Voter Security or Suppression? A Closer Look at the New Laws in Georgia and Elsewhere

There is much consternation about the recent voter laws passed in Georgia and being evaluated in other states. Why are people so upset about a simple ID law? Doesn’t it make sense to verify that the person in the booth is authorized to cast the vote? And how is requiring identification racist?

In order to understand the discontent around voting laws, like many acts of policy or protest in America, the policy must be placed in the appropriate context. Before we get into that history, we must first define election fraud. The term as currently being discussed typically refers to people illegally voting multiple times or voting when they are ineligible, something we should more accurately refer to as “voter fraud”. This is contrasted with after-ballot tampering, miscounting, or tactics that prevent people from being able to vote in the first place, which is all conducted by agents of the state and reflected in most of our voting history in America. When we dispute the charges of election fraud currently being leveled by the Republicans who are pushing nationwide for stricter voting laws, we are specifically disputing the question of whether voters are acting illegally and not the states that count the votes. 

The story for Black voting in the United States starts at the end of the Civil War with the 14th and 15th Amendments. Having abolished slavery except for prisoners with the 13th, the United States Congress went on to ratify the 14th Amendment, which gave Black people citizenship, and the 15th Amendment, which made preventing voting based on race, color, or former slave status illegal. (It was still illegal for women to vote.) In the South, Black people made up nearly half the population in several states, and so a number of states sent Black legislators to the state houses and to DC.

In Georgia, 33 Black legislators were duly elected in 1868. They were subsequently expelled by white supremacists, with some of them being attacked or killed. The newly formed KKK backed the move with a terror campaign where a number of Black Georgians were killed. This subversion of the legal electoral process led to Georgia being kicked back out of the Union, and it was not readmitted for nearly two years. The Confederate remnant in the Democratic Party managed to re-secure control and engaged in an orchestrated terror campaign similar to what happened in other states in the South to eventually disenfranchise Black voters by the 1890s. The politically dominant Democratic Party even went so far as to have White-only primaries. 

Jim Crow kept most Black people out of the voting booth until the 1960s. Poll taxes were in place from 1877 to 1945. All-white primaries were banned in 1946. However, literacy tests and “tests of personal character” were also common, with the passing determined by the voting registrar in the county, nearly guaranteed to be white. Regardless of federal and state laws, local registrars did what they wished, and the state would generally look upon malfeasance with a wink and a nod. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was crafted to target the aggressive voter suppression in the Deep South and affected specific states, and finally allowed Black people to safely vote, at least in urban areas where terror or intimidation tactics could not be as easily applied. 

Thanks in part to the Voting Rights Act, the ideological home of Southern conservatism switched over the next 30 years from the Democratic to the Republican Party. In 2005, after Republicans took control of the legislature and the governor’s seat from Democrats, they passed a law reducing the number of valid forms of ID one could vote with and making provisions for no-excuse absentee ballots, with the knowledge that the absentee ballots would skew rural, white, and Republican. Democrats at the time made some of the same arguments Republicans are making now, indicating fear of fraud, though not alleging that fraud had occurred. Republicans continued to win statewide elections for the next 15 years, and there were no suggestions to change the law. While there did not appear to be malfeasance in the counting of the absentee ballots, catering to the demographic they hoped to obtain seemed to work. Along the way, Georgia also chose electronic systems that came under fire for glitches and possible tampering that favored Republicans.

Stacey Abrams, through her efforts with the organization she founded, the New Georgia Project, registered nearly a million voters over 6 years — 200,000 before the 2018 governor’s race, and 800,000 more after. Those voters were disproportionately historically disenfranchised and disengaged Black voters. Despite this, in 2018 she lost the governor’s race to Brian Kemp, who in his capacity as secretary of state presided over the election as well as being a candidate. The election itself was plagued by allegations of miscounts and problems with the equipment. In the end, the voter registration efforts paid off for Democrats as newly engaged voters who skewed Democrat voted in the election, giving Georgia 2 new senators and giving the Democratic presidential candidate the state’s electoral votes. 

In the wake of the closely contested 2020 election and runoffs, Republicans asserted foul play and again moved to change the laws. The same absentee ballots that were valid 15 years prior were now allegedly sources of substantial fraud. Despite lack of substantial proof, anecdotal allegations and unfounded claims won much of the day in the public discourse. A Republican-dominated state legislature adjusted the voting laws and made several changes. The most notable changes were:

-The state can now intervene and take over county election boards

-The secretary of state can no longer preside over the state electoral board, replaced instead with a person chosen by the legislature

These changes determine who gets to count votes in the large urban counties in Atlanta where there is a significant enough Black population to sway the statewide result. They also ensure that even if a secretary of state is elected from a different party than the legislature, they will not have sufficient influence to determine how the state sets election policies and rules within the laws drawn. A number of other provisions were put in place, including the infamous food and water provision, requiring copies of ID, and restricting absentee ballot drop-off to poll hours.

Restrictions like limiting drop-off to poll hours are intended to make it harder to vote. Georgia gained notoriety as well for uneven distribution of polling equipment, producing hours-long lines in many predominantly Black districts while other districts breezed voters through. The laws are specifically designed to create more hurdles to voting under the guise of solving a problem with voter fraud that has repeatedly been proven not to exist. (The Heritage Foundation alleges over 1300 instances of voter fraud but they appear to be looking at over 2 decades of data nationwide and do not seem to distinguish between malicious intent and people who made honest mistakes.) But why?

Just as the Voting Rights Act was able to target the South without saying “the South” by looking at the percentage of registered voters due to successful suppression during Jim Crow, these new measures are targeting Black voters without saying “Black voters”. There are a number of ways to validate that a person is authorized to cast a vote. We could make state IDs free, and in this digital age, even make them easy to get via manned mobile stations. We could allow voting on Sunday (the new Georgia law makes that optional for counties to disallow, targeting Black churches’ “Souls to the Polls” efforts). We could mandate that any county polling place with the equipment make complimentary photocopies of ID. None of that is being done. 

The economic damage of centuries of enslavement followed by nearly a century of racial terror and disenfranchisement means we see Black people disproportionately represented in jobs that make less money and have less flexibility. Our “essential workers” may not be able to get out of their jobs during election hours. Federal law mandates 2 hours of time off (not necessarily paid) to vote, but in an at will state where you can be fired for any non-protected reason, do you take the chance? Even if you get the time, if you are reliant on public transit, it may be too inconvenient to get to your polling place.

