Posted by: minnow | November 10, 2008

Warning: The Truth Hurts

Saturday night I saw Coyote on a Fence by Bruce Graham.   Talk about a powerful piece of drama—Wow!  The cast consists of two death row prisoners, a guard, and a magazine reporter.  The play was about all of them.  In a short ninety minutes we learn about the crimes for which the two prisoners face the death penalty, hear bits and pieces of each character’s life story, and come face to face with some of our own fears and prejudices. 

The irony of a baton wielding guard admonishing one of the prisoners for not showing her enough respect is hardly lost, yet Graham avoids beating his audience over the head.  His work is all the better for his restraint.  In one scene John Brennan writes an obituary about his fellow inmate, Bobby Reyburn: “The only person ever to show him love taught him to hate.” These simple words reveal one of the many sad truths exposed in Coyote on a Fence, most of which cause the audience to sit back in their seats, cover their mouths, rub their foreheads, or close their eyes.  Anything to stop–if only for a second–the thought searing truth. 

Perhaps I am just overly sensitive to social justice issues these days.  God knows I have been hyper critical of the Church lately.  But I could not stop myself from wondering, what are we, in the Church, doing?  What difference are we making?  The truth be told, most of the Christians I know would completely miss the slice of life Coyote on a Fence offers them because they would be too offended by the language.  Rather than learn how to care about someone like the murdering racist Bobby Reyburn, most of us would point to his crime and feel justified in wanting him dead. 

My question is—where were we when his pregnant mother was drinking herself into a nightly stupor? Or when his abusive father beat her so badly she landed in the hospital for the last two months of her pregnancy?  Where was the love of the Church when Bobby was abandoned by his mother and then gang raped by the older boys in the detention center crushing his hip and leaving him with a permanent limp?  “But Bobby is a fictional character,” those I have offended protest.  Yes, and so are the sheep and the goats in Christ’s parable. 

Oh Church, I am guilty.  I pray, when I think about it.  But I am not inconvenienced.  I give money to the Christian pregnancy center.  But I have never volunteered to mentor one of the young women or even offered to take them to a doctor’s appointment.  I tell my friend who is battling cancer that I love her.  But I have yet to show up at her door with a mop bucket and some window cleaner.  My life is full.  I do what I can.  I pray.  But I have five children, four at home, and I work a weekend graveyard shift, and my youngest is only three…and childcare is just…and I don’t…and my life…is…a pretty big excuse.  Too bad it isn’t a better witness. 

I get it.  Really, I do.  I just wish I didn’t.



  1. hard stuff. it’s like I have had it drilled into me to put family first. role as wfe and mom above all other earthly roles. and I do sort of get sucked into our own little home and we do reach out to a lot of new friends and are very much intentionally going out and inviting people to journey with us — but I do give to the community outside of church ‘things’? no. dang. I do have a passion for the elderly and since my husband works in 11 nursing homes, I do always say that I need to go visit the elderly more…. but I don’t. I feel like for stay at home moms – money is so tight so we can’t afford even drop in child care…. but since when am I supposed to make decisions based solely on money. idk sometimes I feel like what I do right now is enough — taking care of my little family & home and reaching out to others who we cross paths with…. but I know God is askign me to stretch further – just not sure what exactly right now.

    thanks for the gut check

  2. Please, no guilt trips allowed. You do enough to love well those God puts in your path. I mentioned the ministry opportunities I did because God IS speaking to me about doing something. I too am not sure what but whining on this blog is not enough. I am going to start cleaning every other week for my friend. (That was a God nudge). I am also going to do something with the pregnancy center. I’m a trained mid-wife (or almost–didn’t get the certificate but did the work). I could at least conduct birth ed. classes. Since I was a little girl I wanted to have a home for unwed moms. It may just about be the right time for that too. And, after this last round of politics I feel a need/push to get more politically involved as well. Which nudge do I listen to? Is it possible to do it all? Humm… Love your son and Husband, the ladies in your fellowship or neighborhood, the grocery check out person or bagger. One of my favorite lines in Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne is from Mother Theresa. She said something to the effect of, “Not many of us can do great things but we all can do little things with great love.”

  3. thanks minnow. ur an inspiration 🙂

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