To The Men on the Other Side of #MeToo

As I watched my social media feeds fill up over the past two days, with hundreds of #MeToo hashtags from women sharing their firsthand experience of sexual harassment or assault, I began to grieve.

I grieved for the sheer volume of the revelations, realizing they will still only barely scratch the surface; how many more women are too traumatized, too protective of their privacy, or simply not yet ready to make such personal declarations to an invisible assembly of relative strangers—many of them, the very kinds of men responsible for these wounds. I know how many more women are carrying these terrible stories around and do not want to tell them.

And that’s the thing: they shouldn’t have to.

No survivor of violence should be compelled to unearth their hidden scars in order to reach those responsible for them. Men, the onus should not be on women who have been harassed or assaulted, to expose themselves to further injury just to show us the scale and the depth of our own sickness. This is our responsibility. We should be the ones doing the soul excavation and the mirror-gazing, and we should be the ones now openly confessing our #MeToo’s, in these moments when the world is watching.

We should be the ones making ourselves vulnerable; the ones sharing with our circles of friends, loved ones, business associates, church friends, and social media acquaintances; how complicit we are in this vile epidemic. 

This isn’t the time for each of us to broadcast our self-created good guy resumes, to defend our personal virtue, or to imagine why these are all some other guy’s stories—because that’s largely the point here: these are probably our stories.

The wounds of the #MeToo’s are likely ones we have been responsible for inflicting, if not in personal acts of aggression:

In the times we stood silently in the company of a group of catcalling men; too cowardly to speak in a woman’s defense.
In the way we’ve voraciously consumed pornography without a second thought of the deep humanity and the beautiful stories beneath the body parts.
In the times we pressured a woman to give more of herself than she felt comfortable giving, and how we justified ourselves after we had.
In the times we laughed along with a group of men speaking words that denied the intrinsic value of women.
In the times we used the Bible to justify our misogyny.
In the times we defended predatory bragging as simply “locker room talk.”

In the times we imagined our emotional proximity to a woman entitled us to physical liberties.

Guys, while we may not believe we have committed direct acts of violence against women (however given the statistics, this is quite likely), we have each participated in a culture of misogyny and sexism that continues to victimize and traumatize, to steal safety and generate fear, to deny humanity and to cultivate disrespect. We are fully complicit in these #MeToo stories, whether we have intentionally acted, contributed unknowingly, nurtured with our silence, multiplied with our laughter, our cosigned with our credit cards.

And in these days, we should not be expecting women to further make themselves vulnerable just to wake our consciences up and to call us to places of decency and accountability that we should already be aspiring to.

We should be the ones stepping from the shadows right now.
We should be the one laying our souls bare.
We should be risking the judgment of strangers.
We should be the ones demanding renovation.

We are the other side of the #MeToo stories.
We are the writers of these awful stories.
It’s time we owned this sickness.
It’s time we stopped it. 

 

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.

Things Trump-Supporting Christians Can Pray About In Church This Sunday

If you’re a professed Christian currently still supporting this President and Administration, and you’re on your way to church on Sunday—here are a few things you might talk with God about, as you stand shoulder to shoulder in a room filled with other supposed followers of Jesus, singing, raising your hands skyward, and imagining yourself righteous:

Pray about the 48 confirmed dead in Puerto Rico; for those who still have no water, no food, no medication, and no way to contact loved ones who are still desperately waiting to hear their voices since Maria—and because your President has spent the past two weeks insulting their exhausted mayor, telling these American citizens they’ve all damaged the budget by their tragedy, suggesting that their people are lazy, and threatening to abandon them completely.

Pray about the tens of millions of sick, elderly, and poor who are slowly being suffocated, as your President sabotages the Affordable Care Act; literally taking life-giving, life-saving care from those least able to procure it; sacrificing the health and healing of human beings simply to destroy Barack Obama’s legacy

Pray about the people of color in this country who recently watched torch-bearing racists march through a city, terrorize clergy, beat people with pipes, and kill a young woman with little more than a slap on the wrist from your President—while he relentlessly crusades on social media against black ESPN reporters and kneeling football players who he called “sons of bitches”.

Pray about muslim families in America who daily face the insults and isolation and violence, simply because their faith tradition has been vilified by your President; that they have been fashioned into a convenient enemy in order to leverage the irrational fears of those who are easily baited, and made to be pariahs in the place they rightfully call home.

Pray about the dozens of Californians who’ve died and the thousands facing devastation and peril as wildfires continue to blaze out of control—while your President takes his 68th golf trip in ten months.

