On Dylann Roof, the Charleston Shooting, and the Death Penalty

when the subject comes up, people know i’m very much against the death penalty.

which puts me in a precarious place: the default line for people of faith is overwhelmingly FOR death.


i used to be there too, but then i read this book. it’s brought me to a complete 180. it gave me a total knockout-to-the-face, as the hypocrisy and double standards of my beliefs were showcased before my very eyes.


to those of us in the Church, i’m convinced this is front-and-center to an arena we’ve chosen to not think well about, to our own detriment. we have lost our humanity along the way, using the bible to defend a position we’ve known deep down inside is just wrong.

we often look at the crimes that have been committed and in our understandable desire for “justice”, the words of the victims’ families are often silenced. the media will seldom pick them up, and there’s usually an attorney general or prosecutor on the other end wanting to be voted back into office.

which is why i’m so excited for this piece ran by the NY Times 3 days ago.

seriously, read it!

the families of the victims in the Charleston Shooting have been vocally AGAINST the death penalty for Dylann Roof, and it’s profound to see. i wish i could get to know these beautiful people… i wish their spirituality could rub off on me more.


hearing their words – not just their extensions of forgiveness shortly after that horrific night – but now 17 months later, pleading for mercy… there’s just something very Jesus-like about their actions.

i think we’re witnessing here a version of Christianity profoundly close to the heart of God.



“Perspective”… ASL Gets It Right

if we’ve learned anything from this election it’s that the issues at hand are complex. i’m still amazed how surprised people are when i explain to them how i voted, which btw definitely did not fall in the norm for a white male with the evangelical (hate that term) label often tied closely around my ankle.

the thing is, there’s more than one way to look at the issues.



and we often don’t want to admit that there are intelligent people who love Jesus and are genuinely following him on all sides of the debate.

there are multiple ways to look at…

  • immigration reform
  • health care
  • foreign policy
  • abortion
  • guns & violence
  • the death penalty
  • gay marriage
  • you name it


in a word, you could say we all need a little more “perspective”.

american sign language gets this term right. in fact, the english term really doesn’t come close to doing it justice.

a friend of mine showed me this sign a couple months ago, and it’s profound. the sign is 2 eyes pivoting 360 degrees around a single point.

how often do we look at an issue from the angle we’re most comfortable? or an angle we “inherited” from our family of origin?

what if instead, we took the time and invested the emotional energy needed to truly view it from all other angles?

true perspective is looking at an issue from every single vantage point.

when you do that, you just might be surprised how your perspective changes.