Rioters cause destructionIn Minneapolis, rioters protesting the killing of George Floyd damaged more than 570 buildings and burned 67 businesses to the ground, many of them minority-owned.  In my city of Denver, rioters targeted a pedestrian mall near the state capitol, as well as museums and the public library, smashing windows, defacing statues, and spray-painting graffiti.

I’m old enough to remember similar scenes from my former city, Chicago.  A band of young radicals known as the Weathermen joined with Black Panthers and anti-war groups in 1969 to sponsor “Days of Rage” in downtown Chicago.  They blew up a statue, smashed cars and windows in a posh Gold Coast neighborhood, and made it to the Drake Hotel, where a massive police force pushed them back.

After the Black Panthers disassociated themselves from such anarchism, the movement divided and the Weathermen went underground.  Over the next few years they set off bombs in such places as the U.S. Capitol building, the Pentagon, and the Department of State.  Several leaders died in clashes with police and in a bomb-making accident, and some survivors are still serving out life sentences in prison.

Protesting

The saga of the Weathermen offers a cautionary tale.  George Floyd’s death was an outrageous injustice, one that rightly calls for anger and protest.  As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I have learned to use my anger for good…It is an energy that compels us to define what is just and unjust.”

The Weathermen, too, staged their Days of Rage as a protest, against the injustices of racism, inequality, and the Vietnam war.  But protests that begin with a noble cause may even produce the opposite of their intended effect, because of the chaos that ensues.  And as history records, no government from the right or from the left will long tolerate anarchy.

Is there any hope for our divided nation?  Now that iniquity has been exposed, must we return to adversarial politics and slogans screamed at each other across barricades?  If not, how can we make progress in tackling injustice?

In a recent article in Time magazine, author and activist Van Jones, a CNN contributor, presents a formula for working with “the other side.”  A self-described leftist, he was dismayed by Donald Trump’s victory in 2016.  Nevertheless, he decided that simply opposing Trump would not solve the underlying social problems that helped fuel his election.  “Should I stop trying to alleviate suffering in both red counties and blue cities to focus instead on discrediting [Trump]?” he asked.

Van Jones on criminal justice

Jones chose one issue, criminal justice, and worked with such unlikely allies as Newt Gingrich and the Koch brothers to craft a landmark bill on prison and sentencing reform.  The President himself rallied Republican support for the bill.  In the process, Jones learned several key principles, which I’ve adapted:

1) Pay less attention to the politics at the top and more attention to the pain at the bottom.  Jones deliberately chose a hard problem, one that nobody has been able to solve.  Addiction, racism, mental health, homelessness—these are intractable problems with no easy solution.   Only the best people on either side will touch them, he found, so you’ll start out with great partners to work with.

2) Separate battleground issues from common-ground issues Dag Hammarskjöld, who served as secretary-general of the United Nations during the tensest days of the Cold War, explained that in dealing with adversaries he would begin by searching for the smallest point of common ground.  Van Jones discovered he could work with libertarians and conservatives on criminal justice issues, which everyone agreed was a problem, while avoiding a fight with them on battleground issues such as climate change or tax policy.

(After listening to an interview with Jones, I did a quick scan of the Gospels.  I wish I had been present at some of the private conversations among Jesus’ disciples.  For example, Simon the Zealot had advocated violent rebellion against Roman occupiers, while Matthew had collaborated with those very occupiers by collecting taxes on their behalf.  Somehow Jesus kept twelve disparate followers focused on issues they shared in common.)

Black Lives Matter

3) Strive for long-term results, not complete agreement.  “Don’t convert,” says Jones; “Cooperate!” Politics can be messy, and rarely satisfies all parties.  Although committed to emancipation, Abraham Lincoln tackled the issue of slavery in gradual stages, first proposing compromises that were more acceptable to his adversaries.  Working with Congress, Lyndon Johnson won key votes for Civil Rights legislation by flattery, intimidation, cajoling, and the promise of government contracts.

In the early years after Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement fixated on overturning the ruling and getting a complete ban on abortions. When that proved impossible, they found other methods, such as counseling centers and restrictions on late-term abortions.  The annual number of abortions has since been halved.

4) Treat adversaries with respect.  Try to appeal to their best instincts, urging them to honor their own principles rather than scolding them for failing to meet yours.

I cringe every time I hear President Trump use words like thugs, deranged, human scum, and enemies of the people to describe his opponents.  Not only does he demean the office of the president, he also greatly decreases the likelihood of working with those opponents in the future.

We are living in troubled times, with an economy ravaged by a virus, and protests reminding us daily of a racial divide.  Our nation desperately needs to come together.  In a statement issued in response to the George Floyd protests, former President George W. Bush said, “The heroes of America—from Frederick Douglass, to Harriet Tubman, to Abraham Lincoln, to Martin Luther King, Jr.—are heroes of unity.  Their calling has never been for the fainthearted.  They often revealed the nation’s disturbing bigotry and exploitation—stains on our character sometimes difficult for the American majority to examine.  We can only see the reality of America’s need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised.”

