Category Archives: Justice

What’s God Like and What Does God Think of Us?

I was recently reading a devotional book that referred me to Isaiah 43:1-7: 

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.” (NIV)

The devotional asked two questions:

  1. Who is God for you?
  2. How does God see you?

That made me stop and think. In fact, I found myself pondering those questions deeply for a long time. I’m a pastor, a Bible teacher and a hospital chaplain. I run into a lot of people who tell me they believe in God. But, they don’t all mean the same thing. Among those I listen to and pray with, I find at lest eight different views of God:

  1. The Celestial Santa Claus– a jolly, magical supernatural guy who is “out there” someplace and loves to give you stuff if you can just learn the right formulas. This is the god of the prosperity movement. He’s very popular in America.
  2. The Kindly Old Grandpa, who, as C.S. Lewis said, simply wants everyone to have a good time, to enjoy life. This god likes everyone and just wants us to get along so he can have some peace and quiet.
  3. The Distant Creator, the Watchmaker god, the god of Deism, who designed everything, created everything, is out there somewhere, but now has little or nothing to do with the world. Perhaps this god has moved on to other projects. This is the god of most of America’s founding fathers. This is the god of the Enlightenment.
  4. The Tribal Nationalistic Warrior God, also very popular in America. This god is red, white, and blue. This god loves America, puts America first, and likes Americans best. This god is ready to use any weapons available to make America great. (Of course, other nations have the same god, just a different flag.)
  5. The Nebulous Impersonal Force, which may be referred to as god, or higher power, or the universe. This is a life-force that pervades and bonds all living things. This force is neither good nor evil (perhaps both). It’s kind of like gravity.
  6. The Projection of What I Would Do/Be if I Were God– also very common. We create god in our own image. If I were god, I’d crush my political enemies and my business competitors, so I call on my god to do the same.
  7. The Stern Judge– the god of much of religion. You don’t mess with this god. He’s essentially mad at you and ready to throw you into a horrible eternal torture chamber, and would if his own son didn’t pop up and take a beating for you. This god is really ticked off and is going to slaughter lots of people when he comes again.
  8. The Magic-Maker, Problem Solver God. Similar to the Celestial Santa Claus, but not just there to give you stuff. This god rides in the backseat of your life. This god will magically solve all your problems without you having to work at any of them. This god zaps alcoholics and instantly makes them sober, makes a stranger pay off your college debt, and eliminates any need for a therapist.

There are other gods around, but those are the ones I run into most often. Many times, a person’s god is a blend of some of the above gods. I frequently run into the Tribal Nationalistic Warrior, Magic-Making, Santa combo god, for instance. 

Regardless of my view of God, however, God exists independent of me. What I believe does not change reality. I can believe with all my heart that the world is flat, COVID-19 is fake, and Donald Trump is King Cyrus, but the reality is quite different.

The true and living God has been revealed to us. Perfectly revealed, in fact. God is perfectly revealed in Jesus. “If you’ve seen me,” Jesus said, “you’ve seen the Father.” God is exactly like Jesus. There is nothing unchristlike in God. If you read a passage in the Bible where it appears that God is not acting like Jesus, something else is going on there because God’s nature never changes. He always was, is now, and always will be exactly like Jesus.

Who is God to me? Jesus.

What’s Jesus like? Loving, forgiving, caring, compassionate, welcoming, serving, gentle friend of sinners. He is my nurturing, guiding, protecting, Abba and Mother. 

The devotional also asked me to consider, as I read slowly, meditatively, through scripture, how does God see me?

I know how I see me. I don’t like me much of the time. I know how others see me. That’s a mixed bag. 

But, none of that’s ultimately as important as knowing how God sees me. God sees me as:

  • A work in progress
  • Welcomed
  • Cherished
  • Adored
  • Treasured
  • Loved unconditionally
  • Forgiven completely
  • Accepted thoroughly
  • Precious
  • Bearing God’s likeness
  • A beloved child in God’s family

When Jesus prayed for us, he said that God the Father loves you and me with the same love with which he loves Jesus. In John 17:23, Jesus prays:

I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me

God the Father, Creator of all, loves you just as much as God the Father loves King Jesus the Messiah and Savior of the world.

Your core identity is: Beloved Child of God

And God is Perfect Love. 

