Don’t Put Me in Your Binary Box

You will be able to understand better my blog and my podcast if you don’t assume I’m in your binary box.

I reject them all. I can think beyond the false boxes politicians, media, and sometimes friends try to put me in. I think you do, too. I helped write a book about that where one of the chapters is titled, Disarming the Binary Bomb. I’m serious about that. Binary thinking is destroying this country, and many, many friendships. Binary thinking goes like this: “there are only two options here, and if you don’t fully support mine, you are my enemy.” It is the lowest form of dialogue on the planet.

If you watch a newscast or read an article and believe everything the person says, you probably need to check yourself. Everything you get is distorted by someone’s political agenda, attempts to be true to their brand, or a desperate attempt to get clicks. Whether it’s NBC News, Time Magazine, Fox News, MSNBC, or I book I’m reading, I agree with about 30% of what I hear or see in those venues. I don’t expect them to give me the unvarnished truth. The media serve mammon, after all, and politicians, their lust for power. They are not trying to tell us what’s true; they are only serving some personal interests. The more you read from diverse sources, the easier it will be to discern what’s true.

For instance, last week on The God Journey, I talked about the popular book, White Fragility, with Arnita Taylor. There is a lot I like about this book and how it helped me through some important realities in our culture. But I didn’t like everything about it. Monday morning, a news podcast I listen to attacked the book in terms I didn’t understand. I knew they hadn’t read the book but believed what someone else said about it. I read the book and appreciated much of it. Their attempts to debunk it as “total garbage” fell on deaf ears with me. 

I didn’t read it with a guilty conscience or to feel shame for my whiteness, only because I wanted to learn better how to interact with people of various colors in my life. Does the author overstate some things? Of course, she does. What author doesn’t? Do the things she exaggerates diminish the real things she points out? Not to a thinking person! It’s really OK to interact with what you read, to let some things challenge your thinking, without having to conclude it’s either all good or all bad.

So when I get an email like the one below, please don’t assume I think about the issues like you do:

I have been listening to The God Journey for about four years. The show has always been about God’s grace, but now just because the propaganda media started a Communist campaign, suddenly, you shift fears and make The God Journey a show about how white people don’t listen to black people. Black Lives Matter is funded by the Ford Foundation and other companies through Susan Rosenberg of Thousand Currents, former convicted Weather Underground and M19 communist revolutionary that was plotting to bomb buildings. I know your heart is in the right place, but you’ve been deceived. The media has so much influence that it directed you to change your show to follow the direction of their narrative. Social Justice is a Satanic deception for a Communist agenda. And this is the only reason you’ve shifted focus onto race issues. I can’t listen to your show anymore because your guilt and shame over whiteness have turned it into one more thing that hugs the curves of today’s political agendas.

The God Journey used to be a way for me to reset my attention on Jesus, and now it’s just another narrative that RESPONDS to the mainstream LEAD. Do you know where “White Privilege” came from? I’m tired of seeing Christians buy into this SJW garbage of the world, and I really think you should know that you are making all of your recent episodes of the God Journey about this topic have really turned me off from seeking out new episodes to focus on Jesus. I RESEARCH THIS STUFF HEAVILY, and it is all COMMUNISM! The goal is to divide us and conquer our nation.

(Hint: capitalizing complete words doesn’t make anyone seem more intelligent, just a bit unhinged.)

Here’s how I’d respond:

Ah, you’re welcome to stop listening; that is your privilege.

I hope you can appreciate that we are engaged in two different conversations. One is what you describe—an all-out political battle between left and right. I know the people behind the BLM organization have admitted to having Marxist leanings, and that their mission statement denigrates the nuclear family and religious faith. I don’t buy their extremist agenda, and I have not endorsed that organization in anything I’ve said. At the same time, there is a movement of “black lives matter” in our culture that is calling attention to the fact that young, innocent men are being killed by those empowered with government authority. To draw attention to that and demand that government officials be held accountable for how they treat people of color does not make me a sympathizer to Marxist doctrine. You have to separate the two to be intellectually honest. 

Black Lives Matter, as an organization, is gaining traction because we do have racial issues in our culture that many white people prefer to ignore. I would argue letters like yours only empower the Social Justice Warriors because you refuse to acknowledge the underlying problem that does real harm to people just because of the color of their skin. The “true origins” of my podcasts about race have nothing to do with their propaganda. They have risen out of my relationships with people of color and watching how they live in a very different world than I do, or my children and grandchildren. They have touched my heart and opened my eyes to the legitimate needs here, not the contrived ones by those who seek to undermine our culture. Our society is clearly weighted toward whiteness, and people of color are increasingly frustrated that we don’t care that they suffer through circumstances far more complicated than most of us endure.

