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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Paula Dean WWJD

I posted a comment on my Facebook page that went like this.......

In less than 24 hours more than 50 people had made comments or likes. And the opinions were purely divided.

Now, when I posted the comment, my heart was thinking this .......

Wow, it must be really tough to be in the public eye where comments you make years and years ago follow you and can even have the power to destroy you.  That's a lot of pressure.  I can't even remember some of the things I said or who I said them about or who I said them to or even what my strong opinions or beliefs were back then.

 My heart hurt for her under that kind of scrutiny.

I wasn't thinking about my opinions on race, religion, politics, gray hair or butter.  But I understand the passion in some of the comments.

My friends that have adopted an African American boy that they are loving and raising with every amount of love in their hearts.  I understand that they never ever ever want their beautiful boy to feel the sting of racism.  They are protecting their son. I understand their passion.

Another comment that 27 years ago I was just a child at 20 but Paula is 66 and 27 years ago she was almost 40 years old and should know better.  A fact I hadn't considered.

Another saying these comments weren't 27 years ago but that had been the media spin.  More info I hadn't bothered to gather.

I love my Facebook friends because they are the most diverse group of people you can imagine.  They are every shape, size, color, political view, full religious spectrum, US and International crowd around.  I love them and their crazy differences.  I appreciate the unique perspectives that this crowd brings to me.  I learn from them because they see almost everything differently.

But just as I was appreciating the differences, I felt their surge of anger and judgement and the comment about white Christian views stung a little because, uh, well, I am one.  And the idea of lumping all of us white Christians together seemed just as hurtful.  There are some bad Christians out there, there are bad African Americans out there, there are bad Chinese acrobats out there, there are bad middle aged Italians, there are bad Polish atheist out there, there are bad right winged chicken farmers and bad left winged brick layers.  And there are just as many good ones too. Each and every one of them is a race.  The human race.  And every single one of them sins and stumbles and does things that no one would want the newspapers to pick up and run even if it was the last page, let alone the front page.

But what really got me was we are so easily divided.   Our country is more politically divided than I can remember in my 47 years.  The conversations of race still plague us today.  Women like Sheryl Sandberg are still writing books about women's rights in 2012.  We so easily divide. We pick our side ready to fight it out like the Crips and the Bloods in the streets.

It makes me wonder..... WWJD.  No really, what would Jesus do?  Now I'm no Biblical Scholar, I'm grateful for a Bible app so I can easily search and not be embarrassed that I still get my New Testament and Old Testament books mixed up, but one thing I do know is, Jesus didn't hang out with the "in" crowd in the safe places.  He hung with the beggars and the prostitutes on the street.  Doling out compassion like candy from a parade float.

No, I don't think he would have condoned racist behavior from anyone, but I'd like to think his interaction with Paula might go something like this....

"Oh Paula, my daughter, thank you for these delicious muffins and the side of bacon.  You sure have used the gifts I've given you well.  You've touched the lives of many and for that I am proud of you.  But honey, we need to talk, things have turned dark now haven't they?"  As Paula lets tears stream from her beautiful blue eyes and lays her head on Jesus' shoulder and sobs.  She sobs because she feels His compassion and she feels her regret.  The regret of any racist past and the regret that fame and fortune had become a burden to bear and she cries because she is completely overwhelmed and maybe embarrassed and ashamed.  

And through that compassion she sees no need to defend or deny or lie.  She just wants to be better and do better and rise up to meet the kind of pure love that has been bestowed upon her. 

And then I see Jesus saying, "You know dear Paula, we are all one race and one people under one God and you must do better. You must extend the grace and compassion I have shown you today, but first let me listen, let me hear you, let me take your burden." 
 Because really none of us know the truth but Paula and God.  And I have some healthy skepticism that says most of those companies aren't dropping her because of their strong values.  They're dropping her because they're afraid that you'll stop buying their stuff.

I have felt the sting of hurtful comments to my writing and to my speaking.  Some times my intentions were misunderstood but sometimes I was attacked simply for having a different opinion.

I'm not voting for or against Paula Dean and her choices. I honestly don't know enough to have a vote.  I'm just noticing that we have enough that divides us.  We are divided in our churches, in Washington DC, in our homes, on our Facebook feed and our Twitter stream.  Let's really buck the system. Let's do it with love and compassion and grace.    I know we'd learn so much.

I wish my Caucasian friends with their beautiful African American boy could sit down and break bread with Paula and say, "Paula, please help us understand.  We've been so hurt by what we've read and we want to understand." I  know these people would take that meeting and handle it with grace. And then to have Paula feel safe to hear them and to feel their hearts without the fear of media or marketshare.  Now that's a special news report I'd actually tune in to.

That's actually what Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick Fil A, did with Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride LGBT leader during the anti gay bandwagon the media happily stirred up a few years ago.
 Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A

 Sadly, the media wasn't clambering to tell the follow up story.  I hope you'll take the time to read it in the link above.  It's an article by Shane about his experience with Dan Cathy.  And for the record, Dan is a white Christian guy.  Thankfully there are some good ones out there.

The good stuff doesn't get much news coverage.  Have you noticed that?  So, before we jump on another bandwagon.  Just remember, a circus clown started that movement from a parade float.