Mural to commemorate George Floyd's death (Photo by Connor Barth)

“Daddy changed the world!” said George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter in a video that went viral.  Whether that proves true remains to be seen.  Floyd’s death did, however, open the world’s eyes to how far we fall short of the American ideal that all people are created equal with rights endowed by God.

Former President Bush concluded his statement by saying, “We love our neighbors as ourselves when we treat them as equals, in both protection and compassion.  There is a better way—the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice.  I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.”

Truthfully, I don’t have that same confidence…yet.  But I’m praying for it, and committed to working toward it.

 

 

 

 

 

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54 responses to “After the Protests and Riots, What?”

  1. Sue says:

    Two excellent men who speak from experience & biblical knowledge on racism.

    Voddie Baucham, Jr.
    Robert Woodson (Robert Woodson Institute)

  2. Guy Manuell says:

    My blog (www.gmanuell.com from Australia) dated 14 June 2020 considered the terms ‘race’ and ‘racism’ with respect to differences in human beings. I repeat what I said then and will expand on it.
    The God of the Bible doesn’t recognise races, except one human race. He doesn’t think in terms of ‘black lives matter’—He thinks that every single life (that He created!) matters. This God only recognises individuals. God wants to love and care for everyone personally: as someone for whom His Son, the Lord Jesus, shed His blood so that all of us could avoid shedding one another’s blood.
    As shown below, ‘race’ is a fiction of the human mind but ‘racism’ is the real thing: the judging people of different so-called ‘races’ as superior or inferior to one another. Much (but not all) of racism is based on the colour of a person’s skin—something over which they had no control when they were born.
    I am puzzled that most Christians do not seem to recognise this fundamental truth and that they do not react strongly in rejecting the concept of various human ‘races.’ This rejection of ‘race’ provides a wonderful opportunity for Christians to tell the world a new story which changes all our presuppositions concerning the interaction of different people, no matter what their differences: physical, mental or emotional.
    ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.’ (Psalm 51:10)
    We need to understand the modern origin of the concept of different ‘races’ amongst humanity to see how evil is this notion. There have always been differences between groups of people based on location, language, culture and religion and, regrettably, that has caused the death of millions. I don’t expect that to change. But the addition of ‘race’ to this list only broadens the opportunity for demeaning people.
    Would this solve the problem? Not at all! This word could easily be replaced by ‘tribe/tribalism’ or some other term. The underlying issue is the disposition of our heart and mind. Some catchy slogans reflect this:
    • The problem of the heart is the heart of the problem.
    • It is a sin problem, not a skin problem.
    • It’s grace, not race, that matters.
    The classification of people into different ‘races’ is of relatively recent origin when that term is considered in the broad sweep of human history.
    Carl Linnaeus (1707-78) was a Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician, who is regarded the father of taxonomy because he invented the modern system of naming organisms (animals, plants and minerals). He was a brilliant man whose great contribution to science is acknowledged the world over. He was also a man of strong Christian conviction. However, he took one step too far when he decided to include humanity in his taxonomical investigations. Linnaeus noted the similar taxonomy of monkeys and human beings and decided that there was no difference between them, except for human speech.#
    He initially classified humans and monkeys as part of the same taxonomical group known as ‘Anthropomorpha,’ meaning ‘man-like.’ He invented the ‘scientific’ notion that humanity could be divided into four races: initially, he started with whitish European, reddish American, tawny Asian and blackish African.* He changed and increased these descriptions over time; nevertheless, Linnaeus always believed that humans and apes both belonged to the animal kingdom and should be classified accordingly. He gave humans the name, ‘homo sapiens.’
    Of course, this raised difficult issues for theologians and natural historians. The Bible’s teaching is clear. Humans were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and designed to rule His creation on earth (Genesis 1:26, 28). Male and female humans were something that God had not created before. How could the distinct ruler of everything on earth, at the same time, be part of the ruled?
    In response to criticism from a German botanist, Johann Georg Gmelin, Linnaeus replied in a letter dated 25 February 1747 (my emphases):

    ‘It does not please [you] that I’ve placed Man among the Anthropomorpha, perhaps because of the term ‘with human form,’ but man learns to know himself. Let’s not quibble over words. It will be the same to me whatever name we apply. But I seek from you and from the whole world a generic difference between man and simian [apes] that [follows] from the principles of Natural History. I absolutely know of none.’@

    In historical terms, Linnaeus won. Since then, a human being was considered to be part of the animal kingdom and, similarly, could be classified into different groups. My earlier blog noted the dreadful impact of theories generated by the influential Blumenbach in the 1770s, derived from Linnaeus’ conclusions. To criticise the ideas of these people is not to condemn them morally. But it is legitimate to reject their conclusions.
    Many Christians, in particular, appear to have learnt little from the disastrous slave trade of the UK, USA and European countries; systemic cultural and legal discrimination in the USA; apartheid in South Africa; and the horrors of Nazi Germany. These outcomes are all based on the ideas of failed human thinking.
    Everyone who discusses ‘race’ according to classifications of the one race of human beings is demeaning those (every one of them, including themselves!!) who were and are created in the image of God by subdividing them into different groups.
    By accepting the ‘science’(?!) of people like Linnaeus and Blumenbach, people everywhere are confirming the apostle Paul’s criticism of humanity:
    ‘For even though they knew God, they did not honour Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.’ (Romans 1:21-22)
    Christians need to stand up for the truth by rejecting the notion of ‘race’ amongst human beings once and for all. That will begin a decline in racism. That would be a small step forward for Christians.

