My guest today on Voices in My Head is The Reverend Dr. William H. Willimon, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at the Divinity School of Duke University. He served eight years as Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he led 157,000 Methodists and 792 pastors in North Alabama. For twenty years prior to the episcopacy, he was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.
He is the author of over sixty books including Resident Aliens, Thank God It’s Friday, Word, Water, Bread and Wine, Worship as Pastoral Care (which was selected as one of the ten most useful books for pastors by the Academy of Parish Clergy), and What’s Right with the Church? In 1996, an international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English-speaking world.
Today we discuss one of his latest and most timely books, Who Lynched Willie Earle? Preaching to Confront Racism.
It’s sobering to think an American citizen was killed standing up to Nazis on American soil this weekend. Now their web site is calling her a fat lazy s— who was a drain on the system. It’s unreal.
In spite of this, we have to speak a better word than this to the world my friends. We have a better story to tell. It’s not going to happen by retaliation, vengeance, or returning hateful speech. Seeking after those things would be like drinking poison and hoping our enemy will get sick.
Let us be people who speak the truth in love. I don’t want to let our enemies off the hook, but I do want to give them a chance at redemption, to regain their humanity. I want to give them a chance to be redeemed.
There must be consequences for their actions but if all we can speak back to hate is more hate then the battle is already lost.
Be angry, be heartbroken, be hurt, be as upset as you need to be, but don’t let yourself become like the enemy. Don’t lose your humanity to hatred. There is a better way.
God help us, for only You can.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Randy Smoot is a probation officer in the Clark County Juvenile Court.
Brandon Sipes is program coordinator for Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.
Prompted by the police shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, on this episode of Voices In My Head we discuss the problems of racism in America, both explicit and subtle. We talk about things like white privilege, racial fatigue, racial violence, being a parent of black children in America, an imbalance of power and more.
Our hope is that conversations like these will happen more and more. Racism will not just go away by pretending it isn’t there or hoping it disappears. We are all guilty of prejudice and often by being silent we make the problem worse. This is our attempt at not being silent. We must not allow our fear of saying the wrong thing keep us from having the conversation.