Three Things

It is only through a random quirk of fate that I am tasked with the column that posts on this site on Thanksgiving Day. As I have said many times in this space, Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday of the year. In times past, I would devote this space on this day to a message of thankfulness, putting aside any purposeful courting of controversy or any attempt to move the audience to see something in a new way. I admit that in these days of partisan rancor and a raging pandemic[1] it’s difficult to hold to that practice. I am currently sitting in my own home when normally I would be in parents’ home, preparing to celebrate the holiday. Moreover, many of the things I am thankful for this year are things that would upset at least some segment of the readership. It is truly a shame that our visions of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how we should live it out in today’s age often seem to create more division than unity.[2] Even so – I forge ahead with a few things that I find myself thankful for as we gather around our tables today .

First, I am thankful that, even in some small way, our nation this year was forced and moved to have a reckoning on the issue of race. The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, along with police violence and murders against countless others, led so many people[3] to change their positions, or wake up from their ambivalence, on the treatment of people of color in our society. Of course the backlash was swift and predictable, but I also know that the outrage was heard by people who never had their ears pricked before. I could be upset that it took this long and took more deaths for some to come to a new understanding – and sometimes I am.  Unfortunately, I am also sure that someone else in the future will die and someone who was around for these deaths will all of a sudden get the point. However, I also realize that everyone (including me) had their wake-up moments about the suffering and oppression of others outside their natural communities. In the end I am grateful that these moments happened and that each person who had them will make a change that will make this society, this world, a better place.

Second, I am thankful for what I perceive to be a national change in how we address this pandemic, come next January. My heart grieves for those families who first may not even be gathering for this holiday but who’s tables would be missing members even if they were, due to this virus. This grief stems largely from my faith. My belief in the value of every human life. My sympathy and empathy for those, not only who lost their lives or are grieving the loss of a loved one, but also those who caught it and suffered and may continue to suffer because of this virus. No one can reasonably make the argument that there was any way to avoid the massive disruption this pandemic caused. However, I believe that our national suffering could have been lessened by more effective leadership. It did not have to be this bad. This many people did not have to get the disease and die. I am looking forward to a change in the national conversation around the pandemic, a focus on stemming the tide of this disease, and moving us uniformly to a place where we can begin to create a new sense of normalcy.

Third and finally, am I truly grateful for the Spectrum community. My first piece was published on this website over ten years ago, and I have never regretted my association with Spectrum or Adventist Forum. I am thankful to Bonnie Dwyer for her leadership over the years and the many editors who have covered for me and encouraged me along the way.[4] I am grateful for every single person who has read my thoughts across the screen. I am grateful even for the people who disagreed with me over the years. In a time and space when actual church attendance is difficult for me, this community is one of the many ways that I connect with Adventist culture writ large.[5]I am thankful that Adventist Forum and Spectrum exist – places where we can learn from one another, grow together, and share the interesting and unique places that our common faith is taking us.

 

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[1] Both of which have overtly religious connections and overtones in our society.

[2] And I say that as much as a criticism of myself than of anyone who disagrees with me.

[3] And yes, here I mean white people.

[4]Specifically: Jared Wright, Alexander Carpenter, Alisa Williams, and especially Rich Hannon, who to this very day shows great patience in dealing with me.

[5] For some reason I feel it important to say that my difficulties in church attendance are more about the external circumstances than any theological or cultural issue.

 

Jason Hines is a former attorney with a doctorate in Religion, Politics, and Society from the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He is also an assistant professor at AdventHealth University. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at www.TheHinesight.Blogspot.com.

Previous Spectrum columns by Jason Hines can be found at: https://spectrummagazine.org/author/jason-hines 

Image Credit: Unsplash.com

 

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10884
3 Likes

But has it really made any difference? Are those on the far right moved any closer to the center? Or are those on the far left being moved? If the discussion is just breeze in passing, might we not get cooled down until the next fire storm? It looks to me like Jesus is the cure for the problem and until He gets control of human hearts, nothing will change (except the temperature as the unresolved problem heats-up and cools).

2 Likes

Good evening,

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading. I certainly understand the thrust of your comment, and I even share in some of its spirit. But I would say a few things in response. Whether you think this has made any difference depends on how you would define what a “difference” is. There are many individuals who had their minds, souls, and consciences pricked by the murder of George Floyd in particular. Just changing those people’s minds is a difference. But it’s more than that. Many of those people have educated themselves and continue to educate themselves about the past and present scourge of racism in our country and have/are sharing this information within their spheres of influence. I know this to be true because I have spoken with them. That is a difference. There were those who already agreed in principle but spurred themselves to further self-criticism and further action. That is a difference. There have been laws written in several states, policies changed. That is a difference. I agree that we haven’t seen the big systemic change that so many of us (myself included) yearn for, but that doesn’t mean nothing got accomplished. It would do us well to remember that the type of change we’re talking about is often a long process that includes many fits and starts. And we won’t just fix it once and be done - we’ll have to keep fixing it over and over, and we better be ready for that.

But the thing that bothers me most is the idea that the only solution to this problem is Jesus. That may be true in the ultimate sense but certainly not in the particular. Moreover, to lay this at the feet of the Savior is to absolve ourselves of the need to do all we can to end this type of oppression in our society. No one but Jesus and a particular individual can change a heart or a mind. But we can change policy. As Dr. King said, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” So we will do what we can and leave the rest to God. That’s more than changing the temperature.

Dr. Jason Hines

4 Likes

I’m just not sure, Jason. 2 billion in destroyed businesses? The town west to Hammond, where my apartments are, was looted, that is the main drag, Sibley Ave. Those businesses are going to have trouble coming back, if ever. I went to down town Chicago, and drove through the “Miracle Mile.” It was looted twice. Some stores still boards up. It is coming back, but who knows when permanently? The defund the police movement has slacked off; Minneapolis has had a crime spike, and has had to rehire police. Was it all worth it?

Just what kind of oppression are you speaking of? Are you oppressed? Is it the 1% of unarmed blacks you are talking about, most of whose shootings are justified? Like Brown who was attacking an officer. is that the kind of oppression?

Are you going with critical race theory, where every white is a racist? just wondering.

It works for cancer doesn’t it?

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