    * See Braziel, Jana Evans, ‘Genre, race, erasure: a genealogical critique of “American” autobiography,’ in J A Young & J E Braziel (eds), ‘Erasing Public Memory: Race, Aesthetics, and Cultural Amnesia in the Americas’ (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2007), 35-70.
    # For these references, see Frängsmyr, Tore, Sten Lindroth, Gunnar Erikson & Gunnar Broberg, ‘Linnaeus, the Man and his Work’ (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983), 159, 166, 175.
    @ Gribbin, Mary & John Gribbin, ‘Flower Hunters’ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 56.

  3. Daniel says:

    Greetings Mr. Yancey;
    I have been blessed by your books and your talks over the years and I was looking forward to hear what you had to say about the RIGHTEOUS PROTESTS that are going on around the country and all over the world to bring an end to POLICE BRUTALITY AND SYSTEMIC RACISM. After reading your post I realized that what captured your imagination was the damage caused to property and the “similarity” between the BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS and a disbanded 60’s militant Marxist organization. One of the popular chants at the various protests we have been witnessing is , ” What’s his/her name”? There is a reason for that. White America , especially white Evangelical/Protestant America,doesn’t want to hear the names of the countless men and women that have been gunned down by the police.White Evangelical Christians bend over back wards to white wash the DIABOLICAL SIN OF RACISM. This is very unfortunate. White America is content to live comfortably, continuing to enjoy the benefits of white privilege and systemic racism while Black America suffers from both the lived out legacy of slavery and systemic racism. What adds insult to injury is the stubborn and arrogant refusal of WHITE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS to come to grips with this reality and repent and join hands with their black brothers and sisters to get rid of this scourge. White America is yet to realize that WHITE SILENCE IS VIOLENCE. I will give you three examples to illustrate my case. During the past month , three leading white evangelicals made outrageous statements about the current situation. Two are mega church pastors and one is the president of a well known christian university. Let me start with the “enlightened” university president. Due to his opposition to a mask mandate in the state he lives in, he thought it appropriate to post a racist picture just to score political points. Result, black faculty and students are leaving. A white evangelical pastor of a mega church from your birth state suggested that ” white privilege” triggers white people. So his solution, “instead of using the phrase white privilege, let us call it “white blessings” because white people are living in the blessing of slavery that built the frame work they live in today. Last but not least, another white evangelical pastor and televangelist from the mid west called slavery ” a birth defect” . Not a sin, not an abomination , a ” birth defect”. I wish I was making this up, but I am not. So in closing Mr. Yancey, I have heard you say in many interviews that the books you write are a result of your attempt to understand a subject matter you don’t understand fully. As a result , you have blessed millions ( my self included ) with your writings. It’s my hope that you will research and study this painful subject matter and use your pen and platform to bring about true repentance and healing to a nation that desperately needs it.May God bless you and your family and may He heal our nation.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I appreciate your spirit, your passion, and your practical suggestions. I began the post with the riots because those white evangelicals are exactly the people I would like to reach–I am one, after all. Many wrongly dismiss the legitimacy of protests because of the violence and chaos that took place. I started with the common ground that we all should agree on, and then hoped to work toward ways to move forward. Don’t give up, please. We need your voice.

  4. Glenn Allen says:

    Christians know and believe we live in a broken world. Racism as defined by white treatment of people of color is but one example of our brokenness. It is but one battle and has but one solution…..Grace. Without Grace there is no resolution.
    Our collective brokenness is massive. 65,000,000 people died during the reign of communism in the USSR. Racism was not the motive. Slavery is a bigger global issue now than 200 years ago. Few white prople are involved. Racism is not the motive.
    When God offered his Son to us wretches, a manual was written for the salvation of mankind. That is the foundation upon which we must build. Nothing less.

  5. Ferdinand Nakila says:

    I love this article. Generally this is the idea that’s been floating in my head as I think of the Philippines, my country of origin. A highly polarized politics will do no good to any society. A common/neutral ground should be sought through commonly agreed ideals to make things work for good of the majority. That’s the role of a government if it is to make a civilized society functioning and strong. It should go beyong personal and party interest. Highly polarized personality politics is still very much alive not just in the USA. I think it has become a worlwide trend. I think we need a leader who would not see a politically divided country. We need a unifier, a strong influence with leadership skills that can make people work in the middle ground, if we don’t want to see this great country fall apart.

