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Showing posts from August, 2014

Empathy is not Enough

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The key to healthy relationships is not merely acknowledging each other's feelings; it's acknowledging that we all play a part in creating those feelings.

If you asked me what one thing has sustained my marriage for the past six years, I would say it's that principle. And I'm willing to bet that in ten, twenty, thirty years, I'll still say the same thing. Because unlike empathy, affective responsibility ensures that the relationship doesn't become one-sided.

To be clear, empathy is important and it's earned greater discussion in recent years for good reason.

Our modern society has historically been resistant to valuing emotion; in fact, the only credence feelings were ever given was when they could be supported by reason. Thus, conflict resolution used to be more of an exercise in sterile retribution where emotional responses that didn't make sense were dismissed with a "get over it" and a shrug.

Empathy challenged that convention by suggestin…

What is a Black Man's Value?

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I'm not black. And I will never understand what it means to be black in America. So as far as I'm concerned, I don't have much of a voice on issues like what we're seeing in Ferguson, Missouri. But I can stand in solidarity with my friends who do have voices. And I'm making their voice my voice.
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Guest post by Ashanti Pettaway
Personal diary entry, 8/13/14: I'm wrestling with some anger. Because in the last month, three black males have been killed by police. The black male is of no value in many peoples' eyes. These recent deaths along with Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and Jonathan Ferrell have made that clear. And now I'm asking myself, what do I tell my son? He is God's child, so I will not live in fear. But how do I teach him to be wise when dealing with police officers (and many in society) who don't see him as God's child but as a NIGGER whose life doesn't have value? Those dark thoughts are what I wrestle with as a father. And …

You're Picking Churches Wrong

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If you pick a church based on how much you agree with what they believe, you're contributing to the disunity of the body of Christ.

Unless you're some sort of emergent, post-modern, Unitarian, you would probably say the opposite: that doctrine is the most important thing to consider when choosing a church. And it's true that the Christian needs to be on guard against heresy. But it's also true that most of what many Christians call heresy, isn't actually heresy. So it follows that most of what many Christians call orthodoxy, isn't actually orthodoxy. And this means that orthodoxy is the biggest obstacle to unity.

You may think that your present church is an exception, but if everyone is in agreement with one another on the essentials and generally gets along, then it's not. Why? Because unity at the local level doesn't represent unity at the global level.

Does your church partner with others of different denominations? Do you or other members of your ch…

She Doesn't Need a Man Standard

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I don't want my daughter to marry a man like me. I don't want her to have marriage like mine. I don't even want her to think of me or my marriage as "good." So I've decided not to be a role model for my daughter.

On some level, I know that can't be avoided. Little girls idolize their fathers and look to them as the only example of manhood they have. This is why we often hear that girls with "good" dads will grow up to have a healthy view of men, and those with "bad" dads will have an unhealthy view. As wise as this sounds, I'm still uncomfortable ever being equated with "good" in my daughter's mind.

That's not because I'm afraid I won't be a great dad, I will. Call it pretense or call it resolve; either way, it's happening. But it's also the last thing I want my daughter to think about me. Because if she sees me as good, she sees good as me.

Not only am I not good (quite awful, really), most of me…

What If I Don't Want My Faith?

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For twenty-eight years, I never got angry at God.

I never questioned him when my church family talked behind my back. I never second-guessed him when my own family seemed to be unraveling and life felt like a solo endeavor (which also served as a great incubator for cynicism). And I never blamed him for letting all of this happen, even though I never doubted that he was behind all of it.

Based on the countless inventories I took in youth group, I used to attribute this to my spiritual gift: faith.

Come year twenty-nine, things changed. I kept my cool the first time my furnace died during one of the coldest days of the year in my new house with new baby. I didn't curse God the second time the same tire on my new car went flat not long after transitioning to a single income.

But when the furnace broke the second time and the tires went flat a third time, I lost it. I looked up into the heavens and called for lightning with a resolute voice:

God, I know you're there and I know yo…