Is “Sexy Christianity” Really Sexy?

If you’re a believer and you’re reading this on your Macbook Air, throw a hand in the air.

You’re probably a sexy Christian.

Well, hold on. I meant that you probably subscribe to this sect of Christianity that’s called “sexy Christianity.” Maybe that was the wrong way to put it, but as we are made in God’s image and he is the perfection of beauty (Psalm 50:2, ESV), it might be accurate nonetheless.

If you’re a trend-follower on social media, there’s a chance you’ve seen this post. It’s been making the rounds from internet town to internet town, but I want to take another look. And again, for emphasis: This is just another look. It’s not a stern rebuking or a tongue-lashing worthy of a band of picketers against unity; I simply want to dive into the world of sexy Christianity and poke around a little bit.

Macbook Air or not, I probably found you in the midst of poking around. You’re a part of this sexy Christianity, which is described as follows by the author, Kyle Donn:

My generation of believers loves the idea of radical Christianity. It’s edgy, compromises everything, it’s dangerously transparent, and it’s simple. Phrases like “I just want Jesus” are its slogan – its very breath. Verses are tattooed on our backs, and Greek words are penned into our wrists and biceps. Our sweatshop-free clothes are ripped and dirty. Our coffee is fair-trade. Our books are doctrine-heavy and well worn. And maybe we’ll even have a drink or a cigar here and there over a deep theological conversation. Today, most of us have made our pilgrimage to an African orphanage or held the hand of the dying somewhere in the third-world. We are not like our parents – who worry themselves that our bold-faith is going to leave us homeless and maybe dead.

Do you see yourself in that? Despite my lack of excitement for tattoos or TOMS shoes, I know two things: This is me… and there’s a good chance it’s you as well.

That’s okay.

We’re all world changers. The brands we love and causes we stand for drive us to action because God’s love compels us. We would likely rather die than see another child go waterless in Uganda. That’s okay. We come in different shapes, shoes, and sizes, with different causes, creeds, and capacities. And Kyle is right, “When a believer is more interested in the idea of loving Jesus than actually loving Jesus, then that is not Christianity.” But sexy Christianity isn’t sexy, just like antiquated Christianity isn’t antiquated. Christianity is Jesus. It’s the rock. And yes, this may be a simple, tattoo-worthy message, but it’s the truth. Christianity isn’t defined by who we are, but who God is. When we start moving the compass needle off of ourselves and onto Jesus, this no longer becomes a heart issue. His next sentence says:

And we ought to wage a war of wrath upon it – mortifying, dismembering, and crucifying it, and then putting it in a tomb where it belongs.

The belief that sexy Christianity needs to be dismembered is only a lack of understanding. Again, sexy Christianity is just plain normal Christianity. The second we begin to iterate and denominate who is doing what and wearing what, unity evaporates. God is not sitting in some massive courtroom, gavel in hand, waiting to tell the hipster that he’s less adored than the man in the blank sweatshirt. Clothes don’t matter! God’s favor doesn’t fall solely on the man in the blank sweatshirt just because he wears nondescript clothes and doesn’t tell anybody about it. Jesus says, “Come!”

Come if you’re wearing skinny jeans. Come if you’re wearing no jeans. Come if you love Starbucks or fair-trade or your own brew. Come if you like brewing beer. You are who you are and God has called you to dance down to the water and take a drink.

Radical Christianity isn’t going out of style, because it isn’t radical, it’s normal. Radical might be a buzzword (and that will die), but it only exists because we struggled to quantify it when this mold of living rolled onto the scene. Just like generations past had their own way of doing things, so do we. This Christianity thing has been around for thousands of years and we are just the latest manifestation of Jesus’ love to the world.

You are who you are.

You are living in a world that is unlike 50 years ago, or 500 years ago for that matter. You were created at this very time for a very specific purpose (Esther 4:14). You will glorify God more while on this earth than at any other time in human history. This Jesus you love and His Christianity thereafter is not going out of style, and neither are you. Sure, we’ll change with our surroundings–––I’ve said “y’all” more times during my time in Florida than I ever did in the north–––but we’ve come to expect the evolution of our hearts and minds.

