Jesus Justice

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I’ve been hiking the path of justice, attending bond and preliminary hearings awhilst two trips to Family Court for the “juvenile” and all I can metaphorically offer is this, my feet hurt.

I wonder if their feet hurt when they kicked down our back door while she was home?

The fact all four perps are incarcerated awaiting trial or sentencing at the time of this writing feels kinda like peeing in the snow; we made a tiny little mark on a surface that will otherwise be unnoticed.  They are criminals, period, and they deserve everything the law can muster against them.  But I know rehabilitation in our system might as well be an avenue on Neptune, because it appears impossible to get there from here.

So the Village ain’t blameless by a long shot either.  What is our takeway?  We best gather the courage to consider at least that while we posture another courage informing us all to purchase designer weapons surely soon sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond Whatever, because it feels like that is where we are headed.  I can’t help but think these days have given me a view into what I never asked for. I’ve now looked into the collective faces of the collective juveniles who will be collectively killed by the collective bullets triggered at the collective hands of citizen dwellers who are just plain fed up, to say nothing of terrified. I understand.

And that sentiment, the one telling me to take up arms, leaves me flat.

But it’s not the only thing I feel.  I’ll study that for a while I guess.  Am I less of something, less of a father, protector, red-blooded American because I am not moved to deal justice at the end of my own hands?  I pronounce no judgment on victims who feel conversely.  Who am I to say?  But my evolution hasn’t birthed me there yet, so I can’t go there.

In my now informed opinion, I believe an additional gun introduced into the situation matching the one carried by the four perpetrators would have only led to a volley of escalation and ammunition.  Those who know me best would be apt to conclude my response as the predictable measure of a liberal Christian minister.  But I think neither my theology nor my affiliation with the left side of the chamber is the seat of my sentiment.  I think my feelings come squarely from this fact: our daughter is alive and so well today, posting photos playing Maiden to a boy’s Knight in a Viking museum in Iceland.  “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and how long and how high and how deep is the love of God.”

Well, Ok, maybe there is some Theology in here somewhere.  I claim no corner on the God market, but I am more inclined to use prayer as my weapon of choice today.  Is that crazy?  Oh God. Be God. Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Tired Dating was started as a monument to enduring the stuff of relationships, primarily between husband and wife, specifically between Kevin and Alyson. There has been a thread of prayer between the keystrokes, invisibly offered and sometimes felt.  This writer’s shoulders are uncertain of many things, but that ole Holy Spirit ain’t afraid to rest on a shifting surface.  So tonight, I’ll try to cobble together a prayer for an enemy, trusting that my muted attempt of stuttering silence is enough.  It has to be.

And if you are still reading and wondering what in God’s name does this post have to do with dating my wife within these difficult times, here is my answer, as a father, protector, red-blooded American…and a prayer:  It has everything to do with dating my wife.

Everything.  Everything goddammit. Everything.

12 thoughts on “Jesus Justice

  1. Hey, just reading this and will reread it several times. It’s a lot to take in. Coming from a nonviolent perspective, the thing that comes to mine is a definition of an enemy I recently heard.
    “An enemy is someone who’s story you don’t know.”
    I make up a lot of stories about people (and institutions) but I don’t really know.

    That definition alone allows the spiritual space I want in life between me and my thoughts…..which is where the enemy image forms.

    I love the way you write.
    c

  2. “And if you are still reading and wondering what in God’s name does this post have to do with dating my wife within these difficult times, here is my answer, as a father, protector, red-blooded American…and a prayer: It has everything to do with dating my wife.
    Everything. Everything goddammit. Everything”

    Amen

    • I would think in your line of work Chris you see what happens when spouses forget their altar words during difficult seasons, not between each other, but life in general. So, for what you do as a Pastoral Counselor, I say “Amen” to that.

  3. Last night at an Adult Confirmation refresher class we were covering the stanza of the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. What a very difficult thing to do. Prayers being lifted us for you as you deal with this situation.

    • Ann-Marie, I have continually done battle this week with the words I learned long ago as a child in sunday School, words about forgiveness and loving your enemies. That’s one thing when the object is the antagonist on the kickball field wont roll you the ball the way you prefer, and another thing altogether when four criminals invade your home. Are they my enemies? Or what about the church member who says to her pastor, “you have single handedly ruined this church.” Is that an enemy? I think ‘yes’ to all three to some degree, and dang if there aren’t those words of Jesus saying, above all else, love, even when you don’t want to. I go one way, and dang it if Jesus ain’t walking the other direction yelling over his shoulder at me, “come on, go this way with me. Its better.” (And in my vision he’s wearing Chaco sandals, so that cool too.) Thanks for sharing your story from Confirmation class. Prayers for your group.

