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geezeronthequad – Race on Our Campus; Building Bridges Both Local and Sustainable

December 16, 2014

The American question is always “What can we do?” We’re a put-your-hands-on-it-to-make-it-better kind of people. Christianity is different; it says God doesn’t show up to help until we’re helpless and can do nothing to help ourselves. But there does come a time to show our faith by our works. What kind of works should these be? Violent protests that disrupt public order (freeways and Amtrak) and destroy private property should be scratched off the list first. Nothings discredits legitimate protest more quickly than violence and destruction. That was one of the huge lessons of the civil rights movement and general protests of the sixties.  Millions of all colors who want racial justice and reconciliation will not support violence of any kind to people or property. Students like the ones at Cal Berkeley who may have been co-opted by outsiders should give more thought to looking before they leap.

Two posts ago, I talked about making it count, being builders. The building of racial reconciliation must start at home, on the doorsteps of our own hearts and with a little history. Anyone can yell slogans and wave signs. How do we do righteousness in the streets? Here’s the reading I promised last time. Start with “Being White”. It’s a good start to help whites get the feel of race which many of us don’t have. Then three on the war against slavery. “Amazing Grace” focusing on William Wilberforce. “Bury the Chains” casts a wider net involving more than Wilberforce. The author, a 60’s Berkeley liberal and a major drive wheel of 60’s counterculture, told me in a radio interview that every protest of the sixties (civil rights, anti Vietnam, etc.) owed everything to the Christians in these two books. Third, “Bound for Canaan” shows that evangelical Christians did the heavy lifting against American slavery. A final book, “God’s Long Summer” gets us into the grit of what fighting for civil rights in Mississippi in the 60’s really was like. It was messy and complicated. Still is. All these are page turners so we won’t be bored.

Now we bring into play two words popular right now but not always in regard to racial justice. In being a builder instead of a trasher in things radical, we must become “local” and be “sustainable“. Here’s where to start. A number of campus ministries already are racially mixed. When that happens, the minorities in the group pay us a huge compliment. They stay because they sense love; never miss that or take it for granted. When it happens, the Spirit of God is cooking something special in our midst. If there is either a Black Christian group, Black students association or Black Studies Department, throw some pizzas out on the table, have them sit down with our gang and tell us about racism on our own campus – especially that might be invisible to most whites. Just listen. Next visit an ethnic church in town (black, asian or hispanic) and I don’t mean for one sunday – I’m talking four to six Sundays. Let the pastor know we’re coming and over that time period, approach several seniors asking if we might visit them in their homes to hear their stories. Be sure to take a small food gift or flowers – and Kleenex.

Now we go local. NOW protest…but do it smartly. Throw a punch; make it felt. Protesting racial justice directly can trivialize the racial issue as a whole. How? Because after many whites have done their public thing they just go home thinking they’ve done their thing for racial justice. (Here’s an interesting take on white, Western, and sometimes Christian blindness). Students can be a very insulated, self-centered group; they crawl back into their bubble.There are already serious things on campus that need some loud voices – like this. Get the black Christian groups together with others and say something about the culture of sexual violence on campuses. Standing up together in public as concerned people makes a subliminal, yet very powerful statement because we are demonstrating racial equality emanating for human concern woven into the daily life of our campus.

Finally, do something special with spring break. I know many college Christian ministries are not multi-racial. I know that this is often an outreach strategy church growth gurus used to call the “homogenous” group idea – people being most open to the Gospel in groups like themselves. Sometime it’s not strategized; it just is. Plan spring break with other ethnic Christian groups on campus to go out together and work with the poor – either urban or rural, it doesn’t matter. Salvation in Jesus into the Kingdom of God never was intended to be solitary or something to be stuffed into our own navels. Getting what Jesus did for us dirty alongside others in the lives of people broken in every way not only dissolves a host of subliminal sinful attitudes, it bonds at the deepest levels.

And while we’re not looking, the Spirit of God will do something marvellous. He will work into the fabric of our spiritual DNA an organic feel for justice issues that permeates every area of our lives. It will ripple in our spiritual musculature with a smooth and easy feel the way anything does inlaid by the Holy Spirit when we give Him lots of time, space and opportunity. And we will be builders who might need to get out on the streets once in a while but who know under God’s hand how to live to leave a mark that counts. Sustainable? This will carry us through the rest of our lives.

Christmas roars down upon us. We’ve been so busy getting “A’s” on finals that, except for twenty-eight festive beef sticks we smuggled home in our dirty laundry (Relax. They’re wrapped in plastic.), no Christmas shopping got done. That’s why throws open the doors of its Christmas store. Some cool and unusual things for those on your list or for yourself if you just want to throw them a beef stick and get something edifying for yourself.

If you think that this might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, why not consider being part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for people who are on our wave length but whom the authorities haven’t found yet. It’s a mix of students, students ministry leaders, professors, administrators, writers, artists, musicians, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, theologians, pastors, business people, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. Take a look. You’ll run across all kinds of cool things that don’t show up in the blog.

Please return you seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at



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