27th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration

27th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration


Good morning, good morning. How is everybody today? Yes, it’s a great morning. Martin Luther King birthday celebration. Thanks for coming out, folks. You can read my name tag, but my name’s Tim Bees. I’m a local pastor here at First Baptist Church. I just want to welcome you. You know life is hard. Especially when you’re dealing with issues of race and bigotry and all this kind of stuff. Can I just say that it’s always nice, on this time, one day a year, where you get together, and you know you have some allies. People with the same kind of heart. So it’s really good to see everybody this morning. Thanks for coming out. Enjoy the breakfast, don’t stop eating. You can listen to me while you eat. So I just want to acknowledge the senior high string quartet. Olivia Young, Holly Farnum, Kareem Schideker, Cecilia Brown, under the direction of Andrew Dysons. Great job guys, thank you. (applause) We got a packed program. We got a lot of things going on. I want to introduce Julie Spahn. She’s our interpreter. I got to talk to her a little bit. I just got one word to describe Julie. Supercalafragalisticexpialadocious. Anyway, sorry. I didn’t sleep last night, so that’s where my brain went. So anyway. So Julie’s up here and that’s really good. So, I’m just gonna name what’s coming up next, and then we’ll get out of the way. Next coming up is, Peggy Jackson’s gonna lead us and lift every voice and sing. Which is in your program. You can find it on page, if somebody finds it before I do that’d be really helpful. Five, thank you. Page five. And then after that, we’re gonna have Ryiannah, Pa’Shin, and Pa’Shawn come up, they are TK Kids from the multicultural family center, and they’re also the praise team at First Baptist Church. They’re gonna come up and do a dance for us. And then you get to have me come back again. But let’s just move on with the program, and Peggy, let’s go. Good morning. May I get you guys to stand with me as we sing? Okay. ♪ Lift every voice and sing ♪ ♪ Til Earth and Heaven ring ♪ ♪ Ring with the harmony ♪ ♪ of liberty ♪ ♪ Let our rejoicing rise ♪ ♪ High as the list’ning skies ♪ ♪ Let it resound loud as the rolling sea ♪ ♪ Sing a song full of the faith ♪ ♪ That the dark past has taught us ♪ ♪ Sing a song full of the hope ♪ ♪ that the present has brought us ♪ ♪ Facing the rising sun ♪ ♪ of our new day begun ♪ ♪ Let us march on ♪ ♪ till victory is won ♪ ♪ Stony the road we trod ♪ ♪ Bitter the chast’ning rod, ♪ ♪ Felt in the day that hope ♪ ♪ Unborn has died ♪ ♪ Yet with a steady beat ♪ ♪ Have not our weary feet ♪ ♪ Come to the place on which our fathers sighed? ♪ ♪ We have come over a way ♪ ♪ that with tears has been watered ♪ ♪ We have come, ♪ ♪ Treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered ♪ ♪ Out from the gloomy past, ♪ ♪ till now we stand at last ♪ ♪ Where the white gleam of our bright stars is cast ♪ Thank you, we won’t go any farther. (laughter, applause) Thank you. (“Stand Up For Something” by Andra Day feat. Common) (applause) (“Stand Up For Something” by Andra Day feat. Common) (applause) So you’ve already eaten, or you’re still eating. We’re gonna do an invocation. I’m gonna pray a little bit, I’m sorry, I don’t want to scare anybody here, alright, but we are Dr. King, he was Reverend Dr. King, he was a baptist preacher, I’m a baptist preacher. He was really smart. I’m not. But we can do this, right? We can get together and just, let’s just bow our heads for a minute here. Lord, we pray Your blessings on this community here, on the ideal that we are celebrating this morning. On the person that for many of us in this room, was a contemporary. Yet we know there’s a younger generation that never knew him but only knows him now through film or reading. Lord we pray for no surprises this year. And we thank You for what’s already occurred. We thank You for the talent of these young girls that dance. We thank You for the talent of the senior high string quartet. And thank You for the talent that’s in this room. We pray in the name of Jesus, or the god that we choose, amen. So I do have an announcement. Couple things, a lot of groups come together to make this happen every year. A lot goes on behind the scenes. So you got placemats on your tables, and those are done by the Hempstead High School iJAG classes that are taught by Rebecca Lanier and Danille Toucher. I don’t know, what, were 200 of them, Claudette, is that what there was? Like 200 of those. So we want to make sure that they get really good credit for that stand, some kind of, you know, I don’t know, ski trip to Aspen or something if you can work that out in the budget for the district. Anyway, other things. Someone lost a purse. Large black purse, trimmed in brown. If you find it, you can turn it in at this table right here. We would appreciate it. We get to acknowledge some important people today, and I’m gonna, whatever I did, please do not take this that I’m being frivolous about this alright? If we have any elected officials, could you stand? We want to honor you and thank you for your service to us. So if you’re an elected official could you just stand? (applause) If you’re an educator, could you stand? Whether that’s administration, or in whatever capacity. Thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your service. (applause) Alright, are you a member or a part of a faith community? Could you stand? That’s pretty broad, but you know, I’ll leave it up to your imagination. Thank you. Thank you, you play an important role. An important role. If you’re a man, can you stand? (laughing) Hey man, that’s great, I like that, yeah, hey, yeah. And if you’re a woman, can you stand? Let’s make this fair. Alright! Yeah. If you’re a student, and you’re here. This is a day off, if you’re a student, and you’re here, could you stand? (applause) Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So number one, it’s