Adoption, Racism, and Injustice in America

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Last year, when Tabitha and I were going through adoption certification/PRIDE classes, I shared with a coworker the journey we had begun. Somewhere in that very honest conversation, she said to me, “I just don’t understand white people adopting black children, acting like white saviors.” While our conversation ended well, I was quite taken aback and felt hurt. Tab and I had started our adoption journey because we felt God calling us to do so. We felt Him telling us to proceed. We’ve both said that we can provide a stable home for someone who has not been given that stability. Never in my mind did I ever see myself nor my wife as some sort of white saviors. Apparently though, those thoughts exist in others. I had known that the adoption process was about developing thicker skin, but I had not known just how thick it was going to have to become.

Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash

In our adoption classes, we would hear about how we would need to expose our potential black adopted children to black culture. At the same time, we were never told what black culture is.

From white friends, I’d hear, “Well, if you adopt a black child, you are going to need to expose them to people like their own, black culture.”

I would reply, “What is black culture? How does that differ from white culture? Do you even know what you are saying/talking about?”

Stuttering. Silence.

My heart hurts.

  • My heart hurts over George Floyd’s death at the knee of a police officer who knew what he was doing.
  • My heart hurts over the 3 other police officers standing nearby not intervening as George Floyd complained about not being able to breath.

I can’t wrap my mind around this situation. The blatant injustice on public display. How a moment in time could be escalated to the point where someone dies intentionally at the hands of those who are supposed to uphold justice.

I want justice for George Floyd.

Photo by Sebastian Pichler on Unsplash

In the same breath, I wonder about bringing a black child into my home. Raising this child in a white family. Worrying about the possibility of them being killed, by a police officer, due to the tone of their skin.

As a white male, I don’t think too much about being killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. Last year though, I was pulled over for making a right hand turn into an outer lane versus the lane closest to the curb. I watched as the police officer drove past me and then made a quick u-turn to come after me. I couldn’t figure out what I had done. Daily, I watch other drivers make the same type of turn I had just made. After thinking about it, I think I wasn’t pulled over for turning wrong. No, I think I was targeted due to the condition of my car and the perceived nature of my skin.

Note: My Honda has black paint that has been peeling for ages. The car is nice on the inside but looks rundown from the outside. I call it camouflage!

As the young officer walked up to my car, I noticed a change come over his demeanor. I could tell that he thought I was going to be either black or Hispanic, but not white. As he told me why I was pulled over–which to me seemed like he was reaching for a technicality–he told me he was going to let me off with a warning.

Now, every time I pull up to that traffic light where I was pulled over, I make sure to practice the correct type of lane change. I also get a little angry, remembering that day, remembering feeling targeted because of the condition of my car. If that incident was but a small taste of what black people deal with, in America, on a daily basis, I cannot even imagine living like that.

I know that we live in a fallen world. That Jesus is coming back. But I hate the injustice that I see around me. I hate the helpless feelings that I can’t do anything to bring about change. I hate having to think that someone that we bring into our home, no matter our parenting nor love, could still be the target of such heinous acts.

I am thankful to serve a God who is bigger than all of this. That I don’t have to shoulder all of these thoughts and feelings alone. I am thankful for serving a God who can give wisdom, discernment, and guidance to us on how to proceed in the midst of such racism. I am thankful for His call to adoption, no matter the color of skin.

I figure that if my family can be a model of God’s love to just one child, perhaps he or she can make an impression and help change the world for the better until His return. And while we are waiting for that child, black or white, I have my own son to teach.

Adoption is messy. Conversations about race are messy. But we need to listen, talk, and act towards a brighter future.

When Security Masks a Spirit of Fear

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in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can man do to me? – Psalm 56:11 (ESV)

Another week goes by, we hear another story of a gunman invading a space and taking innocent lives. Calls for gun control quickly ring out in the media. Feelings of justice, fueled by anger and pain, trigger that deep down knowing that the world should not be this way. That we were not meant to deal with nor experience death, separation, brought on by a single choice made back in the beginning.

The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 56:11 that we should put our trust in God. There is no reason to fear when we put our trust in the Creator. Right? And yet fear percolates and permeates the atmosphere we breathe. Even in our churches, where Safety Teams equal Security Squads, fear rages. Played out with armed church members, unofficially, watching over the flock while services take place. A new defensive cultural norm.

NOTE: Please, do not misconstrue my words here, I’m all for keeping the Church safe. But I’m not okay when the spirit of fear drives a weekly version of security theater.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Keeping silent. Toeing the party line. Those seem like the obvious responses. But I believe God calls us, as Christians, to more: Power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

What do you do when a spirit of fear infects a church?

Revisited – Christ, the Coliseum, and Violence

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This is one of the first pieces I ever wrote for another site (back in 2013). Still love this scenario. The Assassin’s Creed series is often the Adventures in Odyssey equivalent of the Imagination Station

I left Christ in the Roman Coliseum; I left him to die.

Carefully scaling the Coliseum walls, I slowly made my way towards my first targets: three would-be snipers. Quietly, in succession, I stealthily stabbed each in the back. Not one of the snipers knew of my existence. I am the wind, the shadows, the reaper of death. I am justice incarnate.

My second target: saving the actor playing Jesus Christ in a play. The irony of a Passion Play in the Roman Coliseum does not escape me. Who knows how many Christians fought for their very lives within these walls? Some believers even torn to shreds by lions for the amusement of Nero and the people. I shudder in disgust and then slip on the disguise of a Roman soldier. Christ awaits my saving grace.

