I Don’t Care Who’s Sitting in the Oval Office

I had a rather large glass of wine last night while I was watching the election results roll in, and I fell asleep before the finale. I was awakened at 2:16 am by a text from my eldest daughter: “I don’t know if you’re up and saw the results of the election. Be careful going on social media tomorrow.” My youngest also texted me: “Why is he allowed to be the president, mom? I’m so scared.”

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Sometimes, Quiet is Violent

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Sometimes, quiet is violent.” – twenty one pilots

So, here’s the thing: A few weeks ago, a Black friend of mine called me an ally. I’ve come to understand that’s an earned title, and I intend to keep it—which means I need to say some things. As shaky as my hands are… as nervous as my belly is… as swirly as my head is… I need to say some things. 

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Area of Refuge

Hi. It’s Kelley. It’s been more than two months since my last confession post.

The last few weeks, I’ve been wholly self-absorbed. My youngest squirrel graduated from high school. We sold one house and bought another (much smaller) one. We discovered none of our furniture would fit in the new place, so we spent hours shopping for a bunch of new stuff (which is not nearly as fun as it sounds) (first-world problems).

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Queer

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I brag about my kids on Facebook.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve posted many, many times about my high school senior, Bekah. Yesterday, in my ongoing attempt to dispel my kids’ assertion that I have a favorite child, I posted about my college sophomore, Emily. I mentioned how smart she is. I mentioned how much she’s learning and, consequently, teaching me. I mentioned that she’s a queer woman.

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A Man Standing Naked in the Middle of the Street

Note: A friend of a friend of a friend wrote this post on Facebook and it made its way to me. I reached out to the author, Dr. Timothy Huffman, and he graciously agreed to allow me to share it as a guest post here. Just so there’s no confusion: This is neither my experience nor my words; they’re Dr. Huffman’s. And they wrecked me in all the best ways.

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It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m driving on Thurman Ave, on my way home from FedEx making copies. As I drive north, the traffic is sorta strange. Cars pulled off at weird angles or creeping very slowly. As I drive on, I see why.

There is a man standing naked in the middle of the street.

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A Monday Morning Paradigm Shift

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I learned a new word this morning.

pedant: a person who annoys other people by correcting small errors and giving too much attention to minor details

Oh.

You mean, my openly hostile response to the disappearance of the Oxford comma isn’t charming? My habit of editing billboards aloud on road trips isn’t adorable? My propensity to rearrange sentences beyond all reason to avoid ending them with a preposition isn’t brave and pure?

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Paying Attention

Today, I’d planned to engage in my every-once-in-a-while practice of playing ostrich—sticking my head in the sand, pretending everything is just fine, and writing about something light and fluffy and fun.

But then, quite out of nowhere, it dawned on me that my cousin and her husband are Muslim.

I confess that I don’t know E— well; I was an Air Force brat, moved around all the time, and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in the same room with her. (One of those times was actually in a tent camper in our grandparents’ backyard, playing a double-deck game of War that lasted for hours. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.) I’ve never met her husband in person, and I’ve only seen pictures of their impossibly cute kindergartner. None of that matters though; they are family, they are Muslim, and I’m afraid for them.

E— confirmed my concern when I contacted her tonight. She said she had been considering wearing the hijab, but “it’s too dangerous.” She said they’ve taught their daughter not to say Islamic words aloud.

Did you catch that? Ours is a country founded on religious freedom, and these family members of mine are afraid to freely practice their religion.

Moments after my conversation with my cousin, I read a Facebook update from a high school friend. She’s a teacher, and today a student asked if she’s Muslim (she wears a scarf). When she said, “Yes,” that student and two others began saying hateful (and inaccurate) things about Islam. They wouldn’t stop, and she had to call for administrative support. As she described to the counselor who came to her aid what happened, she broke down. Reading her story, I did, too. I just keep thinking, “How can she go back to her classroom tomorrow?”

So, instead of burying my head in the sand and pretending everything is good and right and wonderful, I’m going to say some bold things.

If we who call ourselves Christ-followers are not outraged at how our Muslim brothers and sisters are being treated, particularly in our own country, we are not paying attention.

If we who call ourselves Christ-followers are not weeping for our Muslim family, friends, teachers, neighbors, physicians, bank tellers, librarians, cashiers, managers, firefighters, and baristas, we are not paying attention. 

By the way, this isn’t even about “loving our enemies.” Hear this: E—, G—, M— and J— are not our enemies, and neither are the Muslims in your neighborhood and community.

STOP. I know what some of you are thinking:

“Kelley, you don’t know that. That couple in San Bernardino—they were the enemy. How do you know the Muslims I know aren’t just like them?”

I don’t. I don’t know that.

But here’s what I do know: If we’re walking around making suspected enemies out of everyone who looks, dresses, speaks, or practices religion differently than we do, we are not paying attention to the Gospel we profess. There should be no but or unless or except at the tail end of any statement that includes the word love, and if we who call ourselves Christ-followers withhold love, compassion, and concern “just in case,” we are not paying attention. 

Ugh.

If I’m sounding all arrogant and “I’m super-Christian and you suck,” I don’t mean that at all. I’m just sad and angry and horrified and embarrassed and trying to be hopeful but losing ground quickly.

Here’s the bottom line: My cousin and her husband are Muslim. My friend is Muslim. They are afraid.

And they now have my full attention.