great to see everybody here. Dr. Bacote was here I think two years ago. Two or three years ago. Two. And we had a horrendous ice storm. And think there were like 25 people in the room. And if I used one word to describe that group, supercalafragilisticexpialadocious. Our music team didn’t show up. (laughing) I don’t know what you just said there, but… Our music, I mean, we just didn’t have people show up. I mean, we had music planned, and people couldn’t get here. It was horrible. So, Dr. Bacote’s daughters came up here and sang a capella. And those 25 people were blessed. So, this month, this year, they’re coming back. They’re here. We asked them if they would sing and Julianna and Laurel are gonna come up. Now the pressure’s on. I mean, they got music background now, and everything, it’s not a capella, but they’re gonna come up. So why don’t you guys come up and they’re gonna do a song for us. (applause) ♪ Shattered ♪ ♪ But I’m not broken ♪ ♪ Wounded ♪ ♪ The time will heal ♪ ♪ Heavy the load the cross I bear ♪ ♪ Lonely the road I trod I dare ♪ ♪ Shaken ♪ ♪ But here I stand ♪ ♪ Weary ♪ ♪ Still I press on ♪ ♪ Long are the nights the tears I cry ♪ ♪ Dark are the days no sun in the skies ♪ ♪ Yet still I rise ♪ ♪ Never to give up ♪ ♪ Never to give in ♪ ♪ Against all odds ♪ ♪ Yet still I rise ♪ ♪ High above the clouds ♪ ♪ At times I feel low ♪ ♪ Yet still I rise ♪ ♪ Sometimes I’m troubled ♪ ♪ But not in despair ♪ ♪ Struggling ♪ ♪ I make my way through ♪ ♪ Trials they come to make me strong ♪ ♪ I must endure, I must hold on ♪ ♪ Yet still I rise ♪ ♪ Never to give up ♪ ♪ Never to give in ♪ ♪ Against all odds ♪ ♪ Yet still I rise ♪ ♪ High above the clouds ♪ ♪ At times I feel low ♪ ♪ Yet still I rise ♪ ♪ Above all my problems ♪ ♪ Above all my eyes can see ♪ ♪ Knowing God is able ♪ ♪ To strengthen me ♪ ♪ To strengthen me ♪ ♪ Yet still I rise ♪ ♪ Never to give up ♪ ♪ Never to give in ♪ ♪ Against all odds ♪ ♪ Yet still I rise ♪ ♪ High above the clouds ♪ ♪ At times I feel low ♪ ♪ Yet still I rise ♪ ♪ I need to know which way to go ♪ ♪ Yet still I ♪ ♪ At times a I feel low ♪ ♪ Yet still I ♪ ♪ I rise ♪ ♪ Yet still ♪ ♪ I rise ♪ (applause) One of the perks of being the emcee is I get to spend some time with the speakers every year. And it’s been a real joy to reconnect with Dr. Bacote. When we called him about to see whether he’d come back he actually remembered me. Which was a miracle. And then we got the hookup. We were at a conference in Chicago back in September, something like, I can’t remember the dates but, we got to meet up again there. If there’s one word I would use to describe Dr. Bacote. Humble. Didn’t expect that, did you? I kind of made a joke with him at the conference in Chicago, I said, you know it’s really hard sitting next to a famous person, and I could just tell it didn’t resonate real well with him. There were a lot of people coming up to him, they knew who he was. It just didn’t resonate real well. And I got an e-mail from him just a couple days ago. And he had gotten a piece of mail. I mean if this is the worst thing that happens in his life it’s pretty blessed, but he got a piece of mail. Had the clipping that was in the TH about him speaking. And then just a bunch of really stupid anti-black stuff in it. And the first thing he did was to pray for this person. That was a teaching moment for me, ’cause that would not have been the first thing I would have done, unfortunately. He’s written a lot of stuff, and you can read his bio in there. But I was reading through a number of his writings from a journal called Commentary. And he’s a follower of Abram Kiper. Kiper has had a huge impact in his life. How do you integrate faith with real world stuff? And Kiper was the guy who really opened up his mind to how to do that, because, I mean, let’s just face it. For a long time, church people didn’t have a whole lot to do with regular life. Unless somehow it was spiritual. And he just felt we needed to have more engagement with it. So he picked up Kiper, and he said this was like a breath of fresh air. Finally. Someone with an answer. And then as he’s reading Kiper, he comes across the fact that Kiper is a man of his time, and says, to put it, this is Kiper, “to put it concretely, if you were a plant, “you would rather be rose than mushroom. “If insect, butterfly rather than spider. “If bird, eagle rather than owl. “If I higher vertebrate, lion rather than hyena. “And again, being man, rich rather than poor. “Talented rather than dull minded. “Of the Aryan race, rather than Hottentot and Kefir.” Okay. So he just finds, he reads someone, resonates with him, here comes this racist statement, he’s like, oh. He puts the book down. Oh my gosh. And he said, that’s where he learned nuance. And he picked the book up, he said look. I don’t agree with him on this. But he has so many other things that are right. And I don’t know about you, I was talking to someone at the King thing yesterday. And we talked about how we tend to read our friends, and not our enemies. You read a friend, you know you’re already tagged into this person, you know what to expect, right? And it’s great, it’s friendly. Here, he picked up a guy, Kiper, it was friendly, until he read that, and now it’s not friendly. He said, what am I gonna do? He said, well, I’m not gonna deal with that. I’m gonna, nuance, pull the best out of this I can. I got one word to describe Dr. Bacote. He’s humble. And I’m thankful that he’s come back again. Dr. Bacote, come on up. (applause) Good morning. Good morning. Close to the microphone, but not too close, right, right. It is a great privilege to be back here, and thank you for coming on a cold day. Thankfully there was no ice storm this time, so it’s really a privilege to be invited back. It means a lot, we’re glad to be here. Glad to be back here in Dubuque. Thank you so much. So you’ll see, that the title I have for today, notice, an antidote to America’s agitation. Not the antidote to America’s agitation. I mean, I wish I knew