Monthly Archives: September 2015

I’m Tired of Saying “I’m Sorry!”

I’m sorry.

It may be the most common phrase in my work.  I am sorry about the death; I am sorry about the diagnosis; I am sorry you didn’t like the music, the sermon, the temperature. 

It seems that I spend a lot of time apologizing.  It is just a part of what ministers do.

But more and more I find myself having to apologize for the actions, the words of other ministers.  More and more I find myself in conversations with individuals who are trying to live in the aftermath of a theological tsunami that, in the words of Anne Lamott, would “make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”

It happened again today and it sent me into a rage.  According to a report in the Washington Post, Governor Baptist Minister Mike Huckabee made this statement about the thousands of Syrian refugees seeking somewhere to live.

“Are they really escaping tyranny, are they escaping poverty, or are they really just coming because we’ve got cable TV?”

I am sure that is it!  I am sure fathers are putting their families in little rubber rafts to cross the Mediterranean in the middle of the night; paying thousands of dollars to human smugglers who don’t even provide life jackets in order to get to another country in time for the new season of The Walking Dead!   And don’t forget that Showtime will soon have another season of Homeland, and they probably know Carrie from her days with the Taliban!

I am sure that these people are streaming away from home for basic cable—not the total destruction of their homes; syria-destruction-war04-400x265

not seeking to escape the refugee camps;refugee camp

not hoping that maybe they might have a future anywhere else but here!

This callous remark came from a man who dares claim the name minister!  Even more, he is a Baptist minister!  Which means that I will have to apologize to my friend at Ali Baba’s whose family in Jordan lives a mere 45 miles from Syria and has seen their communities overrun with refugees.  I will have to try to explain that the word of one politically-crazed Baptist doesn’t mean that every Baptist feels that way.  I will have to apologize to people who pass by our church with the “B” word on the sign!photo (1)

I am tired of apologizing!  As much as I know I should just listen to the Frozen soundtrack and just Let It Go!, there comes a time when letting it go is consent!  No more!  Mike Huckabee, if you want to claim to be a Baptist, a minister, even a Christian, please take some time to read the Bible!  Not even the whole thing, I know you have a campaign to run.  But at least read the text we used Sunday at Providence (way out of season, but how was I supposed to know it would be so fitting!)  Just read the first part of Matthew 2, where you find the story of Joseph taking his family to Egypt for basic cable.  No!  Like the tens of thousands from that part of the world, they are running for their lives!

But maybe Mike, maybe you are too busy to even read the Bible.  Well then, try this poignant poem that we read in worship Sunday. 

  From the Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire:

no one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark

you only run for the border

when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you

breath bloody in their throats

the boy you went to school with

who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory

is holding a gun bigger than his body

you only leave home

when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you

fire under feet

hot blood in your belly

it’s not something you ever thought of doing

until the blade burnt threats into

your neck

and even then you carried the anthem under

your breath

only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets

sobbing as each mouthful of paper

made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,

that no one puts their children in a boat

unless the water is safer than the land

no one burns their palms

under trains

beneath carriages

no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck

feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled

means something more than journey.

no one crawls under fences

no one wants to be beaten

pitied

no one chooses refugee camps

or strip searches where your

body is left aching

or prison,

because prison is safer

than a city of fire

and one prison guard

in the night

is better than a truckload

of men who look like your father

no one could take it

no one could stomach it

no one skin would be tough enough

the

go home blacks

refugees

dirty immigrants

asylum seekers

sucking our country dry

niggers with their hands out

they smell strange

savage

messed up their country and now they want

to mess ours up

how do the words

the dirty looks

roll off your backs

maybe because the blow is softer

than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender

than fourteen men between

your legs

or the insults are easier

to swallow

than rubble

than bone

than your child body

in pieces.

i want to go home,

but home is the mouth of a shark

home is the barrel of the gun

and no one would leave home

unless home chased you to the shore

unless home told you

to quicken your legs

leave your clothes behind

crawl through the desert

wade through the oceans

drown

save

be hunger

beg

forget pride

your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear

saying-

leave,

run away from me now

i don’t know what i’ve become

but i know that anywhere

is safer than here

That’s why they are leaving Mr. Huckabee.  They are leaving because home is now the mouth of a shark—not to catch the next episode of Sharknado!

I spend so much time apologizing for things in life that are beyond fair, beyond control.  And I will willingly do that.  But I refuse to apologize for the rabid rantings of a man who does not know the Jesus I serve, the Jesus who was himself a refugee, who said “whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do unto me.” 

No, Mike Huckabee!  For you and your ilk—I will say “I’m sorry” no more!

As the old gospel song goes, “I will stand alone on the word of God,” and say that you don’t know what you are talking about.  Even more, you don’t know the one you claim to talk for!

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