Take me, for example. I wasn’t a very great person for awhile, but slowly, Jesus let the temporal crumble. I was a man who couldn’t name the Gospels, for crying out loud! And now look: I founded this very outlet and later its’ sister. I walk with a massive group of college students on a weekly basis… and I hated churchy college gatherings! Hashtag, redeemer. Hashtag, blessed. If you’re an instagramming, homosexual-loving, bring-the-fire type of Christian, know this:

“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.”

That’s a quote from author John Jakes, and besides the literal authorial meaning, isn’t that what we’re going for? To be who you are, fully in Christ, letting God shine through all of it? Yes. Yes, that’s what we’re called to be.

God doesn’t want cookie-cutter lovers with no heart and soul. He wants you. Every piece of you, every flaw. So run to him. Take your cultural relevance with you, because you’ll need it. Just like bikers reach bikers best and you reach those in your circle best, God will you use in any condition. All you have to do is run.

Birthday Greetings from the Quarterlife Man

Here I am.

It’s my 25th birthday and as the founder of Quarterlife, I am now officially a Quarterlife Man. Today is a special day.

If you’re new to what we’re doing, I launched QM in November 2011. Since then, it’s been full speed ahead and we’ve seen amazing things happen for college-aged young people and twenty-somethings. We’ve launched Quarterlife Woman. And Quarterlife Creative House. And there are other things in the works.

I am blessed.

Catching Vision

My adolescence could be considered the highlight reel of dreamer. Time after time, I stepped outward to make things happen. When I started my school’s lacrosse program, I was “just a kid.” That kid went on to find coaches, schedule games, and do things that middle-aged men normally do. All because I wanted to play the game.

But you might call it a blooper reel, because trust me, I’ve failed too. Like that time I wanted to cross the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Northern Michigan. I didn’t know that they were two miles long and over 400 feet high, but what’s intimidating to a nine year old? Eventually, I turned around without tasting the sweetness of Lake Michigan.

(Note: Mom and Dad, sorry for causing that freak out! I’ll never get lost again–––I think.)

Joel 2:28 (NIV) speaks to me:

“And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.

Our God is the God that imparts vision to EVERYONE. Young. Old. Sons. Daughters. Rich. Poor. You. Me. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from. You have a calling and it’s not just any calling–––it’s a high calling. Ephesians 4 says to live a life worthy of your calling. Jeremiah 1:5 says that you were known, even before you were formed in the womb. Not only that, but you were consecrated (read: set apart) for amazing, mindblowing things.

Don’t you see it?

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“To young men contemplating a voyage, I would say go.”

These words come from Joshua Slocum. He was the first man to sail single-handedly around world, completing his journey in 1898. His words resonate with me. Far too often, we live a comfortable life. A life of just finishing term papers; just doing the day-to-day in our careers; just being average.

You are not average.

You have a God-given calling on your life for excellence and as men, we need to GO. There are enough men out there that are living idly by, watch the earth spin ’round. You are on this earth in this present day for so much more. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.

Hold Me Accountable

As my community of readers and friends, I want you to hold me accountable. If I ever settle (I don’t like using the “s” word), you have free reign to slap me upside the head. Please. Slap me and remind me to dream and to conquer again. So that I would not question the haters and the doubters, but to just GO.

I want this for you too, so make a commitment with me.

Today, commit to run after your dream. If you don’t have a dream, pray that God would place one on your heart with such intensity that you would have to do it–––or literally die. We are blessed to have the ability to chase after our dreams with little standing in the way. Take advantage of that. Never in history have there been fewer barriers to entry for those trying to start a business, write a book, or publish music.

So do it. To young men contemplating a voyage, I would say go.

Never stop dreaming. Never stop believing in yourself. You can do it and I believe in you.