that much about everything in the entire world to say that. But, I would never want to presume that. But, I’d like to offer a few things for us to consider this morning, around the question of our agitation, and some ways to dial down our agitation. It’s probably true to say that, if I said, okay, everybody, take a moment at your tables, and brainstorm a little bit about the agitation in our society. You probably wouldn’t need to brainstorm. You could probably sya, I’ll tell you right now, about the agitation. And then you would all take turns, and probably still have a whole lot left that you could talk about. In terms of our agitation, our agitated society. I’m not gonna talk mostly about our agitation, but I do want to note a couple of dimensions of it before proposing four things for us to consider as an antidote to it. And when I say agitation, I’m talking about the fact that people are just not right within themselves. Whether it’s being ill at ease, whether it’s being angry, whether it’s being fearful. Just not being settled. And that’s all around us. One of the people who’s put this well, and he’s thinking more about the political dimension of it when he says this is, a former colleague of mine, his name is Alan Jacobs. He teaches at Baylor now, he used to be with us at Wheaton. And here’s what he says when asked about it in an interview. He goes, I’m sure there are times when it has been as bad, or worse. But, I do think we’re in a really weird place. Where the media through which we engage with one another, keeps us in a permanent state of agitation, and hostility. The external consequences have not been overwhelmingly tragic yet, he says. We’re not slaughtering one another in the streets. But holy cow! Are people internally messed up. People are going through day after day, in a state of profound agitation, having to mark their place on the ideological landscape, through social media. Now he’s talking about politics and he’s talking about social media as being one of the main pathways through which agitation occurs. And largely I’m gonna talk about that social media dimension as well. But of course, it’s not just social media, it’s the traditional media as well, and sometimes of course, it’s just occasionally interpersonal. But the agitation is all around us. Politically I think there’s one interesting observation to make. I mean there’s several observations we could make, but there’s one I want to note in particular. And I’ve heard many people talk about it. And think about it this way. For many people we are in a moment when it comes to their political commitments, their political commitments are like they are in a cult. Now, if a person is in a cult, you’re really committed. You’re completely committed. That’s why we call them cults. It’s like, I think they’re part of a cult. If you say you think somebody’s part of a cult, what does that mean? They’re all in. And one of the things that happens with these political cults and in regular cults as well, is that when it comes to the leadership of your cult, your leaders can do no wrong. And nobody can tell you any different. So, doesn’t matter what your leader does, or what your leader says. You are with your leader no matter what, and no one, no matter what evidence they put in front of you will make you think any different. Another dimension of that happens with people being inside a cult is, the ideology, or the way of looking at the world, looking at everything, their cult gives them a frame of reference for everything. The explainer for everything. And they’re so convinced of their frame of reference, their worldview, some of us would call it, that they believe that if you don’t hold my worldview, well you must really be crazy. Or you must really be stupid. You must really be fill-in-the-blank that leads to you saying, I have a right, because you don’t believe what I believe, you don’t see things the way that I see things. I have a right to treat you with absolute contempt. With absolute disdain, why? Because you don’t think like we think. And if you don’t think like we think, you deserve everything that you get. ‘Cause we’re right, and everybody else is wrong. And we’re justified, in our ways of holding people in contempt. This is what happens when people’s politics takes on cult status. And believe me, across the spectrum, many people’s politics has taken on cult status. And it’s one dimension of the political side of it. But, and I said that this agitation actually isn’t just political. There’s also an interesting cultural dimension of it I’d like mention, to say. Some of you have heard of the acronym FOMO. You know what FOMO means? F-O-M-O? Fear of missing out. The fear of missing out is what happens to many people when if you have one of these, or if you have one of these, and you look at this a lot with your Facebook, your Instagram, the social media platform of your choice. You are exposed to the very fabulous lives of other people. And perhaps a lot of people you know, and people you don’t know. And look how fabulous they look! Look at the fabulous places that they’ve been! Look at all the fabulous experiences that they’re having! Look at their fabulous life. And you think, not my life. But their lives are so fabulous. And it washes over us all the time. And of course people evaluate their own experiences against what they are seeing presented to them. People present their fabulous lives. And when they encounter all these different fabulous lives, that make their lives pretty insignificant, they think. Then they’re not at ease. They’re agitated because like, well my life? Well my life’s not so exciting. Some studies have shown recently, certainly my younger people, but not just only younger people, that excessive screen time, excessive exposure to social media, is linked to people having rates of depression, and very strong experiences of loneliness. It shouldn’t surprise us. Because if you’re seeing that someone on the other side of a screen has the perfect