  4. Your “muted attempt at stuttering silence” will get you there, but do not rush the slow work you have been thrust into. Eighteen and a half years ago, I and the editor I worked with at the time were robbed at what we thought was gunpoint outside our office — a church leadership office. My son was six months old. My only thought was that I would never see my baby boy again. And then, they were gone. And I, like you, was thrust into a place of questioning how to respond from my faith in the good of humanity in spite of the fear that gripped me. We went to court after they were caught, two young men who had grown up down the street from our office; one cast out from the educational system early because of a learning disability. They were sentenced and our efforts to seek intervention before they returned to the streets were never adequately satisfied. I still know their names, and I sometimes become frightened that they might still know where I am because of the pocketbook I threw at them before they told us to lie face down on the ground. I also oddly find myself praying their names occasionally. I have no idea where they are now that they have completed their sentences, but it is a hard place to be as a Christ-bearer when you wonder, “Did I do my part of walking the bridge to forgiveness?”. Talk is one thing. Interaction is another and I did not go there. Should I have? I still do not know. I am just grateful I got to watch that baby grow up. I share your grief-filled joy that your child was not harmed, but, please know, I am not sure I would have been able write these same words if it had been my child who experienced what I did. Slow, slow gut-wrenching work.

    • Wow, Allison, that is a blog within a blog, and a darn good one at that. Quite a story, and thanks for sharing. I am struck with how poignant these feeling are with those who are honest to share. This is hard. Our over insulated lives create barriers to issues that we only face when they are offered to us at the extent of an outstretched violent hand. That hand with the Brass Knuckles on it, should it be cut of in medieval fashion, or should it be cast in plaster and put in a museum for us to look at and wonder, “Why?” Christ-bearing sucks sometimes because of the tension it requires. Do I strike back, do I turn, do I react or respond. Heres something: I’ve recently started re-watching The West Wing on NetFlix (Huzzah!) and this week I watch an episode from season One titled “Take This Sabbath.” It was about a death penalty case. Toby Ziegler goes to Synagogue and hears the Rabbi preach a sermon that has a repeated mantra: Vengeance is not Jewish. I wonder if Vengeance is Christian. I do know this: many, many Christians think that it is. Am I missing something? I’ll study that.

  5. Man, I really connected here. I constantly feel the back and forth of our society and what some CHILDREN are dumb enough to do. Just when we think our AMERICAN criminal justice system’ll take care of it—they choose to do nothing. “Lock em up. That’ll stop em.” Sure–for the time. Where’s the treatment…the prevention…the education so they don’t want or need to steal what is not theirs—violation of any form is unacceptable.

    The line, ” I’ll try to cobble together a prayer for an enemy, trusting that my muted attempt of stuttering silence is enough. It has to be.” is one of the best things I’ve read in a long time. It reaks of forgiveness and reconciliation–which we all know ain’t easy! Thanks AlyKev!

    • Bean, thanks, this is a tough one. What I have seen in the courts and jails this week is shocking, if not altogether terrifying. It seems the machine is so crowded and well oiled there is hardly time nor ability to slow it down long enough to dispense actual justice, or compassion when it is merited. Two of our perps where in juvenile court three years ago when they were 16…and they didn’t learn anything, at least not anything that prevented them from invading our home last week.

      But then there is that line we pray every week, right there in our face, and I will pray it differently now. What does that mean? How can that be? I guess we just keep on, and as it goes, when my door gets kicked down and when my child gets traumatized, and when I can’t form that forgiveness prayer in my mouth, you can do it for me. I think thats community. And I’ll do the same for you if and when the shoe is on another foot. Hopefully. Thanks again Beano. Thanks.

  6. He said we had to forgive our enemies and love them. He didn’t say we couldn’t be angry with them. Go with that.

    • Jim, well, the anger is definitely there, but it is not murderous. When Iw as addressing the defendant in court this week, he seemed to be truly unfamiliar with the concept of accountability. When that is lost, how can it be found? How does the gospel we preach in our safe sanctuaries make sense in unsafe streets? The only answer I can find is this: maybe the gospel needs to get out a little more, quit telling black males to pull up their pants and instead try to help them pull up their souls. how, I’m not sure. But judgment is in one, love the other. This is hard.

      • Not a new question either. Patty and I watched ‘Friendly Persuation’ last night, and the Quakers had a time of it, living out the Love.

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