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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Money buys attention. The evidence has been overwhelming lately.

For instance, I saw a magazine cover in the grocery store with a picture of an actress who is nearly my age of 49. The teaser line on the cover asked why she never ages. Any of us who aren't intentionally suspending reality to think about that question can already give the answer. She probably spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on personal coaches, physicians who mess with her skin and her subcutaneous adipose tissue, tailors and designers who adjust her clothing to cover or enhance her figure, and make-up artists and photographers who can hide the signs of age. With all this investment, her promoters and the publishers of the magazine collaborate to pretend that she has a gift, a discipline, and a cleverness to seem forever young.

A second example has been in the letters to the editor of the Durham Herald-Sun. I have never seen such a well-coordinated campaign of letter placement in our local paper. Well crafted letters which cover the key talking points and stay on message appear over and over, defending the three lacrosse players who were alleged to have committed sexual assault. Apparently the evidence is less convincing now than several months ago, and the charges of rape have been dropped. What amazes me is the way that the letter writers let their attack on the rape charges ooze over into saying that nothing wrong happened the night of that party. I am not fond of conspiracy theories. But never before have so many self-righteous people from all fifty states given so much attention to writing almost the same letter to our small local paper. There has to be something at work behind this, and I'm not blaming the Holy Spirit. Money can organize letter writers, too.

They pretend that it is easy to discern the truth among the "he said, she said" nature of sexual assault cases. They try to live in a pristine moment apart from the history of rapes swept under the rug and differential application of the laws according to gender and race. Even a young woman who grew up in my neighborhood has joined in the attacks on anyone who was critical of the lacrosse team, especially certain Duke professors and administrators.

Some professors seized the opportunity to speak about the ongoing presumption of privilege among many white Duke students who resist and resent their associations with blacks. It is real. I speak with black students at Duke often enough to know that although they have been 0fficially admitted to the school they seldom find the path to mutuality across racial lines, opportunities, understanding, or respect. But many propagandists are hard at work to hide all this for the sake of buying an untarnished future for the accused.
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