Yesterday Larry Patrick made Chris and Melody happy with a safe arrival into this world. Oklahoma marked another tornado anniversary (2003). And, in other news, Dr. Richard Land offered an apology for his remarks made on March 31, 2012 in the wake of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story. This is hardly “other news” though.
On his second go at an apology Dr. Land made those of us concerned over this entire affair proud. He is thoughtful and specific. I especially appreciated this line, “I have come to understand in sharper relief how damaging my words were.” None of us are always aware of the way in which our words affect others.
Ed Stetzer wrote on this last night. He always seems to get there before the rest of us jump the shark. I appreciated his willingness to make a statement when other of our SBC leaders remained silent. I mentioned this publicly and privately. And, that he is not one of our entity heads still leaves me thinking we have largely remained silent at the top of our leadership structure in the SBC on this matter.
Maybe Dr. Land’s apology will spur others to come out and offer one of their own. But, we Southern Baptists generally take about 150 years to apologize for any corporate complicity. I am not holding my breath. We in the SBC are all about individual sins. Dr. Land lets us off the hook since we rarely feel the need to apologize for the ways we too have acted in not so public ways as Dr. Land on the very same subject. I know, “Some of my best friends are black.”
If any of our entity heads that lead in our institutional structures disagreed with Land it was an appropriate occasion to go all Martin Luther. “Despite my agreement to withhold comment about another entity head, his words rise to the level that, ‘Here I stand, I can do no other.’” We are mostly reformers in our own minds.
Harsh. Hardly. I interacted with Dwight McKissic here and on his blog as he has written on this subject. I have been watching for his response. He offered a grateful word for Dr. Land’s apology. If any among us should feel any way about Dr. Land’s words, we should take our queue from Dwight and those of our Black Baptists friends. Dwight’s piece is good. I have only one quibble. Dwight will not move forward to ask the Convention to require Dr. Land to own and then disown his words. And he should not. Dr. Land did just that. But, what about the Convention whose leadership tends to default to something like, “Now we cannot let this one act impugn an entire body of work.” Oh, yes we can. We do it all the time. Just not with our CR leaders.
Dr. Land owned and repudiated his own words. We need not hear from Dr. Land on this matter in the future. He has established in his apology that he will continue to lead out in matters of racial reconciliation and I believe he will. But, we need to hear from our leaders. The watching world needs to hear from our Convention. We need not keep the issue alive to keep reminding Dr. Land of his regretful words. We need to keep the issue alive because it will not do to allow another 150 years to go by so that our progeny, assuming there will be an SBC in 150 years, will have to apologize for the way we let Dr. Land be our scapegoat.
In fact, our leaders may owe Dr. Land an apology. Why you ask? In a system that performs much like a magisterium then it should have been Dr. Land’s peers who disagreed that should have led the way. If they did, then we need to know about it so that we may move beyond the normal skepticism inherent in an all-too-often-appearing-good-ol-boy-system. This is not a time for grandstanding. But it is a time to demonstrate how peer pressure works in the positive. If they remained silent, they let him down. They let us down.
What about it? Maybe one of our very leaders – entity heads – would have the wherewithal to stand and offer a resolution or a motion calling attention to our general complicity and apologizing for our corporate inaction in such a high profile incident.
Thank you Dr. Land. Thank you Dr. McKissic. Maybe one day we will have a longer list of those to thank.