Note: I will be checking in on you when I turn 26. Be prepared to have stories. You have 364 days.

The Blind Leading the Seeing

Three sentences. That’s all it took to know Reyna was extraordinary. I met her just a few days ago. Reyna’s spirit reverberated in her Dominican home and into the heart of this American visitor. And she unsettled me in profound ways with her unassuming heroism.

Reyna’s modest home fronts a dirt alleyway in the town of El Seibo, a busy city in the heart of the Dominican Republic. Life isn’t easy in her neighborhood. Deficient infrastructure, education, and sanitation shackle her community. But Reyna’s smile wasn’t lacking. She approaches life like an eager Coloradan advances on a challenging hike—with vigor, optimism and confidence. Her enthusiasm is surprising because of poverty’s grip on her city. But it is remarkable because of her impairment. Reyna was blinded at the start of her adult life. At the age of 20, Reyna lost her sight.

“God has given me so much. My job is to give back to others.”

An embarrassing lump grew in my throat when she voiced those words. Reyna was a charity case poster child. She could have starred in a Sally Struthers infomercial. Dirty water. Substandard hospitals. Single woman. Blind. But Reyna didn’t see it that way. Her impairment didn’t cloud her identity. Reyna knew she was a strong, purposeful and capable woman. She could see she was designed in the very image of her Creator.

Reyna has unhampered ambition. She launched a business and it grew dramatically. The corner Target, her store provides it all: Rice, flour, cooking oil, toiletries and more. She trusts her faithful clients to pay in full. When new customers stop in, however, she keeps their payments separate till a faithful client stops in to verify. She treats her customers with class and only sells the best products. And her business has grown enormously profitable.

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And that’s a good story: The rags-to-riches blind entrepreneur. But Reyna’s story was just beginning. She’s since taken in her sister’s two children and raised them. Her nephew now studies at the Dominican Air Force academy. Her teenage niece aspires to medical school. She is a leader at her church. While she answered my many questions, she interrupted our conversation with a phone call. That might have been rude, but in a very “that’s Reyna” sort of way, the caller was a young woman in her church who was preparing for a surgery and looking for her counsel. Reyna refuses to succumb to, or even acknowledge, low societal expectations.

“God says that, ‘Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,’ she recounted. “We’re called to be openhanded in our success and that’s what I try to do.”

It’s as if she doesn’t get it. Reyna, I see you as the poor in this proverbYou’re the blind woman in the developing country. She deflects what I might assume about her because she knows what her Father thinks about her. And she’s chosen to share in her success. She extolls everyone to embrace the gifts God’s given them.

“There a many blind people in my city that are not working. Why? They are more than capable. This is a big problem for us.”

Reyna captivated my imagination for the hour I stood in her home. She, of course, had prepared a patented dulce de leche dessert for us. And, of course, she cried several times in gratefulness for all God had given her. It’s what heroes do. Nothing fabricated and no veneers. Reyna was created to create and gifted to gift. No barrier was going to keep her from seeing that.

Originally posted at Smorgasblurb.

Change in the Age of Shallow

My attention span isn’t what it used to be. While reading a terrific book last night, I noticed my itchiness for the end of the chapter. It felt forever away. The chapter ran thirteen pages. Apparently, thirteen pages is my new eternity.

Maybe you can relate: The moment you wish a 90-second YouTube video would get to the point. The moment you yearn for a red light so you can catch up on email. The moment you need to check a new text message during dinner with friends. This growing impatience dangerously impedes our ability to stick with things that matter.

I’m sure some teenage whippersnapper will suggest I’m simply recreating the tendency of our grandparents to overstate the distance they walked to school. They didn’t walk uphill both ways, always in blizzard conditions.