Who is God to me? How Does God See you and me? Isaiah 43:17

“Behold! I make all things new.”

Certainly the destination is important. What good is it to be on a nice road that leads you where you don’t want to go? The destination of our Christian lives is a glorious eternity in the presence of the God who is love. Our promised future is one void of sorrow and pain. Heaven will come to earth. Lions and cattle will graze together; lambs and wolves will nap with each other; deserts will blossom, and living water will refresh all of creation. 

As important as the destination is, it is not the entire point. Far too many North American Christians assume that the gospel is only about the destination. In their minds, the only thing that is important is to persuade others to give their lives to Christ so they can escape both this world and an eternal hell and go to heaven when they die. Nothing else matters. Social justice, police reform, economic equality, the alleviation of poverty, educational accessibility, feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, housing the homeless, universal healthcare, environmental protection, global warming, ending racism and oppression – these things are of secondary importance.

Yet, they are not of secondary importance to God. The gospel certainly includes the forgiveness of sin and new birth into the eternal family of God. Praise God. But it also, and equally, includes the renewal of all things – the redemption, not only of individual hearts, but also of both the societal structures that perpetuate racism, violence, and oppression, and of creation care. God is making all things new. My heart is included in “all things,” but it is not all there is to “all things.” It’s not all about me. Nor is it only about humans. Jesus died to destroy allthe works of the devil. God invites us to join him as he makes allthings new here and now.

So, the kingdom of God is not only in the future. It is also here now. Salvation is past, present, and future. God was in the past. God holds the future. God is here right now. God wants us to spend eternity with him. God wants us to enjoy his presence right now.

So much of my prayer is focused on the future. I find it hard to sit and wait in the now. But God is in the liminal space of the not yet. God is in the waiting. The destination is awesome, but God is here in the journey. My Christian walk is not only about where I wind up. It is also about the journey with Jesus. Lord, teach me to wait. 

Kristene DiMarco (Bethel Music) sings:

Take courage my heart

Stay steadfast my soul

He’s in the waiting 

He’s in the waiting

Hold onto your hope

As your triumph unfolds

He’s never failing

He’s never failing

Broken People and Smoldering Wicks

In our contemporary society there pervades an underlying, slow burning eremacausis of anxiety. It’s like we are collectively standing on an iced-over lake that has hitherto always supported us, but now we hear the ice cracking. The optimistic among us rejoice, assuring us that the cracking will soon plummet us into a more just and gentle world. Others of us fear that soon we will be plunged into the icy waters of anarchy, totalitarianism, and chaos. Still others deny the loud cracking sounds, insisting that all is well. The sky is not falling. 

Denial notwithstanding, we collectively feel the disquiet in our spirits, the unease in our bones. We know, at least in part, from whence comes the fear – it is coming from a global pandemic spread by asymptomatic people, from civil unrest, from economic recession, from political malpractice, lack of moral leadership, and intergenerational oppression. Anger, backlash, violence, racism, and uncertainty – disquiet reins in our souls. The unrepented national sins of genocide and slavery are yet to be atoned for. The chickens are coming home to roost. 

The ice really is cracking. All that we have taken for granted – public health, the supremacy of the United States, ever-increasing economic prosperity, power in the hands of white men, statuary, civil peace, baseball – is shattering, breaking apart, falling.

It feels like we are being hit from all sides. The ice is cracking! What should we do? Run for our lives? Freeze with fear? Work to get more ice? Take a chance that the coming plunge won’t be so bad? Choose someone to blame? Double down on an escapist theology? 

We can’t wish it away. We can’t vote it away. We don’t seem to be able to even pray it away. Almost daily, another loud crack reminds us of how precariously we stand, how fragile we are as individuals and as a society.

God is allowing everything that can be shaken, to be shaken, so that only that which cannot be shaken will be left. Thank God, we who follow Jesus have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken. (See Hebrews 12:25-29)

Perhaps the best thing that could ever happen to us would be the complete collapse of the American empire with its militarism, capitalism, and racist history. Then, perhaps, we might realize that we are all broken and need Jesus. 

A broken and contrite heart Thou wilt not despise

We are all broken.