life, and you know your real life, that’s not so perfect, then what can happen is like, wow. I mean, over and over and over again, I’m seeing how great their lives is, and I’m just going deeper and deeper and deeper into the hole about how bad my life is. So that sense of being ill at ease in our culture, I think, is also part of this fear of missing out. So whether it’s FOMO or whether it’s politics, there’s agitation all around us. What do we do about this? What might be an antidote to this agitation? Four things I’d like us to think about. Most of it will relate to the political, some of it will relate to the cultural. So the first part is this, and that is, I’d like to encourage us to get a large dose of perspective. Here’s one example. Here’s a very broad example, just about the time in which we live. I look at the room that we’re in right now. It’s a room that in a building that’s full of nice, modern architecture, and it’s a room where I’m speaking through an electrical system, and this electrical system is piping through the sound. You can hear me amplified. I’m looking at these lights that also depend up on electricity. I’m looking at the food on your tables. Food that I think most of you did not go out and hunt, and prepare for yourselves today. And in fact that’s probably not what you do with most of your food. You came here in modern transportation, and I could just keep going on, the point is this. Is that, in most of our history, everything that I described didn’t exist. And we just take it for granted. Like it’s always been this way. When it comes to world history, it’s always been this way about this much, of world history. And the point I want to make about that is, just living in the modern world, a modern world where you just assume things like running water, where you assume things like the plumbing that you have. You assume things like electricity. Those things alone, tell us, I’m living actually in a pretty good time, just in terms of the basic conditions of my life. Because for most of world history, people haven’t had these conditions of life. So most people when you talk about FOMO, most people in world history, they missed out, okay? And we’ve got this. And that’s just a basic thing that we just take for granted. And it’s a luxury. A great thing, a great privilege that we can take it for granted. That’s a good thing. But when you take it for granted, we can forget, wow, this is pretty good. So we shouldn’t forget those basic things. Let me put something else in front of you that’s about an interesting anniversary this year. This year is 2019. 2019 is the 400th anniversary since the first slave was brought to what is now the United States of America. That’s 400 years ago. Let’s think a little bit about this history. Well, so from 1619 until 1865, it’s just the way that it was that slavery was legal. Not soon after that, you know, even after slavery was illegal, this thing came called Jim Crow showed up. Well Jim Crow hung around until 1965. Yeah, 1964, and ’65 if you think about the Voting Rights Act of ’65. And now it’s 2019. Think about this in terms of the history of the United States of America. Most of the history of the United States of America, it’s just normal to oppress people that look like me. More than 75% of that history. Right, so, it’s only been how many years? 55, 56 years? Since my parents? My parents are now deceased, they were born 1930s. They couldn’t vote. They couldn’t go where they wanted to. They needed a green book, like the movie, The Green Book, you know what the green book is? The green book is a directory for African-Americans during Jim Crow so that they know where they can stay. Where they can get gas. What sundown towns are. Sundown town, a town where if you like me, don’t be there when the sun goes down. And my point is this. Is that most of the history of this country has been a country where that’s just the way it is. That’s just what you expect. It hasn’t been that long since it’s gotten better on race. And please understand, I’ve used the word better. I didn’t use the word arrived. I didn’t use the word, where we need to be. I used the word, better. That means some things have improved. And the point I want to make with this, in terms of our perspective is, sometimes there’s the great temptation to look at our moment, and look at our agitation and think, oh I think things are just getting worse and worse, I think it’s the worst it’s ever been. Trust me, in terms our basic life circumstances, it’s not. And if you look like me, it’s not. In fact, I’m looking at this audience, and I see a lot of white faces in this audience. Here’s something to think about. For me, I could come here today, and I’m not worried that there are white faces in this audience, that I feel like when I get up here, I’ve gotta prove to you that you oughta listen to me. You come in here and you just assume that, well he’s got his degrees, and they invited him back. I should probably maybe think about what he’s got to say. And my only point to say is, is that that’s a huge improvement over most of the history of this country. A huge improvement. So, improvement is a better thing. It’s not arriving. Arriving’s way out there somewhere. So we’ve gotten better. And the thing that happens with our agitation is, that we forget that it’s gotten better at all. And I want to encourage us to just step back, and look at that long view, and recognize that, well some have gotten better. Perhaps another reason that is a challenge for us is, we actually expect like good modern people, for history to just ascend on a 45-degree, unbroken ascent where everything just gets better and better as they say in some churches, every day is sweeter than the day before. And when there’s a plateau, or there’s a little bit of dip in the progress of history, we think that a plateau or a dip in history means it’s over. It’s not gonna get better. It can’t improve. No. That’s called the way history works. Some of you might like