Yes, these hurdles are surmountable. Yes, a sufficiently motivated person can still vote in person, albeit with an hours-long wait time in some areas. However, we should ask ourselves why we are putting up hurdles in the first place if they have been proven to not protect us from anything. When we again lay the list of actions and expected outcomes against a nation that has a long history of racialized policy decisions, the results become problematic, and we’re faced with the choice to either mitigate the racialization or avoid it in the first place by choosing policies that are just and maximize access without compromising security.

Our nation deserves secure elections. And we deserve sufficient access to the tools required to secure them, and sufficient resources to run elections in such a way as to avoid hours-long waits to exercise the fundamental right of a democracy. 

——————————

Additional Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_33

https://www.todayingeorgiahistory.org/content/poll-tax-abolished

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2020/nov/01/georgia-voter-suppression-in-pictures

https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/ensure-every-american-can-vote/vote-suppression/myth-voter-fraud

https://www.heritage.org/voterfraud

Lil Nas X and “Where The Devil Reside”

Silhouette of man with wings standing on a hill. The sun is rising or setting directly over his head.
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Lil Nas X recently released a video for his song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” that features him in a CGI garden making out with a serpent and later giving the devil a lap dance. He followed this up by releasing a custom-modified set of sneakers with a Satanic theme and even one drop of human blood in the air pocket mixed with the red dye. Naturally, large parts of the Christian community are up in arms.

I am a product of the particular form of Christianity practiced here, so I won’t assert that I was completely comfortable watching Lil Nas X cavort with demonic-looking figures. But art isn’t supposed to necessarily be comfortable. (If your initial response to that is “but that’s not art”, I’ll gently remind you that while not every expression is art, the range is probably broader than what any one person would accept.) I did notice two things though.

First, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mainstream music video where a man sexualizes himself the way a woman might be expected to for the benefit of men the way we’ve seen in countless videos. That alone was interesting, and for the LGBTQ+ community, possibly groundbreaking. We’ll set aside for the moment the question of whether that sexualization is a good thing, and focus on the fact that it is bringing other sexual identities out of the shadows. (It’s also possible that not being a member of that community and being at an age where I’m rapidly entering the lawn-guarding stage of my music appreciation career, I am not aware of other work that’s been done.) Second, I didn’t realize his real first name was Montero. Singing an eponymous song while literally wrestling with his demons sheds a whole new light on the meaning and intention behind the work.

Hell has a checkered story. The Bible doesn’t talk about Hell as we know it. Jesus in the original untranslated text talks about Gehenna, which was a valley in Jerusalem that was considered to be cursed because ancient kings of Judah sacrificed children by fire there. Rabbinic literature talks about it as a kind of purgatory, but one’s stay there is seen as temporary. Other faiths’ concepts, such as the Greeks’ Tartarus, a place of torment that corresponded to one’s sins in life, later influenced Christian conceptions of what Hell is. Gnostic beliefs about the separation of the spirit and the body, also influenced by Greek philosophy, fed the frequently taught notion that the body and the world the body lives in is corrupted. The word Hell itself comes from the Anglo-Saxons that were converted several hundred years after the life of Christ. And the medieval artistic imagination completed the vision as we see it: a burning, desolate realm, where a goatlike humanoid supervises while legions of abominations roam free and torture the souls of the wicked.

American Christians are also very afraid of Satan. Satan comes from Semitic language roots as a word for “adversary”. Theologically, depending on one’s reading of the Bible, he’s both the one who is the prosecutor arguing before God why you should be locked away in Hell and the undercover police officer setting you up to commit the crime. Americans have a particularly literalist interpretation of Biblical text, and as such tend to believe in a personified being. There have been times when I’ve referred to some of the more fundamentalist practices of Christianity as “devil worship” because they spend more time in practice expressing their fear of what the devil is doing or what will do next than their faith in God. The Gnostic-influenced dualism ascribes nearly as much power to the devil as to God, making him god-like in his reach and capability. In their eschatology, God will ultimately prevail, but only after a pitched and difficult battle.

Many of the more conservative forms of American Christianity continue to look at our “fallen world” and see evidence of the devil’s work throughout. They are deeply concerned that the mainstream society and culture, as it grows increasingly tolerant and expresses broader points of view, will at least turn its eye away from God altogether and at most explicitly worship God’s adversary, granting him more power. To maintain the purity of the Church, many small-c churches have forgotten how to love people as they are and create a welcoming refuge from the fallen world. Instead, they construct an ever-increasingly-complex set of rules and practices, and in order to be a part of the community, your beliefs must line up just so. Otherwise, while you may attend and even volunteer your talents in service to the body, you will not be fully allowed to participate in the life of the church, lest you lead others astray. I experienced some of this in previous churches due to my willingness to even hold explicit uncertainty rather than accept literal interpretations of Scripture. LGBTQ+ parishioners have experienced it all the more.

The stereotypical conservative position is portrayed as “gay bad, stay away until you decide to live the way God intended.” I have attended churches with a more nuanced position, but still one that in practice did not let people fully participate in the life of the church without choosing celibacy and singleness. If they do choose that, they’ll then still often be pressured to find a heterosexual partner and marry, as official leadership and unofficial authority is primarily only available to married men, and to women only indirectly through their husbands. There’s a whole separate thing about how celibacy and singleness should be first-class concepts in the church regardless of one’s identity and orientation, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

All this context is the place from which Lil Nas X is drawing this song. He grew up outside of Atlanta, the son of a gospel singer. He tried to “pray his gay away” and couldn’t. I do not know the exact church framework he grew up in, but it stands to reason based on his documented handling of coming to terms with his sexuality that he grew up in a conservative Christian context that saw no place for him as he was. His supporters, and many LGBTQ+ people that I have seen express opinions on it see it clearly as him embracing the things about himself that his upbringing told him would send him to Hell. Some gay people who were raised in a conservative Christian context struggle with the imagery as well, but hold the tension and understand the message.

