I've been following the incredible yet all too predictable situation in which the distinguished Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested for breaking and entering his own home. Here (hat tip to Mary H.) is an interview with Gates by his adult daughter, Elizabeth. Money quote:
If this had happened to you before Maggie and I were born, would your ideals and what you’ve taught us have changed?
No! The ideals stay the same. America has already been founded on great ideals. Listen, Liza. America is the greatest nation ever founded. The ideals are the greatest ever espoused in human history, and we just need the country to live up to them. But what I worry about are the 1 million black men in the prison system…
…How they got there. Will they ever get out. The whole prison system is designed to dehumanize you. From the time you get in they take your belt off—they strip you of your identity. They put you in with other criminals in a claustrophobic cell—I mean, you don’t have a shot. It’s like the door shuts and boom: you’re dead. They’ve given you a new identity; they’ve stripped your identity as a person and given you a new identity as a prisoner and that is horrifying. I didn’t realize it until I experienced it. I was astonished, you know? Your cell phone doesn’t work and they set it up that way. It’s cold, man.
What a paradox. The greatest nation ever founded. The whole prison system designed to dehumanize. The hugely disporportionate incarceration of African Americans. We've got a lot of work still to do, and pray, pray, change our hearts, Lord.
Finally, much overdue and still needing work, here is the study guide for my 2006 book One Step Closer on the fabulous and faithful band U2.Download One Step Closer Study Guide Love them or hate them (and I love them), they are huge and hugely important from a faith and culture perspective. I hope if you have a chance to use this, you'll recommend ideas for improving it. Jeni Falkman Grangaard who worked with me this past year on my Broken Hallelujah manuscript (still in the writing phase) took some time out from that project to prepare this study guide. She's awesome and did a great job. She's off on a year-long post-seminary preaching fellowship taking her and hubby Colin to Jerusalem and Nairobi. Enjoy!
I'm in Grand Rapids listening to Rob Bell at a preaching conference called Poets, Prophets and Preachers. One of the obvious but profound insights he shared on the first night was about the way a shared history of pastor and people is in the room each Sunday-- who you were and who they were and all you've done together are in a sense another actor who plays a role in how things unfold. Thinking through the ways this happens would be VERY intersting.
Anon and peace,