Americans are great at getting outraged. During March Madness, a disease that is terminal for me I admit, a ref doesn’t count to 5 correctly and Americans, especially Texans are outraged. A politician slips up in making a speech and Americans, particularly his opponents are outraged. A wacko kills some trees on his arch rivals campus, and Americans are outraged. The TV media is great at outrage. They’ve got it down to an art form. Usually the outrage is directed at their media rival who isn’t properly outraged at the thing they’re outraged about. Media bias charges flies, more outrage.
Today I read two outrageous items. One was an item in a book “Who is my neighbor?” by Wayne Gordon. Wayne is an acquaintance who lives in the Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago’s tough west side. “1500 kids in the Lawndale neighborhood have at least one parent in prison”. It’s a number that should outrage every American.
The second outrage I read was from a column forwarded to me by a friend. Michelle Malkin writes about the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain. Chick-fil-A is a well run business that happens to be owned by Christians. According to the article they take their faith seriously and apply principles from Scripture to their business. The most notable of these is that they are not open on Sundays. One of their independently owned franchises donated some sandwiches to a marriage seminar run by a group in Pennsylvania that opposes gay marriage. The editorial goes on to explain at some length at the outrage of the far left being directed at Chick-fil-A. There are talks of a boycott and even the NY Times joined the fray in criticizing Chick-fil-A.
1500 kids going to bed each night in one neighborhood because their dad or mom or both is in prison. Chick-fil-A being attacked for their Christian principles.
American Christians particularly in the evangelical, suburban world of which I was a part of, in the last 25 years have developed a sense of outrage. It began with the coinciding rise of Rush and Focus on the Family. Both highlighted what was wrong with the US with Christians often listening to both influential men for their “unbiased” version of what was going on in the US. Dobson’s Focus on the Family did it mainly with their Washington Watch newsletters, and Family News in Focus radio broadcasts. I remember receiving that newsletter back in the 90’s and reading it and getting outraged over all sorts of items more to do with politics and less to do with Christianity and particularly with the family. I heard repeated attacks on Bill Clinton and I began to see that maybe something was amiss here.
Through many conversations with a person committed to inner city ministry I began to see a change in my thinking. While Dobson indeed did highlight some outrageous things going on, they rarely had to do with the outrages happening in our inner cities. I began to have “liberal” thoughts! While I really would rather not see gay marriage, what if Christians began placing their outrage into positive energy in fighting for inner city families. I even wondered (and I know this could be debated ad nauseum) was Focus on the Family misplaced in their efforts to strengthen the family? Why not focus on the family in the place where the family is weakest? A place where fully 7 of 10 children are born out of wedlock, a place where grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and even friends are unofficial foster parents of huge numbers of kids.
Why didn’t my churches where I grew up speak out against the injustice all of these kids and families were facing? Maybe they did, maybe I was out too late the night before with my friends and slept in church that Sunday. Why didn’t the Bible College I attended have an inner city ministry focus? Why didn’t people counsel me as I started my teaching career to look to the inner city? The city was a place to be avoided, and if you had to go there, drive right on by those exits to the ‘bad’ parts so you can get downtown to the nice parts. Why did it take me 15 years to realize that the city did hold a future for me as a teacher?
I know I’ve stepped on some toes. I may have become the liberal black sheep of the family. Please don’t be outraged by what I wrote. Please be outraged that 1500 kids in Lawndale, and Roseland, and Harlem, and Watts, and Brookstown (here in Baton Rouge) are going to bed tonight without an intact family and that we are more prone to be outraged over a few people boycotting Chick-fil-A.