So, it’s been a minute.
At Jenoa’s advice I resolved not to note the gap between posts, because, you know, I write here primarily for myself, no one’s checking in on me, etc. But I say “it’s been a minute” not so much because of the time between posts as much as what’s occurred in that time. I hesitate to rehash the events of the last few months, but who would have thought that in the midst of a global pandemic we would also see a global reckoning with racial injustice after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of law enforcement, during an election year in which the incumbent administration is arguably the most absurd and toxic in the nation’s history.
And in less significant news, Warren Ellis, a man whose thought and work have influenced and informed me on a number of levels, closed his long-running newlsetter after more than fifty women revealed that he had harmed them through manipulative and emotionally abusive behavior for the last twenty years.
And debates around “cancel culture” and illiberal/totalitarian attitudes on the left and the right have resurfaced. As have debates and discussions around policing statistics, statues, history, free expression, and speaking the truth, all of which are necessary to consider if we’re going to do justice and love mercy and walk humbly, which I would argue are necessary actions and attitudes if we’re actually going to move the needle and put a stop to the injustice and death that real people are experiencing.
And I hesitate to even write about some of these things or my thoughts on them in the same space as the names of black people who have suffered mortally consequential injustice. And the real tragedy is that I probably could not name all of the people who have been killed or dehumanized in that manner because there are too many to name. And these people are not mere statistics - they have names. They had families. They had friends. They had desires and hopes and lives that were just as deep and rich and sacred as any.
Say his name - Ahmaud Arbery
Say his name - George Floyd
Say her name - Breonna Taylor
Say his name - Rayshard Brooks
I’ve been quiet here partly because there’s just a lot I need to process about The World Out There, but also because, to be honest, I’ve been dealing with depression that’s been unparalleled in my own experience. I miss being able to hug people. I miss gathering at church to receive the body and blood of the crucified God and hear the comfortable words of absolution. I miss being able to enjoy the public spaces of the place where I live without the calculus of masks and hand sanitizer and six feet of space.
I’m thankful that, because the state I live in has handled its response to the pandemic responsibly, I can see friends again, browse my local comic shop, go to the skate park, swim in the river, and even enjoy a beer and a meal at one of Charlottesville’s dining establishments. But, to say the least, it’s all taken an emotional toll, and I’ll be pretty excited once the infection rate for this virus gets below 1 or there’s a vaccine.
(As an example, our church is holding another Race & Grace class this month via Zoom, and while it’s a good necessary thing we’re doing, I think engaging with and discussing issues that affect people are best done when we can encounter each other in our fully embodied and fleshly humanity, and not mediated through a freaking screen.)
The last few months haven’t been all doom and gloom for me, and there are things I’ve enjoyed and want to share. I’ve got a microblog up and running here, as does Jenoa, which has brought back some of the fun of short-form/photo only posts, without the toxicity of Twitter and Instagram/Facebook’s walled gardens. Microblog brings the best features of those platforms to the open web.
Additionally, my friends Zack and Brian have joined the isles of blogging. I heartily commend their spaces to you!
And, the three of us were recently published in a short anthology of road trip writing!
I’ve read, listened to, and watched (HAMILTON!!!) a lot of great things over the past few months. But for the sake of brevity, here are some links to things I’ve been thinking about. As we seek to do justice in our world, let’s be tenaciously committed to seeking, hearing, and speaking the truth.
What the Bible Has to Say About Black Anger
“But I didn’t mean to be racist.” Intent, impact, and empathy in race relations
Faith and Values - It’s Time for a Revolution of the Soul
Justice and Race: What we can and cannot change
Under Robert E. Lee’s Shadow: Growing Up in The Lost Cause
The Origins of ‘Defund the Police’
The American Soviet Mentality
Stop Firing The Innocent
Look for people who care about the truth - Alan Jacobs
A Note on the American Flag in 2020 - John Scalzi
A couple of pieces that are unrelated to the above, but absolutely worth reading:
The day the live concert returns - Dave Grohl
Skateboaring New York under lockdown