  6. Dale says:

    It seems we can never get to answers because we are afraid to look at the root of the problem, Certain ideologies are like a cancer that infect and destroy anything it touches, it can happen to the church and it can happened to America. Right will be wrong and wrong will be right. As a teenager I used to think, how can that happen, fair minded people would obviously see through the the lies of the enemy and stand for what is pure and right.
    Pastor Tony Campolo, who I don’t always agree with, once said to a group of Christians, “I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.” I realized when I heard that quote that our eyes are on the lesser things and not the greater things. I’m not sure where the Luther’s are in the world anymore, someone to stand up to inequities and people without always having a to make moral comparisons.
    We are all flawed, but we have to at least be able to discern what is good so that we can see what is evil.
    I was encouraged to read a letter from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that was posted online last week. I am not catholic, but I was literately brought to tears with what seamed to me to be a wise man simply focusing on the greater things and not the lesser. I believe It took courage to write that letter, courage is the rarest of all good traits, we need more of it. Courage coupled with truth can still win the day.

  7. Nancy Walter says:

    I am really dusappointed in your post. I feel it dismisses the protesters’ anguish, not just over the death of George Floyd, but that of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and many, many others. Although driven by 400 years of rage, the protests were peaceful and have already begun to bear fruit. It has been documented that much of the damage and looting were begun by outside agitators—many of them white—to discredit the protests. And I can give you examples of the police committing unprovoked acts of brutality. Comparing the protestors to the Weather Underground is unfair as the former is synonomous destruction. As I said, some came to the current protests for that same purpose. And sometimes, rage comes out in a very visceral way.

    I don’t know if you have looked at the comments on the Facebook posting of your words, but many, many are nasty, to put it mildly. The are more concerned with property than injustice. And they blame the Democrats, liberals, etc. Precious little understanding or common ground to be found.

    Other commentators have pointed you toward black authors writing on racism, I would recommend them, as well.

    I have enjoyed your books very much, but not this. Racism was constructed by whites and is up to us to dismantle it. I don’t believe you helped that cause.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I agree with your post. I may have erred in starting with the rioters (which I distinguish from the protesters). Mainly, I was trying to address those who dismiss the protests because of the riots which, as you say, were in many cases led by troublemakers and not legitimate protesters. The protests were absolutely called for. Racism is pandemic in our nation, and I hope we use this opportunity to keep it front and center. I had hoped that Van Jones’s suggestions would point some way toward bridge-building. The responses aren’t encouraging.

  8. Ipe Mavunkal says:

    What I like about you is your willingness to accept others just as they are. I read CNN though many advised me to go for Fox News. I am not a fan of anyone on CNN but am interested to be conscious of how hard certain people manipulate things for their own ends. I guess that is quite human. I am not at all surprised to see the ‘lift’ you have given to Van Jones. You have such a great heart and am thankful to God your magnanimity. I would rather watch Julius Malema as it would provide moments to have a good chuckle. Personally, I believe that the things we are witnessing will continue to happen if we Christians fail to demonstrate to the world how to treat our fellow human beings as human beings who are made in the image of God.
    On a lighter note, both myself and my wife had the same thoughts on June 04 (though we are stuck on different continents due to the antics of a sub-micron entity.) Los Angeles was burning when our son was born in LA due to Rodney King related issues. And the whole of America was burning when he got married in Vancouver, BC on June 04!
    Thanks Philip for your insights that help many to look at things through the lens of Christ.

  9. Dianne Lami says:

    Again, Mr. Yancey, your blog-post makes me think.
    I want to do something about the injustice and I am still searching as to what that will look like. Don’t you find it so interesting to read all these comments? So many diverse opinions and views on all this angst and unrest in our nation right now. So many ways to look at this very hard, complex aspect of our nation. I’ve finally figured out one thing – there is absolutely no one answer to this highly volatile season in our country.
    What I do know is that as a Believer, I am praying for our churches to kneel in repentance; stand up and speak Truth of the Word of God; and to open their arms and hearts wide to love. Love those who are near and welcome them to their space of worship. And I’m praying that I’ll listen better to those who voice their concerns and pray that I’ll hear their heart and respect theirs. Thank you for sharing your heart. Always good to read your posts. Continue!

  10. Carolyn Martinez says:

    I want to reply to Paul Mitchell, who equated the words Trump uses with those used by Jesus and Paul. May I point out to Mr. Mitchell that the evil people denounced by Jesus and Paul actually were bad people who opposed truth and the gospel. On the other hand, Trump uses terrible invectives to describe those who disagree with him even though they are almost always people of character and integrity who commit the crime of opposing him in some way.

  11. Jerry Lingle says:

    The church’s duty has always been to confront skepticism and answer it by clearly proclaiming the truth God has revealed in His Word. We have been given a clear message for the purpose of confronting the world’s unbelief. That is what we are called, commanded, and commissioned to do (1 Corinthians 1:17-31). Faithfulness to Christ demands it. The honor of God requires it. We cannot sit by and do nothing while worldly, revisionist, and skeptical attitudes about truth are infiltrating the church. We must not embrace such confusion in the name of charity, collegiality, or unity. We have to stand and fight for the truth—and be prepared to die for it—as faithful Christians always have.

