Tag: chris tiedeman

White, Male Pastor Responds to @GOPBlackChick

Before today, I had never heard of Crystal Wright. That was until the Christian Post published an op-ed by her, entitled Unlike Dr. King, Obama is Not Black.

In case you are wondering, no, I'm not kidding.

The title of the article is what drew me in – which was the point. The article doesn't really live up to the über-inflammatory title, though it does go off the deep-end.

It is, of course, what you'd expect from a conservative person who has decided anything from this president must be – in the words of Kathy Bates in The Waterboy – “ub da debil.” However, more specifically, Wright takes aim at the themes of race and how the POTUS has “used” and/or responded to them. As you'd expect, there is nothing positive to be found.

Essentially, her editorial remarks come down to this:

Sadly, dignity is far removed from discussions on race today. After a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin in cold blood, Obama blamed Martin's death on racial profiling…[r]ather than acknowledging black men are committing most of the killing in America, Obama continues to feed blacks the lies they want to hear to keep the support of his most loyal, blind constituents. After all when it comes to Obama and blacks, it's about the color of his skin not the content of his character.

Not only are these things inflammatory, almost none of them are true.

First, the only real conclusions that can be drawn from the verdict on Zimmerman is that Florida's gun laws are far too lax and George Zimmerman ignored police advice and followed an innocent, black teenager in the middle of the night. Oh, and there's some pretty damning tape of George Zimmerman's thoughts about how “they always get away.”

Second, Wright chooses to ignore the actual things POTUS has said on race, or what he's said when addressing the issues within the black community. Though this is a quote from yesterday's speech, it is indicative of the way Mr. Obama has addressed black Americans during his presidency (note the dignity in this particular quote):



Rather than placating blacks with reasons they should remain in a constant state of victimhood, the above quote speaks to the opposite effect.

In addition to that:

Again, rather than calling blacks to continued victimhood or to be permanent wards of the state, the implication is that one must actually do something in order to change their circumstances.

As I've said in previous social media engagements, the clever misuse of facts can make anybody's case – and that's what we're dealing with here.

Unfortunately, the issue of race – especially since the passage of the '64 CRA – has gotten more complicated. That is, finding broad swaths of racists or racism is difficult to do nowadays. As I told someone on Facebook yesterday, “It doesn't look like racism because it's done from afar and is based loosely on facts.”

Certainly, strides have been made on the issue of race. However, that does not mean racism has ended – nor does it mean that it doesn't still need to be identified and weeded out of the shadows.

Racists have become a savvy lot. The shining example remains when Regan identified “welfare queens in Cadillacs,” but code words and misused and misunderstood statistics have become the weapon of the racially biased.

What Wright does in her piece is to apply the GOP formula of “everything about Obama is bad,” and add in the digs on race. She added nothing new to the discussion, and nothing that we didn't hear from any number of black conservatives on August 28th, 2013 – disappointingly, I might add.

My belief isn't that you can't be black and conservative, but that you can't talk about events and twist them in a way that meets your ideological needs. This is the problem with Wright's article.

Now, I'm a white guy. I'm also a pastor. I'm a white, male pastor. Why do I choose to blog about this?

Having been a history major at Ball State University – and having taken classes specifically on the black experience in America – it has become far too easy to see when people are choosing to gloss-over the more painful and disgusting portions of our history.

Glenn Beck and his lackey, David Barton, are the best at it.

The trick is to appropriate all the “pick myself up by my bootstraps” and “rugged individualism,” while dismissing and ignoring important facts about the poor and marginalized. Unless it speaks to American Exceptionalism – which has become a dangerous and idolatrous religion for too many people – it has no place in our history, nor does it belong in our collective conscious, according to people like Beck and Barton.

Race is still a problem in this country. Not only in this country, but it still exists here. As a product of my faith, I believe it is the job of people like me – and people who are unlike me – to persist in the march for social justice.

I don't care if that phrase has come into disrepute in certain circles, I will always believe in the importance of social justice. The issue of race is still in need of attention, even when it comes to social justice.

Someone left me a wonderful and beautiful comment on Facebook yesterday. It is written by a friend and colleague in ministry. I treasure it. I wanted to share it with you, because it speaks in direct opposition to the unwise and misguided words of the aforementioned CP contributor:

Chris, I have appreciated your posts and support in regards to racism, (particularly towards black people) since we've become fb friends. I continue to appreciate it. It is so healing to have racism not only acknowledged (named) by a white person, but, understood (so to speak). The fact that you have educated yourself about the history of racism in this country speaks volumes during a time when everyone is suddenly, “color blind” and “so over it.” I pray that those who read your posts will understand, as you seem to, the deep wounds that racism has caused us as a people, and more, to the human race and that it will help some of us to work more closely and purposefully towards healing them. God bless you my friend and brother.

The wounds of racism are still real and raw for many. In part, that is the reality because racism is still alive and well in our country – despite people's desire to deny it.

The good news is you don't have to agree that something exists for it to actually exist (lucky for us Christians, huh?), so Wright's article isn't all that big a deal. However, in the wake of #MLKDream50, let's not faulter in continuing to seek out the dream.

We've made some strides, but let's not mistake that for a job well done.



Video From The Pastor’s Office #26 – Back to Church Sunday (VIDEO)

September 8th, 2013 – 10:30am – is Back to Church Sunday at Forest UMC. Be there!

‘The Christian Post’ Quotes Me & @eJoelWatts

After seeing yet another Christian “news service” include only the conservative outlook for the future of the UMC and the question of full-inclusion of the LBGT community, Joel Watts and myself made it an issue. The reporter was very gracious and sent us an email interview. This story is the result.  