riding rollercoasters. I’m one of those people who likes to ride most rollercoasters anyway, some of them it’s like, nah, can’t quite get there, you’re not brave enough. But, if you’re on a rollercoaster, what’s that like? You go up, you go down. You have sharp turns. You’re upside down sometimes. There’s all kinds of twists. And sometimes, if you’ve never been on a particular rollercoaster there’s all kinds of unpredictable things that happen. This is what happens with history. And the point I want us to know is that, if we recognize that the way history tends to go is that it’s full of unpredictability. But that if we’re plotting it out, it’s actually probably plotting, but the arrow’s still going up, the graph’s still going up this way. The plot points are all over the place. Some plateaus, some dips, but the line is still going up. And if the line is still going up, then when we look at all the things that agitate us, and there are reasons to be angry about some things, reasons to be frustrated about some things. That anger and frustration isn’t reason to say, it’s just the worst it’s ever been, and it’s not going to get any better. Stepping back and having perspective, I think can help us to dial down our agitation a little bit. A second dimension I want to emphasize is this. And that is, I’d like to encourage us today to rehumanize each other. Re humanize each other. Why do I say that? Well, if you have one of these, or one of these. A lot of the agitation that happens with people is because of what they encounter with other people on the other side of the screen. And what you know about the people on the other side of the screen is, maybe a little picture of whoever it is, or some little sign or symbol that they use to represent themselves. And then what else you know about them is, just the occasional paragraph, or probably more often, a sentence or two, where they state some opinion about something. And you might say, oh, that sets me off, what they said. And because it sets you off, what they said, you then think, and I know what they’re like, too. And you’re so convinced about them, that you what you think about them is that they are definitely horrible people. But how much do you actually know about them? How well do you know them? I sometimes ask people, how well do you even know the people in your own family? And if you are still getting to know the people in your family, and if you’re married, and hopefully you’re doing well in your marriage. You’re gonna continue learning about your spouse. At least that’s what I’m doing. It’s a wonderful thing to keep getting to know my spouse, let me just point that. It’s not like, oh, the surprises! That’s not what I mean. (laughing) Good surprises, if they’re surprises, alright? But the point is, is that, I learn more about someone. And I wonder what would happen if we paused and asked ourselves some questions about the persons that we’re sure we know so much about. And all we know about them is the encounter on a screen. You might be surprised to think this, but I think this would be true. First, people are so much more than what’s on their social media pages. And not only is there so much more, there’s probably a lot of that so much more that they might have in common with you. Because you know them, because of an opinion about one or two things. Now how many of us would like people to say they know us on the basis of the opinion of one or two things? I mean, that would be a pretty thin relationship, I think. Right? So, if we want people to know us, and to know us well, and here’s the thing. Most people, and I actually think everybody. But certainly most people want to really be known well. And they want people to actually give them at least a little bit of the benefit of the doubt about who they are. And they probably would like it to be a situation where, if they perhaps misspoke on occasion. Have you ever misspoken? Have you ever said words, you’re like oh, oh. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Can I get that back inside my mouth please? But you can’t, it’s out. And you’re thinking, please, don’t let that make you think that you know me. Isn’t it interesting how many of us have had those moments, and we want that generosity given to us. But our agitated moment inclines us to say, you get no generosity. Because I know you. Just through what you’ve told me on the screen. I think that we find, if you met some of those other people, is that, well, like you, they’ve got a family. Like you, they might have siblings. Depending upon their age, or time of life, they may be married, they may have children. They may have a lot of similar things that they’re concerned about that strangely, are the exact same things you’re concerned about. You may not respond to those things the same way, but you share a common concern. They’re probably things that like you, for them, they’re things that keep them up at night. But they’re not the things that you think they are. They’re the kinds of things where you go, oh. Because you’re going through something with your kid right now. Because something’s going on with a health situation with a family member right now. All of us are going through those kinds of things, no matter what we’re represented by on the screen. And you know what I think everybody wants? Everybody wants real friends. Real friends that know them. That care about them. That give them the benefit of the doubt. That are long on patience and forgiveness. I think everybody wants that. Even the worst online troll wants that. If we rehumanize each other, we can admit that the trolls, like the one that trolled me the old fashioned way with that mail, that that’s somebody’s child. That’s perhaps somebody’s sibling. That’s perhaps somebody’s parent. That’s perhaps someone who’s got a lot of brokenness and pain in their life, and I don’t know what it is. But I know they’re a human being. And, I don’t know if I met them, if I’d like them. But, if we could have a situation