But our attention spans are slipping. According to a new book, our physical brains have adapted to our shared shiny rock syndrome. In The Shallows, author Nicholas Carr argues we have lost the ability to last. We skim and scan, but rarely sustain. While debate remains whether our brains have physiologically changed in the digital age, my experience certainly affirms Carr’s thesis. Maybe it’s my world-in-my-hand smartphone. Or, maybe I subconsciously yearn for the days when my dad’s car phone was a connectedness marvel. No matter the reason, I’m itchier than I was five years ago.

I wonder how our multitasking influences how we view change within people. Even Desmond, my two year old, rapidly switches between apps on my iPhone (…and no, parental purists, I’m not too proud to admit he borrows it at restaurants). I mean, goodness, he gets unruly halfway through Goodnight Moon.

Does the age of shallows stunt our patience? On a recent trip to India, I walked through a “slum among slums.” Conditions were abysmal, and I craved a “fix and flip” solution to the wrenching problems. I questioned whether I had the endurance to invest in the sort of change that demands time. I questioned whether my millennial sensibilities would allow for the sort of steady and faithful life-on-life investment needed for true growth.

We need to recalibrate to a longer view. Bangladesh cut infant mortality by two thirds and more than doubled female literacy over the past twenty years. The “rise of globalization and the spread of capitalism” halved extreme poverty worldwide over the same time. The Church spreads at unprecedented rates south of the equator. It’s not instant, but it is remarkable.

We need a personal recalibration too. Good change is rarely immediate. Friendships demand TLC. Marital harmony is more like a slow cooker than a microwave. A virtuous life is not “acquired spontaneously” but rather a “product of long-term training, developed through practice.” Desmond didn’t master the barnyard animal puzzle overnight. These good things demand the long view, but the Information Age clouds us from seeing it.

Change takes time. In a broadband world, Indian slums prompt frustration with the measured pace of change. But in the case of a wayward sibling or a forlorn slum, slow can be good. The knight on his white horse creates a scene, but he doesn’t change anything. Hitting the jackpot makes waves, not change. Healthy change is incremental and it emerges through faithfulness. In our sound byte society, we need the discipline to wait for it.

Originally posted at Smorgasblurb.

A Lesson in Leading People

The doorbell startled us. Late night guests are not common in our quiet neighborhood. I opened the door cautiously and saw two men bundled in snow gear. Before the door even cracked, one man interjected, “Listen, we don’t want any trouble, but we’re in a rough spot and just looking for some honest work. You need someone to clear your sidewalk?”

The biggest snow storm of the year hit Denver that morning—and brought with it a lesson in differentiating good from great.

Sixteen inches of powder heaped up in our yard and barricaded the cars lining our street. The duo at my doorstep averted eye contact, snow shovels poised at their sides. They pitched their snow removal services. After a brief negotiation, we shook on the deal and I returned inside to find cash, feeling quite pleased with my actions.


When opportunity presents itself, I love hiring folks. It breathes of dignity to provide a fair wage for hard work. I stepped outside and paid the men, quickly stepping back into the warmth of our home. But looking across the living room, I saw Alli rushing to heat a pot of water.

“It’s freezing outside, Chris,” she said. “Let’s at least share a cup of hot chocolate.”

Later that month, I visited Steve and Jim, two friends who lead a small manufacturing business in north Denver. Sandwiched between a rail yard and tire depot, their nondescript warehouse looks much less remarkable than what takes place inside. While touring their facility, they explained how their team converts stacks of sheet metal—what looked like an oversized stack of paper—into massive fans that improve the efficiency of machinery.

They shared about the steel-and-rivets nature of their business, but it was clear their success had little to do with metal fabrication. They succeeded because of how they cared for their people. With an average tenure of 15 years, this warehouse acted more like second home than a factory.

“My dad had a simple philosophy when he started this business,” Steve said. “‘Let’s pay people well, give them great benefits and really get into their lives.’”

When Steve and Jim talked about the men that worked on the shop floor, their energy intensified. They liked manufacturing, but they loved their people. The hard-nosed crewmen roaming the warehouse floors were not just workers. To Steve and Jim, they were friends, peers, and fathers.