Pastors Swear, Too (WARNING: Explicit Language)

Nadia Bolz-Weber


I don't swear much, period.

I don't swear very much in everyday life, and I swear exponentially less on social media – but I do swear. It happens, and I don't get all bent out of shape when I do it.

In my opinion, God is an “adult” – so our hangups about a few words matter little to nothing to God.

After receiving some flack for swearing on social media, Nadia Bolz-Weber – the tattooed, bespectacled Lutheran clergy-person from Denver – decided to repost a blog entry she penned about the subject.

I would echo much-if-not-all of her reasoning. In particular, she speaks to the hyper-sterile, overly positive world of cultural Christianity. Of the needs of the real-world disciple, she says:

But there are other folks out there who are comforted by ambiguity, who need a Word of grace which is not covered in strawberry syrup. Who need the stark truth of what it means to be broken and blessed at the same time. Who are at home in the Biblical story; stories of anti-heroes and people who don’t get it; beloved prostitutes and rough fishermen. They tend to not really care that I use colorful language. If anything, they are relieved that they don’t have to watch what they say around this particular member of the Christian clergy.

When someone accidentally lets loose with some obscenity in front of me, my relpy is always, “Listen, seminary isn't charm school. That's the way I'll continue to operate, and encourage others to operate.

A “f-bomb” – used as sparingly and correctly as possible – may even help one in the midst of a particular trial.

Weeks after the death of my own son, I was called upon by local authorities to come and be present for a family who had discovered their husband and father had died in the night. The wife had collapsed on the stairs, as if she could go no further. The children were being comforted by other family members. The deceased's sister was visibly and audibly the most distraught. She had attempted CPR, in vain attempt to revive her brother.

She was wearing a sock cap, grey hoodie, acid-washed jeans and a belt-buckle that read “vagina” in the style of the Coca-Cola logo, and all she could bring herself to do was pace the floor, wipe her red and swollen eyes and cry out, “I tried to fucking save him! Why couldn't I fucking save him?!?”

After having just suddenly lost your brother, I'm not sure anyone could blame her.

Honestly, I went home and wove a tapestry, myself.

It is what was needed for her in the time. Eventually, she calmed down enough to accept some tissue from me and have a smoke (no, I didn't give her a sermon about not smoking, either).

Forest is a “bedroom community” and the family never really came back to the house they were renting.

Unfortunately, I know far too many people who would have made a point to say something like, “I know you are hurting, but that language isn't going to help.”

Wrong. It's not wrong to be concerned with the raunchy language of a serial offender – especially when that person is yourself. It's wrong to be so concerned with a few words that you cease to be useful to God and “the least of these.”

Anyway, you won't really ever see it from me on social media – and that's probably the last time you will see a word like “f***” on this blog. However, if the possibility of running into a word you find questionable is just to much for you to handle. I invite you to find the appropriate “unfollow” or “unfriend” button.

No hard feelings, though.


Notes From The Pastor’s Office #25 – Capoeira


In this episode, I share with you my experiences with street capoeira.


It's not the last of my Brazil specials, but it's a more entertaining one.



SERMON from 6-9-13: “What Brazil Taught Me…” (parts 1 & 2)

In this message, I use my experiences in Brazil to help me preach Psalm 146. Here's part 1:

And here's part 2:




Thank You, @eJoelWatts, For Cleaning-Up My Sloppiness

My friend, Joel, is one of the smartest guys I know. He's written this book, and co-edited this one (check 'em out, won't you?). If I need some sight-read exegesis, I go to him.

Alright, slobber-fest over.

You'll remember this post containing this episode of my vlog (you should, since it was this morning) about this article from HuffPo:

First, I used shorthand for the footwashing because I was trying to keep the vlog under 5 minutes. People watch longer and pick up more of your information if your video is between 3-5 minutes. The exact details of that story were the casualty of that effort.

Second, I used the Pope's words incorrectly. I used a short-cut based on HuffPo's short-cut. Like making a copy of a copy, each version is worse than the last.

I made this mistake. As a responsible bloggger, I want to apologize for this sloppiness.

I realized just how sloppy it was because of the diligent scholarship of Joel.

In this post, he adds this response to my response to Pope Francis' Wednesday homily:

You get it. Il Papa is not actually saying our works redeem us. His claim is that all of creation is redeemed by the blood of Christ…to do good works.

I was impressed with the original blurb about the Pope's homily, because it showed how different this Pope is showing himself to be.

My vlog emphasized the Pope's recognition of the sacred in all of us – not just Christians. There are far too few prominent Christians making claims so “bold.”

As for Joel and I, we're cool. He's a scholar. I'm a pastor. Many of the skills required to do either of these things are interchangable, but we are inter-dependent on each other.

Pastors need scholars to stay informed. Scholars need pastors to stay grounded.

To sum up, I'm sorry for using a sloppy illustration. You can count on this not happening very often, from this point on.


Video From the Pastor’s Office #21 – “Chuck Norris’ Puny God”

I compare Chuck Norris to a dainty butterfly in this episode. Let's see if I survive.

Here's a link to the article I reference in the video:




Video From The Pastor’s Office #19 – “Killing @OReillyFactor’s Logic”

Bill O’Reilly says that Jesus was killed over the issue of taxes. There are literally dozens of things wrong with this assertion. This is my off-the-cuff attempt to thwart them.


Video From The Pastor’s Office #15 – “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Bad Theologian”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made some interesting predictions in the wake of President Hugo Chavez's death this past week.


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