Pray about the families of the 59 people murdered in Las Vegas and the 500-plus who were injured—and about the fact that your President continues to suck at the teat of the NRA, to oppose any sensible gun control measures, and to insure that the next massacre will not be far behind.

Pray about the LGBTQ men and women, and for their brothers, sisters, parents, spouses, and best friends, who are being pushed deeper toward marginalization, further from safety, and ever closer to depression, self-harm, and suicide because this President is aligning himself with those most responsible for their persecution.

Pray about the millions of women whose healthcare, access to birth control, and protection against assault are being chipped away by a President who has proven over and over again that he has contempt for women.

Pray about the dreamers and the immigrants; those with dark skin, those for whom English may be a second language, those for whom America may have been an adopted home or a place of refuge or the desire of their desperate parent’s heart—those who are made to feel unwelcome or threatened or unwanted because of this Presidency’s malice and vitriol.

And yes, pray about this President.

Ask God specifically how his life and body of work align with the Jesus you’ve known all your life; the one you find hope and joy in, the one you read about in the Gospels, the one whose voice you recognize as peacemaker, forgiver, lover, healer, helper.

Ask God if his vile words about women, his cruelty toward those suffering, his vicious social media tirades, his neglect of hurricane victims, his siphoning of funding from public school students and healthcare from cancer patients—if any of it feels at all like the Jesus who talked of loving the least, of caring for the poor, of loving their neighbors as they love God, of the last being first, of the righteous turning their cheeks, of the meek inheriting the earth, of the good Samaritan showing mercy.

Ask Jesus if this President is someone worth a follower of Christ emulating, celebrating, empowering, amen-ing—if he is someone living in that image.

Ask Jesus about saying that the way we treat the lowest and the vulnerable is the way we treat him—and how this President is treating him.

Ask Jesus what the world is learning about his heart for the world, his character, his compassion, his gentleness by the man you elevated to our highest human platform.

Ask Jesus about the kind of world he was trying to usher in when his feet were on the planet—and how this President is doing anything to make it a reality in these days.

And if you can walk out of that worship gathering into another Sunday afternoon, completely unchanged and without sensing the slightest conflict between Jesus Christ of Nazareth and Donald Trump of DC, and without a trace of discomfort at the disconnect between your inner convictions and his tangible actions—pray for yourself, because you have clearly lost the plot of the one who brought the world a Good News that is now completely inaudible in these days because of this man and because of a Church that refuses to stand against him.

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.

 

 

If You’re Overwhelmed Right Now

I don’t know you but I think I know some things about you.

I think you’re exhausted right now.
I think you find it hard to fall asleep; worrying what might happen if you do, the monsters you imagine may run amok overnight.
I think you wake up in the morning, and the first thing you feel is a thick dread for the coming day and the brand new terrors surely awaiting you.
I think you fear for people you love deeply; those who give your ordinary days meaning, those who are close enough to touch and who you know are threatened and frightened.
I think you fear for strangers far off in the distance; those whose faces and names you’ll never know and yet whose suffering you still fully grieve.
I think you look at your children across the room and that you mourn the world they’re walking into, that you expend so much energy trying to shield them from the kind of nightmares that they shouldn’t ever have to face in the light of day.
I think you feel the very bedrock of the things you used to stand upon shaking violently in these moments; once elemental truths about country, about God, about the goodness of people and the future of the planet that no longer seem as true.
I think you wear the crippling fatigue of these days in the ever-sharpening lines around your eyes, and in the tired smile you find it more and more difficult to form.
I think you feel fully pressed against your capacity to feel or care or continue.
I think you feel like you’re attending a perpetual funeral for America.
I think you’re at the end of the last thread of your rope.

And I’d like to tell you that you’re wrong to feel these all of things.

I’d like to argue each point with you; to chip away bit by bit at the massive weight upon your shoulders, to expose your every fear as simply a mirage, as just the darkness playing tricks on you—but I can’t do that.

I can’t do that because I’m not convinced you’re at all wrong to feel these things. In fact, probably all I can do is to let you know that I think you’re likely right about all that feels not right—and that I am with you in it.

Maybe the best and only gift I can give you today is to let you know that you’re not alone and you’re not crazy. You are in good company in this plentiful misery.

Perhaps knowing that someone else feels affinity with you in all your frazzled, sickened, outraged desperation is enough to sustain you a little longer. Maybe hearing that at least one other human being is suffering in solidarity with you, is itself a comfort. Maybe these words will be enough to tether you to hope for a little while longer—and that would be a victory.