Jim summarized their leadership approach:

“Here’s what we believe: Walk beside the foul-mouthed. Treat them well. Invest in their lives over a long period time …and watch what happens.”

And over time, great things did happen because of how they militantly defended their culture of dignity and respect. They didn’t use gimmicks to achieve organizational excellence. They just remained fastened to treating people right. And the results told a story: Business was good, work wasn’t just for the weekend, and their people thrived.

Steve and Jim operate by a simple premise: The best way to do business is to hire hard workers and unleash them to use their abilities. But their special sauce is how they care. And that’s what I missed with the shovelers. Paying them for snow removal was fine, but it was the cup of hot chocolate that made it great. When we shared the warm beverages with our late-night guests, a smile lit up their faces, starkly contrasting with the cold night air. A sincere drink of worth for two men parched for it.

Originally posted at SmorgasblurbRead more about Steve and Jim’s business in this profile at Christianity Today.

Where Do You Thrive?

If you’re not thriving, you’re dying.

Somebody once told me that some sharks die if they stop swimming. Somebody else told me that when a seed stops growing, it dies.

If you’re not thriving, you’re dying.

How to Thrive

We’ve all been there, right? Life is dragging on like a dead leg and there’s little we can do about it because of our present circumstances. Maybe it’s a girl you just can’t seem to cut loose. Maybe it’s the wrong career. Maybe it’s your friendships.

As I prepared to finish college, my life was at a crossroads. I had seen the potential glories of what God was doing in my life, but I was hindering his mission because I couldn’t let go of my damaging friendships. These were people I loved. People whom I made tremendous memories with during our college years. But these were also people who were “me oriented” and consistently negative.

They always say (whoever “they” is), that you are who you surround yourself with. Isn’t that the truth. I wanted more than good–––I wanted God’s best–––but I couldn’t get it. I was too busy being equally negative by assimilation that I couldn’t see what God was doing right in front of me.

After awhile and some tough decisions, those friends floated away and new ones took their place (the circle of friends continues). Like it or love it, these new friends put me in a position to thrive.

Welcome to Thrive City

In order to thrive, we need to be in an environment that allows us to thrive. What’s your environment?

Lately, my environment has been the city library. I love it. The wi-fi is good and I can see all of downtown from any of my favorite fourth floor windows.

When you’re in a library, you get to be a small fish in a giant pond, surrounded by thousands of published works by people who are/were the premiere thought-creators in their field. To me, the library says, “There’s so much knowledge in here to go around. Grab some.”

So I do. I’ll write a few emails. Then grab a book. Work for a few hours. Then grab another. In a few moments, I’ll pick up the book sitting next to me, Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin. I might read a chapter or the entire thing, but my goal is to live outside of the knowledge that’s currently housed within my brain.

If you’re not thriving, you’re dying.

Where Do You Thrive?

So where do you thrive? The library has been working for me lately. For you, it might be Tom Sawyer Island. It might be your office that has the comfy couch for napping keeping clients comfortable. We’d love to hear about it, so let us know in the comments below.

101 Secrets For Your Twenties (Review)

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I think we can all agree: This twentysomething shoot ain’t easy. It’s a decade exploding with intensity and ambiguity. Anxiety and excitement. Purpose and pointlessness. Answers riddled with questions. Paradoxes mixed with 100 percent certainties. There are so many “firsts.” So much change. So many “what ifs, what nows, and what the hecks.”

That’s an excerpt from “101 Secrets For Your Twenties” by Paul Angone. He is the founder of AllGroanUp.com, as well as a speaker, humorist, story-teller–––because really––––which of us doesn’t want to be those things? As a wanna-be humorist (I try, folks), Paul’s words resonated with me as I flipped every page.

The Skinny

In short, 101 Secrets is exactly like it sounds: 101 tips for twenty-somethings that range from relationship advice to career monotony and back again.

He writes in a format that makes for a very quick read. I finished it in two relatively short sittings, and I don’t think that’s a knock on Angone. In fact, I consider it a plus. The ease of readability made me not want to set this book down.