So, there is a political game going on here. You’re right about that. Both sides want to divide and conquer this nation and pull it back from its powerful ideals. But I’m not playing that game. However, I am sharing this part of my journey to show what’s going on in our culture and to find solutions that are different from what BLM advocates. I’m not trying to score political points but asking people to live more generously in the world and help disarm those who would use the disparity and desperation for nefarious means of undermining our culture. President Trump has undoubtedly turned “mainstream media” into one of the most dismissive labels people can use to ignore whatever challenges their thinking. No doubt, the “mainstream media” distorts a lot of news to its political ends, but no more than Trump or his cronies at FOX. 

That is still a tiny part of all the content of my podcast (four shows out of forty-six this year). I label them clearly so that if discussions of current events aren’t of interest to you, you can easily skip them. But why people want to do so, however, was the point of the podcast last Friday. I hope that those of us who have power in the culture will find ways to share it freely with those who have for too long been marginalized. We can disagree on this, but I hope you understand better what’s motivating me. 

My utmost passion on this page and the podcast will always be to encourage people on a Jesus journey that shows you how to live loved by the Father and be a better lover in the world. I just began sharing some of the most exciting discoveries I’ve hmade ad in over a decade. It’s called Embracing His Glory and is meant to encourage people on the journey of transformation and freedom. A new release comes each Tuesday morning, and will for a while. 

So, don’t bother inviting me into your binary box. I’m not coming to join you. I’d sure welcome you, though, whenever you’re ready to give it up. 

17 thoughts on “Don’t Put Me in Your Binary Box”

  1. Monica HORNGREN

    Hi Wayne!!good reply..so many polarized people nowadays..but it was the same in the past!!Pastor ML King said:”No need to make war to have ennemies..just express yourself as you think you have to…therefore :2 blocks :for you or against you!!always!!and this leads to…wars!!violence in words or acts usually demonstrate our weaknesses anf fears …I was looking at TV yesterday night..about slavary..it existed in Roman Empire too(look at “Spartacus” moovie …)and all the tortures slaves had to endure..actually, “dominators and dominated” people have always existed, men dominating females and,sometimes,vice-versa,…I hate this polarized way of thinking because I’ve lived so long in a polarized family with its violent consequenses and I realise it’s the same in the Church life..”you don’t think like me means you don’t love so ,in return,I don’t love you anymore too!!”.that is abuse of power,that’s not love!!.and I answered to this person:”actually ,I love you because I’m speaking to you truely,sincerly,because I wouldn’t waste my time trying to explain my way of thinking to somebody I don’t love.I would ignore you…so,actually, if love and truth walk together, hand in hand, as justice and peace, I talk to you with the bottom of my heart,dating to you what I think about this or that…your problem is that you can’t bear me thinking,speaking,or acting differently that you think,speak,or act yourself..if you can’t respect me because I’m different than you, this is not love or friendship anymore..it’s an abuse of power..the pagan way of loving said Jesus,;”pagan poeple love who love (please them) in return …and He said:””love each other AS I loved you”…Jesus will always love me,EVEN if I’m sinning..But if He loves me doesn’t mean He agree with all I do or say or behave.. we,parents, are supposed to love our kids and how many Times we have to say “NO” to them or put them “limits”..that’s education… our human way of loving is many Times “abuses of power”= “I love you as long as you AGREE with me…”..and we are all of us infected by the virus “domination”..have a nice day..God bless you..

  2. Thanks Wayne. When the life of God no longer governs our understanding, all that we have left are the binary opposites of good and evil (as we interpret it, of course) as a basis for knowing. It happened in Eden, and it is happening around us on a daily basis. We may use sophisticated spiritual language (chaos and order, yin and yang) or political babble (liberal, conservative) or justice talk (right order vs inherent rights) or science (positive and negative) or technology (1 and 0) or law (do, don’t) or whatever; it always boils down to the same old thing. I love the first pages of Bonhoeffer’s Ethics, where he equates the knowledge of good and evil with the Pharisees’ constant efforts to try and get Jesus to take sides on an issue. To no avail, of course. Keep up the good work. The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is judged by no one 🙂

  3. Thank you, Wayne for modeling for us what could be the response to many comments from friends and acquaintances who are tragically limited to seeing their world in either black or white, ones or zeros.
    Your “reponse” gives me a kind of template to respond in a way that doesn’t make the divide deeper. Thank you!

