Pondering on Baptism

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Our pile of rocks beside the Detroit River.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, co-editor of http://www.radicaldiscipleship.net

After the service ended, the rocks began to pile up. Grandparents brought stones from beloved places far away and the kids waded into the water gathering rocks and adding them to the pile. We left that day, but the pile of rocks still sits beside the river as the waters pass through the Huron and toward Erie down the Detroit River.

We had just baptized Cedar Martin and his cousin Ira Cole. We read Joshua 4, where the Israelites cross the Jordan and Joshua tells them to leave a pile of rocks by the river because “One day your children will ask, “what do these stones mean?’ Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Joseph—God’s Agent or Agent of Empire?

Field Egypt Farmer PeopleEleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 15(20)

“God has made me lord of all Egypt…” Joseph, son of Jacob (Gen 45.9)

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” Paul of Tarsus (Rom 8.19)

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

A decade or so ago, we spent two years of our monthly Saturday teaching/retreat series with the book of Genesis. Folks eagerly engaged Genesis’ anti-city perspective and its all-too-human characters. But when we got to the Joseph story, several rebelled angrily against our starting characterization of Joseph, son of Jacob, as a self-absorbed, manipulative power seeker, who “succeeded” by teaching Pharaoh how to manage famine for personal profit. What is it about Joseph that leads so many to want to see him as a heroic expression of faith? Continue reading

To Step Back & Let New People Direct the Conversation

AidenAn announcement from our comrade up north Aiden Enns (right) of Geez Magazine:

After much reflection and in close conversation with the board of directors, I’ve decided that now is a good time for me to retire from my
post as editor of Geez magazine. I plan to make the Winter 2017 edition my 48th and final issue.

Geez magazine started 12 years ago under the tagline, “holy mischief in
an age of fast faith” in order to poke and prod at the pitfalls of
mainstream religion. Continue reading

Sermon: Walking in the Way of Righteousness

IMG_4625By Joanna Shenk

Psalm 85:8-13

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a loved one in which they asked me if I thought holiness and righteousness were important… or if I valued them as a Christian. I can’t remember exactly how they said it, but it was said in a way that assumed I probably didn’t think they were important. I explained to them that it was frustrating to be asked the question in that way because it put me on the defensive… like I needed to prove something to them. To their credit, they understood and agreed it made for better conversation if they asked me how I understand holiness and righteousness or what has been my journey with those things. Continue reading

And Not a Moment Before

CvilleBy Tommy Airey, co-editor of RadicalDiscipleship.net

On Friday, in preparation for this past weekend’s neo-fascist march and rally in Charlottesville, Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia, cited “the right of every American to deny those ideas more attention than they deserve.” He strongly encouraged people to stay away from the counter-protest.  As if oppressors and abusers just go away if we don’t confront them with our humanity.  As if level-headedness and moderation have ever saved those catching hell.

However, this was far from the first time that McAuliffe has distanced himself from the militant nonviolent tradition of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who, while in a Birmingham cell, rejected “the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea” of white moderate clergy.  Jyarland Daniels, the founder of the racial equity organization Harriet Speaks, reminded me recently that, in the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential election, McAuliffe, a huge Hillary Clinton supporter, worked tirelessly to ensure that (mostly black) ex-felons could get the right to vote. This is significant because McAuliffe’s support (with most of the Democratic Party establishment) for mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders and felon disenfranchisement laws have crippled black families and neighborhoods for decades. Continue reading

Whose Violence? Which Insurgence?: White Supremacy in the Mirror of Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation

Nat TurnerBy Dr. James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit, MI), prepared comments presented at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church’s “Social Justice Forum,” October 21, 2016 in response to the film

It was a Jewish man, Walter Benjamin, during WWII, who once said, “Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if [it] wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious” (Benjamin, 255)

Nat Turner’s spirit is buried beneath the shouts and cries (Cone, 61)

It is a deep honor to be asked to offer a few words in memory of so courageous and clear a spirit of resolve as Nat Turner. It is an honor doubly difficult to measure up to in that my skin is white and my life circumstance therefore privileged with respect to Turner’s color and condition and the people whose struggle for justice he represented with such determination and daring that it presaged the only resolution of the institution of slavery white people would accept. War. And it is a war that has never yet ceased. And so my standing here today is not innocent. Continue reading

I Wish the Ring Had Never Come to Me

Frodo: It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had the chance.

Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the ring, in which case you also were meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

  • The Fellowship of the Ring