Christians: Be ‘Unsilent’ About Things That Really Matter (2016 Election)

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, JR

 


In the 3 days following the 2016 Election, 3 NBA Coaches offered heart-felt statements that I found to be timely and vividly-expressive – and that I agree with.  While I can’t say that any of them are Christians, all three seem to be morally-grounded men.  While one of them is known to speak from time to time on social issues (Steve Kerr), the other two (Stan Van Gundy and Gregg Popovich) aren’t – but were refreshingly frank and fervent in their Election week remarks.  With the Inaugeration of the 45th President Friday, today seemed a good time to share what they said in the aftermath of the Elections.

When juxtaposed against Rev. Noah Van Niel’s Sermon five days after the Election featured in Sermon Says: Hopefulness, God’s Presence, & Racial Harmony, I think these four men offer an enlightening perspective on the last eleven weeks in this country.

Excerpts of the coaches’ statements, emphasis added, are provided below.

  • Stan Van Gundy, Coach, Detroit Pistons

  • Steve Kerr. Coach, Golden State Warriors

  • Gregg Popovich, Coach, San Antonio Spurs

 


Stan Van Gundy

  • You read how [Trump] was embraced by conservative Christians. Evangelical Christians. I’m not a religious guy, but what the hell Bible are they reading? I’m dead serious. What Bible are you reading? And you’re supposed to be — it’s different. There are a lot of different groups we can be upset at. But you’re Christians. You’re supposed to be — at least you pride yourself on being the moral compass of our society. And you said, ‘Yeah, the guy can talk about women like that. I’m fine with that.’ He can disparage every ethnic group, and I’m fine with that”.
  • Martin Luther King said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.’  I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today. … What we have done to minorities … in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it”.
  • I have been ashamed of a lot of things that have happened in this country, but I can’t say I’ve ever been ashamed of our country until today. Until today. We all have to find our way to move forward, but that was — and I’m not even trying to make a political statement. To me, that’s beyond politics”.
  • I didn’t vote for (George W.) Bush, but he was a good, honorable man with whom I had political differences, so I didn’t vote for him. But for our country to be where we are now, who took a guy who — I don’t care what anyone says, I’m sure they have other reasons and maybe good reasons for voting for Donald Trump — but I don’t think anybody can deny this guy is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic and ethnic-centric, and say, ‘That’s OK with us, we’re going to vote for him anyway.’  We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country”.

Steve Kerr

  • “I thought it took a lot of guts for Stan [Van Gundy] to say what he did and I think a lot of us feel similarly,” Kerr said.  For me, probably the biggest disappointment with this election was the level of discourse. There should be some level of decorum and respect and dignity that goes with the election. And it was like [that] went out the window. Maybe we should have seen it coming over the last 10 years . . . And I guess it was only a matter of time before it spilled into politics, but then you’re faced with the reality that the man who’s going to lead you has routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words. That’s a tough one. That’s a tough one. I wish him well”.
  • I don’t know what else to say. It’s just the whole process has left all of us I think feeling just kind of disgusted and disappointed.  I thought we were better than this.  I thought the Jerry Springer Show was the Jerry Springer Show”.

Gregg Popovich

  • Right now I’m just trying to formulate thoughts. It’s still early and I’m still sick to my stomach.  Not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, and I live in that country where half the country ignored all that to elect someone. That’s the scariest part of the whole thing to me”.
  • We live in a country that ignored all those values that we would hold our kids accountable for. They’d be grounded for years if they acted and said the things that have been said in that campaign by Donald Trump. I look at the evangelicals and I wonder, ‘Those values don’t mean anything to them?’ All those values to me are more important than anybody’s skill in business or anything else because it tells who we are and how we want to live and what kind of people we are.
  • We didn’t make this stuff up. [Trump’s] angry at the media because they reported what he said and how he acted.  It’s ironic to me.  It just makes no sense.  So that’s my real fear and that’s what gives me so much pause and makes me feel so badly that the country is willing to be that intolerant and not understand the empathy that’s necessary to understand other group situations. “I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African-American, a Hispanic, a handicapped person, how disenfranchised they might feel . . . The race baiting with trying to make Barack Obama, our first black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living and with whom I’m living”.

