Guiding People Through Conflict
A succinct summary and application of biblical conflict resolution principles for those trying to assist other people who are struggling with conflict. $5.95 more info
|Upcoming Event Schedule:
• June 1-2, Ripley, WV – Conflict Coaching Training
• June 20, Lake Forest, CA – Conflict Coaching Training
• June 21-22, Lake Forest, CA – Mediation Training
• June 22-23, Olympia, WA – Conflict Coaching Training
• June 28, Little Rock, AR – Conflict Coaching Training
• June 29-30, Little Rock, AR – Reconciling Marital Conflict
• July 9-11 , Fresno, CA – Certification Training Event
• July 22, Birmingham, AL – Ken preaching at Briarwood Church
• July 29, Birmingham, AL – Ken preaching at Briarwood Church
• August 16 , Houston, TX – Presbyterian Global Fellowship
• August 24-25, Orlando, FL – Mediation Training
• August 24-25, Niceville, FL – Peacemaker Seminar
• September 6, Billings, MT – Conflict Coaching Training
• September 7-8, Billings, MT – Mediation Training
More information, registration, or complete listing of upcoming events
Kramer’s Sin–and Ours
What society and the church can learn from comedian Michael Richards’s racial tirade
by Edward Gilbreath
[Editor’s note: With the recent controversy over Don Imus’s comments on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, race relations have again been in the national news. Ed Gilbreath’s thoughts in this article that he wrote last fall are as relevant now as they were then. Ed will be one of the featured speakers at this year’s Peacemaker Conference, and so we invite you to read this article to get to know him a little bit and see his heart for reconciliation. Then come to the conference to hear more from Ed on this important topic for the church today.]
By now you’ve probably seen the incriminating video of actor Michael Richards onstage at a Los Angeles comedy club. After being heckled by a couple of black men in the audience, Richards snaps, cutting loose with a lengthy rant that features not only a generous helping of the N-word but also a vicious reference to lynching (“Fifty years ago, we’d have you upside down … “).
Richards was great as Jerry Seinfeld’s zany neighbor Cosmo Kramer. He imbued the character with just the right mix of lunacy, earnestness, and desperation. His nervous twitches and nonsensical outbursts made him a loveable nutcase–certifiably crazy, yet somehow charming in his madness.
That’s why it was so shocking to see him erupting into hateful rage during his stand-up routine. Everyone expects Kramer to be “out of control,” but not like this. Seeing Richards explode was like learning that a favorite performer has died. No one wants to believe a guy whose talents you’ve enjoyed for so long is actually a bigot. Yet there it was; the cell-phone video doesn’t lie.
As an African American, I suppose I should be infuriated by Richards’s tirade. Yet I cannot help feeling sympathy for the man. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt. Call me gullible, but I believed him when he said he was sorry. I think he was telling the truth when he said he had no idea where that rage was coming from.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s no excuse for what Richards did that night. As a society, we need to make it clear that there’s no place for that kind of ugliness–whether it’s from Richards, Mel Gibson, or the latest best-selling rap artist. But by trashing the man along with his behavior, we’re missing an opportunity to redeem a terrible moment and foster an environment where this kind of thing is less likely to happen.
What have been most unsettling for me are the opinions I’ve seen posted across the Internet regarding Richards’s diatribe. People have either written him off as an evil jerk who deserves no mercy or used it as an opportunity to lash out against what they perceive as America’s double standard on race (“Why is it okay for black comics to use the N-word, but then everyone gets bent out of shape when a white guy does it?”). Neither of these approaches is helpful in addressing the issue at hand.
If we respond with like-minded vitriol, we confirm the ignorance that Richards spouted. By jumping on the “reverse discrimination” soapbox, we’re changing the subject in a disingenuous way and indulging our own racial hang-ups.
The truth is, all of us have darkness dwelling in our souls. “All of our righteousness is like filthy rags,” says the prophet Isaiah. Most of us are just a bad day away from “going off” in a fashion to rival both Richards and Gibson. In today’s cultural climate (which has no tolerance for intolerance), the rule is to castigate these kinds of offenders and mark them as unforgivable. A rebuke is certainly in order, but why not also leave the door open for redemption? In fact, if we were really on the ball, we’d use their mistakes as an opportunity to diagnose our own personal demons and constructively engage the subject of race in America.
