An Act of Defiant Hope

Another subversive bible study from Walter Brueggemann. Re-posted from

This is an unabashed commendation of a book. The book by Franck Prevot is entitled Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees (2015). This children’s book, with its winsome art work, tells the story of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman who learned from her mother that “a tree is worth more than its wood.” As she grew up she became aware that her people were deprived of much of their land for agriculture. She saw the devastation of the forests as her country gained independence from Britain. In the face of all the deforestation, her mother taught her:

A tree is a treasure that provides shade, fruit, pure air, and nesting places for birds, and that pulses with the vitality of life. Trees are hideouts for insects and provide inspiration for poets. A tree is a little bit of the future (21).

In response to the destruction of deforestation that she could observe, Maathai organized the Green Belt Movement to encourage villagers to plant many, many trees. She encountered much opposition from business interests and from the authoritarian government of Daniel arap Moi. She was imprisoned by the government for her oppositional stance, but slowly she is able to gain public support for her democratic vision of society. Her great courage led not only to many trees, but to the flourishing of democracy in her home country of Kenya. It is clear that her story is one that our children and grandchildren urgently need to hear, a story of courage in devotion to the wellbeing of the earth and its creaturely population. Click here to read the rest.

The Big Deception

An excerpt from the newsletter of Alec Karakatsanis (May 18, 2023).

Over forty years into the War on Drugs, the following are true:

  • The U.S. has spent trillions of dollars; detained tens of millions of people for hundreds of millions of years; separated tens of millions of children from parents; chemically destroyed millions of acres of rainforest and pristine ecosystems in Latin America; killed hundreds of thousands of people; stopped, searched, sexually violated, and arrested hundreds of millions of people; surveilled the communications of billions of people globally; stolen billions of dollars in property from poor people through civil forfeiture; deported hundreds of thousands of people; deprived tens of millions of people of highly effective therapeutic treatments for cancer, mental illness, PTSD, chronic pain, etc.; caused millions of people to become infected with infectious diseases; kicked millions of families out of public housing and public benefits; put tens of millions of poor people into an endless cycle of debt; and cost tens of millions of people their jobs at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars to the economy.
  • The use of prohibited drugs has increased, prohibited drugs are more potent than ever, and overdose deaths have skyrocketed to their highest levels in U.S. history.  

People in power making drug policy are not universally incompetent. Most of the people crafting U.S. drug policy know the above facts. 

Continue reading “The Big Deception”

The Church of the Future

By Greg Jarrell, reposted from his substack newsletter (May 1, 2023)

I was grateful to get an invite from the North Carolina region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to speak at their annual gathering this past weekend. Unfortunately, their schedule got waaaaaaay behind, and I was scheduled to lead one of my walks in uptown Charlotte. So I have an unheard sermon, written for a very specific moment. These things take too much time and care. Somebody needs to see it.

Here’s the quick set-up: I was to be the third of three preachers offering a short homily. The first was to speak on the church of the past and the second on the present church. I was to offer some thoughts on the church of the future. The text tying it all together was Revelation 1:1-8. Verse 8 says “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

I had seven minutes to deliver it. Part of the experience was to be me speaking way too fast. So, beloved, read as quickly as possible.

Here it is:

If I understand what has happened this afternoon, then we’ve heard Rev. Jones tell us about the past in order to describe the present we inhabit. We heard Rev. Dr. McHenry name the present we live in, which shows us what tomorrow looks like. And so, it must be my job in talking about the future to look backwards and describe that which is coming back.

What I am saying is that even here in these sermonic moments we have shared, we live in the swirl of time, the uncertain whims of temporality, the liberating unity of overlapping chronologies. The whole dizzying world of Revelation 1 is an exercise in shaking us from boring old, marching-on time and setting us into a disjuncture. In verse 8 we acknowledge the one who was and is and is to come. In verse 7, John can’t decide whether to use present of future tense. In verse 6, the present is extended into eternity; in verse 5, we get the logic-defying phrase “the firstborn of the dead;” verse four again speaks of the one who was and is and is to come; and in verse three we learn that the time is near (a phrase we will return to in a moment).

Continue reading “The Church of the Future”

Will Not Sit Silently

From The Howard University Graduates for Solidarity, Written Statement Regarding the Howard University Graduates’ Protest of President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at Howard University’s 155th Commencement Ceremony at Capital One Arena

The Howard University Commencement Ceremony is a joyous occasion, a celebration of achievement in the face of generational, ongoing, and systemic adversity. For Black students, graduating college is a success beyond measure. We are proud to have attended the illustrious Howard University, our historically Black University, our Mecca. 

Yet, while we are excited to finish our last endeavor at Howard University, we are infinitely angered and exhausted by the many forms of ongoing white supremacist violence in the United States of America and internationally.  We are exhausted by the lack of resources we had as Howard Students, struggling to keep up with increasing tuition rates and inadequate housing options amidst the corporatization of our board of trustees and the fight to renew student, faculty, and community voting representation within it, let alone the ongoing gentrification of DC at large to which Howard University and its affiliates are a party. We maintain countless grievances and will not sit silently and allow them to go unrecognized, especially in light of campaign season. On today, May 13th, 2023, our graduation day and the 38th anniversary of the MOVE bombing, we choose to advocate. When there is no justice, there should be no peace. 

