Cincinnati's faith leaders cross denominational lines to standup to a corporate bully.
Twenty-five cents was all it took. It was like magic. The punches stopped and for the first time in a long time I felt what it feels like to be normal — to be safe, to be lovable, to live without a target on my back.
But even the transaction was not a guarantee of love.
Though I continued to bring quarters that fed the monster’s craving every day, after a while even their magic stopped working.
The torture started again on the playground after school.
I walked across the schoolyard and headed home, which was only a half-block away from the school. Suddenly I was surrounded by Alice and her goons. She taunted me and pushed me, then punched me. It didn’t stop. It became a ritual.
Soon, every day, armed with only my book bag, I would duck my head and make a beeline for my house and Miss Burton (the babysitter). And every day Alice and her bulldogs would hunt me down and taunt me and push me and punch me as I walked the looooong half-block home.
Mom asked one day what I was doing with all those quarters. When I told her, she marched up to the school and had it out with Miss Williams and then my principal. I was only in that school for one year.
Alice wasn’t the last bully I had to survive. There were others. There was Tracy in the fifth grade and two white girls whose names I’ve blocked out in eighth grade. For a long time I thought I must have an invisible target attached to my back.
One of my current writing projects has me spending a lot of time in the Gospels, especially the Gospel according to Luke, which may be my favorite Gospel (are we allowed to have favorites?) not least because of its astonishing reversals:
It's the Gospel where a poor, uneducated girl — Mary — has more faith than an educated, aged, male priest--Zechariah.
It's the Gospel where a widow's two pennies amounts to more in God's eyes than fat donations from wealthy pockets.
It's the Gospel where Jesus says: “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind." Invite the people who can't pay you back, because that is the where the real reward is.
Yes, Luke's Gospel is a Gospel that proclaims love for the marginalized. And out of the four, Luke has the most meals.
(It's the Gospel in which Jesus is accused, among other things, of being a "glutton and a drunkard," who eats with "tax collectors and 'sinners.'")
In other words, it's the Gospel that Mixes It Up At Lunch.
Tyler Long, 17, hanged himself more than two years ago after being teased and bullied. He joined countless others and more since who have been pushed to the limit and taken their own lives. Bully, which premieres Friday, chronicles the lives of Long’s family, along with five other children tormented on a daily basis.
Bully shows students who are mocked for their sexual orientation both by peers and teachers; they endure beatings on school buses; they have profanities hurled at them—which earned the movie an “R” rating by the Motion Picture Association of America.
MPAA’s decision sparked protests and petitions from anti-bullying groups and eventually made the Weinstein Company, which produced the documentary, release the film unrated.
I watched the film. Bully disturbs me on a basic human level—but not because of the profanity (which is probably fairly mild to the average teen). Bully disturbs me because it is real life. It disturbs me because I have younger brothers the same age as some of the students in the film. It disturbs me because it’s happening in the lives of our children all around the country.
We’ve talked about bullying on this blog before. We’ve highlighted Christians who are standing with gays and lesbians, exposed racial bullying, discussed religious bullying, bullying of every stripe. We’ve tried to tell meaningful stories about support, healing and prevention.
But there’s more to say.
- Our prayers extend to the people of Norway. Lord, have mercy.
- The New York Times said it best. Today's weather "felt more like being licked by a big, swampy monster."
- Who wrote what? Rep. West vs. Jane Austen.
- These awesome folks turned Carmageddon into a dinner party.
This week my friend Sara reminded me that the really amazing thing about 1 Corinthians 13 is that even hundreds of thousands of schlocky wedding and inspirational posters and bad Christian coffee mugs can't kill it. Paul's hymn to love is perhaps one of the most recognizable texts in the New Testament. And it is really beautiful