    Wokeism is a nasty religious cult. They routinely declare people guilty for the sins of others, elicit rote confessions, and refuse absolution. They have no place for forgiveness, no doctrine of atonement, and therefore no redemption, ever. Your kneeling won’t satisfy them.

  12. Maya says:

    Once again I fail to understand How can any Christians defend Trumps behaviour? To tear gas peaceful protestors for a bible photo-op? To threaten peaceful protestors? Todivide and promote hatred at every opportunity? IN what way does he resemble our Lord?
    If he was in one of our churches would he not be rebuked? and challenged?

  13. Paul Mitchell says:

    Philip, please check my thinking here. You say “I cringe every time I hear President Trump use words like thugs, deranged, human scum, and enemies of the people to describe his opponents. Not only does he demean the office of the president, he also greatly decreases the likelihood of working with those opponents in the future.”

    I would hold that invective, used as a last resort and in complete accuracy, is actually wise and godly. Didn’t Jesus (Mt. 12:34 & other locations) also called his opponents at times “whitewashed tombs,” “snakes,” “vipers,” “hypocrites,” “fools”, and ‘sons of the devil’–? Paul wasn’t gentle or cooperative mood when he said of his Judaizing, circumcizing enemies, “As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Gal 5:12, NIV, and WOW!!!) Such blasting statements were given when they no longer saw any chance of a “likelihood of working with those opponents in the future.” Did Jesus or Paul “demean their office” in saying such things? When people burn their own neighborhoods and their governments do nothing, isn’t it time to speak plainly?

    Fools in government and fool-agitators running in the streets, evil all. Doesn’t Prov 26:5 says, “Answer a fool according to his folly (‘call a spade a spade’!!), or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Paul condemned Peter and Barnabas PUBLICLY because what they did was a public matter (Gal. 2:11-13). Evil rulers and fools running the streets, all doing evil IN PUBLIC, absent gentle means, must be condemned PUBLICLY in no uncertain terms, even as Jesus and Paul did. My only problem is to not jump the gun and say so right out of the chute, which is to be human.

  14. Thank you so much Mr. Yancey for your permission.
    If you want, I can send you the translation of the document into Spanish.
    May God continuos using you.

  15. Robert Taylor says:

    Hi Philip: How do we counter the attitude of racism? For me who was raised by family from the South it was getting to know African Americans on a personal basis. My journey out of racism began with me being the only caucasian on our high school track team and continued with me as an attorney in a prolonged trial before an African American judge whom I got to know and deeply respect. One of the finest people I know is my African American nephew. “You have to be carefully taught” from South Pacific movie was a song I will never forget and it applicable to racist attitudes as well as other ways we treat other humans. So, the Nazi tactic against the Jews was to teach that they were less than human. Currently, we have a lie being taught that a baby in the womb is not yet a person until born. Regarding the violence in these recent protests I have heard that this was primarily instigated by those who were more interested in overthrowing our country than in helping defeat racism. In support of this view, witness the fact that the main damage was done to neighborhoods that served the African American community. As an aside I just finished reading your older book “The Jesus That I Never Knew” and it was wonderful and hopefully life-changing. Miss having you come to Hawaii. Robert R. Taylor

  16. Mr. Yancey, if only could have a president who sees things as you do.

  17. Melanie S Baker says:

    I love the Lord, and commit to passionately pursuing his heart. Thank you for this fair coverage of the sad reality facing our nation. I commit to forgiveness and reconciliation but i’m alarmed that so many White Evangelicals don’t see what the problem is. The issue of criminal justice reform and reforming policing as an American institution needs to be part of our discussion as Blacks and Whites seeking to come to oneness in Christ. My sons are dignified, gentle young men, 16, with autism, 14 and 11; 3 boys. Yet, there’s a legitimate concern that their humanity would come under onslaught in interaction with the police. Even acknowledging this very different reality of Black moms and White moms in this country can be a starting point for conversation. What’s most alarming is that in its silence, White Evangelicals perpetuate the hatred, because the sons that inflict the damage grew up in homes in which they didn’t learn to love all people as equal before God. There’s a message they didn’t receive around the dinner table that’s crystallized through a broken system. As an intercessor, I commit to praying for our young men that they learn to walk in the forgiveness, the courage to love and forgive that Dr. King showed, the example of Christ. But where are the white moms saying, something has gone wrong with our own boys, who perpetuate indignities against Blacks, great and small. That’s a big part of the discussion that we need to be having, a tough conversation, but necessary, for healing to take place!

  18. Still Homeless in the Tents

    Hear a soon soulless person
    on the restless filthy streets,
    the swarming lost lives,
    of a sullen, frightened city.

    Hear her in the neon gloom
    of endless allies forgotten.
    Finding no equal justice
    in callous courts of clay.

    Cynical judges, burned-out,
    With dead or slowly dying hope.
    Politicians in liberal postures,
    Spouting false or empty words.

    A needle or bottled comfort,
    to sooth another night alone.
    Hear a lonely soul forgotten,
    Homeless in the city tents.

  19. Mark says:

    Thanks for this, I appreciate the wisdom shared. Point #3 seems lost in the prominent cancel culture we’re living.

