February 11, 2011
Last time I wrote you, dear Bison, I wrote about Fred Phelps and his right as an American to say ludicrous, hateful and terrible things.
At the time I thought it was relevant because Phelps had just sat before the Supreme Court to defend that right. Little did I know that olí Fred was looking to pay us humble Oklahomans a visit.
Dec. 5, Phelps & co. visited (and by that I mean hatefully protested) a couple of churches in Norman for worshiping ďan effeminate god who loves everyoneĒ and having so many members they must be teaching false doctrine. Iím sorry, pardon my exhausting over the top eye roll.
A few Oklahoma Baptist University students went to throw their lot in with those who decided to counter protest Westboro at Trinity Baptist. Iím definitely not saying what they did was wrong.
Letís be honest, had my parents not been in town that weekend I wouldíve been right there with them. But it has given me a chance to think about the appropriate way to respond to these people.
From what Iíve heard, some incredible things happened that morning. OBU students stood side by side with transgender individuals and bikers. Baptists offered cinnamon rolls to the same.
There is no way that I want to take away from that picture. There is something undeniably beautiful about churches happily offering hot chocolate and food to members of the LGBT community and I applaud that whole-heartedly.
But what was done for the Westboro members? Did we go out of our way to love them also? After all, Jesus said that everyone can love people on the same side. It takes the Holy Spirit to love those that hate you.
Again, I do think that these same breakfast items were offered on both sidesóand Phelps and crew declined (Shocker). So, I am very proud of my brothers and sisters who extended a hand to both the haters and the downtrodden.
And really, Iím not sure how to love people who are not interested in dialog, opting for megaphones and hate-filled signs instead. Possibly, offering a free cinnamon roll is the best we can do.
I wonder, if Jesus had been in Norman that Sunday (well, of course, he WAS, but you know what Iím trying to say) what would he have done? Would he have held a sign? Who would he have engaged in conversation? Would he have ignored the whole situation and gone somewhere else that morning?
Well, my fellow Bison, I am just unsure. I have been thinking about this for a couple weeks and I really donít have any words of wisdom for you.
For my part, I think Iíve decided that if I get the chance, I would like to counter protest Westboro. But, I hope that while Iím there the Holy Spirit stirs me to good conversations with the various types of people brought together by such an event.
Hopefully that would include both sides of the protest. And then, God willing, I can show my God loves, not just with the words I can write on a poster board but with the life giving actions in which he has called me to walk.
To all of you who went that morning, I pray that you do not feel like I have unfairly represented you.
I am not trying to critique your actions in any way, only thinking about the possibility of my own.
I am very glad for your opportunity to go stand for the God who is love. My prayers and heart were definitely with you.
And for the rest of us, where else does the God of love lack representation? Perhaps these are questions we should ask not only when the crazies are in town, but all the time.
After all, what is stopping me from having Spirit led, life giving conversations everyday? Maybe I should thank Phelps for reminding me how much this world really does need the God who loves.