Our society’s hyper political correctness has made it virtually impossible to move the cultural conversation on race beyond the standard platitudes. As long as we avoid certain words and say the right things, all is well. And when someone does mess up, we hang him out to dry as proof of our own moral superiority. But what, exactly, does this accomplish?
Nowadays in our secular culture, transgressions like racism and intolerance get dealt with swiftly, if not constructively. In the church, however, we still find it difficult to address issues of race and social justice with a unified voice. Yet it’s the holistic transformation that comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ that should make Christians leaders in this arena.
About 14 years ago, I got a firsthand view of how God can deepen our understanding of racial matters…
Read the rest of this article.
Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. Reprinted by Author’s Permission.
Edward Gilbreath is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and the author of Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical’s Inside View of White Christianity (InterVarsity Press, 2006). Ed has also written a response to the Don Imuscontroversy.
Price Break Ends May 31st for the 2007 Peacemaker Conference
Do you have a heart for the unity of Christ’s followers? Would you like to worship God in a dynamic setting and learn to apply biblical peacemaking principles in key areas of life? Then join us this fall for the peacemaking event of the year—the 2007 Peacemaker Conference!
Make your way to Charlotte, NC on September 20-22 for three days of powerful and practical teaching on the theme “That We May Be One.” Featured speakers this year include Randy Alcorn, Edward Gilbreath, Tim Lane, Victor Nakah, and Peacemaker Ministries President, Ken Sande. Registration prices will increase on May 31, so register soon!
And while you are in Charlotte, why not deepen your skills in peacemaking by attending one of several pre-conference events?
In the News…
A hat tip (or “HT” as they say in the world of blogs) to Ed Gilbreath for pointing out this situation on his blog, where a Christian ministry called Youth Specialties published a book of skits for youth groups only to realize later that one of the skits contained racist content. What should they have done? Thousands of dollars’ worth of books sat in a warehouse–would they just throw them away? In fact, Youth Specialities did just that, along with issuing an apology and making other significant efforts to right their wrong. It’s an excellent example of humility, being willing to “get the log out of your own eye,” and of going the extra mile to make things right, even at great personal cost. It’s a positive look at the cycle of reconciliation and grace–how Christians mess up, confess, and seek and receive forgiveness. As Ed notes, “This is how we do it.”
Testimony of the Month
This testimony came into our office from someone who was in the middle of a conflict and reached out for help:
“Thanks, also, for offering your time and services. After taking the information I had to our Board Meeting, we were encouraged to look into the resources that were already available. We formed a small group of three, and after reading The Peacemaker, Guiding People Through Conflict and the Peacemaker Workbook, we are encouraged! We are attempting to meet with each person weekly, using the workbook chapters as homework. We are very aware that the process will take time but we are already seeing some conscious thought that the conflict may not be ALL the ‘other guy’s fault.'”
“We are not certain that it will be resolved as we first thought, but God may have other plans that we can’t even imagine! We all feel God’s leading and we are all willing to try! The resources are awesome and even those in the midst of the conflict feel that we are learning so much! Thank you for your concern and your prayers on our behalf.”
Twenty-Five Years of Peacemaking
Join us in praising God for his goodness and faithfulness–this May marks twenty-five years since Peacemaker Ministries was founded. God has used countless people in these twenty-five years to help bring the peace of Christ to Christians all over the world–donors, conciliators, staff members, those who have attended a conference or seminar, purchased a book, or done many other things to spread the ministry of reconciliation. Thank you all for your part in proclaiming peace in your own sphere of influence, and may God bless the years ahead for his own glory.
|More and more churches and individuals are in need of our training and resources, and many of them lack the financial resources to reimburse us for our expenses. We would love to serve them–would you consider making that possible? Be a blessing to others!Invest in spreading the gospel of God’s peace throughout his church. Thank you!