Zero Sum Compassion

Lord willing, this will be the second of four posts. In the last of them I want to restate and expand an apology that I offered to Thabiti in the course of our exchanges. Because I would like that apology to do as much good and make as much sense as it possibly can, I want to set the stage for it first. Please bear with me. With this post, I want to begin with my conclusion, and then work backward toward the problem. If we want to undertake the perilous task of working toward racial and ethnic harmony, I want to submit that we must do it by means of a radical God-centeredness. So I want to begin there, and then work back to some of the stumbling blocks that keep us from appealing to such a God-centeredness. As a consequence, these stumbling blocks also prevent us from actually getting anywhere. Our labors at racial harmony are often like that woman in the gospels -- the more the physicians treated her, the worse it got. This world has been a world full of tears. The histories … [Read more...]

A Fruitful Start

On the Friday morning before the recent Desiring God National Conference, I had the privilege of meeting together with a number of men to discuss various issues surrounding the central topic of racial reconciliation. The most immediate reason for the meeting was my recent online interaction with Thabiti Anyabwile, coupled with the fact that I had been invited to speak at DG. I had also been scheduled to sit down with John Piper for a two hour video interaction about the busy intersection between the gospel and culture, sponsored by Bethlehem College and Seminary. Because the ministries associated with the leadership of John Piper have long been known for their zeal in pursuing the hard work of racial harmony, it should not be surprising that there were a range of feelings about my coming to Minneapolis registered across the spectrum, from opposed, to concerned, to ambivalent, to supportive. But in some quarters there was consternation, some of it pretty intense. … [Read more...]

On Spiraling into Chaos

Wait Wait Sheep

The trial of George Zimmerman is now over, and there are perhaps a few things we can learn from the whole sorry mess. Perhaps. In the aftermath of this trial, we clearly have a highly polarized society. On the one hand, we have those who believe that a young and unarmed black man was targeted and killed simply because of his race, and who believe the "not guilty" verdict is therefore a travesty. On the other hand, we have those who believe that he was a young black man up to no good, and that he was the aggressor in his fatal encounter with Zimmerman. They were relieved at the verdict. The reason we even have trials is so that we have a ordered substitute for what such polarized societies would do in the absence of trials. What they would do is fight, riot and kill. In advanced cases of this pathology, they go to war over such things. The function of trials is to dampen the ardor of factions, crowds, and lynch mobs, not to inflame them. The irony is that Trayvon is now being … [Read more...]