where they actually wanted to have a conversation with me, I’d really like to know their story. Because their story might help me understand, it’s like, well, yeah, if I had your story, I might end up where you are too. ‘Cause sometimes this is what happens. We need to rehumanize each other. You know what’s interesting? If you look at what Dr. King’s philosophy was. His philosophy was definitely to overcome injustice. And he definitely would say to people that weren’t on his side, he’d call them the opponent, but here’s the interesting thing. The goal was not to defeat your opponent. The goal was to befriend your opponent. To win them as a friend. Defeat the issue, win a friend. That’s what Dr. King wanted to do. If you’re thinking about people as other human beings, somebody you might want to have as a friend, rather than thinking, you are just a personification of an issue, what would that do to us? If that was what we wanted, instead of saying, vengeance will be mine. If we rehumanize each other, I think we can dial back some of that agitation. Number three, we need to create some solutions. Here’s why I’m saying this. At least in my encounters with people on social media. So I can only speak for myself. I mean I’m not a mind reader. My wife will tell you. Well she would really tell you. We can talk about that later if you want, but, but what I see a lot on social media is a lot of description of what is wrong. There it is. There it is. There it is. There it is. And sometimes it’s not just there it is, but here’s the deep structure of how it works. Here’s another example of why that’s the problem. And it keeps getting pointed out, and pointed out, and pointed out, and pointed out, and pointed out. Now please understand, people need to know that there are problems with race, problems with the environment, problems with gender, all those kinds of things, okay? The problem is that so much of the pointing out what’s wrong is that there’s hardly anything about what to do about it. It’s just all, see, there it is! And then there’s a strange thing that sometimes happens when I see people doing this. People who are very passionate about very important things, this strange thing occurs. People wind up being harmed by the thing they care about. I mean think about this. If you’re all the time, putting yourself in front of horrors, all the time. And you’re basically in a waterfall of horrors all the time. What will that do to you? I think there are a lot of people that have a kind of social media post traumatic stress syndrome. Because, they keep getting exposed to something that’s like war. There it is. There it is. There it is. There it is. And all they talk about is that there it is, and you keep getting hit. Well what about doing something about the thing that you’re getting hit? What about creating ways forward? You know, when I was in elementary school, early elementary school, is I think when this happened. I remember the teacher one day saying, okay, I want you to put on your thinking caps now. Now I’ll admit to you to that when the first day that I heard the teacher say this, I thought, thinking cap. I’m like looking around my desk. I don’t see a thinking cap anywhere. So I don’t remember anybody saying anything about, here’s your thinking cap. So I don’t know what you’re talking about. So you know, then I learned that this was an imaginary device. So, oh! Take your imaginary thinking cap and put on your thinking cap. It just means, let’s do some thinking. So what I want to encourage us to become people is who put on your creativity caps, is what I want you to be thinking about. And when you’re putting on your creativity cap, you’re thinking about what are some ways forward about these problems? One approach that I’ve seen on the political side of this, is something that’s been put together by an organization called The Center for Public Justice. Full disclosure, I used to be on their board, and I’m a fellow for them now. Great organization, happy to tell you about it. They’ve put together something called a political discipleship curriculum. And what they do is, they know that in many churches, that there are people who don’t share the same opinions about politics. And the idea of a political discipleship curriculum is this. So people together for around 12 weeks, and you get a group of 10 to 12 people together who don’t all agree with each other politically, to get together, and they agree to do this for the whole period. And, first, they either are reacquainted with, or perhaps newly acquainted with, depends upon what you learned in civics. They’re acquainted with the way that our government system works. They’re acquainted with a theological reasoning for why Christians ought to be involved in public life. And then what the group does together, is the group researches and decides upon a particular matter of public concern, and a matter of public policy, and together, they learn about that issue. And they think about ways forward in public policy. And the culmination of their time together is, they schedule a time with a local political official. And so this group of citizens, who don’t all agree with each other, and who many not leave with the same political views on things, they have gotten together to learn together about how our political system works, and they share research on a particular issue, and then they get together with, whether it’s the mayor, whether it’s a state representative, whether it’s a representative of the state, the senator, whoever it is. The thing I think is interesting about this is that people who are different from each other have to spend all of this time together. And they’re not just spending time together just, drinking coffee or the beverage of their choice, they’re learning together about how to think about ways forward in politics. And they’re trying to be constructive about these ways forward. So constructive that they’re talking about actual public policy. Not just the identification