“Defect-ive” Discipleship: Recovering from Domination Culture

JesusBy Ched Myers, for the 18th Sunday of Pentecost (Mark 9:38-50), originally posted on September 24, 2015

This week continues our journey through the second cycle of Mark’s discipleship catechism. Here John boasts that the disciples shut down the work of an exorcist who was not “following us” (9:38). Under these narrative circumstances, never was the “royal we” more inappropriate! Jesus’ attempt to deconstruct hierarchical power is met with the crudest of assertion of “franchise entitlement.” But is not this a poignant (if sardonic) portrait of how we Christians so often look at our faith traditions as membership clubs? Continue reading ““Defect-ive” Discipleship: Recovering from Domination Culture”

Whose Side Are We On?

Folks committed to a biblical faith, but also demanding beefed up border security have a serious problem. They will struggle to find support in the sacred text. Throughout the Hebrew bible, God is devoted to steadfast love, justice and a faithfulness to the most vulnerable, often simplified with this trifecta: widows, orphans and immigrants. In the Christian scriptures, Jesus says that those who are faithful will find him rising up in immigrants and welcome them. Images like this interrogate us. Whose side are we on?

Adelante

By Ruth Sawin, a letter to Daniel Berrigan (right)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dear Fr. Dan,            

Having just finished your book, “The Steadfastness of the Saints,” on the flight home from El Salvador, I want to tell you of the gift that reading it on this journey has been, for me.               

I must first, of course, mention the twist in the gut that comes with reading about the work of Central American Jesuits, written five years before the martyrdom of six of them at the University of Central America, and more, since. You could not have known that would come, although I think you and all who worked in mission in Central America then knew that it was always a possibility.               

Also, during this trip we got the electrifying news that Fr. Jon Sobrino had announced that Rome announced on Tuesday (the day after we visited his tomb) that Monseñor Romero would be beatified in 2015… news which was contradicted in the edition of “La Prensa” I saw on the trip home. It seems fitting, given all the confusion that surrounded him in life, that news (or rumors) of the official recognition of the sainthood long recognized by the people, would come in confusing fits and starts. It really doesn’t matter; I still hear God whispering, “Adelante!”               

Continue reading “Adelante”

The Cross in Everyday Life: Embracing the “Least”

crucifixionBy Ched Myers, for the 17th Sunday of Pentecost (Mark 9:30-37), re-posted from September 2015

In the wake of the “confessional crisis” (last week’s reading), Mark’s narrative now turns to a triple cycle of object lessons and teaching I call the “discipleship catechism.” This Sunday’s gospel text comes from the second and longest cycle, with its focus of instruction on the less heroic, yet perhaps more difficult, practice of the Way in daily life.

The cross represents more than nonviolent resistance to the Powers; it includes the struggle against patterns of domination in interpersonal and social relationships as well. Thus Mark here addresses several expressions of social power imbalance: greatest and least (9:36f); outsiders and insiders (9:38-41); offenders and victims (9:42-50); male and female (10:2-12); children and adults (10:13-16); and rich and poor (10:17-31). This sequence exhibits certain similarities to catechetical traditions found elsewhere in the New Testament relating to family and community life such as the so-called “House-tables” (e.g. Col 3:12-4:6). Continue reading “The Cross in Everyday Life: Embracing the “Least””

Black Like Me: Gay, Free and Happy!

By Johari Jabir

In Memoriam: Carl Bean (May 26, 1944 – September 8, 2021)

It is an old story. Some ultra-talented Black singer leaves the church in order to pursue a career in a more lucrative career in secular music. Never mind the fact that the binary divisions between the sacred and secular have never really worked when it comes to Black music, Carl Bean is one of those many examples of Black gospel talent who may have momentarily left the building but took the spirit of the church with him. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Carl Bean grew up attending Providence Baptist Church where Rev. Marcus Garvey Good was pastor. In his autobiography, I Was Born This Way: A Gay Preacher’s Journey Through Gospel Music, Disco Stardom, and a Ministry in Christ, Bean describes his childhood church as a community of, “strivers, those looking to advance themselves in not only the intellectual and spiritual realm but the economic as well” (49). The music at Providence was very proper, but Bean was drawn to the more “rootsy” music played in his household and in the storefronts he visited. Bean’s own church preached acceptance, but the churches he visited were the first spaces he heard anti-gay theologies.

