Letter to a Friend Who Loves the Word

In this time when circumstance and scientism endeavors to prevail over definition and faith; praise for what you do.

For about six years now, beneath my name and contact information for every email sent is the acronym HUMSFOR: humility, understanding, mercy, selflessness, forgiveness, obedience, and repentance.

That acronym is the last thing I look at before tapping the send button. It causes me to ask myself “does this email reflect those struggles of faith which I daily interject between me and God’s grace-filled reconciliation toward me despite my sinful life?”

Interestingly, in six years and thousands of emails only one person has inquired about the acronym.

Was 48 years ago when we first met, and in my first five minutes with you it was clear to me that your heart was in pursuance of those six aspects of faith.

To me you inclined then to no ‘privilege’, as I perceive you do not now. . . inconceivable. . . cannot envision that word ever having even tangential application to you.

My family experience is one of having a mixed-race daughter-in-law for 19 years; black father and white mother; and my youngest sister’s youngest daughter has been married to a black man for 11 years.

I hear people state “I would say or do this or that if a black or mixed-race person dated or wanted to marry one of my children”. 

All blather of that nature goes out the window when that person is standing in your den, being introduced as your child’s fiancĂ©.

Reality typically smacks you as it says hello.

Our family continues on a journey of racial reconciliation; step by step.

Richard M. Weaver had signed a contract to move from the University of Chicago to Vanderbilt in 1963. At VU he received an MA in English under John Crowe Ransom, and later a PhD at LSU under Cleanth Brooks; himself a Methodist minister’s son from Murray KY, and a VU grad.

Weaver died suddenly in 1963 at age 53, months before making his move to Nashville. Had he lived we might well have enjoyed his instructive wisdom.

His 1948 book Ideas Have Consequences speaks to today’s obsession with materialism, nominalism, scientism, and presentism; all departures from what should be our never ending quest for transcendence.

As Weaver put it:

  • Man created in the divine image, the protagonist of a great drama in which his soul was at stake, was replaced by man the wealth-seeking and -consuming animal. (p.6)

The book affords an introspective read, and its 1948 publication could as easily have been in the summer of 2020, so relevant is it; even to matters extant as social justice.

Weaver was a Christian, criticized on the U of Chicago campus by some of his contemporaries, and my belief after reading his book and Holy Scripture for many years is that he, as I, would desire that the word ‘privilege’, with all its current modifiers, would one day be regarded as a shibboleth; because today ‘privilege’ is deployed as a pejorative, as though there should be some guilt-laden quasi-reverential aspect to it.

I am an ineradicable sinner, condemned but for God’s grace.

What I wish regarding my past is meaningless to God as I envision God.

Scripture speaks to the condemned man wishing to warn his brothers of hell’s misery and being prohibited.

Whatever early-life lack of sensitivity you spoke of in your blog, my sense is that you long ago heard ‘Moses and the prophets‘ as Jesus related in Luke 16:29, and have endeavored in your life and ministry to move your heart and others toward God’s grace.

What is relevant is what I do in this moment, where my heart is now; then in each moment for the remainder of my life.

My sin-filled heart must first seek God; a task at which I daily fail; yet I struggle that any person of whatever color or nature or inclination should incline me to feel guilt or bias, explicit or implicit, unless I have directly sinned against that man or woman.

As Viktor Frankl shared, mine is the only heart over which I have any control, so there is something un-God-like judgmental for another person to speculate on how ‘well I use my privilege‘. God states we are all the same in His eyes, so that for a person of faith, such as the pastor whom you mentioned, to otherwise insinuate as to how I use ‘my privilege‘ is in my opinion to distort the Word.

My sad intuition is that a vocal political clique not first interested in Christ’s gospel message nor even racial reconciliation is broadly aggravating the deep wound of racial discrimination; using ‘privilege’, ‘white privilege’, ‘white ascendancy’, et al, as cudgels.

Only by offended and offenders first heart-embracing Christ and becoming one with Him can sin’s erosion form no lasting social justice ditch.

Blessing all that you do in your ministry.

A continuing challenge lies before us all.

Go `Dores. What a treasure to have been, and be, your teammate and friend.

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