  20. Marvin M. Cole says:

    I am not a scholar, but believe you will find that Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. obtained inspiration for their practices from a little book by Henry David Thoreau titled “Civil Disobedience.” Thoreau, as you recall, spent the night in jail for refusing to pay taxes which he felt supported slavery.
    Greater minds correct me.

  21. Deborah Pinnell says:

    The unknown of “what next” is what most people struggle with. We just individually have to take responsibility for our own actions past, present and future. I am not responsible for every wrong done by anyone I happen to share a skin color with. I also do not group anyone or label anyone based on their skin color. I think racism is being used to promote Marxism and for political gain. Does racism exist? Yes all races have their preconceived notions about other races. We can understand what we do not know. We can relate to what we have not experienced. Growing up in a housing project in rural South Carolina I was one of two families living in an all black complex. I experienced racism from every side. The whites because I had black friends and the blacks because I was white. This was in the 70’s and 80’s when confederate flags were everywhere. I saw the prejudice of two cultures colliding and I was right in the middle with a choice to make. I chose to not react to how others act. I chose not to choose sides but try to see things from both perspectives. I chose to love my neighbor and my enemy alike. Seeing any enemy I had obviously did not know me or they would see I am not the enemy of anyone. Because I am white does not mean I have an agenda to promote my race. I am a Christ follower and bringing glory to Him is my only aspiration. What next should be rising up in love fir one another and joining forces against the enemy of our souls who has no flesh or blood or sexual identity or gender or any other distinguishing factor other than his goal to divide and conquer kill and destroy.

  22. William (Bill) Scully says:

    Thank you, Philip, for another thought-provoker. Those who “cringe” over some of Trump’s language should remember that he is a no-nonsense, rough-around-the-edges New Yorker. They have their language. It won’t change. It’s one of the reasons he got elected. The Message Bible puts Matthew 7:16 this way, “Who preachers ARE is the main thing, not what they say.” Trump has done more for black Americans than any president in recent memory – – much more. And look at the heart warming tributes he gave black Americans during his last State of the Union Address.
    Didn’t you suggest that we should “separate battleground issues from common-ground issues”?

  23. Jade says:

    Thank you for such a moving post that is clearly rooted in the Word. I appreciate the way you explain your perspective without a politically persuasive agenda. You look at the state of the world as it is, not through a bias political lens. You are one of my favorite authors by the way!

    What is the role of the church in times of such chaos? I feel like we, as a body of believers, haven’t done enough to address social issues. This is no way meant to invalidate the amazing work and hearts of Christians who are already carrying out their faith. I want to do more, I want to drastically approach how I love & serve others. I feel personally convicted & disappointed in myself for not doing more and I’m inspired by those who are truly living out the gospel. For example, when a disaster strikes, organizations like Samaritan’s Purse are known for bringing aid. In the 60s the black church was active in civil rights issues, while the white church sat passively by. I don’t want to be passive anymore regarding any single thing. There are so many issues and problems in our world that need God’s healing hand. Some churches are doing so much, and some are doing none. We are missing opportunities left and right. Shouldn’t we (the church) be at the forefront and the example for actively loving/serving in EVERY AREA of the hurting world? And why do you think we aren’t as a body doing more? I don’t think that Christians are known in this country for being the first to lovingly respond to issues. It’s not about converting people, the Holy Spirit does that, but it’s about being available to be used by the Lord to show His heart to people in every crisis. Christ is the solution, but how do we actively/effectively offer our Hope in these times? The question I am prayerfully asking is, what does that look like?

    I hope this comment makes sense, I am not very concise or eloquent like many other commenters.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I disagree, Jade–but only with your last sentence. You are eloquent, and get right to the essential point. –Philip

  24. I appreciated your comments, as always. As far as the verbiage he uses, I admit they are not very presidential, but with his being raised in the rough ‘n tumble streets of New York, it might originate in his idea of surviving. Also, with seemingly everyone being against him, and the enormous issues of pandemic, economic disaster, and racial uprisings in this election year, I don’t know how many people could remain standing. I don’t appreciate some of the language my husband and our neighbor friend uses, but I see/know the whole person, and it is not my place to change them.

    Re your comment re Jesus and His disciples, there actually is a conversation speaking to your point in the 8th episode of The Chosen, I believe.

  25. Maya says:

    What distresses me most is the number of white ‘Christians’ especially evangelicals who have voted for Trump, looked the other way when it has been clear he lies, is racist and has encouraged the worst violent and racist elements in society, excused the way he has spoken about and treated women and the disabled. The list goes on. He does not match up to any biblical, christian standard.When it is clear he does not know the Bible or love it. That he worships money and used his office to accumulate personal wealth. That he listens to the worst prosperity gospel evangelists.
    Are thye listening to another God? Can we all behave as Trump does?
    One can explain or understand what motivates Trump-but those who claim to be christians and support him? Hopefully there eyes are a little more open. But if they justify themselves by finger pointing at the rioting and looting(ignoring the many peaceful protests, ignoring that white nationalists and even police have been recorded doing some of this to lay the blame on others), then we have advanced litlle in the last 50 years. And the God of Justiceis not blind to this.
    So

  26. Doug Yancey says:

    I fear our society will get worse before it gets better. There may come at time—possibly sooner than we think—that the only solution may be the coming of our Lord in glory.

