Do we want to get well? Within the reality of the harm of privilege and ongoing division, Amy Julia concludes this season of the podcast by examining how healing begins when love is our home. She provides solutions of hope and reconciliation that begin and end with, and flow from, the abundant love of God. (Plus a sneak peek into Season 4 of Love is Stronger Than Fear!)
“If we just tackle these problems [of division] with policies, if we just tackle them with to-do steps and practices, we’re going to scratch the surface. But if we get down to that spiritual level, if we call upon God—the God of love, the God of judgment, the God who names evil but also gives us a way to deal with evil, the God who gives us a way to love, to hope, to heal—we can find healing.”
“Any spiritual solution, any work of reconciliation and healing, any repentance, any confession, any loving of our enemies, it begins and it ends, and it is in the middle, motivated by love.”
“When we turn away from ourselves—away from the allure of tribalism, away from the temptation of self-justification—and turn toward Love, we begin to construct a vision of the future formed and shaped by hope, by the possibilities of unexpected connections, of mutual blessing, of a world made right. Do we want to get well?” -White Picket Fences
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Thank you to Breaking Ground, the co-host for this podcast.
White Picket Fences, Season 3 of Love is Stronger Than Fear, is based on my book White Picket Fences, and today I am talking about chapter 14. Check out free RESOURCES—action guide, discussion guides—that are designed to help you respond. Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
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Note: This transcript is generated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
Hi friends I'm Amy Julia Becker and this is love is stronger than Fear a podcast about hope and healing in the midst of social division. I'm here today with a solo episode, and it's not gonna be too long because I'm here to wrap up this season in which we've walked through the themes of my book. White Picket, Fences turning towards Love Love in a world divided by a privilege. And I want to talk about what has happened here in the past couple of months in the conversations, the interviews, the thoughts and experiences that have been shared. I looked back and I saw the different list of speakers. I saw the topics that we covered, and it felt a little bit overwhelming.
I've had a hard time even putting together what I wanted to say here today, before I get into today's episode, I do want to make one announcement, which is that if you are, especially if you're a Christian, whether or not you are spending a lot of time in church these days, and whether or not you've ever participated in a, in an aspect of the church who are called Advent, I do want to let you know that I have an Advent ebook. What is Advent Advent is the couple of weeks before Christmas and its a time in the, the tyrannical Church year where people are preparing for Christmas morning, preparing for the birth of Jesus and preparing with expectation that Jesus will come again.
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So I've put together twenty-five days of readings, Bible readings, as well as Reflections on the Season that are intended to just be a balm, a guide, a really a comfort and hopefully a companion through what can be a stressful time, even under the best of circumstances. And for those of us living through a global pandemic and all of the social unrest are experiencing right now, I don't think we're in the best of circumstances. So if you are interested in getting a free copy of this ebook, either an audio book form, or an ebook form, please head over to my website. Amy Julia becker.com. It should actually come up as a pop-up there, but you also can go to the RESOURCES page and download it.
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They're for free. I'll mentioned this again at the end, but I did want to just let you all know that that's available to you and I'd love for you to share it with other people, write it down. I've had this out in different forms over the course of the last couple of years and people have really appreciated it as a way to find again, hope and solace, a joy even, and a reminder of what Christmas is all about in the midst of the busy-ness and what can be the stress of at all. So I hope you'll head over there and take a look. But for today I'm also doing something a little bit different. This is going to be the last episode of this season. Three of the love is stronger than Fear podcast. And if you've been following along this whole season, I've been talking through the themes of my book.
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White Picket, Fences, it's a book that many of you know was about race in class and disability and ability and privilege and all of the different questions that come up when we examine American life through the lens of the story, my story of a white educated affluent American Christian and woman who is married and has kids and including a child with a disability and how I came to acknowledge my own privilege to see the ways that has given me advantages to see the ways that it harmed me and others. I'm going to start with, to reckon with what does it mean to respond to the reality of privilege in my life?
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What does it mean to respond with hope and healing instead of shame and fear? That's certainly what the book is about. And in many ways that's what this podcast has been about. As you all may remember, I'm sure you remember the event that precipitated this podcast. You might not know the connection between the two, but at the end of may, George Floyd was killed by Derek Shovin and much of the nation watched a video of this police officer kneeling on this. Man's NEC a white police officer nailing on the neck of a black man until he died. It was horrifying. It gripped to the nation's attention. It led to demonstrations and protests in cities and little towns, including my little town across the country and an unprecedented, a wave of response to both the brutality and the What almost amounted to casual disregard for the dignity of this human life.
