Category: Suffering

A Prayer for the Mothers

Photo credit: Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Photo credit: Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Two days before Michael Brown was shot dead in the streets of Ferguson, MO, I was watching old media footage surrounding the 1955 murder of Emmitt Till.

I was struck by the grace and poise of Emmitt’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley. She insisted Emmitt’s funeral—attended by tens of thousands of mourners—be open-casket. She invited the whole world into her pain and grief. She demanded we all face the evil and inhumanity of her son’s death.

And now I watch history repeat itself, as it has too many times before.

And I keep thinking about Lesley McSpadden. I keep trying to imagine what she is going through.

But I can’t, really. I’ve never had to raise a black son in America. (more…)

The Restoration of Dignity (Further Thoughts From ‘Unbroken’)

dignity defiinition

I appreciate all the fun comments and scoop you’ve shared (here and on Facebook) in response to my last post, about April’s Book Club selection, Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand.

I wanted to write a little more, about one passage in the book that stood out to me. I don’t remember another point in the book when Hillenbrand so clearly broke from the narrative to give commentary, as she did here:

“When the guards weren’t venting their fury at the captives, they entertained themselves by humiliating them…

The crash of Green Hornet had left Louie and Phil in the most desperate physical extremity, without food, water, or shelter. But on Kwajalein, the guards sought to deprive them of something that had sustained them even as all else had been lost: dignity. This self-respect and sense of self-worth, the innermost armament of the soul, lies at the heart of humanness; to be deprived of it is to be dehumanized, to be cleaved from, and cast below, mankind. Men subjected to dehumanizing treatment experience profound wretchedness and loneliness and find that hope is almost impossible to retain. Without dignity, identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live…


BOOK CLUB: Unbroken

b8b63-unbrokenI finally took the plunge and read Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken last month. Since the time it was published in 2010, it seemed everyone and their brother was reading it and raving about it.

I kept putting it off, because I wasn’t sure I could handle reading about the brutality experienced by Louis Zamperini, the subject of the book, while he was a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II. I finally caved and added it to my book club this year, so I wouldn’t have the chance to chicken out.

However once I actually started the book, I couldn’t put it down. I’m a pretty slow reader—and I finished it in a week. I did have to skim over several different paragraphs—my heart couldn’t handle everything. But overall, I found the reward worth the risk.

I loved Hillenbrand’s story-telling style. And she clearly amassed a huge amount of background research. I appreciated how she filled in the main story with helpful historical context. Of course, she also chose a fascinating subject!


Will We Listen to Trayvon?


“This morning new evidence has turned up in the case of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin…”

New video footage.

New recordings of 911 phone calls.

New eyewitness accounts.

And so again, we Americans get caught up in a news story about a tragedy, a violent death. If history repeats itself, we will spend the next weeks, months—or even years if it goes to trial—sorting through every little detail of the case.

Each side will pick and choose which aspects of the story we would like to focus on, while conveniently leaving out or minimizing other points. We will build our own case for why our side is right, and the other side wrong.

And once again, those “sides” will largely fall along racial lines.


BOOK CLUB: The Hiding Place

hiding place“We must tell people what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”

So implored Corrie ten Boom’s sister as she lay ill as a prisoner at Ravensbruck concentration camp, during World War II. I’m so glad Corrie listened to her sister, and told us their story. What an incredible story it is.

I don’t want to say much more about the particulars of the story, just in case there’s one other Christian in the world besides me who had not read The Hiding Place before. If by any chance you fall into that category, YOU MUST OBTAIN A COPY OF THE BOOK AND READ IT NOW!  (more…)

Don’t Miss ‘Freedom Riders’ Tonight


Fifty years ago, on May 4, 1961, thirteen Americans—7 black, 6 white—departed Washington, D.C., on Greyhound and Trailways buses with the intent of challenging Jim Crow travel laws in the Deep South.

They called themselves the Freedom Riders.

Eventually 450 different people—75% of them under the age of 30—would take part in the months-long journey.

Their final destination was New Orleans. Their ultimate vision was to dismantle the legal and societal systems that kept African-Americans segregated and suppressed in the South.

The impact the Freedom Riders made was significant. But it was not without cost.


It Has Been Granted to You to Suffer


“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him…” (Philippians 1:29)

“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5:41)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember the last time I rejoiced because I was counted worthy of suffering for bearing the name of Christ.

Actually, I don’t remember the last time I truly suffered for bearing the name of Christ.

I pretty much try to avoid suffering of any kind, let alone suffering for my faith.

But in the verse above, Paul describes suffering as a gift. To me it seems like the kind of gift I’d rather not receive.