  4. Recently while I traveled back and forth from Montana to Washington, I caught up on the God Journey Podcasts. I loved the conversations about race. My heart ached hearing how the one young lady wanted to leave Christianity because of the treatment in a predominantly white church. My perspectives broadened, compassion and understanding grew.
    Thank you, Wayne for speaking to the relevant issues of our time. Keep up the good content that challenges me.

  5. Do you see any hypocrisy in decrying the use of “dismissive labels” in one sentence, and then calling another group “cronies” in the next? I guess that’s why you call this a “journey”.

    1. Labels are dismissive only when they are untrue or misleading. “Cronies” may be overly harsh there, but it was late and I wanted to get the blog done. As you say, the journey continues.

  6. I love the podcast and have been a listener for many years. I have to say that i am someone who has a visceral response to the phrase ‘white privilege” .
    We all have unique experiences that make up our own paradigms, these are some of mine.
    For twenty one years i was what was called the working poor. Working, but living from paycheck to paycheck, barely keeping my head above water. I am white, i worked in a factory among many people of color. During those years i have seen the race card used multiple times as an excuse for being fired or not being promoted. All the situations that i was privy to were not about race, most were about too many missed work days, or poor job performance. It was twelve hours of hard, hot work and the pay just above minimum. During those years I had to plan each month how much overtime i had to volunteer for so that i could feed my kids, pay rent, buy thrift store clothes, no luxuries, just basic needs. I worked very hard for what i had and admittedly i am prejudiced against the Lazy. When my kids left home, I changed jobs and spent 12 yrs working at a rescue Mission. Our clientele was about a ratio of 60 percent black, 40 percent white. We loved them all the same and had the same rules/restrictions for all. I often got called a racist when someone did not get what they wanted from me or refused to follow rules or instructions. I did not really see any difference in the life circumstances btw our clients. Black and whites both complained about being treated badly by the police or various other authorities. They all say they could not get a job or live on the checks/food stamps they received. All were living in the same neighborhoods and taking advantage of every help agency available. Over the course of 12 years we saw many we helped become stable in life and not need us anymore, and we saw others never make a step forward no matter how much help they received. The problem was not about race or money, If we eliminated addiction, entitlement and had an effective treatment/care for mental illness, most of our poverty issues would disappear. Theoretically you can solve addiction and mental illness through programs, but entitlement, thats another story. Entitlement speaks to the idea of privilege, and i have seen it on both ends of the spectrum. When any human uses their money, job, status, position or power (or lack of it ), to gain money, job, status or power, that’s privilege. When they use either as an excuse or opportunity to oppress, bully, abuse, that is Entitlement Privilege! That privilege is pervasive in this world and I can site people of all colors, incomes, religions or status that use it every day.
    I have been treated differently and abused by others because i was a wife, a woman, poor, or just because i wasn’t part of a particular group, low or high. I have been watched in stores by employees worrying about shop lifting and i have felt threatened in public places by thugs both black and white. Being treated less than is not confined to race.
    Privilege exists across a broad socio-economic plane, but I do not believe we will solve it by protests, riots, destruction, and violence. These only encourage people to sit back and watch us prove every stereo type they already believe and that goes for every group.
    When i left my abusive husband someone told me the best revenge was to live the best happiest life possible. I did that, and i encourage all people to do the same! Is it fair that some have it harder than others? Is it fair that some have the cards pre-stacked against them? No, but life isn’t fair, or is it ? I wouldn’t trade my years of poverty and now my lower middle class life for any i see on tv , in Washington, or at the local country club, that life so often has a privilege all it’s own, the privilege of a small, anxious, empty, insecure heart. No thanks! I have the Lord and i am living my best Life whether they know it or not.

