Monday, January 25, 2010

Do You Want a Revolution??

Wait. Before you answer that, let's take as moment to pick apart this request, this petition that basically says that if turning everything in the world upside down and inside out is what it takes to bring peace and justice, let's do it. Years ago, I would have answered that question without hesitation. I was that down with the man, fight the power chick. For a long time, I didn't understand why, when we disagreed with what was going on with the world, we couldn't just put on some Marvin Gaye, or Sam Cooke bust out some windows, and light cars on fire. This is all coming from a girl who first saw the movie Malcolm X at eight years old. :-/I told a friend a few weeks ago that I didn't believe in rights, only REVOLUTIONS. It's only after some careful contemplation that I have a better understanding of what the status quo means and the consequence of countering it is. Any suggestion, implication of a revolution must be followed the following questions: Whose status quo are we trying to overturn?? What does a world post-revolution world look like? Is it safer, better, and more just for EVERYONE, and not just us as individuals?

While most of those answers are hard to come by, a healthy, thorough, diagnosis and prescription for a revolution, requires us to acknowledge a number of things that we just may not be ready to. First. we must realize that each one of us owns a piece of the status quo. I don't care how righteous and rebellious you are. We are ALL protected and supported by SOMETHING that makes someone else extremely uncomfortable. For example... If you are a white American, no matter how "down" you are with the other race, there must be an acknowledgment that many of the folks in leadership (people who make decisions) in our country, whether you agree with all of them or not, are white. Disrupting that structure with the premise of achieving equality, may have severe consequences for you. Black people (and other ethnic minorities)-yes, I had to make this a fair and balanced argument-should understand that ousting all of the "white" people from power, doesn't mean that the world will be an immediately better place. While we search for perfection in the opposite of reality, we really should strive for balance and equality.

On the topic of political revolutions...I hate to go here, but now that we have crossed the 1 year threshold on Barack Obama's presidency and I've had a chance to commemorate it and have all of the standard warm and fuzzy feelings, I feel the need to comment. It's been a loooooong year in politics, which seems like an odd thing to say considering that we've been talking about the same 3 issues all year. It seems like forever since we started this love affair with Barack (really-I have a bag with his face on it), jumped the broom and sailed on to our honeymoon on a cloud of democratic victory.If we, supporters and non supporters are honest with ourselves, we'll agree that we are not as far along on this continuum of CHANGE as we'd like to be. Some of us feel bamboozled, some of us got the chance to reinforce our political cynicism with YET ANOTHER example. Whatever the case, at some point, pre-November 4, 2008 we were in agreement that we needed a mass overhaul of the system.....a....uuum...*snaps fingers* What do you call that??...REVOLUTION. We voted for a man who we thought could get the job done. He was, essentially, the ELECTORAL MESSIAH. The one we had been waiting for. THAT ONE. It was only in hindsight that we realized that he had very tough political soil to plow and that he would have to pull Congress uphill in a wheelbarrow. Now, we've got REVOLUTION based on hard-fought consensus that no man, no matter how charismatic, can overcome. So we see the revolution take a detour from the oval office through the doors of Congress. Bummer.

And last, but certainly not least, the spiritual revolutions. My church recently entered a period of praying and fasting, accompanied by a curriculum called Fresh Encounter. The idea behind this particular fast and curricular devotion was inviting revival into our lives so that our nation would be changed radically and turn back to God, instead of pursuing all of these earthly rabbit trails (money, relationships, status) that all turn into dead ends. Over 21 days, the book talked about this idea of Revival and what that means to a nation. A revival is basically a personal revolution of sorts. The reading emphasized that personal revival requires a level of sacrifice, discipline and self-denial that we haven't seen in recent times. The circumstances that brought people to the point of revival for their nation also broke them spiritually and physically. Case in point, REVOLUTIONS are NOT self-indulgent movements with ME/MY IDEAS first mentalities. We often fail to realize this. They are much more about future generations.

A heartbreaking, while relevant example of a people in limbo, on the verge of REVOLUTION would be the recent earthquakes in Haiti. Typically characterized as a poor country, it has captured the world's attention for the time being. Soon enough there will be white kids in the burbs rockin t-shirts with phrases like SAVE HAITI. With thousands of people dead, thousands more wounded and orphaned, one has to wonder what the next generation will look like. What will it's values be? Will the flood of foreign humanitarian aid (minus the bottlenecks and red tape) change Haiti's world view?? And in the end, can we expect a social, political, and economic REVOLUTION?? Time will tell. And IF, just IF, Haiti makes a 180, to what do we credit the success? Mother nature? Foreign aid? Or to the possibility that a country, a people, can take destruction and despair and make the future bright and promising? That, to me, is the essence of a revolution.