Some of us were broken well before COVID-19 and mass protests – some of us have been shattered by loss, bereavement, grief, depression, anxiety, addiction, poor health, economic struggle, marriage failure, estrangement, or victimization. Some of us were damaged by poverty, others by racism, still others by neglect or abuse. Some of the already broken are easy to find – they are in refugee camps, prisons, hospitals, wheelchairs, nursing homes, and mental health clinics; they are standing in unemployment lines and eating at soup kitchens, sleeping in homeless shelters, or attending AA meetings. Others are weeping alone in the darkness.

Others of us were doing pretty well until society fell apart. Now it seems like we’re all broken. We are anxious, afraid, perplexed, angry, tired, confused, and disoriented. 

We react to brokenness differently. Some of us become depressed, others withdraw, others throw themselves into a cause célèbre. Some of us are sad; some of us are angry; some of us have given up. Those who shout the loudest insisting they are strong are likely the most broken of all. 

It’s normal to be broken. It’s ok to be broken. Jesus came specifically for the broken. 

The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. The healthy feel no need for the Great Physician. 

Isaiah 42: Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
    until he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

The thin wispy stalk of a cattail in a swamp, now snapped, bent, broken, perhaps by a storm, destined to wither and die, no longer able to hold its head up – the smoldering candle, its wick extinguished, perhaps by calloused fingers, no longer capable of gracing the table with light – useless. 

A life crushed by life. No strength. No light.

Jesus comes without any ostentation or fanfare, without holding any rallies or fundraisers, not needing any political party to endorse or protect him. With humble authority, he comes.  

Jesus comes. Gracious, kind, tender, loving, with no condemnation, never rejecting – Jesus comes and gently embraces the broken stalk. Healing power flows into it; cells align; xylem and phloem pulsate with cruciform healing virtue.

Jesus comes. Caring, compassionate, gentle, devoted and lovingly, tenderly cups his hand around the smoldering wick while gently breathing life into it. A spark, a flame, warmth, light, a glow of peace.

And he does it over and over – never growing weary, never getting fed up or discouraged – repeatedly healing, bringing life and love, grace and forgiveness, mercy and kindness to the broken. Jesus’ heart moves with compassion for shepherd-less sheep, ravaged by the wolves of religion, empire, oppression, and sin, scattered, bleeding, dying on the hillsides. He leaves the 99, gently carries the wounded in his bosom, cares for them like a nursing mother, protects them like a mother hen, never giving up, time after time, wound after wound, he heals the brokenhearted, restores the broken reed, enflames the cold heart. 

The story is told of an early 20thcentury European immigrant who scrimped and saved every mite to buy passage on a steamship to the United States. With no money in his pockets, he subsisted the entire voyage on stale crackers and discarded scraps. He would often gaze longingly through the window at the passengers dining on sumptuous abundance, crystal glasses tinkling, silver forks in lush desserts. On the last day of the two-week voyage, he was doing just that when a ship’s officer spotted him, opened the door, and invited him into the dining room.

“I can’t afford the meals,” he protested.

“But sir,” replied the officer, “all meals were included in the price of your ticket.”

Like that man, I too often try to subsist on the stale crumbs of religion when the luxurious banquet of grace is spread before me.

“Come to me,” Jesus calls lovingly. “Come to me if you’re broken, bruised, afraid, lonely, angry, confused, or weary. Come to me – feast at the banquet of love, healing, wholeness, lovingkindness, forgiveness, and grace. Come! Do not run from my love, child. Let me hold you. Let me heal you. I never break bruised reeds. I never quench smoking wicks.”

Broken People

Gnomes

Danish poet Johan Ludvig Heiberg (1791-1860) created a fairytale about a schoolmaster named Grimmermann who accidently falls into a hole that lands him 70,000 fathoms under the earth and into the world of the gnomes. Grimmermann feels entitled because he received a royal commission from the king of Denmark. However, when he pompously announces his royal commission to the gnomes, expecting to be treated with respect and dignity, he is shocked to discover that the gnomes don’t care. They are completely unimpressed by his royal commission. His Majesty appointed him to some work considered important in Denmark, but it is meaningless in the world of the gnomes. They are indifferent to the honors of Denmark. They live in a different kingdom. Grimmermann just can’t understand why he’s not fawned over.