Links to their statements:

Detroit Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy goes off on Trump: ‘Brazenly racist’ (audio and transcript)

Gregg Popovich uncensored: Full transcript of thoughts on Donald Trump (audio and transcript)

Steve Kerr on election of Donald Trump: ‘I thought we were better than this’ (transcript)


While Steve Kerr’s was the most diplomatic of the three, they all show the profound power of being unsilent – i.e. speaking up when situation warrants!  While you may not be as prominent as a NBA coach, your refusal to be silent ‘about the things that matter’ is a good thing too. 

As Kerr stated “There should be some level of decorum and respect and dignity that goes with the election”.   When he thought the mood of his players the day after Elections was due to a game his team had just lost, Van Gundy quickly learned – from one of the basketball players- that it was about who’d won the Elections that was causing them to feel the way they felt.  Neither Popovich or Van Gundy felt like talking about the games their teams had just played after making their statements to the reporters. 

As a Christian, being unsilent means, among other things, casting your vote in elections – and being willing to speak up when the outcome is one you find morally troublesome.  Many, including these three NBA coaches and myself, feel this is such an election.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have posted on 66 Assurance Way on a topic I typically have avoided: Politics.  Regardless of who’s in the Oval Office, remember the one who sits high and looks low.  The Lord is our Shepherd!

To God be the glory.

 Greg Silverthorne, 66 Assurance Way

Sermon Says: Hopefulness, God’s Presence, & Racial Harmony

If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality

that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be.”

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Keeping the Courage to Be: Your Hopes, Your Dreams

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am personally the victim of deferred dreams, of blasted hopes, but in spite of that . . . I still have a dream, because, you know, you can’t give up in life. If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream. I have a dream that one day men will rise up and come to see that they are made to live together as brothers”. [Emphasis added]

These words are from the last Christmas Sermon (December 1967) that King delivered, prior to his assassination in 1968. The importance of having hope and having dreams are expressed in this sermon by the embattled civil rights leader.   Racial harmony is based in all people really ‘living together as brothers’.   Therefore, simply uttering the word Unity in a single speech doesn’t mean that a diverse, divided country is magically transformed!  In the 1960s, when I was a young child living in New York, or now.

Sadly, in 2017, nearly fifty years after the death of MLK from an assassin’s bullet, we’re still a nation that judges people too often on their color – not their character.   Men of God like the other man who I showcase in this post, Rev. Noah Van Niel, give me hope that MLK’s dream is still possible.  A deferred dream, not an impossible dream.  

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Your Soul: A Stronghold Against Hate and Fear

Rev. Noah Van Niel

But allow me to offer a little bit of hope, a reminder of what the soul actually is and how it is constructed and valued. It is not external, it is internal. It is not made, it is given. It is not earned, it is instilled. It is not of humanity, it is of God. And as such, it is not subject to the changing winds of culture or politics. It is more stable, more lasting, and more resilient than anything else we possess. Our lives are liable to be molded and shaped by all sorts of forces beyond our control. But our soul—that bit of God that resides in each of us—is unchanging in that it is always pure, and righteous and good and it is always there no matter how much hatred, or anger, or worry, or fear is piled on top of it. And it will, always, have the last word”. [Emphasis added]

In that God has the final say, your soul will have “the last word”.  Period.  End of discussion.  This powerful Sermon was delivered on the Sunday after the recent Elections (11/13/16) by Rev. Van Niel.  I thank my friend Thomas, who I profiled in “When Hate Arises, Silence is Tacit Approval: One Man’s Story, for bringing this Sermon to my attention.  I’ve personally thanked Rev. Van Niel for delivering a message I, and many others, needed to hear!

The eloquence and empathy of this young, white Priest was one of the most calming things I experienced in the days after the candidate I didn’t vote for won.  To this fifty-something Black man in NC (yes, NC . . . Pray for me!), God knew I needed something compelling, spiritual, and anointed to deal with the changes I was enduring.  Reflecting on this Priest’s words was part of my own post-election strategy to not loss hope – when the candidate I voted for lost (in the Electoral College).  