  27. Dear Mr. Yancey, I am a Chilean missionary and pastor, who for many years have followed your writings with great interest. I would like to know if you would allow me to translate this document from English to Spanish (my mother tongue), to publish it on some social networks. I’ve interest in sharing your thoughts. Thank you in advance for your kindness in responding. God be with you,

  28. Molly laset says:

    My eyes glazed over after you praised Van Jones.
    From Van Jones, two weeks ago:

    “Now, even the most liberal, well intentioned white person has a virus in his or her brain that can be activated at an instant. And so what you’re seeing now is a curtain Falling Away. Look in the mirror cat how YOU choke off black opportunity, how YOU choke off black dignity how YOU behave people are now Fed Up. We, the people [they] are telling me they’re tired of hashtags. It’s not the racist white person who’s in the Klu Klux Klan that we have to worry about and James Baldwin said it best white people in these situations are always innocence, are always “innocent”.
    They say: ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this teach me educate me. Help me understand……. Tell me something tell me what to do!’
    Oh, white people are “always” innocent and their innocence constitutes them.
    It is too late to be “innocent.” -Van Jones”

    There is no possibility of love coming from someone who can say that.

    Oh, btw, I’m not a Republican. I’m independent. I quit because of racist old proaborts rhinos like George Bush and John McCain.
    The biggest irony is the money being raised by BLM is getting funneled to the DNC, the bastion of old white supremacists who kicked God out of their platform and think the only good baby is a dead baby, black or white.
    Look it up.

  29. Phillip, it’s been many years since first knowing at an EPA conference in Denver and then again as a Zondervan author in the ’80s. Throughout the years since, whenever I’ve felt trampled by “the church,” you’ve been the singular voice that keeps me engaged. So first, thank you for that.

    A second thank you goes to you for this particular posting. I cut my teeth on writing as skinny white girl from a two-room beach school outside of Vancouver BC, immigrating to America, where I landed in Ann Arbor, MI, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Detroit and race riots were but 30 miles away and this culture shock has never left me. Mr. Stewart had me reading books like Black Like Me, To Kill a Mocking Bird, 1984, Animal Farm and he taught me how to think. For a year, I had to write essays based on the authors’ theses. If I was weak in my logic or structure or presentation, he questioned me and made me rework. This went on, a back and forth, until he was satisfied with my focus and voice.

    The result is that at 12 years old, I became obsessed with social and racial justice. MLK, Bobby Kennedy, Dick Gregory–heroes, and my writing is and has been informed by social inequity of any kind. But lately, I have been so disturbed by what is happening I can’t find articulation that serves a forward perspective. The lengthy response to your blog is simply to say I am grateful you have not gotten overwhelmed and manage to stay balanced. Merci.

    Thank you, too, for your many years of insight and Christian direction.

    Sincerely, Be

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Good to hear from you, Brenda! I didn’t know some of the background that you describe. Please don’t give up; we need your perspective.

  30. Mike Mueller says:

    Thanks for your honest comments that actually makes sense. We have to have hard conversations without getting offended. I served in Vietnam and know exactly the war demonstrations you’re speaking of. I had several friends that defected during that war but I understood their stand and respected it. I chose to serve my country even though I was not in agreement with it at the time.
    Whatever political party you support or don’t support on matters if we can talk and communicate without the hate and bias we can accomplish change for the good.
    I pray daily that we all search God first and follow Him in decisions.

  31. Retina Christian says:

    Mr Yancey I’m shockingly surprised at your perspective regarding the “Black Lives Matter” protests throughout America and globally.
    For a person of faith who often write emphatically objective about being disappointed with God you lacked both this time.
    You seemed to focus looting, rioting so much that you used specific examples of history to make such a point.
    You even focused on quoting Mahatma Gandhi as if he was the one called and lead the Civil Rights Movement when in fact it was simply his principle of Nonviolence that Dr Martin Luther King, Jr faithfully followed as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement.
    Nevertheless, when questioned about the rioting in the 60’s this is part of his response:
    “I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to
    stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
    You then focused on sharing a solution offered by Van Jones but you didn’t show the interview in which he articulated and revealed his pain that every Black American, especially Black men and boys experience in this country.
    Mr Yancey you question ” Where Do We Go From Here?” The answer begins with you as a White American man to call out what the disease of this country is- Racism.
    Protest and rioting revealed the yet again unresolved pain, trauma, suppressed anger of Black Americans who’ve been shown their lives don’t matter and systemic policies have supported such claim. as Sheila Wise Rowe states from her book Healing Racial Trauma:
    “People of color have endured traumatic histories and almost daily assaults on our dignity, and we are told to get over it. We have prayed about the racism, been in denial or acted out in anger, but we have not known how to individually or collectively pursue healing from the racial trauma.”
    Since you asked “Where Do We Go From Here?” I suggest you purchase the three (3) books listed to assist you in becoming antiracist.
    Blessings on your journey.