We who follow Jesus are supposed to be citizens of the Kingdom of God, having pledged allegiance to the King of all kings. We are not citizens of any country; we own no allegiance to any state; we fawn over no political or financial leader. Celebrity means nothing to us. We are not intoxicated with power, nor impressed by wealth, prestige, or success. You may have a king’s commission from one of this world’s empires, but we are not impressed. As Thoreau said, we march to the beat of a different drummer. 

GOD RESCUED. GOD IS RESCUING. GOD WILL RESCUE.

I heard someone recently say that they were anxious for “things to get back to normal.” God does not want us to “get back to normal.” “Normal” often means self-indulgent greed. “Normal” in much of North America has too long meant racialized. For far too long, “normal” has been the systemic institutionalized legally sanctioned oppression, poverty, marginalization, and disenfranchisement of people of color designed to empower the (mostly white and mostly male) rich and powerful.   

Isaiah 35 speaks of restoration during Isaiah’s time, during the time of the Medo-Persian Empire, during this kingdom age (between Pentecost and the Second coming), and in the eternal age to come. Isaiah 35 is literal and it is symbolic. There are deserts where only cacti can grow, and there are deserts in hearts lacking empathy. Lions and jackals can kill you. So can poverty, racism, depression, and loneliness. 

After the death of King Solomon, the nation of Israel split into two countries. The northern part was called Israel and had its capital in the city of Samaria (not to be confused with the region of Samaria in Jesus’ day). The southern kingdom was called Judea. It’s capital was Jerusalem. Assyria violently crushed Israel in 722 BC and subjected most of Judea, but not Jerusalem, to bondage. Assyria also brutalized and conquered all the nations that surrounded Israel and Judea. Isaiah lived during this time.  Through him, God predicted the fall of Israel, and, later, that Jerusalem would not fall to the Assyrians. 

Eventually, (circa 612 BC) Babylon rose up and defeated Assyria. Babylon destroyed Judea and Jerusalem in 586 BC and carried away the remaining Jews into slavery. The Medo-Persian Empire in turn conquered Babylon (circa 539 BC) and slowly allowed some of the Jews to return to their land as subjects of the Empire. Isaiah chapters 40 through 66 were written about this period. 

Coming back to chapter 35, Isaiah predicts the restoration of all those who had been, or would be, oppressed by powerful empires. Regardless of whether the oppressor is Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Syria, Greece, Rome, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union, American civil-religion, or the deep-seated racism of imperialist occidental culture, deliverance will come. 

Regardless of whether the oppressor is religion, white supremacy, capitalism, communism, addiction, greed, narcissism, anger, hatred, violence, depression, mental illness, poverty, marginalization, or political disenfranchisement, deliverance will come. 

The oppression may be my own fault. It may have unjustly imposed upon me. It may come from my past. It might be woven into corporate and political structures. It may be enshrined by law and championed from pulpits. Regardless, deliverance will come.

Isaiah 35 opens with a declaration that God will fully rescue, redeem and transform the natural world – deserts bloom, snow-fed springs like those in Lebanon will flow, the mountains will be lush like Mount Carmel, and radiant like the coastal plain of Sharon. Joy and singing will erupt.

In verses 3 & 4, we learn that not only will nature be renewed, but (being part of nature) humankind will be as well. Fear and anxiety are banished.

Then comes the central theme – the latter half of verse 4: Our God will come and save us! God’s great rescue operation! All of creation, all of humankind, redeemed and transformed. Perfect love descends into hell and rescues the damned.

Like a symphony, the melody repeats – humankind rescued (verse 5-6a) – nature transformed (verses 6b-7).

Salvation is past, present, and future. God saved us. God is saving us. God will save us. Justified. Sanctified. Glorified. 

The Kingdom of God is then – it came in a manger. The Kingdom of God is now – God is making all things new. The Kingdom of God is not yet – Jesus will come again.

God rescued. God is rescuing. God will rescue.

God did all the heavy lifting. The victory was won at the cross. Everything changed on Good Friday. The strong man is bound.

God invites us to participate with him as he makes all things new.

God beckons us spoil the strongman’s house. The gates of Hades cannot stand under the onslaught of the church. Setting captives free, declaring liberty to those who are bound, delivering the oppressed, making the world a gentler more just place through cruciform love – this is our calling and our privilege. 