    1. I think you’re missing the point of “white privilege”, which is why the term isn’t the best. It doesn’t mean white people haven’t had challenges and have been disadvantaged at times. It simply means that one of the things you didn’t have to overcome was the prejudice regarding your skin color. Imagine the same scenario you use above if you had been black. It’s not to say you still couldn’t have overcome it, but it would have been much more difficult. I don’t think white privilege is about guilt or shame, even though some use it that way. It is just a recognition that the decks is tacked a bit for white people simply because we were the largest pool of people and commerce built in some advantages for us. At the same time slavery and discrimination built in some disadvantages to people who weren’t part of the dominant race. And no, race doesn’t excuse laziness, irresponsibility, violence, or bullying others. I hope we just recognize that we are all people with similar hopes and dreams and that no one should be viewed or treated differently just because of the color of their skin. But the are, still, and that’s what we need to work on.

      I do like your form of revenge. It’s the best.

  7. I want to see beyond my own experience and although i have friends of color, they appear to live very different lives than has been highlighted by the present BLM movement. Their lives sound like …mine and that makes it even harder for me to understand. We talk about the same things complain about the same things and laugh about the same things. Either they have had a much different experience or they are not comfortable discussing these issues around me. I hope that is not the case! However, all my friends are Christians and that is our main commonality. Maybe that is the difference. I pray that we can all join the conversation with grace, but i think catch phrases that include race distinctions only muddy the waters and i wish we could get past that. Keep up the good work.

    1. I can relate to your experiences Betty. We have had friends of Asian, Aboriginal and East Indian descent and I never perceived of anything awkward or strange in our relationships. We were friends. As to the things they experienced from racial hatred, they never shared those with us and I understand. Not everyone wants shares their deepest hurts and experiences. My two siblings and myself grew up in an emotionally and physically abusive environment with our own alcoholic father. I rarely share that with anyone as it tends to open old wounds and memories that I would like to forget. So that maybe why your friends are hesitant in sharing. It doesn’t mean anything one way or the other and they obviously feel comfortable being your friend.

  8. Jag Kaur Bhathal

    Hi Wayne, 

    That’s a good proposed response to the person who sent the e-mail.  I support you in all your discussions and all I can say is it’s time for white leaders/preachers to start doing something about the racism directed towards Blacks.   Actually, it would have been fabulous if they had come on board during days of MLK or prior or even before that etc.  Imagine God’s patience with all this.  Imagine how much Blacks have done to contribute to the USA and been pushed back with every progress and along the way humiliated, beaten and killed.  And yet they survive.  

    It makes me sad that so many white believers will just shut it down bc of all the conspiracy theories they are tangled with re BLM.  I’ve checked out the BLM website for Toronto and while I can say there are things I would not agree with I am so thankful for BLM for pushing the race conversation forward like no one else has.  There are BLM leaders right across the spectrum … from believers to non.  You can’t put BLM into a box.  Why do people want to demonise everything about K. Marx … I think he got some things right.  In Canada I’m grateful for our universal health care, libraries etc that are inspired by socialism.  Social justice is a satanic deception … really? … gasp.  I think Jesus was big into improving peoples’s lives and he could see right through the hypocisy of the Pharisees and the systems they had created.

    If some white people want to keep their heads in the sand and hide behind the religious “Jesus” all i can say is OK.  Oh well, I think Black people are just going to push forward and I’m with them. 

    I don’t often comment but want to also thank you very much for the updates from Kenya … amazing work!

    Stay strong Wayne , don’t let the critics make you feel bad or doubt yourself.  Keep shining the light.  Justice and peace for all!

    In love,
    JKB

  9. Well I guess your friend is as frustrated as many people are with much of the narrative and the rhetoric which is accompanying it. I know there are a lot of very well intentioned people who would love to be a part of a solution, as would I, but this idea of listen but don’t speak, conversation, as a solution, has the same effect as a mom trying to calm a kid freaking out in the grocery store aisle. A diverse conversation/group march, which feels stimulating or uplifting and or encouraging, has about the same actual effect as a preachers sermon…, it FEELS (sorry if the caps make me look unhinged there…I just may be lol), but it does not transform unless it somehow compliments an existing action or drive within a person.

    When it comes to skin color and the helplessness of being trapped in a color not of your choosing and which cannot be changed, nor should it need to be changed, yet you feel disliked and mistreated because of….I can’t imagine how that would be to live with and I would never claim to. But the reality is that a person of color could be treated awesome by 100 people for 100 days straight and then 1 day someone does or says something which strikes an “old nerve” and BOOM (unhinged again, geez), back to square one with all those same old feelings returning, like the 100 days and the 100 people never even existed. This is not singular to colored/black people, this is human nature when you can’t let sh%# go in your life. Resolving this does not require protests or enlightenment for the whiteys, resolving this is an internal matter, living with this reality is an internal matter. You can’t change the 1 or the 10 or the 40’s hearts, you can toy with the mind, but the heart changes in the hearts time. Does my heart need to change? Sure, there is much to improve, and as long as I stare at and obsess over my deficiencies, real or perceived, I become an obsessive, narcissistic, slave to myself. Ever think that maybe the biggest problem with many of us within society is that we spend too much time looking at what is not, rather than building upon the potential and the good that is?