of problems, but looking for solutions to those problems, and they’re doing it together. Now you might be saying, that’s great, I’m not really the kind of person that can put together that type of thing. That’s fine, that’s fine. I’ve got another idea, which is, how about we start putting on our creativity caps at home? Let’s start with that. Let’s get really local, and start at home. And here’s a way that perhaps you can do this. Maybe around the dinner table or in your living room, wherever people tend to talk to each other, get together, and do a little bit of roleplay. And here’s the kind of roleplaying you can do. You can revisit the social media post of your choice that really set you off, politically or culturally. And what you can do is, revisit the way that you responded, inside your house, verbally, when that set you off. Because chances are, that inside people’s houses, there are a lot of things that people will say in their houses that they will not say once they go out the door. And what you can do when you’re together, is say, okay. What’s a better way to talk about this? What’s a better way to model, acknowledging my discontent with this post? Acknowledging my difference of opinion? Acknowledging how it affects me emotionally, but then, considering, how to be constructive in the way that I talk about this. I wonder what would happen if people, just within their households, they thought about how inside these walls, do we cultivate ways of talking about other people, especially other people that we don’t agree with? Because a lot of times what may happen inside your house is people you don’t agree with, it’s probably, you know, what do they say, NSFW? I mean, maybe that’s what it is. Because, NSFW, not safe for women and children, okay. I think that’s, no, no, not safe for work, is what that is. What I mean by that is this. The ways that people will talk, that they won’t talk around polite company, but they’ll talk that way in their house. What if you said, you know, let’s say it’s a parent, and you’ve got teenage children. Or you’ve got younger than teenage children. And they see what you did. They see how you scream at the television. They see what you say about those other people. And you say, today’s going to be another day. And not one day, but the beginning of a new direction in this house. Because we’re gonna model something different. We’re going to think together about how we can disagree well with people. And the point about disagreeing well, by the way, doesn’t mean that you ever think that their opinion is the same as yours, or even better than yours, or equal to yours. But, you are not going to be someone who says, I’m not going to in my response, just create an environment of anger, and hostility, and possibly in some cases, hatred, of other people. Instead, I’m going to great, within my house, a rehumanizing discourse. A rehumanizing model. So that what is seen here in my house is a way forward. And when it comes to particular political problems, or cultural problems, I’m not going to just complain about them. I’m going to ask. And we’re going to discuss together. Well what would we do about something like this? Is everything that happens in this house, where that problem touches this house? What can we do differently, at least in our house? If you’re part of a faith community, what can we do differently with talking about this with the people in my church? The people at my job? The people that I hang out with at my hobbies? To me it’s very interesting to imagine what might happen if we thought about putting on our creativity caps and imagining ways forward, and not just thinking about the problem. And please understand. Imagining ways forward doesn’t mean imagining completely how you will solve something that’s taken centuries to do anything about. That’s not the point. But how do you make things at least a little bit better? At least a little bit better in your very local spaces. Making your disposition better. Making your language better. Making what you model before other people, inside your house and outside your house, better. I think if we put on our creativity caps, perhaps that will also make us less agitated. My last point. Mobilize the best dimensions of our faith communities. Now, I teach theology for a living. I take my religion in public life all the time. I will be the first to admit to you that yes, you can find examples of people of faith behaving badly and being everything that you don’t want. Yes. Okay, now we’ve admitted it. But, here’s the thing. Most faith traditions, most faith communities, want to cultivate people that become better persons themselves, and become agents of a better society. This is what most faith communities want to do. Now, I’m a Christian theologian. I’ll give you an example as a Christian theologian. Jesus asked, what is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus really gives them two answers. The first thing he says is, love God above everything else. And here’s what I want you to understand about this, at least for Christians. If you love God above everything else, you cannot be the member of a political cult. Because to be a member of a political cult is to swear your absolute and final and Godlike allegiance to that political cult. If I am saying that God alone is the one, that has my ultimate loyalty, then in a country like the United States, where if you’re a citizen, you can do things politically, then I want to participate in politics, but I’m not going to worship politics. I’m going to use politics as a means for trying to serve others and make society better. How can we do that? The second thing Jesus says is, love your neighbor as yourself. If I love my neighbor as myself, all I have to think about is what I said earlier, is, how do I want people to treat me, all the time? When Jesus is talking about that, he’s talking about sane people. Not people that are into self harm. He’s talking about the fact that most people, they’re