Like most of you, I was paying close attention earlier this week to the verdict in the trial for the man who murdered George Floyd. Also like many of you, I felt a range of emotions when the guilty verdicts were announced. On Tuesday night I reflected on some of those mixed emotions for Missio Alliance.
I was jogging on the path that runs alongside Lake Michigan in Chicago when the verdict in the trial of the man who murdered George Floyd was handed down yesterday. As soon as the news broke that the verdict was imminent, I kept checking my notifications and refreshing my social media feeds, hoping for a hint of what the decision might be. I noticed an ache creeping into my stomach, as though my body were preparing for the sudden absence of justice, once again denied. And so I layered up against the cold wind blowing off the lake and began my slow pace north.
I managed to make it to my turn-around spot before glancing at my phone. There on the screen was the breaking news: guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. I stood still for a moment before continuing my jog back to the church office. A few minutes later my friend called. “It’s good, right?” he asked. “Yeah,” I replied. But it didn’t feel good. It still doesn’t.
Later that evening I logged on to the weekly seminary class I’ve been assisting with this semester. The professor, an African American scholar, noted how strange it was to hear people celebrating this verdict. Why, he wondered with the class, must we await fearfully a decision that should have been inevitable? Is this actually worth celebrating?
Yesterday’s verdict was good, and any expression of justice is worth celebrating. But expressions of justice in a society steeped in white supremacy will never be straightforward matters of celebration or condemnation. There is a tension here, one that disciples of Jesus are capable of holding tightly and tenderly.
You can read the rest on Missio’s site.
OK, I’m pretty excited about this. My good friend Shaun Marshall has a really good book coming out called Transition Decisions. I’ve heard Shaun talk about some of this material for a few years and I got to read an advance copy. It’s really good!
On Wednesday at 2:00 we’ll be on Zoom and Facebook talking about his book. I plan on tapping into Shaun’s wisdom about questions many white Christians are asking related to their churches and justice. Should I leave my church if the leaders refuse to preach about racial justice? Should I consider attending a Black church? Would I be welcomed? How do I deconstruct my white version of Christianity such that it leads me to deeper solidarity with the Body of Christ?
This is going to be a great conversation and we’ll take time for your questions. I hope you’ll join us! Register for the Zoom link here.
It’s been a good reading year so far. I’m currently reading Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair by Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson, the new Eugene Peterson biography, and Emotinally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.