Turning A Jesus Wept Moment Into A Teachable Moment

It is now a week after the horrific events in Charlottesville. It has been a week full of news breaking faster than we can keep up with it and a rising tide of voices raised in opposition to the display of white supremacist violence and vitriol ... and to the stunning lack of moral leadership from a President either incapable or unwilling to condemn it.

From the Joint Chiefs of Staff issuing their own definitive anti-racism statement to CEOs fleeing his council of advice to the truly awesome letter of resignation from members of the President's Council on the Arts and the Humanities -- and even from some GOP leaders on Capitol Hill -- the message has been loud, clear and consistent: there are no "two sides" when one of the sides is torch bearing Nazis.

And yet what we hear from the President's Faith Advisory Council is ... crickets.

Now, let me be clear. An advisory council that includes Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Michelle Bachmann is not a group of folks I expect to agree with. Almost ever. About almost anything. But even given that reality, when we're talking about torch bearing white supremacist thugs carrying Nazi flags and terrorizing a prayer meeting one night and then inciting violence that killed one and injured 19 the next day you would think this at least would be an exception. This at least would be a place — in spite of our differences — we could find common moral ground.

If ever a moment called out for united, moral leadership it is this one ... and yet the faith voices advising the President speak volumes with their silence. No wonder Jesus wept.

And yet, it is also a teachable moment: a moment my friend and mentor the Reverend Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite has taught us to recognize as a "public theology" moment.

Exhibit A: My twitter response this morning to Faith Advisory Council member Pastor Mark Burns:

Exhibit B: Response from a twitter follower.

Now ... will one person finding out the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer fix racism in our nation or eradicate the toxin of white supremacy? Of course not. But it's a teeny, tiny example of what we can do to act as agents of change as we resist the tide of ignorance, the flood of fake news and the rise of revisionist history plaguing our country.

Jesus told us "the truth will set you free" (John 8:32) and the truth is knowing our history and sharing our history is one way of believing the future into being. Sister Joan Chittister famously said "we are each called to go through life reclaiming the planet an inch at a time until the Garden of Eden grows green again."

An inch at a time. A tweet at a time. Together we can turn this Jesus wept moment into a teachable moment. We can be the moral leadership we want to see — and that is the truth that will set us all free.

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