    1.How To Be An Antiracist by
    Ibram Kendi
    2. White Fragility
    Why it’s so hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
    3. Healing Racial Trauma The Road To Resilience

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Thank you. I will try to get and read those books. One of my goals was to communicate to those Americans who dismiss the legitimate protests because of the rioting (much of which was caused by outsiders, according to Minneapolis arrest records), and I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear enough. As for Martin Luther King Jr., I devoted a chapter in Soul Survivor to the profound influence he had on me. Oh, how we could use his voice today.

  32. Anne says:

    Philip, I am reading The Bible that Jesus Read. I just finished the chapter on Job and how Satan was able to destroy Job with God’s permission. Is Satan involved in the same way?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Now that’s a truly unique perspective! Thought-provoking, and I don’t know how to answer. Old Screwtape does indeed love division, confusion, and hypocrisy.

  33. Abel says:

    Truthfully, I don’t have that same confident… because this is what is happening all over the world. Maybe these conflicts will intensify in the days to come. Not many are willing to take the medicine that our Great Physician brought to this planet- love and compassion. So His prophecies in Matthew 24 have to be fulfilled in our days. These warning signals for us to be ALERT.

  34. Thank you for saying what is breaking my heart: “I cringe every time I hear President Trump use words like thugs, deranged, human scum, and enemies of the people to describe his opponents. Not only does he demean the office of the president, he also greatly decreases the likelihood of working with those opponents in the future.”

    Barbara Smith

  35. Vahen King says:

    Thank you for this Mr. Philip.
    Well said. It’s the harsh reality of humility but we needs to be addressed! AND fought for!
    I’m crazy enough to believe in the words spoken by Floyd’s 6 year old daughter.
    .
    Rob Siltanen….
    “The ones who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are often the ones who do”
    .
    And whether or not I ever do, I’m crazy enough to believe that with God’s help I CAN! WE CAN!
    .
    Love and prayers
    Vahen
    .

  36. CD says:

    I noticed you fail to mention one absent party in your piece, the church. You would think it would be leading the charge for changes and be a thermostat. As it was in 1960’s, it’s on the sidelines and silent. As a black Christian that is what grieves me the most.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Could I amend your comment? Many in the white church sat silent on the sidelines in the 1960s, but the black church profoundly led the way. MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail expresses his pain over the very thing you mention. –Philip

  37. Good Morning Philip, thank you once again for speaking to this difficult subject and the shameful incidents of our current times. I have hope that we earnestly put forth the strongest desire to find the best methods for the cause of uniting as well as a love for our neighbor as our Lord taught us, His words were not suggestions, rather commands. It is true that we live in a divided country brought on by selfish, self centered, bigotry with power hungry individuals who couldn’t tell the truth for a thousand dollars, but would tell us a lie for a nickel. Any person who attacks another by word or by action and uses false ideals to gain influence is an evil partaker with Satan.

  38. virginia youdale says:

    I was hoping for some of yhour words of wisdom on this sad state of affairs. Teh really sad thing too is that these scenes of violence and protest have spread to other countries, as if we did not have enough to cope with with the corona virus! I always pray that instead of being violent these demos would be showing up the racism in our countries by loving our neighbours!
    Thank you for your insight. I still hope to meet you one day!

  39. Nick Ragain says:

    Thanks for your leadership, context, and love for people Philip! The story we are witnessing has been told throughout the centuries with varying context. At the root of the problem is imperfect people running imperfect institutions and iterates again why Christ is the sole revolutionary. Healing can only be achieved through Him and His message.

  40. I also pray and commit to help.

  41. John Grant says:

    Humans will always be most proud of their own race. That will never change.
    We can be considerate of other races but like many things to be our own. That is why as Christians there are exclusively black churches and white churches, all worshiping the same God in their distinctive way. So be it, we should not insist either has to change and mix it up equally.
    How many denominations are worshiping God each Sunday? Christians have different views.
    Not negative as it seems but a reality and riots nor anything else will change that.

  42. Bruce Allen says:

    Thank you for your words. Our divided, broken nation needs more voices like yours, voices of humility, love and compassion. Keep shining your light!

  43. patrick k yoakum says:

    Doesn’t everyone want justice, righteousness, equity, kindness, security, peace?

  44. Lewis Codington says:

    Bless you! Thank you for your words of wisdom!

  45. Faith Donaldson says:

    My attempts these last four years has been to embrace everyone’s right to have their opinion. At times I have succeeded – yet, many times I failed.
    I realized that first I must establish the peace that surpasses all understanding within me. I committed to make this a main focus of my journey.
    As this peace has grown in me – this peace is flowing more freely onto others; but I first had to take responsibility to give peace a chance to grow in me – and honestly. . . it is still maturing.

  46. Teresa says:

    If one is not pursuing being anti-racist and listening and learning from anti-racist leaders. You are part of the problem and not the solution. Austin Channing Brown. Dr Ibram X Kendi Latasha Morrison and so many more.

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