Events quickly unfold in a way I could not foretell. The actor playing Christ has been drugged! I effortlessly scoop him up as Borgia men flood in from all sides of the Coliseum. My mission: get Christ to a doctor. Holding him, I can clearly see his crown of thorns and the fake blood smeared on him. I know his only hope is a cure beyond the battle ensuing around me. Suddenly, the world grinds to a stop.

– Reality Confronted –

If you haven’t guessed, my PS3 locked up as I was escorting the drugged actor to a doctor. I was frustrated. A day has since gone by and I have yet to try again. My wife reminds me that it took Christ three days to resurrect, so why not give the game a rest? My conscience is restless. Nine hours of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood has left me with questions. I find myself questioning the digital bodies I have left de-rezzed; I find myself questioning what I am learning about life, beyond the fact that assassinations from the air look awesome. Perspective is everything.

I know that at the end of the day I will return and continue my “historical” Roman adventure. But I want to keep in mind that violence is reality based. Violence is also something that is worshiped within American cinema and culture. I believe that the reason on-screen violence resonates with people so much is due to the fact that it is usually carried out in the pursuit of justice. The Bible says this though:

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19 (NIV)

and this:

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! – Isaiah 30:18 (NLT)

I realize that Ezio’s actions in Brotherhood are simply a part of a fantasy world. I also realize that God is an avenger and a dealer of justice. Though I know that the worlds of fantasy and reality can sometimes blend, I want to be mindful of who and what I am allowing to shape my soul. So God help me.

Someone stole money from my office

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My boss needed an item mailed. I went to grab money out of petty cash. That is when I discovered that the money was missing. Not just the paper bills but the two heavy envelopes filled with change. The type of change that would make for a fantastic day at the arcade.

I searched my office feeling panicked. Maybe the money had fallen back behind the desk drawer? Maybe I had moved the change. Nope.

A thorough search revealed nothing. The petty cash was gone.

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I immediately went to both of my bosses. Had either of them moved/taken the petty cash? No.

The lack of suspects or even evidence led to an acceptance of cash loss. Procedures would change going forward.

Deep within us all, beats a heart that demands justice served. King Solomon speaks to this desire in Ecclesiastes 3. Concluding that justice will come in God’s time, not our own.

Silence, the lack of action, can be deafening in a situation like this. No one has come forward with any information. Could a child or even someone who shouldn’t have been in the building pulled off the heist? I’m not sure. But the need for justice screams in my heart.

Taking the Devil’s Dare

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The sound of a man’s skull being crushed by a car door, not a sound I’ll soon forget.

I know that evil exists. From the psychotically deranged, to those being held prisoner by their pasts. Evil exists in simple lies and even in some of our everyday actions. The Bible calls this depravity sin.

543435c6b649bMarvel’s Daredevil is one of the finest products Marvel has crafted on film. The characters are believable and the action is intense. And yet, I cringe as I plunge myself into the darkness of this show. Within the first few episodes I’ve witnessed:
  • A man impale himself on a spike
  • A man flatten another man’s skull with a bowling ball
  • Women tortured and treated like dirt
  • A car door used to reduce a man’s head to goo
Why is evil so compelling? What makes us watch such things? Is it a hope, a desire down deep, that things will get better? That justice is right around the corner? I’m not sure. But justice in the world of Daredevil is executed by a man who makes himself judge, jury, and executioner. Daredevil is no hero, quite the contrary, he is part of the problem.
And yet, I continue to watch.
What are your thoughts on the series?

So You Want to Start a Guild?

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For whatever reason, be it a sudden abundance of time or a willingness to destroy your life, you suddenly find yourself wanting to start a guild in your favorite MMO. Common sense would dictate that this is a terrible idea. While this may be true, more social gamers cannot deny the urge to unite the denizens of a particular world under one banner.

Truth. Justice. Life Sucking Numbness.

Being one of the great enablers of the Internet, JohnnyBGamer wishes to guide those who desire the dark path to guild leadership. Please know that once one begins this path, it is very easy to throw all time invested/ players recruited away with a snap of a finger. You’ve been warned.

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on the most popular of online games, World of Warcraft. So let us begin this march towards mayhem and total doom.

Dictionary.com defines a guild as:

an organization of persons with related interests, goals, etc., esp. one formed for mutual aid or protection.

After months and months of preparation, your moment has finally arrived. The name you have chosen to bestow upon your underlings (your guild name) has been carefully chosen. Right? If not, think about this for a moment. Your guild name must cause hearts to fear. Got a name yet? Good. Let’s continue.

In order to form a guild in World of Warcraft, one must talk with a Guild Master and purchase a guild charter (10 silver). A grand total of 9 players must sign this charter, in blood, before it can be turned into the guild master and made official. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong. Presuming one does not have 9 friends to sign the charter, other methods must be employed to obtain the signatures needed.

Bribery (one of the oldest forms of greasing the gears)

  • Offering players, who have no intention of staying in your guild, some gold for their digital signature may be worth your time. How much you might ask? Pick a number.

Power (the pathway to the soul)

  • Who wouldn’t want to have the title “Grand Taco” in your guild? Not only does this name denote power but also supreme authority. If all else fails, let the signing player give them self a title. If you don’t like it, delete them. That is why  you are the guild leader.

Secrecy (who doesn’t like a good secret?)

  • Let the signing player know of your grand schemes to destroy and rule Azeroth. It will happen one day…

If all else fails, beg. Beg as if your life depended on it. Although spamming the chat channel may prove useful if begging fails.

Once you have obtained the 9 signatures needed to proceed, return to the Guild Master. Your Warcraft dynasty has only just begun.

Join us next time as we tackle guild tabards, structure, and the need for clear expectations.