How Do You Like Your Racists?

This weekend, I took a nice run through our neighborhood. Well, it started out nice. The weather was great. Jeff Tweedy and Wilco were providing a nice and relaxing soundtrack.

And, then I turned down a street and encountered a vehicle plastered with hate-filled bumper stickers. The messages contained on this vehicle were beyond offensive. Yes, they were worse than the “Jesus is my Co-Pilot” stickers that drive me crazy (more on that another time). At the sight of the vehicle I found myself welling up with anger…and a sense of righteous indignation. I stopped to take it all in because I simply could not believe what I was seeing on a vehicle…in my neighborhood.

I found myself thinking, “How could anyone put these kinds of messages on their vehicle?” Then I thought, “Why? What is this person hoping to accomplish?”

Then it got worse because the person also had a “in case of rapture, this car will be unmanned” sticker. I’m not kidding! I would have taken a picture…but: 1) I don’t take a camera with me when I run 2) a picture would only further spread the hate-filled messages and greatly offend others.

So, not only had this person identified him/herself as a racist, he/she had also identified him/herself as a Christian.

I don’t know about you and how you interpret the Bible…But I’m convinced that the Bible is incompatible with racism.

I’m pretty sure when Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40), he did not intend that believers would only love some and hate others. And, Jesus’ interactions with the Samaritan woman and the Canaanite woman…he was breaking down all sorts of barriers…demonstrating how Jews should interact with others.

Then, I began to think about how in a round-a-bout manner I was glad this individual had displayed these stickers. He was being open and honest about who he is…And, he was letting those around him clearly know who they would be dealing with.

I mean, how do you like your racists? In or out of the closet?

Think about it for a minute…

Closeted racists are the folks that carry on as though all is normal. You develop friendships with them. You develop a great sense of trust. And, then, after they begin to feel more comfortable around you…they let down their guard and begin to make racists comments. At first, you might dismiss it…”Oh they were just joking”. Then, you begin to notice that your close friend is a racist. When you question closeted racists, they will deny it. They will make comments like, “I had a black friend in high school” or “My housekeeper is from Mexico.”

On the other hand, you have the out-of-the-closet racist. This is the kind of person who lets you know from the get-go what you are getting yourself into. They do not hold back. They wear their racists beliefs on their hats, t-shirts, skin, and bumper stickers. They don’t hesitate to make racist comments from the first moment of an initial conversation. These are the folks who will provide you with a lengthy educational statement on why the confederate flag is not racist or offensive because it represents standing “for” something…it represents “southern pride”…it represents the “joys and values of being southern”…it represents “rebelling against something you think is wrong”. While that may be how one person views the confederate flag, I don’t think it will convince those who see it as a sign of oppression and bigotry otherwise.

All of this reminds me that, while we have made great strides as a nation, we still have a long way to go. We still have a long journey ahead of us to work towards peace and unity.

Whether a racist is in or out of the closet, it is wrong and healing needs to take place. So, how do we confront racism today? In ourselves…in our churches…in our communities…in our nation…in our world?

Challenge Accepted…Team Jason vs. Team Emily

As I’ve traveled slowly down the path of this challenge, it has become clear that there are three distinctive “teams” that have developed.

First, there is “Team I Don’t Care” which is also known as “Team You Guys Are Idiots”. This “team” is made up of those who just don’t give a rip about the challenge Emily issued to me and those who simply think I am foolish for accepting such a challenge. I often refer to this team as “Team We Take Ourselves Too Seriously and Do Not Know How to Have Fun!”

Then, there is “Team Jason”. This is the team of people who are cheering me on…giving me tips on how to grow my hair. I understand that the main motivation is simply to see me with ridiculous hair. To be honest, I am okay with that!

Finally, there is “Team Emily”. This is the group of people who want to see Emily reign victorious. Now, it appears that the main motivation behind “Team Emily” supporters is the opportunity to see me do the Rerun dance in a public setting. Their motivation is my embarrassment…my public humiliation. But, what they fail to take into consideration is the fact that I simply don’t care about any kind of potential embarrassment. And, I will not fail in this challenge! So, don’t get your Rerun dance hopes up!

Hair Update: While the growth is not obvious, it is growing. The greatest proof of growth comes in the form  of the developing “baby mullet”. I have some small curls developing in the back. And, my hairline is a little better disguised. But, I have a very long way to go.

All I can say is that I already have my meal picked out at the Burger Bar when Emily finally throws in the towel. I’ll be going for the $60 Rossini burger…with kobe beef, foie gras (I dont give a rip about the controvery…I like my duck liver fattened!), and shaved truffles!!!

Challenge Accepted…What’s At Stake???

We’re not very far along in this challenge. So, the growth of my hair is not very noticable…outside of the growing numbers of white hairs making an appearance on the top…and the sides of my head.

Emily used to be polite and tell me that they were just really light blonde hairs. I have a feeling that, with this challenge, she will begin to be less polite and point out each new white hair that reveals itself. This will be her attempt to get me to throw in the towel.

After a number of days in discussion, we have settled the terms of this challenge.

If I succeed at growing my hair out like Chef Keller’s, Emily has to arrange a trip to Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys in San Francisco.

If Emily throws in the towel and begs me to cut my hair before completing the full challenge, she has to arrange a trip to Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar in St. Louis.

If I throw in the towel and give up on the challenge, I have to take Emily to the LaSalle Grill in South Bend for dinner, followed by dancing…whether it be ballroom or booty shaking…she doesn’t care…as long as she gets to see me do the Rerun dance (you only need to watch the first 45 seconds).

So, there you have it!

Where Do You Go?

This morning, while doing some devotional reading, I was reminded of the importance of finding quiet places for reflection and prayer.

When I take the time to get away from the often noisy environment of my daily life, I find that I am refreshed, renewed, and restored. I find that I am encouraged, empowered, strengthened, and ready to continue on the path God has laid before me.

Since moving to the greater Lafayette area, I have struggled to find that quiet place.

When I lived in Elkhart, I would often head to Bonneyville Mill County Park. While there, I would wander the trails and eventually end up sitting at the top of the observation tower. During this time, I would pray, I would listen, I would take in the experience of being alone in the midst of Gods creation.

When we moved to Muncie, I found the best quiet retreat was long the shore of Prairie Creek Reservoir. I’d sit on a rock as the waves crashed and enter into a time of reflection, meditation, prayer, and worship.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve not found that place in the greater Lafayette area. There are definitely some great places in the area…but I just have not had that “aha! this is it” moment.

This morning, I’ve been reminded of the importance of having that place. And, I’ve been reminded of my great need for those quiet times and quiet places for my own spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.

So, where do you go when you need to get away from it all? Where do you go to be alone with God?

“As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.” ~ Luke 5:16, The Message

Challenge Accepted…Day One

Last night, Emily issued a challenge…And, I am not one to back down from any challenge.

The challenge is to grow my hair out like Chef Hubert Keller.

So, throughout the journey, I’ll post pictures updating my progress.

This is day one of the challenge. I have a long way to go. Can anyone suggest some supplements that will encourage hair growth???