How? Prayer, fasting, loving service, resisting empires, nonviolent resistance to injustice, loving enemies, forgiving others, washing feet, taking up the cause of the weak, willingness to die for Christ – we overcome the evil one by the word of our testimony (our testimony is what we do, how we live), and the blood of the Lamb (our willingness to live and die like Christ). Our sacrificial lives mingle with His, and freedom rings. 

Finally, here are some practical ideas from some of my African-American friends:

  1. Search your heart and ask God to help you love others – all others.
  2. Ask God to show you where you’ve been racist. Be honest. Admit it and make amends. 
  3. Don’t patronize, but ask where you can come alongside and help.
  4. Learn from African Americans. Learn African American history. Read books by African American authors. Learn about systemic racism. Listen.
  5. Hire black people, especially black men.
  6. Support black-owned businesses.
  7. Speak up and object whenever you hear a racist or disparaging comment made about a person of color.
  8. Attend marches for justice and equality.
  9. Donate to organizations supporting racial justice 
  10. Vote for candidates who will advance the cause of justice for all

Joining God in Making All Things New: Isaiah 35

Nine Kinds of Love

In classical Greek, there are a variety of words to describe love. It is a mistake to try to rank them. Only one falls into the unhealthy category.

  1. Mania: Obsession, infatuation, insanity, a sister to rage, the stuff of stalkers and schoolboys. This is the bad one.
  2. Ludus: Love as playfulness, as a game, flirtations without any commitment, which can be innocent or damaging.
  3. Éros: Sexual attraction, but not necessarily animalistic lust. Éros includes appreciation of beauty in all its manifestations. It’s where we begin loving God, others, nature and ourselves.
  4. Pragma: Sensible, committed love; the opposite of romanticism; the stuff of most long-term marriages.
  5. Storgē: Familial bonds, “blood is thicker than water;” care and concern for parents and children and siblings.
  6. Xenia: Hospitality, welcoming guests into our homes, guest-love
  7. Philía: Deep lasting friendship and loyalty
  8. Philautia: Self-love – either negatively, as in selfishness and narcissism, or positively, as in compassion for oneself
  9. Agápe: Unconditional, self-sacrificial, cruciform, selfless, altruistic love. God is Agápe. “By this shall all know you are my followers, that you agápe one another.”

Setting aside mania, which needs to be treated with medication, psychotherapy, repentance, and perhaps a dosage of exorcism, living as God intended us to live, embracing our full humanness and flourishing life, requires that we cultivate healthy ludus, éros, pragma, storgē, xenia, philía, philautia, and agápe.

I am not suggesting office flirtations, but genuine love between friends and lovers needs an element of playfulness. Hopefully, the relationship is not based on having fun; but, equally hopefully, friends and lovers have fun together, laugh together, and playfully celebrate together. Ludus

We are not rutting elk, but learning to appreciate the beauty in nature, in others, in ourselves, and in the creator God behind it all, will carry us a long way towards peace and wholeness. Take the time to observe and consciously note the beauty, especially (with regard to others) the beauty behind the pain. Éros 

Every lasting marriage and enduring friendship settles at some point into pragmatic, sensible commitment. We become comfortable with each other, feeling no need to impress or play-act. Many in our contemporary culture chase after everlasting romanticism, which is always a dead end. Being content and relaxed with a friend or spouse is nice. Pragma

In many of the African-American, Afro-Asian, and Appalachian families I’ve been around, storgē is strong. Grandma will be cared for in the home no matter how demented she gets. The ne’er-do-well alcoholic uncle now dying of lung cancer will likewise be taken in. The bonds of family and clan are strong, intergenerational, and forgiving. Grown kids call their aging parents daily.

Likewise, we in North America could learn much from Asian, Middle Eastern, and African cultures about xenia. In biblical times hospitality was paramount. Think of Abraham finding three visitors by the Oaks of Mamre in Genesis 18, or Jesus sending out his apprentices knowing they would be taken into local homes (Mark 6:7-13), or God’s condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah for their lack of hospitality. (Ezekiel 16:49) The art of welcoming guests and making people feel at home is a vital part of truly becoming the beloved community.