Let’s get back to the latest Satanic panic. American Christians are concerned about the devil, or as many call him due to some choice lines from Paul, the god of this world, taking over the mainstream culture and ruling over all except the small remnant who choose to profess Christ. Videos like this to them are just evidence of attempting to corrupt the children directly, normalizing worship of the devil and practice of evil. Variants of these ideas are informing cult practices like QAnon that have infested white evangelical spaces.

in my experience though, I have only met 3 kinds of people Christians would call “devil-worshippers”:

  1. People who practice pre-Christian faiths (with a partial exception made for Judaism) in as close to their original form as possible
  2. People who practice reconstituted faith systems drawing from pre-Christian beliefs like Wicca or Thelema
  3. People who don’t believe in anything and who are trolling Christians (the Satanic Temple is a good example of this)

I’ve had personal relationships with people in all three categories. None of these people are plotting to take down the Christian God or corrupt God’s followers for the benefit of their own deity or pleasure. Evangelism is not a universal religious practice, and they are not seeking converts either. Only the most militant atheists, who ironically are often backlashing against a fundamentalist Christian upbringing, are concerned about ending belief because of the great harm they’ve seen believers do to each other. Most atheists and believers in other deities or systems just want to be left alone to live their lives as they see fit.

My own afterlife theology is evolving. I don’t know exactly what happens after this, though I think the Hell we constructed out of burning trash heaps and medieval visions isn’t how it works. I am also not sure I believe in an incarnate adversary-in-chief, though I have experienced spiritual warfare firsthand and know there are malevolent forces out there beyond our scientific understanding.

What I do know is that our church that is so deeply concerned with the devil has so much molestation and abuse of all kinds in it, either in the homes of parishioners or in the offices of leaders, that it’s not even considered a stop-everything moment when yet another leader or priest or counselor or parent is exposed for what my friend rightly calls “spiritual murder”. I have seen churches manipulate and emotionally abuse people as well, causing great damage and distress, and driving people away from a faith whose only face for them is the church leadership. And let’s not even get started on the horrors of genocide, slavery, segregation, and colonization that were justified by twisted forms of faith that have still not fully been unwound.

I remember watching an episode of “College Hill” of all things, a reality show where Black college students live together in a house with the expected ensuing drama, and during a trip to the woods where everyone bonded, one girl talked about how she was molested weekly downstairs at the church while service was going on upstairs. And while she was supported and received sympathy, no one even saw that as surprising or remarkable. No one went to the church with pitchforks and torches. It’s just the way things happen, so watch your kids and good luck. The problem is so endemic among Catholic priests that it’s become a distasteful joke. Even our secular religion of sports is now showing itself to be a center of abuse from the same coaches that pray with young athletes on the field.

I do not believe that there is something fundamental about Christianity as a system that causes this. I think, and the world shows, that this is a universal human capability. Part of the ability to choose between good and evil is the ability to choose evil, and in that regard, we need no devil to tempt us. The power is its own temptation. I do believe that fundamentalist praxis that brooks no dissent, no understanding of metaphor, and no reflection, and that forgets the core revolutionary charter that Jesus set out, opens us up to calling, as Isaiah 5:20 says, “evil good, and good evil”. The repression of fundamentalism allows no escape for our evil urges, no way to put them in disinfecting sunlight, so they sit inside, fester, and grow.

Despite the fact that it’s not Christianity itself that is broken, but its practice here, we are not excused from the duty to change the practice where we can. We are not excused from welcoming our neighbor as they are without qualification. We are not excused from protecting the vulnerable and casting down the haughty and those who would abuse their sacred responsibilities. Something is broken in a faith practice that shakes its fist at a young man dancing on another man in red makeup while it sits mute, shame-faced, and silent while children are broken and women are murdered both spiritually and literally for the warped desires of men.

Lil Nas X is mocking a practice of faith that failed him and finding freedom in that. We need not celebrate it if we don’t personally connect with it, but we have nothing to fear from it either. The onus is on those who believe to create a practice of faith that is so full of love and justice that there is nothing to mock.

Schedule Change

in the style of Dr. Seuss

We all remember Dr. Seuss,
as famous now as Mother Goose,
with rhyming stories full of facts
about the Grinch, Who, and Lorax.
The famous stripey-hatted Cat
And Sam I Am’s big breakfast spat.
Most of the books were full of rhymes.
A few had art from older times,
when we thought foolish things about
what humans are, inside and out.
We held them closely anyhow,
those books from then brought into now.

But Seuss himself was known to say,
“Those books weren’t written the right way.
I thought I’d have a bit of fun,
but realized I had hurt someone.”
So now dear Dr. Seuss is gone,
his children left to carry on.
Not a matter of compromise,
but them deciding what was wise.
To pull the books that did the harm,
and push the others’ special charm.
Private decisions shouldn’t irk,
we have to let them do their work.

No public bans would we abide,
but it’s their call. They did decide.

-C. G. Brown

Reflections on the Ravi Zacharias Findings – A Follow-Up

Preface: The following is me processing some of the responses to my take on Ravi Zacharias. If you found it triggering, please exercise care in reading this. I’m processing my own errors and problematic reads of the situation, which hopefully will benefit people in a similar place. But it’s my primary wish that I do no further harm, hence this warning.

The TL;DR is that some parts of my take were insufficiently clearly targeted, are problematic, and I’m sorry that that caused harm to some readers. One person spoke up, but I assume I have other harmed friends that did not.


I recently wrote my thoughts about the Ravi Zacharias findings, where basically everything awful he was accused of was true, and it was in some cases even worse. I had a specific audience in mind for that piece, though I don’t think I was explicitly clear about that. I was thinking about people who had received beneficial spiritual formation from the hands of toxic or problematic people and/or organizations. While Zacharias was not a meaningful part of my spiritual formation in any direct way, he probably was through the people he influenced. But for me, it was an arms-length problem.

I can tell you who I was not thinking about directly, and that’s survivors of abuse. 

Rachael Denhollander, a well-known survivor who also works with organizations to root out abuse culture, and who is in fact working with RZIM, had this to say about the many thinkpieces being produced:

She goes on in the thread to talk about the Monday morning quarterbacks out there who applaud the right steps being taken but had nothing to say while women were being harmed, or worse, sided with the abuser.

I thought that this was concerning and wondered if my comments would be considered that way. So I quoted her tweet with this:

I checked in with my emotions and didn’t feel defensive, but was a little concerned. Still, I went by the old Southern maxim “a hit dog’ll holler”, so I figured if I didn’t want to holler, I was okay.

My piece was generally well-received. Several women I know read it positively and said so. I even had a man with similar experiences to me contact me privately and say it was helpful to them in processing their own experiences with spiritual abuse. I felt good about that.

Then, another friend challenged me on the Facebook page where I had posted the original piece. Facebook is a notoriously difficult medium to read emotion, but she sounded angry and upset to me, and described how she thought my recommendations about the ways that we should process these findings were problematic and contributed to abuse culture. I responded to clarify, but it seemed to make it worse. She even took words I had written the same day about how the Republican Party’s fealty to Trump makes me not trust people who call themselves Republican and align with party leadership but say they have my interests at heart and threw them back in my face, essentially saying I no longer felt like a safe person.

