I am convinced that recent events in Ferguson have become a mirror to the nation. This may very well be a critical moment in history, if we take a time to stop and listen to each other.
Whether we are sending guns or we are sending prayers, as a nation we must surround ourselves with a spiritual dome to stave off the arrows of hatred now coming our way. America needs enlightenment, not necessarily as a path to pacifism but as a path to power.
Maybe the pain of death -- of all the deaths this summer -- will finally remind us what it means to live.
Sadly, Ferguson is not just another example of racism, but of white America's denial of its racist past and present (as the so-called "counter protest" groups in Ferguson reveal). This is a cycle that must be addressed if there is to be any hope that America's racial divide can ever be healed.
In August 1964, mourners sang "We Shall Overcome" at the memorial services and funerals for Andrew Goodman James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi. Fifty years later, it is still being sung at services and protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Climate scientists have assumed that the overwhelming weight of evidence would carry the day. It hasn't. Indeed, studies show that, when individuals are challenged with facts contrary to their core beliefs, those beliefs temporarily harden.
Various forces bigger than ourselves -- perhaps most of all marketing and pop culture - shape our goals without us realizing it, guiding our lives for us, often in directions that, were we to think about it, we would want to resist. Life becomes, for instance, a series of consumer decisions based on our preferences for this or that experience, or a mad race for some vaguely-defined "success."
An occupational hazard (or should I say opportunity?) of my profession is that I often get last-minute calls asking me to substitute for some famous commencement speaker who suddenly can't make it.
This week we will enter the Hebrew month of Ellul, a time traditionally dedicated to preparation for the re-birthing that waits us in one month - Rosh Hashana, the New Year.
Zumba's slogan is "join the party." One of the best decisions I ever made was joining the party. There is rarely a "maybe later" in life or dance. Moving in the moment is the only way to heal sometimes.
The butterfly effect here is that this later-life suicide of one struggling person set in motion a public response including character attacks that, in turn, by extension, feel like an attack on all of us who struggle to stay sober and alive each day.
I am praying today, with my hands raised high, for a nation in which black boys are not feared, a nation in which they also need not fear for their safety.
I've found in my own experiences that people with Alzheimer's retain the desire -- and the capacity -- to love and be loved, which I believe is the defining feature of personhood.
We need to hear this story anew because there are thousands of Jochebeds suffering in Central America because they too have put their babies in baskets and have watched them float down the Nile so that they might also be save from certain death.
Scripture tells us that the weeping may last the night but joy comes in the morning. I sure hope so, because my heart is broken. Michael Brown is one of too many men and boys of color targeted and dehumanized by a system that operates as though some people are worth more than others.
With the conclusion of the Pope's visit on Monday, we would do well to remember those in North Korea who to this day suffer religious persecution in silence.
I'm not sure why I walked into Barnes and Noble that afternoon, except that the "self-help" aisle seemed like a logical place to be as I pushed the wheelchair of my four-year-old son who had just been diagnosed with a rare, degenerative brain disorder.
We claim to have a heart for the poor, for changing the world to more closely reflect the divinely inspired kingdom vision offered to us by Jesus. And yet, the tools required to make the changes are right before us. It's how we're choosing to employ them that betrays the darker nature of our all-too-human hearts.
May our own pursuit of racial justice and reconciliation begin with the death of the dishonesty in our own hearts and conclude in our own resurrection with the wild diversity of the people of God.