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After that happened, there was a renewed interest in all books that had to do with race in class and privilege, including mine. And it felt like an opportunity to have some conversations and record them in a way that I had not had the chance to do two years ago in the book came out. And so those events led directly into this season of this podcast and these conversations with men and women, young and old people. I've talked to such an array of people from so many different backgrounds from across the country. And you may remember some of those, you may remember conversations about vulnerability and about what it means to live with down syndrome.
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What it means to ask the question of, am I normal? You might remember questions with the historian. Jemartisby about the complicity of the church in America, in racism or conversations about possibilities for education, for reform in the prison system, talking to Dominic Gillyard about rethinking incarceration and particularly the idea of restorative justice. You might of heard. I actually had only one person. I had two conversations with his name is David Bailey talked to David at the beginning of the season about what it was like to be a black man growing up in Richmond, Virginia in the shadow of these huge Confederate monuments.
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That back in June, when we spoke, we're really starting to be in question of whether they should continue to stand in the city. We spoke again last week and the wake of this presidential election, when we still didn't even know who is our president. And we talked about what does it mean as Christians to love our enemies, to love across political divides, to love across racial, ethnic, religious, and other tribal Divided. How do we do that? Talk to people like Andy crouch and Paul Miller about wealth and power. I talked to my friend in a row Feliciano, who's a, a social worker and psychotherapists about anxiety and identity.
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There are so many different conversations that I was able to have. And if you haven't had a chance, I do encourage you to go back and take a look at the list of people and topics that were covered this season. I wanted to end by telling you about my favorites of the season. And then I looked back and I was like, Oh, they're all my favorites. Every week I've recorded these conversations. And then on Tuesday morning, I also subscribe to my podcast and I'll listen to the conversation again and I'll get more depth of insight by listening to what these wise people have had to teach me in answering my questions, which I suspect line up with many of your questions as well.
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I do want to end with a few of my own take-aways however, and I hope that might be helpful to you. And what are the biggest take aways really? This week in the Podcast is a week I'm flipping in my White Picket Fences my own copy right here. Okay. So chapter 14 in White Picket Fences is called a reversal. It's a short chapter and it begins with a question. Do you want to get, well, you've heard me speak about the harm of privilege and the ways in which privilege harms everyone through isolation, through injustice and through exclusion. And you've heard me talk about what does it mean to have possibilities for Healing, but that Healing Begins with a desire to get well, I desired to get well, but also an acknowledgement that we can't get well on our own.
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And then that healing power is going to come yes in and through us as we participate in the work of healing in this world, but it's going to come from God. It's going to come from outside of ourselves. If you look at many of the books that are written, whether they're religious or a secular in this country, many of the books that are written about race and class and privilege of books that have spiritual language embedded within them, sometimes in bedded in the titles of the books, right? There are many books in which the idea of the soul of America is at stake. When we think about racism, there are others in which the topic of America's original sin, in which people refer back to our decision to write enslavement into the law of our land and into our constitution, sin the Sol, the idea of a reckoning.
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There is a man named Tallahassee coats. And I may have said this year before, but I think it bears repeating Tallahassee coats is a man who would say that he's an atheist. And he wrote a really important article years ago for the Atlantic magazine about reparations. And if he says that we need a reckoning, and if we have a national reckoning with the sin of slavery and Jim Crow and housing covenants and all of the different aspects of racism in our country, it will lead to a spiritual renewal. I was so struck when I read those words me nearly 10 years ago, whenever he wrote them that he was calling for a spiritual renewal.
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There's a sense in which if we just tackle these problems with policies, if we just tackle them with, to do steps and practices, we are going to scratch the surface. But if we can get down to that spiritual level, if we can call upon God the God of love, the God of judgment, the God who names evil, but also gives us a way to deal with evil. The God who gives us a way to love, to hope, to heal. If we can do that, if we can have a spiritual reckoning, then we can have a spiritual renewal, spiritual problems call for spiritual solutions. And so I wanna end with just four different ways in which I have seen spiritual answers, spiritual healing as possibilities here.