God’s presence in our souls is something no Christian should take for granted.  Your soul is a stronghold like no other!


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Strategies for Dealing with Life’s Storms

Leslie Vernick

The sermons of Dr. King and Rev. Van Niel serve as a foundation for the insightful strategies which Leslie Vernick offers.   In times of disappointment and discouragement, even the most abiding Christians may feel like they can’t go on.  Sermons, without specific coping strategies, may not have had the impact the Lord desired for this post today – my first in 2017.   

In “5 Ways to Stop Discouragement from Getting the Best of You” Vernick offers some spiritual steps that you can take when facing disappointment.   They are in my humble Christian opinion a very good complement to the pulpit-delivered words of King and Van Niel.   

  • After offering four ways that abiding Christians can be discouraged, Vernick offers “five (5) steps you can take when you start to feel the black cloud of discouragement swallow you up“.   With ‘the God in you’ that is your soul, with ‘that courage to be’, and your dreams, you CAN deal with tough times like a champion.  You can go on!   The steps, described poignantly in her article, are:

1. Be honest.

2. Take care of your body.

3. Pay attention to your thought life.

4. Train yourself to “see” life out of two lenses at the same time

5. Press close into God


Link to full Sermons:

 


Our soul—that bit of God that resides in each of us— is

unchanging . . . and good and it is always there no matter how much

hatred, or anger, or worry, or fear is piled on top of it”.

Rev. Noah Van Niel



Photo credits:

Bible – honorbound/fickr  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson & Rev. King – U.S. Embassy New Delhi/flickr  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Cross – Dave King/flickr  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Harmony, not hate and ‘darkness’ (M.L. King)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction….
The chain reaction of evil —
hate begetting hate,
wars producing more wars —
must be broken,
or we shall be plunged
into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968)
Strength To Love speech, 1963

 5332424980_cfecb39780Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson & Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964)


You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 5:43-45a (NASB)


Photo credit:

Signing of Civil Rights Act (7/2/64):  U.S. Embassy New Delhi/flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. (8/28/63) : ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech


Today is the ANNIVERSARY of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous I Have a Dream speech (transcript) . . . delivered on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.


“I have a dream that my four little children will one day

live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin

but by the content of their character”.

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1964)

August 28, 1963

‘Strength to Love’ (Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction….
The chain reaction of evil —
hate begetting hate,
wars producing more wars —
must be broken,
or we shall be plunged
into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968)
Strength To Love speech, 1963

(August 11, 1963, exactly 5 weeks before the Sunday Sept. 15th Birmingham Church bombing – which killed 4 Black girls)

 5332424980_cfecb39780President Lyndon B. Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964)

 


  • In light of the events of the past ten days, sparked by the death of the ‘Mother Emanuel 9’ (including Clem Pinckney) at the hands of a racially-violent shooter, the words of King -a Minister/Martyr like Rev. Pinckney- came to mind.

 Greg Silverthorne, 66 Assurance Way


Photo credit:

Signing of Civil Rights Act (7/2/64):  U.S. Embassy New Delhi/flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

Success Quote – Mar. 8, 2015

So true! While we all would like to live a long life, and go ‘up yonder’ to enjoy eternal salvation, ask yourself this: What am I doing down here?  This great MLK quote reminds me of many scriptures (about our purpose and God’s plan for us). It also reminds me of the following quote: “Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.” (Henry David Thoreau).  Do more than simply exist, Live!  Thanks for sharing Paul.

Goal Habits.com

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“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.” 
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Enjoy today.
Achieve today.
Tomorrow is promised to no one!

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Honoring the Legacy of a Visionary with a Great Dream

When I was just 2 years old, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of the greatest speeches ever given. The ideals of that great speech (“I Have A Dream”) are part of his great legacy. While his life was sadly cut short, his words -including many from the Bible- live on to this day.  MLK helped show us the way!