The Major Philanthropists of Our Society

BarbaraFrom Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2011):

When someone works for less pay than she can live on—when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently—then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The “working poor,” as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.

Why is Grandpa in Jail?

33116241_10214353738810852_6880318968586829824_oBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I wrote this as a children’s book for Isaac during the Poor People’s Campaign. He was very concerned about why Grandpa kept going to jail when we were also teaching about how we dont believe in jails and prisons. So, I wrote this to try to explain it to him. We printed it out and he and Cedar and Ira and their friend helped illustrate it as a birthday gift to my dad.

Why is Grandpa in jail?
We don’t like jails. We think they shouldn’t exist.

If people make bad choices, there are better ways to help them be better.
Talking.
Caring.
Paying attention to what they need.
Teaching.
Loving.

Locking people up for years of their life only….
Takes them away from their families.
Makes people feel lonely.
Takes them away from the sun and the trees.

It is a broken, sad system.

So, why is Grandpa in jail? Continue reading

Blessed Assurance: Call to the Table in the Face of Terror

ChildrenBy Ken Sehested

One important thing that hasn’t been said this week [about the savagery of separating of children from parents at the US-Mexican border] is that this Department of Justice policy change is in fact a form of terrorism.

The point of terrorism isn’t killing people. Terrorists make strategic use of aggressive trauma to spread fear for the purpose of affecting social or political objectives. Look up the FBI’s definition.* Continue reading

Hauling the Sanctuary on to the Street

Marian (1)By its simple public character a measure of light is directed upon an otherwise hidden and inconspicuous evil. By it an aspect of the historical crisis is expressly identified.  A kairos moment of decision for the community of faith is named and commended and acted upon.
Bill Wylie Kellermann, Seasons of Faith and Conscience: Kairos, Confession, Liturgy (1991)

More than a quarter century ago, Detroit native and ordained United Methodist Bill Wylie-Kellmann coined the phrase “liturgical direct action” to describe a brand of Christian witness that goes beyond charitable giving and moves outside the church building to expose and resist the powers that be.  Now 70 and retired from formal ministry, Bill is still hauling the sanctuary out on to the street.  Yesterday, in downtown Detroit, he joined 250+ friends and faithful in the final moral Monday of the national Poor People’s CampaignContinue reading

Wedding Poem

crescent_moonBy Bill Wylie-Kellermann
For Joanna and Eitan, August 25, 2010

When the half-moon hangs
faint in the mid-day sky
and earth already turns toward dusk
make a wedding

When the city, faint and far, cracks and cries
and blood forgotten runs beneath the streets
make a wedding

When earth and sea gasp for air
when the heat is on
and dread would rise
make a wedding Continue reading

Like a Mustard Seed

BindingToday, we continue our celebration of the 30th anniversary of Binding The Strong Man, Ched Myers’ extraordinary political reading of Mark’s Gospel.  Each Sunday, we will post excerpts from Myers’ comments on the lectionary reading of the day.  Today’s passage is Mark 4:26-34.

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade. (Mark 4:30-32)

In the famous parable of the mustard seed Mark one last time expands upon the theme of sowing in the earth (4:30-32).  There can be no question that this similitude concerning the disproportion between the seed and the mature plant is meant to instill courage and hope in the small and fragile discipleship community for its struggle against the entrenched powers.  As in 4:29, the appended scriptural citation places the parable firmly within a political context.  Mark adopts the conclusion of Ezekiel’s cypress tree parable for his own: the “small sprig” planted by Yahweh will bear fruit, and its branches will give shelter to birds (Ezekiel 17:22f).  In late biblical literature the sheltering branch was a common metaphor for political hegemony.  Daniel explains the image to Nebuchadnezzar: Continue reading