Archive for September, 2017

Do Broken People Matter? is a heartfelt and challenging post from Joshua Wilkey on his blog This Appalachian Life.  Joshua grew up in Appalachia, and knows about the suffering there from the inside.  He now teaches history at Brevard College. A big part of his life’s mission is to help people understand this beautiful, beloved, struggling American region, and especially its long struggle with poverty.  He wants to join with others in seeking solutions to Appalachia’s problems that truly respect the people who live there.

In this particular post Joshua tells some of his mother’s story, about the hard, dead-end jobs that broke her health and the mental illness and drug addictions that compounded the brokenness.  The few resources that were available to address her physical and mental health were totally inadequate.  She died on her fifty-fifth birthday.

Mental healthcare is a crying need in Appalachia and across America.  Joshua points out that if we are to have any hope of addressing the plague of drug addiction, the mental health resources must be there.  However, whether it’s poisoned water in Flint, Michigan (a problem that is ongoing) or drug overdoses in rural America, he writes, “It seems, at least on the national level, that no one is interested in treating crises in impoverished communities with the same urgency as crises in middle-class America.”  Often poor people are written off as trashy people who make trashy choices.  People with addictions are written off as low-level criminals.

Joshua’s writings and others compel me to look into my heart of hearts.  Do I really believe that all lives matter, or is the truth that I believe some lives matter less than others? Do I really believe that God loves and relentlessly seeks each one like a shepherd who won’t be satisfied until all are safely in the fold?  Do I believe that all lives are precious and worth the effort of caring?

I can’t help thinking of the mantra of the pigs who are the ruling elites in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”  Is a similar sentiment operating in my heart?

Do people whose brokenness and mess cannot be hidden matter?  Jesus certainly thought so.


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In an article entitled Choosing Church Marilyn McEntyre reflects on some reasons to consider becoming part of the life of a congregation.  But first she suggests several good reasons for avoiding some churches:

  • “Some churches are clubby and exclusionary.”
  • Some offer easy, oversimplified answers.
  • Some churches try (unsuccessfully) to imitate the language, music, and style of popular culture.  (Another way to put that is that they are trying to be something that they are not.  As many writers such as Rachel Held Evans have noted, young people can smell inauthenticity a mile a way.)
  • Some churches are predictable, lukewarm, and boring.
  • Some churches are partisan.  They support particular political candidates and tell people how to vote.

Now on to some good reasons for checking out church and giving church a chance:

  • “A healthy church will help you get over yourself.”  The church invites us into a story that is bigger than we are.
  • A healthy church calls us to confession, to acknowledge guilt and experience forgiveness.
  • A healthy church calls us to live according to the norms of the kingdom of God instead of the norms of the culture around us.
  • A healthy church gives us access to words and music that address the experience of life, connect us with the way of God and point us to the future.
  • A healthy church is a place to experience the presence of God.

There’s more in depth discussion of all of these in the article.  Check it out.



Prayerful hands3

Prayerful hands.

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