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The first is this idea of loving your enemies. I've been really myself, just thinking so much about that conversation with David Bailey in which he reminded me that there are other religions in which we talk about loving God, certainly, and talk about loving ourselves to talk about loving our neighbors, but it's only a Christianity that we have this calling to love our enemies, not just to tolerate, not just to forgive, but to actively love, to seek the wellbeing of those who are opposed to us. I've been wrestling with what that means for me. When I think about people with whom I really disagree ideologically right now, what does it mean for me to not carry disdain or judgment, but instead to carry love, to seek, to understand, even as I stand firm in many of my own convictions about what I believe is true, loving my enemies is only going to come from a source outside myself.
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It's only going to come from an understanding of God's love from being rooted and established in the love of God and allowing that love to course through me. And so living in that love is going to come up again and again and again, that Love being familiar to me being home and also being, I just need to be so clear on how abundant in that love is so that I can have so much for myself that it will just spill over to other people, including those, with whom I vehemently disagree. The second thing I'll say is that I think many of us are longing for healing and for reconciliation, but as this final chapter of white Picket Pence at Fences points, too, that type of Healing Begins with repentance and it begins with confession.
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It begins with an acknowledgement of sin. I said that a lot is somewhat backwards because sometimes that's the way I go. I start with what I want, which is that reconciliation and healing. And I go back and I'd say, well, I'd need to repent to get there. Oh, I need to confess, Oh, I would need to acknowledge that I would need to acknowledge the woundedness. Right? Right. You wrote in chapter 14, a reversal that confession is in some sense, a plea for healing, a plea for healing that enables us to move towards a larger work of love because these social divisions do emerge from our social separations and from our desires to just protect ourselves and not care for one another.
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If we can acknowledge that and confess it and turn away from it and repent of it, then we can begin to move towards reconciliation and healing. Some of you may have heard me on a podcast recently with my friend in a row Feliciano in which we talked a little bit about this idea of reconciliation. And this brings me to my head third point, which is from the book. Reconciling all things that came out of the Duke center for reconciliation. I highly recommend it. And if they write about how reconciliation we are, right, you want it to be fast and global and innocent. We want it to be happening everywhere, quickly without anyone getting their hands dirty.
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But they say the reconciliation work is always slow and local and messy, slow, and local and messy. And I would add to that. And small, there are so many small things that we aren't invited into. So for you, all of us will ever be known for the work that we are doing to participate in. God's great. Healing redemption of it, right? Our world, we will be known by God. We might be known in our local communities that we might not, but if we have the privilege of participating in healing work, we will know the reward of participating in Love because we will know that love in a deeper, fuller, and more abundant way ourselves.
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That brings me to my fourth point, that a way Any spiritual solution, any work of reconciliation and healing, any repentance, any confession, any loving of our enemies, it begins and it ends. And it is in the middle of motivated by love. I had a chance to talk with some people about White Picket Fences who are studying it as a church group right now. And one of them said, you know, there were some things about your book that I thought were kind of simplistic. Yeah. And I thought he was going to say that again. I thought my answer, which is the answer is Love is a simplistic one. We talked for a little bit and I said, do you know it? I don't think it's simplistic, but I do think it's simple. It's a, it's a simple answer to Love, but Mann, is it hard?
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And is it complicated made to figure out what that means and what that looks like? I want to end at this time, which I know has been brief just to read the ending of the book. White Picket Fences because I believe it's the appropriate place to end this Podcast conversation. And then when I finish reading that, I'm going to talk a little bit more about what's coming in our next season and what's ahead for me. So this is from White Picket Fences, it's the last couple of pages as I was working on the conclusion for this book, I tried to come up with action steps that individuals or communities could take in response to privilege. And I tried to write inspirational stories.
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I even thought about throwing myself into a social justice initiative simply to have a personal anecdote of redemption in these pages. And instead I find myself chastened and humbled, powerless, and vulnerable weighting with hope that I will be shown a way towards healing. I even thought about throwing myself into a social justice initiative simply to have a personal anecdote of redemption in these pages. And instead I find myself chastened and humbled, powerless, and vulnerable all weighting with hope that I will be shown away towards healing. The story of it privilege and America, and the story of privilege in my own life has not come to a satisfying conclusion, but this story has come to a beginning, Brian Stevenson, author of just mercy and a lawyer, or who defends African-American men, serving life sentences are facing the death penalty said in an interview, we as Christians have an insight on what is on the other side of repentance.
