Essays for King Jesus
- Keeshon Washington
This story is Part 2 of a 4-part series.
Soon after VBS, I was solicited for a weekly program that ran through the year. I remembered enough from the VBS picnic that I didn’t put up a fight, but I still went with a general cynicism toward the whole program. I remember walking into our school gym with a look that would have shot right through you. I was unwilling to enjoy myself, and made that clear to everybody around me. One of my teachers was a man by the name of Dave Mellinger. He had a smile that always looked like he had just pulled a prank on someone or done something mischievous. I knew when I first saw him that he was going to be annoyingly loving.
- Keeshon Washington
In 1775 British forces were stomping through Massachusetts with their eyes set on seizing weapons stockpiled by the American colonists. On this journey they encountered a small army of minutemen and as it is reported, “somebody fired the first shot.” This led to another small battle later that day that left the British retreating back to their home base. This first shot is famously known as “the shot heard round the world.” It began the Revolutionary War, and eventually led to the freedom that many of us live in today.
It may be a little unconventional to start a blog series with a history lesson. But what can I say? I’m a teacher in practice and at heart. When I was growing up, I never imagined I would be a history teacher. For me, life was limited to a host of undesirable options, all of which ended with me living in a crime-infested reality that would either get me incarcerated or on a t-shirt (in my home area, we put our dead friends on t-shirts to commemorate them). I was loved by enough people that if I did happen to die, I would become like the many of my friends or cousins that had met the bad end of a gun. I would be grieved over for a week, and then never mentioned again.
You can imagine my skepticism when a group of white people came into my neighborhood (what we call to this day “the hood”), and preached a message that promised a different path. A path that would avoid spiritual death entirely, and minimize earthly death and its effects. A path that would lead me to live in joy and in endless hope, helping me to forgive anyone who had ever wronged me and have unwavering peace. A path that would help me know the force or entity that had created me in the first place. All of this sounded like a fairy tale that rich white people told kids like me to bring me into compliance. While they lived more reputable lives than myself, I sat and listened to their doctrine. I resented it all, and for a brief part of my life, came to hate God.
- Wayne Rutt
Is the deteriorating atmosphere regarding the Jewish people in the U.S.A. and abroad a new thing? Even prior to the New Covenant, the Jewish people have been singled out for discrimination; it has never truly gone away. So what is the current situation today, and how shall the Anabaptist community respond? The answer requires reflection on the issues involved, biblical perspective, and living faith.
Vandalism, shootings, stabbings, hate filled rants, eggings; these all seem like somewhat common fare against Jewish people today. The motives behind these crimes are often foggy, and truly there are many different platforms from which to address the issues. A few of the motives have included: copy-cat attacks, white and black supremacy groups, poor neighborly relationships, plain hatred, and criminal opportunists. Law enforcement has struggled to defend Jews because the hatred comes from such a wide spectrum of society. Notably, it was reported, “…in most cases, the attackers have not stated a clear reason for their attacks”. “They all had one common theme, which was the hatred of Jews, and that’s the common thread here and that’s what we have to keep our eye on,” said Evan Bernstein, the New York/New Jersey regional director at the Anti-Defamation League.2 Astonishingly, Mike Huckabee reported, “Jews represent less than 2% of the American population, but 60% of religion-based crimes in 2018 were directed toward Jewish people”.4 Day to day life has been somewhat unaffected in the Jewish communities of NYC, but there is a realization of the ever-present danger. Externally, reminders of this reality are clear with the increased police presence in Jewish communities. Internally, painful memories of the not-too-distant past still linger.