    Cayley, the one who kicked your buttock at bocce ball, came home po’d the other day, mad about work and being tired and having to do some extra. She got hired to a fulltime job in a pandemic, she wants to buy a newer car, she wants to afford her own place…and she’s complaining because she worked 50 hours in a 40hr work week. lol lol lol you have got to be kidding me! Kid, change your thinking, the opportunity to get all that you want is staring you in the face but you can’t see it, and you can’t see it because all your childish friends allow you to complain/vent and support your crying/venting!

    Anyhow, long-winded as always, all the best man!

    1. As I see it, Kevin, you’re still responding to the extreme voices here. You’re right, violence doesn’t help, Shutting up anyone because of their skin color won’t help. At the same time, listening to other voices is important. You can’t believe the number of white people who will argue with Arnita or other African-Americans to discount their experience. They, as much as I, year for the day when skin color won’t matter at all, that we’ll all be celebrated, encouraged, and have an equal opportunity to solve whatever challenges exist in their life.

      You can talk about 1 person in a 100 getting in your face, but for many of them it’s 85 out of 100. It gets tiring.

      I’m in the conversations you say you want. I am seeing people’s perspective change, and with it their hearts toward others, in both directions. No, it isn’t everyone, but it’s a lot. There are diehards out there on both sides who are unreasonable and intractable. I don’t try to do anything about that. This is a conversation for the reasonable, which I think is the vast majority of us if they are given the chance to learn and grow.

      Interesting you mention Cayley. Would she even have the same opportunities open to her if she were a person of color? We’d all like to think she would, but statistics (at least in the States) say otherwise. There is a place to overcome despite the odds set against us and we have some great stories of African Americans who have done exactly that. But that doesn’t mean it should be so difficult for them.

      1. Yes I think you see it correctly, I am looking at this in terms of addressing either extreme, the extremes are the polarizing influence, the extremes need not be paid positive attention as a child having a tantrum in a supermarket. But these organized elements are being allowed/humored to keep on with their tantrums and discrediting what is positive, in my opinion.

        I talked with a new customer of mine today about his experience with racism being of African descent. We had a great conversation and were 100% on the same page, it was very encouraging the ease with which we were able to communicate and agree both in terms of things as racism as well as the deep love of God. The encounter brightened my Monday. Not because he had a darker complexion and mine is light and we somehow came together, it was because we were on the same page and we agreed with each other and it was easy. Did we solve any problems today? I don’t know, but the love of God was strong. I think we should never forget that the love of God is strong and keep focused there. Who knows what might happen from there eh? A good reminder for me.

        As for Cayley, she was hired because her older sister does a good job for the company, her sister was hired because her dad plays football with the boss lol and knew Dani through that association. A definite “who you know” thing. I think skin color may be a much greater factor in the US than here even in what’s considered a redneck province. People of all race are generally appreciated and respected here for being hard working and tough enough to handle -40, although there are unfortunate exceptions to be sure.

        We have more than just some great stories of African Americans who have overcome despite the odds. With each victory or accomplishment a new precedent is set for others to follow. It is those victors who need to positively embrace and influence those around them. The stage is set to be great regardless of the things we can’t control with courage to face the difficulties and challenges along the way.

        The love of God is strong.

  10. This whole discussion can for me be reduced to a phrase my grand-father used in my youth.
    “ Don’t throw the baby out with the bat water”

    I have found this concept to be helpful in my own personal journey from a life lens of “Religion “ into a life of Christ in me.

    The journey is one we are all on and in order to Truly move forward into a life of Rest in our Spirit, listening and struggling well requires being willing to accept that I may not have all the answers.

  11. Where I live in western Canada we have few Blacks who were born here. We need to think in terms of FNLM–First Nations Lives Matter. A few years ago I was given a small green flag with a First Nations’ symbol on it:–the symbol is a circle of feathers coloured white, black, red and yellow. The flag was given to me by a First Nations woman and I treasure it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.