October 26, 2015,

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

A few weeks ago I wrote about corporate sin and our inclination as Americans to ignore this dimension of sin as we focus upon individual sin. I also mentioned that Jesus looked carefully at the sinful attitudes of hypocrisy, greed, and hardness of heart. With these things in mind, I wish to revisit what I wrote last week about the Black Lives Matter movement and apply an important corollary.

I have learned from the Black Lives Matter movement this Guiding Principle of the organization: “We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a necessary prerequisite for wanting the same for others.”

When we hear or say, “Black Lives Matter and all lives matter,” what does this mean? When we approach this from the perspective of individual sin, it could have the connotation, “Yeah, your life matters just like that of everyone else. So what?” The effect is a diminishing of the plight of many black people. The perspective of corporate sin is very different. As one priest of the Diocese pointed out to me, “If you are in a neighborhood and one house is burning, do you ignore that house and focus upon the other houses in the neighborhood?” Jesus himself said in Luke 5:31: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” What this means is that while Jesus cared about everyone, he focused on those in need. It is with people who need help where you take action to make a difference.

If you were the proverbial “Man from Mars,” what would you think of our country when our prisons host a disproportionate number of black people? What would the Martian think of black people consistently protesting profiling and maltreatment by the police? The response of the Martian might be that the problem is not the minority house that is on fire but the uncaring majority neighborhood. Could it be that our corporate sin is hardness of heart? From this context, Black lives do matter, and as a nation we need to remedy a situation that stands as an obstacle to a healthy relationship with God. With my best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,