I’m a peacemaker by nature, which when undeveloped becomes people-pleasing. I don’t like to make people upset, and I like to find common ground. So I sat with the horrible feeling in my stomach from hurting my friend and tried to separate my own prideful indignation at being challenged and being accused of being a friend to people like Zacharias, my desire for her to not be mad at me, and my desire to understand whether I had legitimately gotten something wrong. 

I do racial reconciliation work with the administrative team at Be The Bridge. We recognize that our white participants have a steep hill to climb, coming from a society that for generations has unreasonably centered them, coddled their whims, and stunted their empathy. Seeing that work up close has caused me to have more empathy for white people who are in that process, though I do not excuse failure to try to get better or to humbly receive correction.

As a cishet Christian man, in conversations about spiritual abuse, especially those with a sexual component, I’m the white person. I’m the one who has had my sinful behavior ignored or encouraged and had my empathy stunted. So when people tell me that my words are problematic, I try to listen. I know that no matter what I say, I will not please everyone, and that’s the hard part. As my friend was the first to say, “we can disagree”. But people who are on the lower end of the power dynamics axis get a lot of say about whether something is problematic. 

I want to quote Louis C.K. here and say “if someone says you hurt them, you don’t get to tell them you didn’t.” But, well, you know.

In my reflection, I asked my wife to help me understand what about my post is problematic, or at least what could be read that way. She mentioned some comments I made about allowing his books to stand in response to a “what’s next” question as possibly giving the impression that I thought his legacy should stand. I agree that that was a problematic take. The most challenging part of my post, about holding the good and the evil people have done in quantum superposition, was meant to be challenging, but not to survivors. It was meant to challenge the people that throw the whole church away over that kind of corruption, or those that were spiritually formed in positive ways by his work and don’t want to fully acknowledge the evil of the person that produced it, or process what that means they have to change in themselves to decouple themselves from it. I’m not a person that’s going to tell you to try to remember the great work Hitler did with the trains. But, I have found that that quantum holding, as I describe it, allows me to remember my own humanity and how I am not above anything evil a human has done, and thus better guard against it. It also helps me process perpetrators of harm who are themselves survivors of harm, which is important but not relevant in this particular context.

I think speaking into the American evangelical context sympathetically causes people to make assumptions about the theological underpinnings of where I’m coming from. That context is sadly known for preservation of power and marginalization of voices. So let me say a few things to clarify:

  • I believe forgiveness, repentance, and repair are distinct processes. Forgiveness does not mean re-entry into relationship with a harmful person, and it does not mean that you are okay with what they have done. And you can be heartily sorry about something you did and yet do nothing to make sure something like that never happens again.
  • I believe women can be called to serve the church in any capacity, including leadership or head of household.
  • I do not believe survivors are obligated to view things any particular way beyond what they need to heal and find wholeness.
  • I am not asserting that we “love the sinner” and “hate the sin”. Causing earthly harm demands earthly consequences and those consequences should be paid. If we are talking about radical love of people, it is unloving to deprive someone of consequences for their actions and thus allow them to fall further away. Put more simply, God’s grace doesn’t give you a get out of jail free card.
  • I do not know the consequences of an unrepentant life in the afterlife, but I believe there are some. My understanding of God leads me to believe those consequences, while painful, would be on a path to restoration rather than damnation, but that’s for the unrepentant sinner and God to work out, not me. My job is to not be that person when I die.
  • I do not believe we need to hold up the good someone has done in a public conversation about the evil they have done.
  • I do not believe we need to preserve the work of Ravi Zacharias and continue to teach or share it.

In the paragraph that was problematic, I was trying to find a way to help people reconcile the beneficial spiritual formation they’ve received with the behavior of the person they received it from. I do see how that challenge to hold tension could be read as insisting survivors forgive the perpetrators of violence against them, or otherwise engage in work that they are not obligated to do. I also see how someone could read my comments as a call to keep the work he did and throw out the person. That is how that read, but that is not what I intended to say. My wife gave me a useful metric: how would you process this in the secular world? Thinking about the cases of Bill Cosby and R. Kelly, how would you tell people to process their work? 

In answering that question, I had to admit that I feel differently about R. Kelly than I do about Bill Cosby. R. Kelly was so blatant and contemptuous in his predatory actions that I “canceled” him a long time ago before that was a phenomenon, when he released The Chocolate Factory and called himself the Pied Piper of R&B, from the fairy tale about the man who leads the children of Hamelin to ruin. Cosby however, was a trickier case for me. I believed the women who spoke out. I think he should be in jail. But I wasn’t super excited about them canceling syndication of his show. It was, in fact, spiritually formative for a lot of us. 

So what does that mean? Am I okay with predators who move in secret and have the “decency” to not throw it in our faces?

As I was preparing for bed, I was jokingly singing an old 90s rap in a mid-century American musical songbook style (I know, I’m a weirdo). I stopped myself when I realized that the lyric I was about to say was also the title of the song. “Bitches Ain’t Shit”.

Men, yes, even us “good” ones, are so thoroughly indoctrinated in our hatred of and disregard for women that it feels like breathing. When I contemplate where I actually am standing and look up, the well seems so deep that I am not sure how I’m going to climb out. I don’t think my empathy and care muscles are completely atrophied. I may even be reasonably well-developed, but that’s only comparatively speaking. That’s not an assessment based on what we need to get out of the well. This internalized, pervasive misogyny is a bigger problem than what’s going on in the church, and I frankly don’t know what to do about it other than continuing to stumble, be corrected, and trying to become the kind of person that does not cause such harm anymore. My responsibility, my obligation is to keep grabbing the slippery, mossy stones, and to press upward toward the light until the day I die, even if I never make it out.

It’s hard, though. I learned these songs when I was 15-17 years old. I got fed imagery and behavior through multiple modes of media from much younger than that. I was raised to love my mother and sister, to respect women. And there are a lot of white people out there who were raised to speak kindly to Black people as well and treat the ones in their lives well. It doesn’t mean you are clear. It will show up in who you acknowledge first when they come into a room, in your assumption of who’s in charge, in your mentoring a young man, but merely managing your attraction to a young woman that you aren’t even practically interested in.  This is the work for the “good ones”: to realize you’re not so good and not to rest complacently in the truth that “everyone’s a sinner”, but to press toward the mark of treating all the image bearers of God, male, female, non-binary, with the dignity, respect, and care that is warranted by their very existence.

