Guilty Or Innocent: One Fact We Might Be Missing…

There was one constant this week at work while I visited patients– and no, it wasn’t the fact that people mistaken me as a Doctor or a Nurse.  This week over 50% of the rooms I entered had the George Zimmerman trial on the TV.  CNN, MSNBC and other major news outlets have been running what seems like 24 hours coverage of courtroom drama; the lead story for most of the news stations and more than likely on talk radio (on both sides of the aisle) has been a run down of the evidence, the objections and word for word break down for the testimony given.  Social media has been flooded with hashtags, posts, reflections and petitions for both Trayvon and George Zimmerman.

Talking heads and media commentators have weighed the evidence and tried to ascertain what verdict the all female jury will return with.  They have debated the use of “cracker” as a derogatory word and have talked ad nauseum, often in circles, about this case.  At times, it can be too much to handle or absorb.

But through it all, there is one piece of information, in my opinion, that the ratings-hungry news organizations have missed or overlooked; whether the jury comes back with a guilty or innocent verdict, a 17 year old boy, Trayvon Martin, is dead.

Trayvon Martin via Wikipedia

While it is right to seek after justice, is it possible during the process to miss the point?  Has the media and the populace become so enamored with the trial and the ultimate verdict that Trayvon has been pushed to the side?  Is this the effect of the 24 hour news cycle with its constant updates, critiques and up to the minute details?

Trayvon was brought up during the trial.  But in my view it was more indirectly, as if he was a part of some grand motion picture of the legal system of Florida.  He was described as a thug high on marijuana as well as a 17 year old kid just trying to keep out of the rain and get back home.

What happened that February night was a travesty for all parties involved. No parent should ever have to bury their child and George Zimmerman now has to live the rest of his life knowing that he took another human being’s life.

At the center of the Creation story found in the Book of Genesis is the notion that all of creation is made by the hands of God.  But it is humanity that takes a special place in the order of creation.  God created humanity in God’s likeness and image.  Genesis 1:26-27 reads:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth. ‘ God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them,male and female God created them.” (Common English Bible, 2011)

These two verses serve as a reminder that no human being is an accident and that every human being is a product of a living God. It was God who formed from the dirt Adam and then breathed the very breath of God into his nostrils. These two events are not the by product of a passive God; these events signify that God has an intimate relationship with ALL of humanity, no matter what side of the “train tracks” you are from.

During the next few days (or maybe weeks) we need to remember the story of creation.  As the verdict is returned and the news organizations postulate why the jury went one way or the other, may we remember that all life is precious and all people are children of God.

George Zimmerman, guilty or innocent, is a child of God.

Trayvon Martin, no matter his past or alleged wrong doings, is a child of God.

May we remember where we all come from not just during a high profile case, but forever.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Disney Princesses, Merida’s Makeover, and Empowering Girls

My latest piece for Sojourners


Having a 3-year-old daughter opens your eyes to a world that you did not know existed, the world of princesses. Disney has cornered the princess market; there are currently 11 official Disney princesses, and if you are brave enough to travel to Disney World/Land or even a Disney store, you will soon find out that there is a plethora of accessories — dresses, placemats, and cups (just to name a few).

Disney has come under fire in the past for focusing only on Caucasian women — Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and others. But over time, non-white princesses were introduced, like Mulan, Pocahontas, Jasmine, and Tiana.

Disney’s latest princess was Merida from the film Brave broke most of the Disney princess rules. She didn’t like pretty gowns, she liked to shoot bows and arrows, and her crowning glory was frizzy, wild red hair. Some people believed that Disney had finally broken the mold of the “damsel in distress” model of princesses that has been a dominant theme throughout many of the films. The trend actually started with Pocahontas and Mulan; maybe the theme of strong women role models would continue. Brave was a cute film with a wonderful message. Merida had a round face and was rough and tumble with her triplet brothers. She didn’t want fancy dresses or even want to be a princess; Merida just wanted to be Merida. She was the example of girls being girls, no matter how they look.

However, in a recent update, Disney decided to take the idea of Merida in Brave and throw it out the window. Merida, for her official induction into the Disney princess cohort, got a bit of a makeover. Merida 2.0 was taller, skinnier in the waist and had a slimmer face. Her famous bow-and-arrow set are missing, and her iconic wild hair has been tamed.

After the uproar that followed, Disney quietly pulled the newer version of Merida.

But my question for Disney stands: Why? What was so wrong with Merida that it warranted the change?

Disney made a statement with the creation of Merida, and it inspired girls around the world to live into who they wanted to be, not what society wanted them to be. Merida’s makeover told girls that, yes you can be who you want to be, but at some point you are going to have to fit in.

Brave’s director called the change “atrocious” in an interview with the Marin Independent Journal.

She continued: “When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It’s horrible! Merida was created to break that mold — to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance.”

Girls today need characters and princesses that are strong and powerful and reflect the society of today. I know that no one princess or character on Disney will ever be 100 percent inclusive of all people, but Disney at least needs to try.

Maybe sexualized images are more marketable, but that is not the point — empowering our girls is. I’m pleased that Disney has reversed its decision to alter one of their best examples of an empowered girl. I hope the trend of strong princesses started by this character continues.