Some tips are merely a heading with no need to expound, while others are fully flegded chapters. The mixture of both provides an attainable pace that allows the reader to enjoy the journey, which is what being a twenty-something is all about.

The Score

This is a fun read. Paul’s usage of bouncing around from topic to topic proved to be the path to least resistance for this reader (who has a mile high stack of yet-to-be-reads). At some points I wish Paul would’ve taken a larger crack at some topics, but overall, I feel better equipped to handle my late twenties. 4 stars out of 5.

You can preorder your copy of 101 Secrets For Your Twenties here. The book drops on July 1.

Freely Given, Apathetically Received

Timothy Kayera spoke with been-there-done-that confidence. He grew stronger with each word, pulling me closer with the fire of his conviction. And then he summarized everything I believe about charity. In four words.

I used to work with one of those organizations that gave stuff away to everyone. We’d give away animals, clothing and clean water. All for free. I remember when we’d give goats to people, I would get phone calls and they’d say, “Timothy, your goat is dead.”

Your goat is dead. I’ve tried to articulate this idea dozens of times over the years, but never this potently. In four words, the caller said:

  • It was never his goat in the first place,
  • It was inconsequential it died, and
  • It was Timothy’s job to replace it.

Kayera is a star in Rwanda’s promising cast of young leaders. He directs HOPE’s efforts in a region of Rwanda and he emphasized the difference of his new job. His work now creates dignity, not dependency. Partnership, not pity. Timothy joins a chorus of Rwandans in this song, from the president of the country to “Rwanda’s Desmond Tutu.”

[The poor] are as capable, as competent, as gifted, and as talented as anyone else…In society, you must create opportunities to help people develop their capacity and talents. – Paul Kagame

We need to move from aid to production, from existing to living. It’s high time we stop telling our people they can’t do it. They can, yes. And we shall do it. – Bishop John Ruchyahana

Timothy, President Kagame and Bishop Ruchyahana share this opinion: Traditional charity erodes the nature of people and the fabric of society. When giveaways permeate, they communicate a clear message: What you lack, I provide. Where you are weak, I am strong. When you can’t, I can. It’s a bad message, preventing people from hearing the better message from their Creator:I made you to make. I designed you to design. You are blessed to bless others. When charity runs its course—as it has in many places in Rwanda, Haiti and elsewhere—it lures the poor with handouts and traps them on unneeded life support. But that’s why Timothy got out of that business. He saw its destructive path and cut the cord before it strangled.

Today he anchors his work on who people are created to be and what we are designed to do. He doesn’t lure with goodies. Instead, he demands hard work from those he serves. People like Rachel. I saw the future of Rwanda in her. Rachel showed me the house she built and the 16 pigs she purchased over the past two years. She showed me the litters of piglets she’s bred and the piles of fertilizer she sells. But Rachel isn’t filling her barns for herself. I asked her what her dreams are and she said, “The greatest joy of these pigs is that I am now able to share with my church and with others.”


Rachel


Rachel didn’t beg for cash or stoop in compliance. She stood tall as a confident merchant, wife and mother. She did not avert her gaze. Her eyes were strong and generous. Rachel wasn’t the product of charity. She simply knew who she was created to be.

Originally posted at Smorgasblurb.

The Fall of Giants: The Lost Art of Learning From Our Past

The decline and fall of civilizations throughout history was nearly always man-made, and most often came in the disguise of social justice, unaccountable welfare, perceived protection, and undefined fairness. If modern society continues to duplicate the failed ideological actions of civilizations past, why should they expect a different outcome? Just because you have more money in modern times to throw at the failed ideas of celebrity politicians doesn't mean they will work any better. Those ideas will now only cost more, do more damage, and quicken the decline and fall.

