by Phil Morice Brubaker
Today I’m distracted. I sat with the lectionary texts, hoping to “reflect” on them for this post. Psalm 51. Habakkuk 3. The anointing of Jesus by Mary. I’m sure these texts would say something to me on some days, but not today.
Today I learned about Franklin Graham’s victim-blaming Facebook post of last week. I come to this late, by first seeing the open letter written by some evangelical leaders in response. (Two of the letter’s crafters, Micky ScottBey Jones and Brian Bantum, have contributed reflections for this Lenten blog.)
For readers who, like me, missed the hubbub until now, suffice it to say that Graham asked people of all racial groups to “listen up” while he schooled us all on the biblical importance of obeying authority, which is the simple answer to not being gunned down by cops. Eight days after the post, it garnered nearly 200,000 Facebook likes, and 83,000 shares.
Now, I rarely give Graham a first thought (let alone a second), but he wields power, and he has expressed a widely held view, granting it the authority of “America’s Pastor” by association with his father’s name. I’m grateful to the responders and their skillfully crafted letter, touched with history, analysis, rebuke, mercy, and invitation.
But I hate the distraction. People are dying, and far too many look to simplistic aphorisms for explanation when a robust analysis is called for.
After such a distraction, I appreciate the Psalmist’s prayer as a call to refocus the struggle against injustice, a struggle that shouldn’t get stuck on easy targets like Graham (especially when good people have already responded), but starts with oneself:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Phil Morice Brubaker is coordinator and trainer with Roots of Justice.