interested in being treated with truth and integrity and they want their lives to flourish. If I want my life to flourish, then I want my neighbor’s life to flourish as well, is what Jesus is saying. And my point is this, is that, if Christian communities, at least, are cultivating people with an allegiance alone to God, and creating people with a disposition where you say, I don’t want just what’s good for me, I want good for every neighbor, and every neighbor is every other human being. If I want to flourish, give every other human being. Then my disposition toward every other human being is, how can I serve you? How can I understand how to help you get ahead as well as me getting ahead? How can I live together with you, in the word, even if we don’t agree about many things, how can we live well together? Because I want to live well together. I hope you want to live well together. If the Christian communities were known for that and if all faith communities in general were known for producing people that were about becoming better persons and making society better, think about what the public reputation of religion would be. People would say, especially in a time like this. You know the people who are the most sane are the ones who are making the most contribution to our society being better? It’s those religious people. Those people in faith communities. Those are the people that are showing us a better life. Friends, I think, in this agitation of all this moment, there really are ways forward. And if you came here today and you find yourself in that agitation, I hope that some of this will be helpful for you. That perhaps having a dose of perspective is what you need. Perhaps rehumanizing others is what you need. Perhaps it’s time to put on your creativity cap, or perhaps, if you’ve been part of a faith community for a long time, it’s time to really make the most of being part of that faith community. If you’re a leader of a faith community, it’s an opportunity to help cultivate people who are these better angels in our society. It’s an opportunity that is here for us. Yes, our society has a lot of agitation right now. I believe antidotes are available. And of course, I can only speak for myself. And in speaking for myself, I will say, I, for one, am taking this antidote. I hope you will take it as well. And join me. Thank you. (applause) Thank you, Dr. Bacote. If Claudette stopped yelling at me that way, we’d find a, nevermind. We’ve come to a close, but there’s a few things I want to point out to you. Last couple of years, Faces of Voices had a reading program, which I think is excellent. So if you look on page five in your program, you’ll see that we have a 2019 black history and black author reading challenge. February 24th at the library, the first book would be My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King. These are not real long books. But I will say that there are two really significant, I don’t want to say any of these are insignificant. But the September 29th, The Half That Was Never Been Told: Slavery in the Making of American Capitalism, tells us that slavery has been part of our culture and our history from its beginning. It didn’t start at the civil war. It started at the beginning of this history, as Dr. Bacote said. That is the norm. I believe, and the other folks at Faces of Voices, one of the ways to pave a better way, put our creative hats on, is you’ve gotta know our past. And this is the way to find out your past, is you gotta read some things. Some of these authors might not be your friends. You might not like what they tell you. It might be difficult reading, but you’ll be, it’s just good. We invite you to become part of that group. Again, it’ll be at the library on those dates. You can get the book at River Lights, or, you know, we would love to see you come and do that. Two. Later on today, the multicultural family center is putting on How Far Have We Come. It’s the fountain of youth program, multicultural family center, Wartberg seminary, Sustainable Dubuque and United Way of Dubuque are coming together from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at the new old section, not the main one, the one next door. You don’t have to RSVP for this family friendly free event. Light food will be served, and activities will be available for children. There’s gonna be some skits, singing, reading, number of things. So we just want to make you aware of that, that that is going on today. Jackie Hunter’s put that on, I don’t know if you’ve met Jackie. I heard her for the first time yesterday over at the NAACP event. And if you haven’t met her, you should. I need to go introduce myself. She’s a very interesting lady. What am I forgetting? Supercalafragalisticexpialidocious. Oh, yes, thank you! Thank you. So just so you know, Dr. Bacote has his book available here if you’d like to read it. The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life, it’s for sale over there at a table if you’d like to pick up a copy. And I just want to say thank you for coming. I think it’s been a good morning. Do you agree. Yes. (applause) Can we just pray our way out of here? I apologize for this, but let’s just… God, we just thank You for this morning. We pray that this morning won’t just pass away, but it would stay with us. And there’d be some intentional decisions in each and every one of us to correct our path in a way it needs to be corrected. Help us to see other people around us a humans. And we thank You for this message. Amen. See you next year. Take care, folks. (applause)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Releated

Throwing a Moana Party! | Disney Princess

Throwing a Moana Party! | Disney Princess

– Hey guys! – Welcome to the Dream Big Princess Club. I’m Nathalia. – I’m Sage. – And I’m Lavinia. And today we’re throwing a big huge Moana summer party. – This is our drink station, we have the awesome Moana plates and cups and to go along with the cups we have some blue […]