your own opinions and
interpretations are what
must be engraved in the
stones of the foundations
of your faith,
and you fear that my
presence may unearth
the roots you grow from
and may cause you
to face uncertainty
rather than the peace
you call yours to claim…
and I break free from the cross
built from your insecurities
that you tried to nail me to
and I move into the clearer waters
that are cool and refreshing
to my soul and the waves
of hope wash over
my wounds and cleanse them
and open arms pull me
from the depths of
my struggles and into
the arms of the Loving One
who had himself broken free
from your cross you nailed him to,
and he walked across the waters
of your moat and met me on the
the other side and together
we dined on the hillside
with others you tossed aside,
and I listened to his
words of love and hope
that only resembled the
words you had said were true,
and he called me by name
and saw me and touched my wounds
as I touched his
and he built a table
for all of us and we
saved a seat for you…
we’re waiting just outside
your walls of hate and fear
and disbelief…we have shed our labels
you branded us with…and
we dance and sing and
break bread and learn from
the One who is The Word…
and with the bread,
he left a trail that leads
you to the Life that
The Word called you to…
Come to the table
on the other side…

–Chris Pepple ©2019