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What does on the other side of acknowledgement of wrongdoing, which is a repair, confession is a small offering. And yet it is that is also the foundation of repair. I am one vulnerable distractible, self centered human being, trying to come to terms with the gifts and sorrows of my life. It will take thousands upon thousands of others who are willing to do the same, to be able Our knees and take up a posture of humility of listening to others. Instead of insisting on hearing our own voices of admitting our own complicity and harm, opening our hands and hearts to Healing Begins.
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And when it hurts, confession is not the end of the story, but it is a position from which people of can lay down the burden of the sin of exclusion, a position from which people of privilege can ask for help and knowing what to do next, or a position from which the wounded, both the victims and the perpetrators can acknowledge their need to get well, Jesus calls on people to confess their sins. When he says repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near in Matthew chapter four, verse 17 at its root repent means to turn around, to confess that you are headed in the wrong direction. And then to turn your back on that erroneous path and head, the other way for Jesus confession is only the beginning.
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The first crucial step on a new journey, a new Vista, a new way of being, but Jesus is call to repentance is not the center of his message. Rather. It is a necessary preliminary action that leads to the most important pronouncement that kingdom of heaven has come near Jesus proclaims. God's kingdom, a place where Love reigns, where the different peoples and nations of the earth. Liv in love with one another, a place where there is justice and mercy and healing and freedom and repentance turning away from self away from anxiety away from exclusion is the way to enter that wholeness.
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Repentance is not about feeling terrible for wrongdoing, but about turning away from everything, including wrongdoing, everything that prevents us from seeing and participating in the good work that God is about. Repentance is an invitation to fullness of life, to a connected life, to a life of hope. When we turn away from ourselves away from the allure of tribalism, away from the temptation of self justification and turn toward Love, we begin to construct a vision of the future formed and shaped by hope, by the possibilities of unexpected connections of mutual blessing of a world made, right Do we want to get well.
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So that that's where the book ends Do we want to get well. And as many of you know, I then went an honor to have these awesome conversations with people across the nation about the ways in which people are participating in Healing. And so I wrote a little companion book called head heart hands that talks about the ways in which people are using their heads, their hearts, and their hands to participate in. Healing. We've talked about that a little bit this season, but that's what I'm planning to really dive into. And the next season of this podcast, conversations with people who have been doing the work to acknowledge harm and participate in Healing in a variety of contexts.
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So if you have not subscribed to this now, it's the time I knew that seems weird because it's the end of one season. But that way in probably about two months mid to late January, when the next season comes out, you'll be a subscriber. And it'll just show up in your podcast feed another way to know when the season starts would be to subscribe to my newsletter. Again, you can just go to Amy Julia becker.com and you can hit subscribe there, or you can go to the contact page and let me know. You want to subscribe, just subscribe somehow so that I know how to be in touch with you. I sent out a monthly newsletter, so its not very frequent, but it does keep you informed on what's going on and we'll let you know when this next season begins.
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I'll also mention one more time that Advent book, which has hopefully a really wonderful resource for the season of advent and Christmas. And that also is available on my website. And I'd love for you to share that with other people. I'm finally, if you've been listening along throughout the season and you're willing now that we're coming to the end to take five minutes and write this podcast or give it a review, that's a big help, especially since I am going to take a break and come back in a matter of months. But I also just want to say one more exciting thing, which is that I'm working on a new book. I have had this book in my heart for years now and working on White Picket Fences has only made it more important to me to get this book out into the world.
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It is a book about healing and about the relationship between personal and social Healing. So I'm sure I will have a lot more to tell you about that in the months to come, but that is why I'm going to pause on the podcast for a couple of months to get the book more underway. Thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for the work that you're doing and your own lives in your own heads and hearts and hands in your own communities. I've gotten to hear from many of you along the way, as far as which conversations have prompted you to different thoughts and actions and it has been such a gift to me. So please feel free to let me know about those. Again, I do as always want to thank Breaking Ground for co-hosting this podcast, Jake Hansen for editing it, Amber Barry and my social media coordinator for all that she does.
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And I want to thank you again for listening. And finally, as you go into your day to day, once again, I will say this I hope and pray that you carry with you. The piece that comes from believing that Love is stronger than fear.
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