Continue reading “Black Like Me: Gay, Free and Happy!”

Collective Memory

From Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, re-posted from Facebook (9/10/2021).

Before you post that #neverforget sentiment tomorrow, ask yourself; in the last 20 years have I told any Black or Indigenous person that they need to “get over it” “move on” “forgive and forget” when they posted about historical trauma? I know for a fact that some of you have. You no longer get to choose what is preserved as collective memory.

Summer Reading Subverting Supremacy Stories

By Tommy Airey, exclusively for RadicalDiscipleship.Net

This summer, Lindsay and I maneuvered a ministry of migration. We pivoted between and beyond the Kirkridge Retreat Center in the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania, a studio apartment two blocks from the Deschutes River in Central Oregon and a wide stretch of beach on the Pacific Ocean on Acjachemen land in Southern California. I spent some of this time working on a book that lays out a biblical spirituality for white folks and middle-class people breaking rank from the default narratives of dominant culture. Those of us navigating the wilderness that borders both fundamentalism and liberalism need a spiritual training program for the ultra-marathon race of recognizing and resisting the supremacy stories scripted by whiteness, hetero-patriarchy, the profit motive, the penal system and patriotism.

My friend Sarah Nahar says this kind of inner work is like shedding colonial codes of conduct. Rev. Lynice Pinkard compares it to learning another language: speaking treason fluently. I like breaking rank because it sounds so subversive—what spirituality should be. Break rank with supremacy stories and you’ll gain your soul—and lose your social respectability. Try calling out capitalism at your church potluck. It sounds like a conspiracy, which in Latin means “to breathe with.” To grow our souls, us middle-class folk need mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Because our hearts have stopped. But here’s the rub: we can only get CPR from those chronically oppressed by supremacy stories. So we start breathing with those who are Black and Brown, Indigenous and Immigrant, women and working poor.  

Continue reading “Summer Reading Subverting Supremacy Stories”

Learning from the Other

lentzBy Ched Myers, for the 15th Sunday of Pentecost (Mk 7:24-37)

Note: This is a re-post of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015. The original piece was posted on September 3, 2015.

In a doublet I called a “tale of two women” (5:21-43; see my blog on the gospel for 5 Pentecost) Mark presented two linked healings in “Jewish” symbolic territory. He now narrates a corresponding doublet in clearly marked “Gentile” space (7:24). Tyre and Sidon were coastal cities not only well outside Palestinian Jewish society, but historic centers of the Phoenician naval empire, a legendary adversary of Israel (see e.g. Ezekiel 26-28), though now part of the Roman province of Syria. These healings of a woman and man are thus surprising, and serve as object lessons in the inclusivity just advocated in the previous Markan episode. Continue reading “Learning from the Other”

It Is Harder to End a War Than Begin One

By Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler, Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ & Director & Chief Visionary, Faith Strategies, LLC

Twenty years ago, planes crashed into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. There was disbelief, weeping, and shock as people in the affected areas looked for their loved ones. There was a deep eeriness in the air, and grief and disbelief set in, and then the tone began to shift to revenge and retribution. Chants began to arise like “USA! USA! USA!”  Politicians and preachers began to use the phrase “God bless America,” as if America was somehow more deserving of God’s blessings than anywhere else.

Three days later I was speaking on the phone with an insurance company representative about a personal matter, and the insurance representative paused the call so that the entire office could sing “God Bless America.” The news sources were all rattling their proverbial sabers, and it would only be a short amount of time before all the pistons would be firing in the war engine. It was a time 20 years ago, a moment, and a setting that the American public could be cajoled and sold anything seemingly patriotic and retaliatory, and it was. The military went into Afghanistan to dislodge Al Qaeda, and it stayed to create a new government and country. Something that the Soviets had tried to do previously. But that was not a history that the US learned from because the neo-cons and the defense contractors with the military industrialists decided that it was an opportunity to reconstruct a region in its own image, control the natural resources of the region, and to create governments loyal to the interest of the west and particularly the US.

Continue reading “It Is Harder to End a War Than Begin One”