2014 demonstrated that, whatever the significance of Barack Obama’s two terms as our first African American president, we have hardly moved beyond national struggles over race and class. Failures to indict white policemen accused of the unjust killings of black men precipitated protests and online shouting matches about racial inequality, or just how to talk about race. Christians participated in (hopefully) profitable discussions such as the December 16, 2014 “A Time to Speak” event, hosted by Pastor Bryan Lorritts of Fellowship Memphis, at the Lorraine Motel and National Civil Rights Museum.
December 16 was also the 300th birthday of George Whitefield, the most important evangelist of the Great Awakening of the 18th century.
The paradigms we use to explain reality collapse when we encounter too many anomalies. Then we begin to seek another explanation. Something like that has happened for many people in connection with homosexuality. That number now includes David P. Gushee, a leading evangelical ethicist. In his case, it was discovering that his sister is a lesbian that led him to rethink this issue.
Michael Sharp and Emmanuel Kambale, colleagues in the Congolese Protestant Council’s Peace and Reconciliation program, have found a way to encourage some 1,600 soldiers to put down their arms. The FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), which has been ravaging villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo for 20 years, has its roots in the Hutu militias that killed Tutsi civilians during the Rwanda genocide. Listening to the fighters’ stories, Sharp and Kambale discovered that they were homesick for life back in Rwanda. That acknowledgment has led some of them to give up the fight. But the meager $12,000 per month Peace and Reconciliation budget is drying up in March (NPR, January 2).