I am sorry that insufficient care in my analysis led to harm for some readers. I will exercise more care in the future when touching on subjects involving abuse and survivors.

Reflections on The Ravi Zacharias Findings

Photo by Julia Volk from Pexels

NOTE: I also wrote a follow-up post that you should read after this one for further clarification.

I’m thinking about the complete mess that is the Ravi Zacharias situation. Quick primer for the non-aware: Zacharias was a Christian apologist, a formal philosophical and theological argument maker of the first degree, who recently died. Some accusations late in his life that were originally treated as slanderous have subsequently been proven true, and his ministry is taking steps to repent and repair. The answers for what to do are simple to find and hard to live out.

Believe women and other marginalized people.

Ask why the church is marginalizing so many people.

Set up mutual accountability and frameworks to allow parishioners to challenge power without power closing ranks to protect itself and slander earnest complaint.

I believe in primus inter pares complementarianism, where there is a first among equals, a chair of the joint chiefs. Someone’s got to make the call in a two-person decision. But that lead should be based on skills and gifts. My wife is better at reading people, so I defer to her on those decisions. I’m better than her at procedural thinking, so she defers to me on that. But we’ve earned that from each other through trust building and sometimes through our mistakes. I can only lead well by recognizing and engaging the full capabilities of my partner. Leadership is a service role, not a dominance role.

There is a deep theological shift, however, that needs to happen in our Christian understanding of women and their role in the human story that we assert God is supervising and allowing us to co-write. Too many strains of Christianity have women as second-class, valued for childbearing and holding up mighty men of God, but otherwise useless as productive citizens. The hardcore complementarians among you will dispute this and say that women’s roles are Very Important. And yes, child rearing and supportive marital roles are critical. Women who have the desire and gift to do those things should do them with joy and pride. (There is a whole other conversation beyond the scope of this discussion about how the dissolution of the extended family and village model combined with our brand of corporate capitalism and history of sexism has created the need for the harried homemaker who does it all alone, because it doesn’t have to be that way either.) But what happens when the desires and gifts the women in our lives receive are not designed to be part of a man’s story? What if they prophesy, or exhort, or shepherd, or strategize better than anyone we know?

We are fools if we throw half of God’s bounty away because we don’t like the container God shipped it in.

No one, not me, not you, is immune to the selfishness that causes what Christians call sin and everyone calls wrong. Zacharias may have had his sin play out in a different way if he had come to prominence in a different kind of Christian culture. Or maybe his particular temptations wouldn’t have fired. We can’t know.

What we do know is that the kinds of things he was accused of that have now been validated are individual manifestations of systemic problems. Purity culture creates a poor theology of the body that makes us hate our bodies and our desires yet gives us no place to put them into context. As a result, our desires leak out in perverse ways. Sexist teachings encourage and reinforce a secular objectification and devaluing of women so they are not heard or believed. And we end up here.

There is one more thing to say, and this is in defense of Zacharias’s contributions, even though I am not convinced I agree with him theologically. The man can have done all of the horrible things he did, for which he should face the full consequence to his reputation and ministry, and still have contributed to the faith. Whether churched, unchurched, or dechurched, we tend to operate in a kind of dualism, where the evil one does negates the good, or where the good one does blinds us to the evil. There is not a scorecard that can be balanced. All the good is there, and all the evil, occupying the same space in a kind of metaphysical quantum superposition. And we have to hold both, uncomfortably, and together. That holding, that opening opens us to other possibilities and more expansive, whole ways of being.

I am thankful that the organization he founded expressed a commitment to unqualified repentance, cultural analysis and change, and actual, meaningful repair and restitution to the harmed people. That is all that can be done for what has passed. For the future, all we can hope is that they become the kind of entity that does not allow this to happen anymore. May that be so, and may God tear it down if it is not.

And as Ravi Zacharias’s soul flies on to wherever is next, I hope he finds repentance, repair, and wholeness, even as he faces whatever unknown cosmic consequences there are for our unresolved sins in this life.

The Epiphany The Lie, and The Feces

Image from Twitter user @walterdellinger

I keep thinking about the feces.

Last week, angry Trumpists stormed the United States Capitol building. The police were overwhelmed and were not given additional support. (It’s beyond the scope of this post to speculate about their heroism, complicity, or the reasons for the lack of support.) Once inside, the insurgents posed with statues, stole artifacts, and smeared feces on the walls of our chief legislative federal institution.

The smearing and throwing of feces is a symbol of defilement and disrespect that probably pre-dates humanity, as any scientist who studies ape social behavior can tell you. I cannot think of a more disrespectful thing to do that doesn’t involve violation of a body or destruction. But the feces was merely a footnote in this story.

I think of a man with a lucrative and promising career who lost it all for having the unmitigated gall to kneel before our flag instead of standing for it, as a protest against police brutality that still showed respect for soliders, as he was asked to by his military friend. I think of the off-duty police in the mob who showed their badges to the Capitol Police, saying “We’re doing this for you,” as they pushed past them to get their mayhem and defilement campaign going. I think of the bombings of 1921 and 1985, in Tulsa and Philadelphia, where domestic perceived threats in Black skin were bombed away. I am not aware of other domestic bombing initiated by government entities, though I am aware of ones initiated by domestic terrorists and insurgents.

All I can see is The Lie, naked and brazen, shameless and flamboyant.

When a Black person is harmed or is killed by a police officer or a self-appointed deputy, we are told that they should have behaved in an orderly and compliant way and they wouldn’t have gotten hurt. And it’s important to talk about harm, whether that’s actual physical injury or psychological terror. We center our language around those who have been killed and have no language to talk about the persistent humiliation and fear cultivated in boys and girls growing up in overpoliced and underresourced neighborhoods. We are tracking the spending of our dollars but not our cents, and the bills add up.

Before anything, Black Lives Matter is first a call for empathy. “Can’t you see that my life also has meaning? Can’t you see that I’m a full human, too? Can’t you see that your callous treatment of my life and well-being is hurtful?” We are somehow, as a society, always able to find this empathy for a rural white farmer or factory worker. We can even find this empathy for the disaffected Trumpists who masquerade as salt of the earth but are actually petit bourgeoisie with second homes and sport boats or pickup trucks. We ponder how we can help them be less sad about the election as they take leisure time from their small businesses, steady union jobs, or comfortable white collar jobs to storm the United States Capitol with weapons and hostage-taking materials. We’re even able to find this empathy for rioters who tear up their cities after sports victories, surely a matter of the least significance to the state of the nation.

