Actual or Percieved Boundaries?

I work in Euless, Texas.  I live nearby; my mailing address says I live in Hurst, but my house is actually within the city limits of Fort Worth.

In the four months since we moved, we have found that none of the boundaries between these three cities makes much difference day-to-day.  There are different taxing entities, different access to services (usually based on the taxing entity). There are taxing entities (Tarrant County, Tarrant County College system, etc.) that include each of these.  So far has I have noticed, and I have even asked a variety of people, there is no noticeable preferential treatment or discrimination based on where one lives.

On the other hand, not far to my east is Irving.  I don’t know all that much about Irving, but I have found that the Irving version of some stores or services is closer to where I work than the next closest store or service of the same kind to my west.

Irving, though, is across the county line and on the other side of the DFW airport and highway 360.

Something about the way the DFW metroplex has developed, I have noticed that this perceived boundary between the Dallas side and the Fort Worth side is really quite real.

I am trying to figure this out. At the same time, I realize that I live within other boundaries that are more based on perception than reality.  Architectural style, age of  neighborhood, proximity to a WalMart (among others) that some might perceive as establishing boundaries.

Are you aware of the boundaries within which you tend to live?  Which of them are actual, which are perceived?


Finding Identity-Thinking Ethnically

I have trouble dealing with ethnicity. It isn’t that I have trouble dealing with people who have an ethnicity. No, my problem, like that of very many of us, is that Anglo-Americans have generally grown up without any ethnicity. In fact, I would argue that the American Myth is that the only identity or ethnicity one needs is whatever one freely chooses as an American.

StanleyHauerwas , theologian at Duke and one of my favorite Southwestern University alumni has said and written famously that “the project of modernity was to produce people who believe they should have no story except the story they choose when they have no story.”

This is us, Anglo-America!

While this might be all right with you, I can’t take it anymore.  It is belittling, probably condescending of us to consider that everyone else has some ethnicity, some story, heritage, tradition of which they are naturally a part and with which they identify.  This is belittling and likely condescending because we have to put ourselves someplace outside of tradition, lineage and story to make such judgments, and we cannot do so; it is impossible.

As several people have pointed out, in support of Hauerwas’s definition of modernity above, to explain why one needs no story but the story one chooses, one has to tell a story.

Every one of us has a story, much of which we did not and can not choose. All of us have traditions, lineages, etc., that have played significant roles, whether active or passive, for good or bad, in developing our identities.

No one has any more ethnicity than anyone else.  Some are just able to admit it.

We’re all Users

I’m reading Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint’s Come on People: on the path from Victims to VictorsComeOnPeople_HQ. On p. 32 they write:

One way slaves survived such brutal conditions was to turn the Christianity they had learned into a liberation theology.  The stories of the Hebrew slaves became their own. Even as slave owners used the Bible to justify slavery, black people used the Bible as God intended-to give people hope for a time when there would be true justice. (emphasis added)

I love this! (Except for the part that the term liberation theology immediately turned some of you off because you pigeon-hole such labels)

What slaves did with Christianity, in turning it into liberation theology begs the question of what kind of label ought we put on to kind of theology that justified slavery?

Cosby and Poussaint correctly identify that slaves and slave owners used the Bible to support their own vision of the future, and of the way life ought to be.  Don’t we all do this?

I’m a user.  I read the Bible regularly. I preach from the Bible.  I gain much of my understanding of life, of the world, of humanity, of the future, from the Bible. I also read it and understand it differently now than I did when I was a teen, and also differently than when I was only 30.  At all these ages, I used the Bible.

Slave owners used the Bible to enslave people. For at least a century after slavery was abolished, some continued to use the Bible to subjugate people. (Cosby and Poussaint point out wisely that science has been used too).

Slaves, I think, had a better claim to using the scriptures than did slave owners.  They had the stronger claim to scripture the same way Moses, not Pharoah, had the message of God.

If you ever catch yourself thinking or accusing someone else of using the Bible to support their cause, consider how you might be doing the same.

It seems to me that whenever the Bible is used in the direction of giving “people hope for a time when there would be true justice” is a great way to use the Bible.

Racist? You tell me.

The person sharing a devotional was telling a story about a person whose presence had scared him.  Included in the description was that the “man was big and black.”

Since the audience for this devotional was 98% anglo, identifying the man as black had the intended effect.  I paid attention through the rest of the story for any other reason for the man’s race to have been mentioned.There was none

I think the next time I hear something like that, I’m going to interrupt and ask why race would be mentioned.

To us white folk, this may not seem like much, but it’s got to stop.

You have to be Rich to be Poor

If you think the poor just need to work harder, this fine article by DeNeen L. Brown shows many ways that the poor have to work harder just to keep up, let alone to try and get ahead.  HT Alan Hitt.

Here’s the opening:

You have to be rich to be poor.

That’s what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don’t understand.

Put it another way: The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don’t often explain.

Warning: Partisan Post(?)

I received this via email:

How Racism Works

What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating


What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said ‘I do’

What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no

longer measured up to his standards?

What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain

killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable


What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama were a member of the Keating-5?

What if McCain were a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election

numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes

positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in

another when there is a color difference.

You are The Boss… which team would you hire?

With America facing historic debt, 2 wars, stumbling health care, a

weakened dollar, all-time high prison population, mortgage crises, bank

foreclosures, etc.

Educational Background:


Columbia University – B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in

International Relations.

Harvard – Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude


University of Delaware – B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.

Syracuse University College of Law – Juris Doctor (J.D.)



United States Naval Academy – Class rank: 894 of 899


Hawaii Pacific University – 1 semester

North Idaho College – 2 semesters – general study

University of Idaho – 2 semesters – journalism

Matanuska-Susitna College – 1 semester

University of Idaho – 3 semesters – B.A. in Journalism

Now, which team are you going to hire ?

PS: What if Barack Obama had an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter….


Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

-U2 Pride (In the Name of Love), 1984

40 years ago this morning, MLK Jr. was shot and killed.  Leonard Pitts has an excellent piece about this anniversary that appeared in this morning’s Waco Trib.

Among other things, Pitts points out that whites who say we’ve come along way since the 60’s in terms of race relations and blacks who say we have a long way to go are not actually disagreeing with each other. He summarizes thus: “We never seem to realize that we are having an argument over how much water is in the glass.”

Then, there’s this, that I think is absolutely essential for any followers of Jesus who desire to take this following seriously:

Whites … see that promised land — racial equality — as an ideal, something it would be nice to achieve someday. Blacks see it as a necessity, something you work to make manifest here and now.

Thank you, Mr. Pitts, for this stirring, succinct  encapsulation!  This is so true of the current state of race relations in the USA.

It is, however, also true of the dichotomous understanding we Christians tend to have of the Kingdom of God, of, for that matter, of sanctification.

Are racial equality and the Kingdom of God ideals, that would be “nice to achieve someday,” or are they necessities, that we “work to make manifest here and now?”

Pitts concludes that one’s position on this questions “would depend on how thirsty you are.”

To be fair to Mr Pitts, his point is about the question of the first part, race relations.  I contend that we don’t and won’t have the Kingdom present without taking race relations into the discussion.

I’m getting pretty thirsty.  How about you?