We live in a transient society. The majority of Gen X (currently in their mid 40s to early 60s), millennials (late 20s to mid-40s), and centennials (late teens and 20s) change jobs every three years and live in a variety of cities around the world during their careers. Philía is hard to come by because deep friendships take time and effort to cultivate. It can happen long-distance, interspersed with regular visits, but more often friendships are left behind and new ones acquired that never have time to mature. To have a meaningful spiritual inner life, we need three things: (a) contemplation, prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, scripture study, times of praise and worship, (b) involvement in promoting social justice, joining God in making the world gentler and more loving, and (c) friendships, koinonia, relationships that guard against anger and despair, that keep us on course. 

The negative side of philautia is all too obvious in the public arena – greed, pride, arrogance, selfishness, egotism, narcissism, and self-promotion are not only off-putting, but also destructive to cultures, nations, and individuals. That kind of philautia calls for repentance and transformation, a new heart, and a right spirit. Philautia, self-care, has a positive side, however. Learning to accept oneself as broken, to forgive oneself for failures and sins, to rest in our true identity as beloved children of God, and knowing God loves us and will never give up on us, allows us to find the beauty in and around us, and respond with kindness.

Unless we shift the biblical definition of agápe that is clearly demonstrated in the life and teachings of Jesus and the poetry of the apostles, agápe is impossible apart from the dynamic of the Holy Spirit. Agápe is God in us. Agápe is us living and acting like Jesus – forgiving our enemies, turning the other cheek, denying self, going the second mile, laying down our lives, responding to violence with nonviolence, serving others, washing feet – this love looks like Jesus on the cross. It is cruciform. God will shed this agápe abundantly into our hearts if we seek to know, love, and serve God. 

Building A More Just And Equitable Society

Following Jesus means proclaiming and living the gospel. The gospel is good news to the poor. The gospel calls us to repent, to change our minds. 

As a nation, we collectively need to honestly admit to and repent of the invasion of the continent, stealing land from indigenous people who had lived here for 10,000 years, the genocide of Native Americans, the breaking of treaties, and the forced relocation of first nation peoples. 

As a nation, we collectively need to honestly admit to and repent of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, terrorism (lynching, KKK), convict leasing, redlining, voter disenfranchisement, mass incarceration, and all forms of discrimination.

As a nation, we collectively need to honestly admit to and repent of our history of racism, militarism, consumerism, greed, and violence.

In order to help build a more just and equitable society, we need to individually learn from and listen to black voices with humility and teachable hearts, lament, fast, pray, cry out to God, teach a biblical gospel that includes social justice, and:

  1. Partner with and support black-owned businesses. Buy stuff from them & invest in them.
  2. Reform police departments. Ban chokeholds, make training less militaristic, demilitarize, change policies about lethal force, add more minority officers.
  3. Reform the justice system. End mass incarceration, end cash bail, emphasize reform, provide more quality mental health and addiction treatment, find ways other than incarceration to deal with nonviolent offenders, promote return to society transition programs, allow previous offenders full voting and citizenship rights.
  4. Pay reparations for slavery to even the playing field by providing housing (like Habitat for Humanity), and by providing no-cost vocational training, college tuition, and initial internships to Native and African Americans living in poverty.
  5. Reform the educational system; raise teacher salaries, lower class sizes, remove school cops, raise funding to all school districts, make predominantly black schools as good as predominantly white ones. Make college and postgraduate education affordable and accessible to everyone without massive debt being incurred. 
  6. Stop profiling and strengthen affirmative action in government, business, and education for marginalized people groups. 
  7. Promote economic inclusion in bank lending practices.
  8. Universal healthcare. High quality. Free. For everyone.
  9. Permit voting by mail everywhere.
  10. Work for environmental justice. The air and water quality in poor urban areas is even worse than it is elsewhere.
  11. Recruit and give jobs, mentorships, and internships to black talent. Integrate the C-suites, administrations, faculties, pulpits, and pews.
  12. Crack down on neo-Nazi, white supremacy domestic terrorists who threaten violence (and any other group that uses violent terrorist tactics to intimidate others).
  13. Legislate common sense gun control, such as required background checks and training.
  14. Remove monuments to those who fought to preserve slavery. Rename parks, streets, squares, military bases, etc.

And, we need to vote for people who will do the above. 

Then, we need to pray some more. 

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