Yet, here we are again, facing The Lie and the shards it produces as its fragile frame disintegrates all over the floor. 

We pretend that there is a logic to this. We pretend that the rules are evenly applied and that what we care about is compliance and order. We pretend that there is equal justice in this country despite reams of data to the contrary. We pretend that any differences in outcomes have nothing to do with compound interest dividends on injustice and everything to do with cultural or individual failings. And then, when Black bodies get unruly, we meet them with overwhelming force, and if necessary, smear them across the pavement.

White men are killing themselves at higher rates than any other group in the country, and researchers can’t seem to figure out why. We talk about our increasingly impersonal society and the decline of religion as possible causes. They can’t figure out why Black people, with the stressors they have and the discrimination they face, don’t have higher numbers. While causes are complex, I posit that one major contribution to this disparity is that the people of African descent who were enslaved and made into “Black people” always have known The Lie was The Lie, so while we have fought generation after generation for a better truth, we haven’t placed our hope in the lie that things were fine and that no significant introspection or reconstruction needed to be done. Because of the numbing and confusing influence of The Lie, the people of European descent that were made into “white people” have been left in the wake of The Lie’s demise with a truth that they cannot face.

This January 6, this Epiphany, there was no hiding from the awful, horrid truth. Blue Lives Matter, until they get in the way of white supremacy. All voices are welcome, until they get in the way of white supremacy. Compliance, law, and order matter, until they get in the way of white supremacy. Our institutions of power matter and should not be tampered with, until they get in the way of white supremacy.

The American flag matters, until it gets in the way of white supremacy. 

The only animating force or principle to this movement is the preservation of white dominance through the tools of white supremacy. This is why Pence can be a hero one day and Public Enemy Number One the next for choosing his Constitutional authority over the whims of the mob. This is why even their icon, Trump, can be seen as a betrayer for choosing to comply with the demands of the legislators and administrators that keep a check on his power. The political cults that have risen move the goalposts freely and change the rules at will, because whatever they say they care about is a lie. Dominance and control are their only desires. The spirit of the evil age when the truth was able to move freely and without shame fights to live, and it carries on in our unexamined hearts and in our unreformed institutions.

The truth remains silent, but it persists, smeared across the halls of justice of our country, smeared on our neighbors’ homes, in our banks, on our streets. The truth is smeared across our pulpits and pews, obscuring passages in our holy texts, sticking the pages together so that context becomes impossible to glean. The truth defiles the values we say we hold dear and ruins the complex interwoven fabric of the tapestry that is our nation at its best. 

The truth stinks.

Nobel Laureate Louise Glück and The Persistence of Memory

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Louise Glück, the winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, identified the two pieces of writing that formed her as a child as William Blake’s “The Little Black Boy” and Stephen Foster’s minstrel song “Old Folks At Home”, colloquially known as “Swanee River”. “The Little Black Boy” begins:

My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O! my soul is white;
White as an angel is the English child: 
But I am black as if bereav’d of light.

As for “Old Folks At Home”, I don’t need to explain why a minstrel song is problematic. But here are a few lines, shown in the original slave dialect as imagined by a white man, just so you get what’s happening:

All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation,
And for de old folks at home.

All de world am sad and dreary,
Eb-rywhere I roam;
Oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home! 

Blake’s poem is a work of its time. Fine. Blake is an important author nonetheless. Fine. These are things that we have to learn to hold in tension. We still hold Aristotle as a model of thinking because of his contributions to logic and his general right direction on biology, though he believed some now-obviously-wrong things like heavy objects fall faster, or that women are a degenerate state of men, with men as the natural ideal.

However, when we teach Aristotle, we teach his wrong beliefs as primitive misunderstandings, at least, even if we don’t explore the implications on the people in the society as much as we should. But we at least acknowledge them. When we teach Blake, especially to high schoolers, we often present his work uncritically and don’t unpack the “primitive” beliefs he carries. And we generally try to pretend that things like Foster’s song simply didn’t happen, which is hard to do when you also make it the state song of Florida and don’t even change the words until 2008. 

I want to go back to that Blake poem. It’s very clear that the subject of the poem aspires to nothing more than to first, have God make him as white in spirit as the English child he speaks of, and then on a great future day, to protect the white child and have his unrequited admiration and love finally returned. This imagined English child did not work or pray for this purity and beauty, it was his birthright, an inherent whiteness. And this American woman, born in 1943, who was only 22 years old when the Civil Rights Act was passed, was shaped and set on her course as a girl by those words.

I have not read Glück before today, and while I do write poetry, I am not a poetry critic. I have little to say about her work. The few pieces I’ve seen are familiarly modern; laconic free verse with line breaks and metaphors that conjure images of spirits moving across hazy wild scenes, diffuse colors and light. Like anyone who has received much recognition, she’s loved and hated. 

I keep wondering, though, how a woman who at 5 or 6 years old was shaped by minstrel songs and images, and was so unaware of the implications that she shared that fact uncritically at her Nobel Lecture, performed as a professor. What poems did she lift up from her students? What challenges did she swat down? Did she even have ears to hear poetry that rubbed against those comfortable narratives that are so pervasive in the American consciousness?

This is the danger of teaching “the greats” without the correct tension. We watch shows like “The Man In The High Castle” and are completely unaware of the parallels in our actual life. At one point in the series, the Nazis that control the Eastern United States start a Jahr Null (German for Year Zero) campaign, where they plan to completely erase American history and replace it with propaganda that suited their aims of control and indoctrination. 

We shudder at that idea, while living in the results of a successful Jahr Null campaign right here — the Lost Cause. I won’t recap the full details of how it came to be, but the wives and daughters of Confederate veterans built a retelling of the Civil War that cast their husbands and fathers as noble but doomed warriors of legend, fighting for a beautiful way of life. There’s no mention of the mass enslavement or the unimaginable brutality, or how many white people were living only slightly better than slaves themselves, yet could take comfort in their caste position. Worst of all, this narrative actually won, which we can see when a sitting President in 2020, regardless of who they are, is willing to threaten to withhold military funding if we do not keep Confederate names on our military bases. Can you imagine if we insisted on having General Cornwallis or Benedict Arnold’s name on our military bases? 

