The Option to Not Think About

An excerpt from Tommy Orange’s There There. Thank you Rev. Wes Smedley for a timely reminder of a brilliant book.

This is the thing: If you have the option to not think about or even consider history, whether you learned it right or not, or whether it even deserves consideration, that’s how you know you’re on board the ship that serves hors d’oeuvres and fluffs your pillows, while others are out at sea, swimming or drowning, or clinging to little inflatable rafts that they have to take turns keeping inflated, people short of breath, who’ve never even heard of the words hors d’oeuvres or fluff. Then someone from up on the yacht says, “It’s too bad those people down there are lazy, and not as smart and able as we are up here, we who have built these strong, large, stylish boats ourselves, we who float the seven seas like kings.” And then someone else on board says something like, “But your father gave you this yacht, and these are his servants who brought the hors d’oeuvres.” At which point that person gets tossed overboard by a group of hired thugs who’d been hired by the father who owned the yacht, hired for the express purpose of removing any and all agitators on the yacht to keep them from making unnecessary waves, or even referencing the father or the yacht itself. Meanwhile, the man thrown overboard begs for his life, and the people on the small inflatable rafts can’t get to him soon enough, or they don’t even try, and the yacht’s speed and weight cause an undertow. Then in whispers, while the agitator gets sucked under the yacht, private agreements are made, precautions are measured out, and everyone quietly agrees to keep on quietly agreeing to the implied rule of law and to not think about what just happened. Soon, the father, who put these things in place, is only spoken of in the form of lore, stories told to children at night, under the stars, at which point there are suddenly several fathers, noble, wise forefathers. And the boat sails on unfettered.

MLK was a Radical

MLK
PC: Underwood Archives/UIG/REX/Shutterstock

By Dr. Cornel West, for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., originally posted in The Guardian

The major threat of Martin Luther King Jr to us is a spiritual and moral one. King’s courageous and compassionate example shatters the dominant neoliberal soul-craft of smartness, money and bombs. His grand fight against poverty, militarism, materialism and racism undercuts the superficial lip service and pretentious posturing of so-called progressives as well as the candid contempt and proud prejudices of genuine reactionaries. King was neither perfect nor pure in his prophetic witness – but he was the real thing in sharp contrast to the market-driven semblances and simulacra of our day. Continue reading “MLK was a Radical”

Abundant Joy

CanaBy Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson, commentary on John 2:1-11, re-posted from January 2016

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee…”

The rich beauty of this week’s gospel sets the stage for the journey into God and discipleship which follows. In his first public act in John’s gospel, Jesus transforms a wedding which has run out of wine into an overflowing, abundant celebration of the best wine. Every detail of this packed scene is worth pondering deeply.
Continue reading “Abundant Joy”

Holding For Us All

By Michael Boucher, re-posted with permission from his Facebook page

About half of the people who consult me in my clinical work are under the age of 35 and their experiences resonate with what I hear from my own connections and relationships with a similar cohort.

Many report acute symptoms of anxiety and depression. Many feel a real sense of concern about the future. A lot express challenges in relationships, in part, because of the mental health issues that they and/or their partners face. Many say that they feel like they experience a crisis of meaning because so many institutions around them do not serve us well. Quite a few experience job dissatisfaction, in part, because they’re asking serious questions about what it all means…And this is all in a context of COVID – with all of those implications related to social isolation, fear of getting sick, attending to loved ones who are sick, etc.

Continue reading “Holding For Us All”

A Better Offer

A compelling opportunity from Showing Up For Racial Justice.

“Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.” — Mariame Kaba

Join us next Thursday for our webinar: Organizing White People to Stop Another Jan 6th, where we’ll share more about how you can join the work of out-organizing the Right. Register here: https://act.surj.org/a/organizing-white-people

Continue reading “A Better Offer”

Take a Second Look

An excerpt from Michael Harriott’s 2021 classic “The Complete List of Marxist, Un-American, Anti-White Things (according to white people).”

While we should never, ever do what white people collectively want, history has shown us that if something is good for Black people, white people will hate it. And if they vilify something as racist, communist or anti-white, you should take a second look because, nine times out of 10, it might be worth considering. When it comes to freedom and equality, the easiest thing to do is to see what white people have to say…then do the opposite. Or, if that’s too confusing, simply ask yourself: Will it make white people cry?

Born to Bow in Reverence to Each Other

By Tommy Airey, a seven-minute sermon on Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.—Genesis 1:26-27

My spirituality is saturated in the biblical claim that I bear the image of God, that we all bear the royal image of God. Hebrew scribes wrote and edited the book of Genesis after they were captured and exiled to Babylon, an empire that placed “images”—or  statues—of their king in public places to remind people who is supreme. Citizens were supposed to bow whenever they passed by. The Hebrew scribes subverted this human hierarchy of value by crafting their own creation story. The scribes stamped every human Being with the royal image of a God of love and compassion who designed a world without a human hierarchy of value. We are all royalty, born to bow in reverence to each other.

Continue reading “Born to Bow in Reverence to Each Other”

A Risky Undertaking

Desmond Tutu (1931-2021).

Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.

After 50 Years, Still Recovering From My PTSD

By Steve Clemens

Got this in the mail this week- it got me thinking:

December of 1971 was the time I completed my academic requirements to graduate several months early from Wheaton College. 50 years is a long time in looking back at that part of my journey – especially in trying to heal from the religious and theological abuse heaped upon my 21-year-old self from the “evangelical” movement as expressed by the school which prided itself as being the “Harvard” of such. I’ve come to realize in the passing years the damage wrought by what I now see as a form of Post Theological Salvation Disorder (or Delusion): PTSD.

Continue reading “After 50 Years, Still Recovering From My PTSD”

Kings vs. Kids

magiBy Ched Myers, for The Feast of the Holy Innocents and Epiphany (Matthew 2), re-posted from 2016

This reflection offers biblical context for two feasts of the Christian church: one minor (Feast of the Innocents, Dec 28, 2016) and one major (Epiphany, Jan 6, 2017). These two holy days commemorate the narrative of Matthew 2 (though in reverse chronological order), which we read in Year A. In fact, the “Twelve Days of Christmas”—when re-interpreted through the lens of these two feasts—can truly be a gift to us, if an importunate one.  These counter-narratives provide a much-needed corrective to the holiday season’s saccharine sentimentality and cacophonous commercialism, and equally to unreflective year-in-review rituals and banal New Year’s resolution-making. For they demand that we re-center our lives around the testimonies of those who are at risk in a world of imperial violence.  Continue reading “Kings vs. Kids”