John Lewis, Marriage Equality, and the Battle Already Won

A short thought for today: John Lewis was interviewed by Krista Tippett recently about the use of non-violence during the civil rights era. The whole conversation is transcendent. He talks about being beaten during one of the protests and how he was absolutely certain he was going to die.

This exchange has remained in my mind:

Rep. John Lewis: I wanted to believe, and I did believe, that things would get better. But later I discovered, I guess, that you have to have this sense of faith that what you're moving toward is already done. It's already happened.

Ms. Tippett: Say some more about that.

Rep. Lewis: It's the power to believe that you can see, that you visualize, that sense of community, that sense of family, that sense of one house.

Ms. Tippett: And live as if?

Rep. Lewis: And you live that you're already there, that you're already in that community, part of that sense of one family, one house.


We see this idea lurking in many places, some profound, some not.

"Be the change you wish to see."

"Fake it 'til you make it."

It's also basic Christian eschatology. I can't find the reference now, but Desmond Tutu talks about preaching against apartheid during the height of that evil system. The police rimmed the arena with guns and intimidation as he spoke. At one point he turned his attention to them and invited them to put down their guns.

Come and join us, he said, because you have already lost. We have won.

I sense this dynamic at work in the fight for marriage equality. We have reached a tipping point, and there is something relentlessly inevitable about it now. It is not a question of if, but when. This doesn't mean that marriage equality supporters are done with their work. On the contrary, "living as if" gives a sense of energy and urgency to the work. Even many people opposed to gay marriage understand that sooner or later, it will be the law of the land.

(Of course, the inevitability of something doesn't automatically make it right or good. But I believe the ability to marry the person you love regardless of gender is both a right and a good.)

I wonder where you've seen this dynamic John Lewis describes. I wonder when and how you live toward this in your own life.

Not Violent Enough?

As I read Rick Ufford-Chase's reflection on civil disobedience I was reminded of a blog post by Pete Rollins, of whom I am an unabashed fan. Rollins wrote some time ago about religious extremism, and argued that the trouble with fundamentalism isn’t that it’s too violent. It’s that it’s not violent enough. He’s not using the word violent in the sense of bloody. What he means is that... Read the rest of my response to Rick Ufford-Chase at Two Friars and a Fool.

Friday Link Love... And More with the Friars

Utmost on my list of links is Rick Ufford-Chase's heartfelt counterpoint to my point at Two Friars and a Fool. (Or maybe I'm the counterpoint to his point.) Next week we will respond to each other's articles. Do go and leave your thoughts on civil disobedience there. Thanks again to the guys at TFF for the invitation to write. ~

Drive Recklessly (YouTube)

Sickly wonderful:



A Memorable Evening with Cliff Robertson (Thoughtful Christian)

A sweet remembrance of what sounds like a fine man... and one who understands that the loving gesture can be more powerful, narratively and emotionally, than the explosion of anger.


For the Dying, a Chance to Rewrite Life (NPR)

As a psychiatrist at the University of Manitoba in Canada, he did study after study trying to tease out exactly what troubled people most about dying. What he found was that what people found most assaulting and annihilating was this idea that who they were would completely cease to exist after their death. And so Chochinov decided to do something about it.

"If the idea of having something that will outlast even you matters for patients that are near the end of life, then we need to do something that will create something that will last beyond ... the patient," he says.

The something that Chochinov decided to create was a formal written narrative of the patient's life — a document that could be passed on to whomever they chose.


Many of our churches do end-of-life courses and retreats, which include everything from estate planning to living will to planning the memorial service to writing a "spiritual will and testament" of lessons and stories to share with the next generation. Some interesting thoughts here as we plan these events.


This Time It's Different (Art of Non-Conformity)

A meditation on the dilemma many people confront when considering a change in one's life. Do you take the leap now, or plan and wait until all your ducks are in a row?


He's My Favorite Fictional Character! (Julian Sanchez)

Keith Snyder bait: a meditation on belief, narrative and (a)theism:

Fundamentalists of every sect are, pretty much by definition, strongly committed to the literal truth of all of their scripture. But the garden variety “believer,” I suspect, may often be more accurately thought of as a “suspension-of-disbeliever.” (Somewhere in the back of my head is that CollegeHumor video about religion as a species of fanboyism.) When you think about the actual functions that religious narratives serve in people’s lives, literal truth or falsity is often rather beside the point, and yet suspension of disbelief is a necessary condition of immersion in the story. On this view, Richard Dawkins is a little like that guy who keeps pointing out that all the ways superhero physics don’t really make sense.


Dawkins & co. are themselves quite capable of appreciating religious and mythical narratives as narratives. What Rée seems to be positing, though, is that they may underestimate the number of soi-disant Believers who appreciate it on something like the same level.

Does Civil Disobedience Work?

I'm over at Two Friars and a Fool today, questioning a sacred cow. Join me! What makes for effective civil disobedience? Is Lois Lane's being arrested during the Tar Sands Action going to move the ball forward? This week will feature a dialogue between me and Rick Ufford-Chase. His article will appear later in the week and then we'll respond to one another after that.

Go visit the guys and leave a comment. Let's have a robust discussion. What effect does civil disobedience have on you? Your position on an issue? Your sense of commitment to a cause?