Last night, we learned that there will be no indictment of Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The whole terribleness is wrenching.

The awfulness of that August day.

The protracted legal process since those tragic moments.

The toxic mix of clashed relief and rage after the verdict was delivered.

Businesses, communities, lives on now fire.

That moment, that distilled moment of the drama of centuries of racial power and inequity and fear and distrust played out on a street in Ferguson Missouri, that gaping moment when Michael Brown’s body finally fell and Darren Wilson’s gun stopped echoing its sound of death in the ears of the unwilling witnesses of death winning a battle, we are still in it.

That moment is still with us, like a lingering taste in our mouth, an ache long after a muscle strain, a scar that never relents the memory of the knife’s slice.

We are embedded in that moment, that moment is embedded in us, because that moment isn’t just about Mr. Brown and Mr. Wilson–though it is profoundly about them.

That moment is about entrenched systems of inequity and injustice and poverty and poor education and a lack of concern for the Least of These, patterns of being that are dug into the soil of our shared lives as deeply as well-driven furrows can go.

We need to be rescued from the rut of racism, and poverty, and inequity.

We are in need of deliverance.

In 1872, a publication called Jubilee Singers and their Songs (a group with a history that makes me catch my breath) came out, and in it was printed this tune (click that link to be rendered simultaneously quiet and stirred):

Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel
Deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel
Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel
And why not every man?

He delivered Daniel from de lion’s den
Jonah from the belly of the whale
And the Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
And why not every man?

The moon run down in a purple stream
The sun forbear to shine
And every star disappear
King Jesus shall be mine

The wind blows east and the wind blows west
It blows like a judgement day
And every poor sinner that never did pray’ ll
Be glad to pray that day

Deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel
Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel
And why not every man?

I see my foot on the Gospel ship
And the ship begin to sail
It landed me over on Canaan’s shore
And I’ll never come back no more

Can’t you see it’s coming
Can’t you see it’s coming
Can’t you see it’s coming…


Why not every man indeed.

And woman.

And child.

We all need to be delivered.

We are all Daniel, here.

Mr. Wilson, Mr. Brown, our system that engenders every instance of violence that we have seen, you and I who are either the oppressors or the oppressed–sometimes both at any given time–we are all Daniel here.

We need deliverance from a system that is a petri dish for growing this sort of racial, class, and communal cataclysm.

But deliverance doesn’t come easy.

Any woman who has delivered a baby knows that.

So did Dietrich Bonhoeffer, sitting in prison, awaiting his certain death.

We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?

Suspicion, cynicism, guardedness of our own private truths and selves: each of these habits ground and found our society’s pattern of injustices.

What we need, says Bonhoeffer, is to find deliverance by way of confession, both personal and communal.

Only by calling a thing what it is–racism, poverty, distrust, fear, anger–only by calling a thing what it is, and acknowledging our tacit and explicit cooperation in a system which kills, can we call a new thing into being.

Only then can we be delivered from evil.

This resource caught my eye today.  It’s an article directed toward whites post-Ferguson.  The author, Janee Woods, writes this:

Outpourings of rage and demands for justice were voiced by black people, Latinos, Asian Americans, Arab American Muslims. But posts by white people were few at first and those that I saw were posted mostly by my white activist or academic friends who are committed to putting themselves on the frontlines of any conversation about racial or economic injustice in America. And almost nothing, silence practically, by the majority of my nonactivist, nonacademic white friends—those same people who gleefully jumped on the bandwagon to dump buckets of ice over their heads to raise money for ALS and those same people who immediately wrote heartfelt messages about reaching out to loved ones suffering from depression following the suicide of the extraordinary Robin Williams, may he rest in peace. But an unarmed black teenager minding his own business walking down the street in broad daylight gets harassed and murdered by a white police officer and those same people seem to have nothing urgent to say about pervasive, systemic, deadly racism in America?

They have nothing to say?


There’s an invitation to deliverance from evil.

Janee Woods has something to say.

She has something to say about what to do after your confession.

She’s got pointers to deliver people from complicity and cynicism to contrition through confession to a life of repentance in motion.

That moment, this moment, ought not define us and yet should: its baseness should no longer be ours collectively; its stark mark of injustice and unrighteousness should be a symbol of that evil from which, like Daniel, we want to be finally delivered.

Can’t you see it’s coming
Can’t you see it’s coming
Can’t you see it’s coming…