Because in times when threat comes and grief visits and sadness lingers, the greatest weapon we have is hope; the belief that somehow, in ways we can’t understand or see or make sense of—we will outlast the demons and the darkness and the very non-rightness of the present. All I can offer you is the invitation not to lose hope and pray that in accepting it, I’ll be able to keep going to.

You are not an isolated mourner. The vast majority of us are grieving as you do. Take solace in that. Find some rest and sanity in that.

I don’t know you but I think I know something about you.

I know that I’m overwhelmed along with you.

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.

 

 

  

 

You Don’t Get to Support Donald Trump and Be Outraged at Harvey Weinstein

                                                                                                                                       Alexander Koerner/Getty

Based on the stories that continue to surface from women in Hollywood, film producer Harvey Weinstein bears all the markers of a serial predator; a man who for years, appears to have exploited his considerable power and position to take advantage of vulnerable women for his own pleasure. If the allegations and the surfaced recordings prove true, they’re as sickening as it gets; a violation of any measure of human decency and humanity. 

Weinstein is now rightly experiencing the consequences of his allegedly abhorrent behavior. In the wake of the revelations, he was fired from his company, his wife announced she is leaving him, and he’s faced a torrent of social media outrage. This is how we’re supposed to treat predatory behavior. This should be the fallout of exploitation and sexual misconduct. Those who advocate for sexual assault victims should be shouting for Weinstein’s head from the rooftops. 

But there is a sanctimonious choir seeking to add their voices to the film producer’s condemnation right now, who have no right to include themselves: fierce, passionate, steadfast defenders of Donald Trump.

Rewind twelve short months, as video surfaced of the then Presidential candidate saying the most explicit, vile things about women; bragging of forced affections, of sexual advances on married women, of the human spoils of power and fame he reveled in. At the same time, stories of several women surfaced, with accusations of their sexual assault by his hands.

And yet a month later, even with recorded revelations, even with Trump’s own damning words, even with the gathering storm of alleged victims—these same people rewarded him with their vote and with the Presidency of this country—and they remain unapologetic in it. They have relinquished any professed moral high ground. Their weeping and gnashing of teeth is fraudulent; their righteous indignation laughable—especially given their recent and current bedfellow.

Weinstein is now facing the fallout of his alleged behavior as that behavior is coming to light to the general population. He is being retroactively punished for past misconduct (as he should be if these stories prove true). Regardless of whether you believe those decrying it now; those terminating and abandoning him are doing so out of public pressure—they are doing it. The last thing they’d do is campaign for him for public office. No one with scruples would cast their vote for him.

Revelations about Donald Trump surfaced well before the Presidential election, and 62 million Americans armed with this information—summarily responded by elevating him to the highest position of leadership in this country. They chose the “grab them by the p*ssy—move on her like a b*itch” dude. Their vote then nullifies their outrage now.

Men who use their position and their power to violate other human beings are a cancer, and they should be ostracized and exposed and unequivocally damned. This is isn’t about defending Harvey Weinstein or the behavior he is accused of. No one with any sense of decency is doing that. I’m certainly not. The allegations surrounding him are egregious and fully sickening, and they merit condemnation and decisive response. As a person of faith, as a father sure, but also as a human being just seeking to be a productive participant in civilization, the things Weinstein is purported to have done make my blood boil and turn my stomach—but them again that is my reaction to such things wherever I see them.

Supporters of this President don’t get to now loudly call for Weinstein’s head, while simultaneously championing Donald Trump with equal vigor, while choosing to explain away everything in his recent past, while vilifying his alleged victims. They don’t get to claim care for the well-being of Weinstein’s’ accusers, after having placed the lives of hundreds of millions of women and girls in the legislative hands of a man whose character, track record, and body of work show an equally stomach-turning contempt for inherent worth of women. This kind of inconsistent ethic of victim advocacy is the height of hypocrisy.

At this point, based on the accusations and the evidence, Harvey is correctly becoming a pariah in the public eye; a man forever marked by his mistreatment and violence toward women. Right now, given the allegations surrounding him, and his own words—Weinstein has nowhere to go.

His only viable option right now might be to fire off a hasty apology, state his opposition to abortion, his love of handguns, to claim he’s found Jesus—and then run for the Republican nomination. Maybe a few short years from now, 62 million supposed advocates for women, will slap his name on their hats and bumpers, and claim he’s making America great again.

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.