2/12/11 Jeff, about 60, Wallace, 67 Lamont, 50's
Today Luke and I went to a McDonalds in "Bronzeville" - an African-American neighborhood just next to our mostly white neighborhood on Chicago's highly segregated southside. I found myself talking to three older African American men who were all very different from one another - Jeff, who is an intellectual type who believes in a sort of universal higher power for everyone; Wallace, a retired cop who believes racist whites are to blame for most of the problems in the world; and Lamont, a sort of street hustler who seemed to have some belief in God even though he was preoccupied with the world. As we talked my questions sparked debate between these men, and their arguments with each other began to go in all sorts of directions. I struggled to find something they all had in common. Finally I asked "If there is a God like the Bible says, what do we deserve? What does He owe us?" Our prideful human tendency is to believe we are good enough to deserve rewards and to blame God when we feel cheated or mistreated, and these men began to go there, but they also started to see my point - we deserve condemnation, and He owes us punishment. Do we really want justice, or do we need His mercy instead? I'm not sure but I think this truth kind of took the fun out of their debate, because they all seemed to have to get going for various reasons.