Continue reading “Will Not Sit Silently”

A Day with Vincent Harding

From Rachel Elizabeth Harding, re-posted from social media.

On May 19, the 9th anniversary of his passing, the Iliff School of Theology is honoring my father — with a day-long program of music, art, community conversation, good food, and reflections by Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Anne Dunlap , Tink Tinker, Daryl Walker, Jon Hurst, Gloria Smith and yours truly. For more information and to register (it’s free!) click in the link here.

The Aftermath of Title 42

A missive from John Fanestil, on the frontlines of the fight for immigrant justice. If you are in the Southern California next Sunday, May 21, join people of faith and conscious at Fandango at the Wall at 11am (1250 Monument Road, San Diego)

May 13, 2022 – San Diego

The lifting of Title 42 has brought national attention to the extreme conditions of human suffering on our nation’s southern border. But these conditions are nothing new. They are the product of a misguided approach to the border that has been embraced by Presidents of both parties since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. This approach mistakenly frames the challenges on the border as matters of “national security,” and then mistakenly attempts to address them with the administrative apparatus of the Department of Homeland Security. The results have been disastrous.

In recent weeks here in San Diego alone:

— Thousands of desperate migrants have entered into U.S. territory in hopes of seeking asylum. Last night I witnessed many hundreds trapped between the walls separating San Diego and Tijuana. Onsite I heard not just Spanish, but Chinese, Turkish, Haitian Creole, and several Eastern European and South Asian languages. These hundreds have been left stranded by U.S. authorities for as many as three days with minimal assistance, and now rely for their basic human needs on the extraordinary support of San Diego community organizations and volunteers.

Continue reading “The Aftermath of Title 42”

For the Friends who have Forgotten why Life Matters More than Guns

By Cindy Wallace, Associate Professor of English, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, re-posted from her Facebook account

The dappled light is why—
and the apple’s red skin, its
sticky-chin juice—
the way the breeze feels on your
arms after a winter that wouldn’t stop.
I want us all to know this,
as much of this as a body can take
in, for at least eight decades,
or a dozen:
the chickadees’ black caps and
the donuts’ perfect glaze and
the first-kiss flush and
the glory-stretch of toes freed
from all-day boots—
the glory-stretch of an infant
fresh from sleep—
the glory-stretch of a life
wide open to its loves—

Continue reading “For the Friends who have Forgotten why Life Matters More than Guns”

Wild Lectionary: And Then the Stones Cried Out

2017-04-29 21.19.52.jpgBy Melanie Delva & Coyote Terry Aleck, re-posted from May 2017

The first three readings for this Sunday are a seemingly bizarre mix of passages dealing with stones.  First, the stoning of Stephen as he testifies to the glory of Christ. Then the Psalmist describing God as his “strong rock, a castle to keep me safe.” Finally Christ as the “living stone,” encouraging followers of Christ to, “like living stones, let [ourselves] be built into a spiritual house.” Stones that cause pain and death; stones that provide safety; stones that support new life. Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: And Then the Stones Cried Out”

A Faux National Crisis

By Bettina Love, re-posted from Education Week

“The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.” This sentence, rooted in misleading and skewed data, changed education forever. Forty years ago, starting in April 1983, this country manufactured an education crisis that effectively put targets on the backs of its children, especially Black children. U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell, under the direction of President Ronald Reagan, released a 36-page report titled “A Nation at Risk.” It told the world that not only were American children failing academically, but “if an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

The authors claimed that data proved American children were lagging behind those in other industrialized nations in student achievement, citing, among other references, plummeting SAT scores and a functional illiteracy rate among minority children as high as 40 percent. The report kindled education reform as we know it. However, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, tests that are the most widely respected yardstick of student achievement nationally, reported that from the 1970s to the early 1980s, the performance of elementary and secondary pupils increased moderately on some examinations while dropping slightly on others. The report intentionally omitted such positive educational data, but why?

Click HERE to read the rest of the article.

My Heart Was Burning Within Me

By Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, a sermon preached at St. Luke Lutheran Church (Portland), for Earth Day (April 23, 2023)

Scripture: Luke 24:13-35 (First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament)

The Road to Warm Springs

On the same day, two of the followers of Creator Sets Free (Jesus) were walking to Village of Warm Springs (Emmaus), seven miles out from Village of Peace (Jerusalem). As they walked along, they were talking about all that had happened. Creator Sets Free (Jesus) came alongside them as they walked, but their eyes were kept from seeing who he was.

He said to them, “What are you talking about?”

They stopped walking and a look of sadness fell over their faces. One of the men, Honored by His Father (Cleopas), answered him, “How can you not know about the things that have happened in Village of Peace (Jerusalem)? You must be coming from far away.”

“What things are you talking about?” he asked.

“About Creator Sets Free (Jesus) from Seed Planter Village (Nazareth). He was a prophet from the Great Spirit, with powerful medicine, who did many good things among all the people. The head holy men and other leaders handed him over to the People of Iron (Romans) to be put to death on the cross. We had hoped that he would free the tribes of Wrestles with Creator (Israel) from the People of Iron (Romans). It is now the third day since they killed him on the cross, but today some women told us an amazing story. Early this morning they went to his burial cave and found that his body was not there. They told us about visions of spirit-messengers who told them he was alive! Some of our men went to see with their own eyes and found the empty cave, but they did not see Creator Sets Free (Jesus).”

Continue reading “My Heart Was Burning Within Me”