I am not advocating for the “cancellation” that the Christian right perfected and of which the left is now so often accused (and sometimes guilty). I am advocating instead for contextualization. We can’t pull at every thread, but we can provide some interdisciplinary context. What era was Blake writing in? What social stratum as he in? How would that shape how he viewed people? Which of his views are outdated? Which outdated views do we still hold on to? I know the best professors are already doing this already. But learning to simultaneously admire great talent and refuse to accept the worldview through which it was filtered is the skill we must acquire as students.

I talk about “living history” a lot. The past reaches constantly into our present, grabs the edges, pulls the frame into a shape that it recognizes, unless we actively work to reframe for our time. And here, in a far future age, Blake’s hands still are shaping white imaginations, thrilling them with the fantasy that the highest aspiration in a Black life is to shelter and protect a luminous white soul, and in return receive a beatific smile of appreciation. 

The Big Blue Runoff – Georgia 2020

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

By now, you’ve heard the news. Democratic organizers and the people of Georgia have turned the state into a full battleground that Biden currently seems likely to win. And Georgia has not one, but two Senate races. If Democrats win both these races, the Senate will be 50/50, and the tie-breaking vote will likely be Kamala Harris in the Vice-President’s presiding role over the Senate.

People from outside of Georgia have asked me for information on ways they can help, and so I wanted to put a few different ways to help into one place so that people can easily share it. What are some ways you can help?

TL;DR – Show Them The Money

Here are direct links to action if you don’t feel like reading my whole analysis.

Volunteer with the Georgia Democratic Party

Donate to Warnock For Senate
Donate To Ossoff For Senate
Donate to the DPG
Donate to DeKalb Democrats (ATL)
Donate to Fulton Democrats (ATL)
Donate to Gwinnett Democrats (ATL)
Donate to Cobb Democrats (ATL)
Donate to Henry Democrats (ATL)
Donate to Douglas Democrats (ATL)

Candidates

Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both have put together formidable campaign organizations, and donations to candidates are always appreciated and well received. What do candidate donations go to? Well, one way to think of it is that you’re funding a startup that has one product — a candidate — and one mission — get that candidate into office (or keep them there). There are professionals that know how to run aspects of the marketing campaign, manage the field organization, or keep up with the finances, and those people have to be paid. There is literature to print, ads to run, signs to post. Candidates do not get to use the money for living expenses or anything not directly related to getting their message out.

You can donate up to the Federal limits (currently $2,800) as an individual to a Senate campaign.

Donate to Warnock For Senate
Donate To Ossoff For Senate

Voters and Dates

If you will be 18 years old on Election Day, January 5, 2021, you can register to vote until December 7. If you missed this election, you can still vote in the runoff. If you are not registered to vote, you can register to vote and vote in this runoff. There’s no such thing as too late.

Here are the key dates:

December 7 – Voter Registration Deadline
December 14 – Early Voting opens in Georgia
January 5 – Election Day

County and State Parties

Every state in the Union, including Georgia, has a State Democratic Party. The parties organize volunteers, set the policy platform that the Democrats in that state will advocate for, and get the word out about endorsed candidates. In Georgia, each county has a state party committee which operates as an entire organization with executive leadership, subcommittees, and voting members, that we colloquially refer to as “the county party”.

It’s not commonly understood why the party will endorse some candidates and not others, particularly in races like the one Warnock just went through. The party’s objective is to elect Democrats who support the party’s platform to office and keep them in office. As such, the party must take a neutral stance on any race where there are multiple qualified and declared Democrats. There was several in Warnock’s race due to its nature as a special election. Ossoff went through a traditional primary process and so emerged as the single qualified Democrat, which allowed the party to act on his behalf. While you may see encouragement to vote for a Democrat in a multi-player race, the party was not free to endorse Warnock until he emerged as the leading Democrat and thus the only Democrat entering the runoff.

The county party is where the action is if you are interested in volunteering. I’m going to link several party pages, and each one will have both Donate links and Volunteer links. Unlike the campaigns themselves, the state and county parties have no limits on the donations they can receive. You can give $1,000 or $10,000, or more. What do the parties use that money for? Two words: ground game.

I’m a post seat holder chair (which is a fancy way to say I’m a voting member of my County Committee and am responsible for organizing efforts in my state house district) in DeKalb, a suburban county that contains the eastern bit of the city of Atlanta and several communities of various socioeconomic strata.

I can tell you, when DeKalb Democrats get a dollar, they stretch it. We can create flyers and marketing materials for candidates to help their dollars go further, use our extensive field organization and volunteer base to canvass, phone bank, text bank, or do lit drops door to door. The precinct captains and volunteers can use their deep and personal relationships to get turnout going on an intimate, one-to-one basis. What’s more, county and state party members serve as poll workers, poll observers, and even work to count and judge ballots alongside Republican and non-partisan counters.

You can and should donate to the state party. Donations to the state party support county efforts and statewide initiatives such as voter protection. County donations are used directly in the districts the county covers.

Democratic Party of Georgia
Donate to the DPG

County Links

Here are links to county sites for the Atlanta metro area, where more than half of Georgia’s population lives.


DeKalb County (Atlanta Metro)

Estimated Total Population (2019): 759,297

Biden % in 2020 Election: 83.1%

Donate to DeKalb Democrats

Clayton County (Atlanta Metro)

Estimated Total Population (2019): 292,256

Biden % in 2020 Election: 85.0%

Fulton County (Atlanta Metro)

Estimated Total Population (2019): 1,063,937

Biden % in 2020 Election: 72.6%

Donate to Fulton Democrats

Gwinnett County (Atlanta Metro)

Estimated Total Population (2019): 936,250

Biden % in 2020 Election: 58.4%

Donate to Gwinnett Democrats

Cobb County (Atlanta Metro)

Estimated Total Population (2019): 760,141

Biden % in 2020 Election: 56.3%

Donate to Cobb Democrats

Henry County (Atlanta Metro)

Estimated Total Population (2019): 234,561

Biden % in 2020 Election: 59.7%

Donate to Henry Democrats

Douglas County (Atlanta Metro)

Estimated Total Population (2019): 146,343
Biden % in 2020 Election: 62.0%

Donate to Douglas Democrats


Mobilize

Many activities are also organized through Mobilize, a site that organizers use to publish volunteer opportunities. All the phone banks that the Democratic Party of Georgia and the counties will be putting on will be listed here. You can use the filter button to put in a Georgia ZIP code and find opportunities to phonebank, text bank, or if you live close enough, to get into the field.