The only REAL point of contention with REVOLUTIONS is that they are hard to sustain and quite costly. We often don't, before hand, calculate the cost. It's like starting a construction project in your house before you asses the cost of repair. You just start to demo walls. Just as it is with REVOLUTIONS, one must take take EVALUATE, FIRST. This is not to negate the need for immediate action, but we have to understand what we are getting ourselves in to. Price tags for revolutions are more than than the sum of angry citizens, it is the projected loss of life, freedom (s), and comfort; the number of hours spent in prayer; the slew of nurses needed to treat the wounded; and the scores of people willing to rebuild despite the odds. Oh! And suppose that the revolution doesn't yield the desired results,according to us? It's back into a cave of realism, regretting that we had ever tried to change the world in the first place.

These things are all, undoubtedly, very complicated. REVOLUTIONS are not respecters of persons. Sometimes we invite them, sometimes they just show up. Examine your life, examine our world. Before you say your prayers at night, and ask God for a REVOLUTION to come sweeping through your life, your family, your community, your careful what you ask more specific. Because some of you SAY you want a revolution and can't even handle a President who hasn't met all of your demands.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Passion 2010: Don't Hit the Snooze Button

What does it mean to be awakened? Not from a REM sleep, or a cat nap. But rather a spiritual, mental awakening. Some people would say that it means to exist, to live, on a higher plane of truth. I'd agree. But this is not an intellectual truth I am speaking of. Actually, it's a truth that confounds every bit of earthly knowledge that we can amass. It makes all human intellect seem pretty inconsequential. We all deserve to have those moments every once in a while. The awakening that I am referring to happened to me right along with 20,000 other people, inside of the Phillips Arena. It was, none other than, Passion 2010.

While Passion 2010 was a conference, it was apart of a much larger, global movement to ignite the hearts and lives of young people (18-25), believing, undoubtedly that we are the future of the planet, not by default, but by designation and design. Whose design and designation? (you might ask). God. He did something so amazing, so mind-blowing, so soul-stirring, so DIVINE that it has taken me a week to digest it, but more importantly to APPLY it, which thankfully crushed my attempts to write this entry with anything but sincerity and earnest reflection.

What I discovered about myself over the conference's 4-day span and I'm sure my fellow conference attendees will testify, is that, I, in all of my perfectionism and stifling legalism, was asleep. I was going through the motions of what I thought it was to be successful and to have a life that people would envy and emulate. I had no clue what it mean live. And just because I'd chosen the career of community organizing, and devoted my life to causes much greater didn't mean that I was any more humble or that God was any more pleased with me, or that I was any more alive than the Hedge fund manager or the poor employee chained to their cubicle. Why? Because we were created not to live lives as social climbers or mere do-gooders or star employees. But rather as PASSIONATE BEINGS, enraptured by the notion that God wants us to be apart of this story most commonly known as life, everyday of which he orchestrated PERFECTLY. All weekend, the conference organizer and guest speakers challenged us. To DIE to all the things that distract us from the real reason we are on earth. Because even if they spanned through your lifetime, they would still be temporal in God's eyes. Just like beauty, and swag, and money....just to name a few. And what, then, could be said about your life? We should aim to live lives that have as little to do with us as possible. And more to do with freeing people from their oppressed state and serving justice through our deeds. The urgency with which we live should reflect the desperate state of our world and not just our country. I attened a session on Worship and Social Justice and was heartborken over Uganda's child soldier problem, where 12 year olds were forced into prostitution and countless crimes were being perpetrated at the hands of children. I wondered, where was God? The truth is....anytime we ask God that, he asks us the same question....

What really matters then? Catching hold of God's glory and following him no matter where that takes you. It's the walk of faith. And He has intended us all to take that walk. But to say that it is a walk is to speak mildly of the the AMAZING thing that God wants to do inside of each and every person who is willing to give his/her life away. It's a thrilling chase. A bumpy road. One for which God equips and prepares us for everyday. But just who are we signing over the deed to our lives? A God who's glory, love, grace and mercy completely eclipse every great thing on earth, every best laid plan. So, I'm resolved. Because while your approval may last for a few moments, my parents approval may last me a little while, and the worlds approval will last until I screw up, I'd rather follow Christ. Isaiah 26:8 says it best: " "Yes Lord, walking in the way of Your Truth, we eagerly wait for you, for your name and your renown are the desire of our souls."

Perhaps you have you have your whole life figured out. Maybe you know where you'll be in 20 minutes, 20 months, or 20 years. I know you. I used to be you. Then I discovered who God was and it completely ruined me (in a good way). He wasn't some superhero in a book that had been translated 100 times and repeated over 1,000,000 times. We wasn't some super-brainy college professor. He wasn't some hippie magician who created the earth with an abra-cadabra. Or a big bang. He's more than you can ever know. More than your brain can comprehend. In fact, such knowledge would make you tremble. Literally. And if, for some reason, whether it's because of your own intellect, or because you have been "burned" by a church, or because life happens and you walked away from God, or because you know "of" him and really don't know him like that; I'd like to encourage you. Challenge, even. To find out who GOD really is. Not who you think he is. I assure you that the revelation will awaken you soul to something greater. Just promise me that you won't hit snooze.

P.S- This blog entry, despite it's length, doesn't fully capture the Passion experience. No words really could. My sincere prayer is my life transformation says more than my words ever could.