Socialism, Progressivism, Communism, Marxism… all failed ideologies that resulted in the eventual demise of every society they infiltrated. So why are these ideologies embraced so readily by the youth and misguided of today's America? Simple really, they are no longer taught the lessons of history that where so fondly embraced by our forefathers. They where not shown, or refuse to accept, the shortcomings of those ideologies. Convinced somehow that this time the result will be different, and that the reason it will be is because they are not the same people that tried these same things before. All the while not realizing that they are in fact an identical reflection of those that tried and failed before them, who thought themselves somehow different than those that preceded them.

Our Constitution was drafted specifically to take note of the failings of past societies, and capitalize on the successes. Great men debated laboriously over every detail and word. The words of the Constitution where not made for "interpretation", but for application. And as times and needs changed, it was meant to be added to, and refined, not disregarded and replaced by regulation and rules set by soft-tyranical politicians. Contentious issues of the day, such as slavery, where carefully considered by those who hoped that the great Republic they where building would have the tools necessary to end such a deplorable matter of owning the life of another man. These men did not seek to make a perfect Republic, but instead sought to create one that would always be in a state of perfecting. Always improving, always expanding liberty, freedom, and honor. 

Until as a society we embrace the lessons of our past, and the wisdom of those who sought to protect us from it, we are simply following the same script that so many civilizations before us have followed. Our fall and demise will be no less dramatic, or significant. Simply another failed society that future generations will look upon and wonder how a giant such as we were could have fallen so far and left so little in the matters of freedom and liberty for those to come after us.

Turn In Your Arms, The Government Will Take Care Of You

Late last month two billboards appeared in Greeley, Colorado in which an image of three Native Americans are used to make a gun rights argument, and a controversy has arisen over the perceived insensitive nature of the message. For those who don’t know the back story of the plight of Native Americans, making light of atrocities the federal government committed against Native Americans may not be the best way to argue against gun regulations, although the lessons of history are definitely valuable, so perhaps this sort of billboard will at least start some discussion on the matter.

To summarize for those who may not know the history (because it’s not really taught in schools anymore), on December 29, 1890 at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment went into a camp to disarm the Lakota Indians that had been corralled there during the mass indian relocations of the late 1800’s.

In the years prior to the massacre, the U.S. Government had been taking the lands of the Lakota, forcing them to surrender their ancestral homes, and be relocated to other reservations to make way for white settlers. This band of Lakota was not where they where supposed to be according to the U.S. Government. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota at wounded knee, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it. A scuffle over his rifle escalated and an accidental shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry’s opening fire indiscriminately with a Hotchkiss gun (a revolving barrel machine gun), and rifles, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their own fellow troopers.

A few Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking troopers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but U.S. cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed. By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 wounded (4 men, 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. To add insult to this atrocity, the Army awarded twenty Medals of Honor, it’s highest honor to the solders who butchered the Lakota. To date the US government has refused to rescind the awards.

The lesson to learn here is that the Lakota where disarmed out of fear, not for anything they had done wrong. It should be noted that during the course of the indian wars of the 1800s, there was not a single act of violence perpetrated by Native Americans in the Dakotas. In every instance of violence, it was the US Government that was the instigator. Former Pine Ridge Indian agent Valentine T. McGillycuddy stated in a letter to General Leonard W. Colby in 1891, “No citizen in Nebraska or Dakota has been killed, molested or can show the scratch of a pin, and no property has been destroyed off the reservation.” So basically, every tragic death in this time was an unwarranted attack by the U.S. Government against it’s own people.

So while the debate of political correctness over the billboard will surely continue, the underlying message will probably go largely unmentioned. Those who say that the government would never seize your guns will conveniently ignore the times they did just that in the past, including those times in recent history. Typically a societal reaction based on fear and ignorance, resulting in meaningless laws that will do nothing to curb the violence perpetrated by those who choose to ignore them. It is not just about our right to own guns, it about our willingness to surrender that right or not, even in the slightest amount. Because at the end of the day if we are willing to surrender our liberties in this matter, regardless of the degree, what else are we willing to surrender?