Beauty From “Shithole” Countries

Two works of art from “shithole” countries, both displayed prominently in their usual place, above the couch in our living room.

ShitholeCountryArt
At bottom right, next to the light switch, a small painting I bought on my trip to El Salvador. On the left, a larger painting that the people of Petit-Guave Haiti gifted me with, at the conclusion of one of my five trips there.

Just a reminder of the creativity, beauty, and heart of the Haitian and Salvadoran people.

I’m struggling a bit with tomorrow. In recent months, I’ve made a conscious effort to *not* respond to the President, when these stories break. And our scripture tomorrow is on the temptation of Jesus…trying to discern what, if anything is the connection. (And, if I mention it at all, clearly if will be without mentioning the actual word…) Any words of advice would be welcomed. But my guess it will be something like this…

The temptation for *us* is always to be so wrapped up in the outrage and offense of the WORDS, that we fail to really see the far more dangerous ACTIONS.

Truth is, other Presidents have said offensive things. As this story was unfolding, my thoughts moved to LBJ. Frankly, I can imagine *him* absolutely using that word. (He’s on tape using a very similar word when talking to his tailor).

But LBJ had a real heart for the poor and for racial justice. He was by no means a bleeding heart liberal. But the Civil Rights act, and his war on poverty, show a heart for the plight of racial minorities, and working class Whites.

Remember: the President’s “shithole” comment was made in the context of a discussion on immigration (and also included Africa…). It seems to indicate his loathing for black and brown people, and his preference for White Europeans. Hard to read it any other way. Add in the Muslim ban and comments about a Latino Judge, and you’ve got a very troubling picture of his *actions,* not just his words.

We must keep our focus on this, on confronting his policies and actions, and not allow ourselves to be tempted and lulled into a false sense of accomplishment from Tweeting our offense at the Presidents offensive comments.

To that end….

What will YOU do to support immigrants from lands like Haiti, Salvador and Africa?

How will YOU support continued immigration from those lands?

And if you meet someone from these lands, especially if you are White, consider speaking and acting especially kindly toward them.

Can you imagine how it must feel to be the African clerk at 7-11, or the Haitian doctoral student at your local university, and hear the White president call your nation a “shithole?”

Whites bear a special burden in this historical time to show that we believe in the multiracial democracy that is America.

And, of course, Christians always called to see Jesus in “the least of these.”
We are compelled by God to do so.

For me, I will continue to ponder all the incredible life-lessons I’ve leaned from my Haitian and Salvadoran friends. The art that graces our walls is a symbol of the parts of them I carry with me always.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of The Woods United Methodist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. For seventeen years, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas, Texas. Eric is an avid blogger and published author. Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy.

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