I encourage you to donate to the candidates and if you have more money or time you wish to give, please give it to the counties. I know DeKalb firsthand and I know my county will steward your resources well and turn out more Democrats for the coming runoff.

“Big” Rest and “Little” Rest

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

A couple of weeks ago, I reached a breaking point. The news has been too stressful. The constant deluge of madness coming from the White House has been becoming increasingly cult-like. The ongoing strain of the pandemic is keeping us stretched as we frantically try to maintain a pre-pandemic pace that no longer makes sense.

I have been listening to Black women who have encouraged a practice of rest as resistance. I decided to follow their advice and take at least one of my daily social media posts to reflect or pre-reflect on my day. I talk a little bit about what I plan to do and where I plan to do something for myself, and then ask: “What are you doing today to rest and increase your sense of personal peace?

I’ve found this ritual quite comforting. It doesn’t take any effort because I was probably going to talk about myself or my feelings at some point in the day on social media anyway, so it doesn’t take much to actually think about how I’d like the day to go. And people seem to appreciate the gentle reminder to do the same for themselves. It’s a pleasant little moment we share each day across the wire.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we define rest. As I look at the times in my life I’ve succeeded and failed at finding it, I have noticed there are two types of rest I’ve experienced. I started out with something like “performative rest” and “conscious mindfulness”, but besides being a mouthful, the terms carry the wrong implication that one is better than the other. So I settled on “Big Rest” and “Little Rest”.

Big Rest is a self-directed activity that increases your capacity. It may require effort or discipline, but you come out of it able to do more than you could before. Examples of this are things like an exercise, yoga, or meditation practice. Another example might be a hard boundary you draw between work or social activities and productive downtime, like scheduling time to read or draw or play music.

Little Rest is an activity that refills your tank. It typically doesn’t require substantial effort or discipline, though it may require a little conscious effort to actually execute. This can be something like getting up from your desk to get a little sunshine on your face, deciding to play video games for a set amount of time, or spontaneously spending a little time with a friend or a good book.

Big Rest is important for our personal development. But it can be stressful for people who already feel overwhelmed. In our relentless grind culture, it can make us feel like we have yet another thing to check off and do. When we approach our rest activities with that accomplishment mindset, we can find they become not restful at all.

Little Rest, though, is what keeps our pace of life manageable. “In These Trying Times”, Little Rest is what is helping us hold our sanity and sense of self together. It can feel indulgent sometimes, but it’s critical that we find some Little Rest task each day. Just like the habit gurus tell you, the smallest steps matter. Committing to a little move like standing outside for a moment and getting fresh air, or letting yourself take a nap when you’re tired midday and don’t have any meetings coming up, can refuel you in ways that you may not anticipate.

If Big Rest tasks in your life stress you out, there are two things you can do. First, find some Little Rest tasks to do instead and see how you feel. Second, spend some time either with yourself or with a professional to examine how you are viewing those Big Rest tasks.

I struggle with Big Rest tasks, and for me it’s rooted in an irrational desire to be “productive”, with a hidden implication that I don’t see time spent on myself as productive. I generally struggle with consistency on tasks that have any element of drudgery in them at all. I have to experiment with different framings to hold things together. I currently am viewing exercise as medicine I have to take for my health, and that seems to make me more serious about it.

Little Rest tasks have been easier for me to take on. My front yard and sunshine are only a few steps away. When I’m tired, I take a nap. Those sound simple, but when you stop and listen to your inner voices that guide and sometimes limit you, you may hear yourself saying “I don’t have time for this,” or, “I haven’t earned this.” These voices are the ones you must be most attentive to and address. What does it mean to “earn”? Who gets to decide the value of what you have done? The heaviest lift of all may be giving yourself that permission to rest in the first place.

I’ve had to take a posture of radical forgiveness to change my mindset. We have a tendency to beat ourselves up for having trouble keeping up with those tasks that we know will benefit us in the long run. I’ve had to instead be completely forgiving of myself, and just look at what I intend to do today. There is a reason why mindfulness practices focus on the present. Peace is found in the current moment, not in rehashing the past or anticipating the future. I remind myself that at the end of each day I’ve done the best I possibly could on that day. I can look at what kept me from doing more, but I had the capacity I had. My focus for the new day is on evaluating and addressing those limits without judgment rather than being upset with myself for meeting an arbitrary standard I was not capable of meeting in that moment.

However you approach this process, whether you use self-managed lists, accountability partners, or professional support from therapists, I strongly encourage you to not become performative. The purpose of rest is healing and restoration, not to have another set of things to check off that you’ve accomplished. If you find yourself tracking to the accomplishment and not to the good feeling, stop and try something else. Little Rest should feel good and be its own reward. Little Rest should also help you have enough in your tank to take on Big Rest tasks that expand your capacity.

Think about how you would like your life to be. Not the end goals and accomplishments, and not a fictional future where you have everything you ever wanted and don’t need to work anymore. Think about how you can have days that you enjoy as they are. Imagine a day where you wake up with a smile, you engage with people you care about, and you felt present in a number of moments. Imagine being still enough to enjoy the small things like a cool breeze or the way the light falls on the ground this time of year. Even in your work, imagine being focused and flowing more than distracted and unhappy so that you can make the most of your hours.

You can have those moments, even if you have a busy job or a full house. The voice telling you you can’t is the voice telling you to stay on the treadmill, to run just a bit further, when it in fact has no idea what you’re running for or running to. The voice cares about you. It’s scared, and trying to protect you from disappointment or loss, but the voice is wrong. You can. Whatever you’re holding on to is not so important that you can’t take a moment, literally a few seconds, for yourself, every single day. And once you take a few seconds and find that your world didn’t crumble around you, it becomes easier to take a few more.

Find ways to inject Little Rest into those days to make each day a bit more enjoyable, and to take stock of where you are. This will create space for the Big Rest that will help you grow into the person you want to be.

Bobo not coming back

Bobo not coming back
he mississippi mud covered
he in money and he broke

Bobo not coming back
we not gonna play no more cards
we not dancing cool, fire hydrant fresh
we not gonna race to the store for more candy

Bobo not coming back
y’all not gonna put nobody in jail?
y’all got to shoot up his sign like that?
y’all gonna let sleeping lies dog?
y’all call this great again?

Bobo not coming back
i’ma tell the truth and shame the devil
i’ma carry Bobo inside me
i’ma eat candy on the corner and remember him
i’ma ride my bike and feel the wind on my face
i’ma get to know free

-C. G. Brown
29 September 2020

Inspired by a line from “Lovecraft Country” S1E7