Five Loaves, Two Fish and a Rack of Ribs

riot ribsBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, Salt and Light Lutheran Church, Portland, OR (Sunday, August 2), Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus, a young movement leader, desperate to be alone, grieving, raging, mourning the state-sponsored murder of his cousin, John. A crowd gathers. Thousands upon thousands. They are there so long, learning and listening and longing for change, that it gets late into the night and they are hungry. Some want to say, go home! Fend for yourselves! Go to the store and buy your own food! You’re on your own! But that is not The Way of Jesus. That is not The Way of this movement. And suddenly, seemingly miraculously, food for thousands appears. And the hungry are fed. They feed one another. Because when the system fails or it isn’t designed to care for you in the first place, you have to care for one another. And from that place, create a new way of being in the world. Continue reading “Five Loaves, Two Fish and a Rack of Ribs”

Mother Earth’s Pandemic

indigenous values initiativeFrom the Indigenous Values Initiative. They are hosting Mother Earth’s Pandemic, a conference that starts tomorrow. Register here.

The “Doctrine of Discovery,” better described as the “Doctrine of Christian Discovery and World Domination,” established the worldview that not only brought devastation to the natural world, but also impaired the ability for human beings to live in proper relationship with the Earth. 15th century Papal Bulls, issued by the Vatican, justified the assault upon Indigenous Peoples as an artificial justification to take possession of their bodies, lands and resources in order to finance their New World Order. This worldview advanced the Age of Discovery as an extension of the Crusades, and was the conceptual framework behind the Protestant Reformation, the establishment of Nation States around the world, and later secularized to define colonialism, white supremacy and global capitalism. Continue reading “Mother Earth’s Pandemic”

Casting Out Whiteness

George Houser
Bayard Rustin started the original Freedom Riders with George Houser, a white boy who broke rank back in the early 1940’s.

By Tommy Airey

Note: this piece has been edited after it was originally posted. 

“At stake is not just a new cognitive awareness and objectivity about the situation of race, but a new passionate posture and subjectivity founded on a new spiritual interiority.”—James W. Perkinson, White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity (2004)

A year ago, Ruby Sales invited white men to email her if they were interested in convening a conversation about breaking rank from what James Baldwin called “a pantheon of the relentlessly mediocre.” We organized a gathering that she called “The Council on the Way.” I joined her and 22 other white men from New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, California and Oregon for a spiritual conversation centered on a redemptive white male liberation theology. We gathered on Capitol Hill, a stone’s throw from the Supreme Court. We hoped it would be a mustard seed for a movement breaking rank from white male mediocrity. Continue reading “Casting Out Whiteness”

Racism, Exorcism + Baptism

PIPFrom the conclusion of Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s chapter on racism (“Exorcising an American Demon: Racism is a Principality”) in Principalities in Particular: A Practical Theology of the Powers That Be (2017):

William Stringfellow’s source of authority and hope at the Chicago
conference was tied to baptism:

[Racism] is the power with which Jesus Christ was confronted and which, at great and sufficient cost, he overcame. In other words, the issue here is not equality among human beings, but unity among human beings…The issue is baptism. The issue is the unity of all humanity wrought by God in the life and work of Christ. Baptism is the sacrament of that unity.

As the Ephesians letter (which itself may be read as a baptismal meditation) puts it: the new humanity in Christ’s body breaks down the wall of hostility (2:14–16). In this new humanity which baptism seals and affirms, our relationship to every other human being, every human community, indeed to every creature, is renewed. The wall has no
claim upon us. The powers do not rule in our lives and community. We
have died, with Christ, out from under their spirit and dominion (Eph
2:1–8). Continue reading “Racism, Exorcism + Baptism”

Racial Capitalism

KelleyAn excerpt from a podcast interview with Robin D.G. Kelley, professor of American History at UCLA (interview on The Intercept, June 24, 2020).

…racism is a by-product of capitalism. That is, capitalism emerges and racism is a way to divide workers. It’s a way to extract greater value from, say, enslaved people, Indigenous people, etc. But what Cedric argued was that the grounds of the civilization in which capitalism emerges is already based on racial hierarchy. If you think of race as assigning meaning to whole groups of people, ideologically convincing others that some people are inferior to others, that some people are designed as beasts of burden, then what you end up getting is a system of extraction that allows for a kind of super-exploitation of Black and brown people. And racial capitalism also relies on an ideology or racial regime, and the racial regime convinces a lot of white people, who may get the crumbs of this extraction through slavery, through Jim Crow, convince them to support or shore up a regime that seems to benefit whiteness based in white supremacy but where their own share of the spoils is actually pretty minuscule. Continue reading “Racial Capitalism”

Are We All In This Together?

naomiAn excerpt from Naomi Klein’s interview with The Guardian last week.

There is always this discourse whenever disasters hit: “Climate change doesn’t discriminate, the pandemic doesn’t discriminate. We are all in this together.” But that is not true. That is not how disasters act. They act as magnifiers and they act as intensifiers. If you had a job in an Amazon warehouse that was making you sick before, or if you were in a long-term care facility that was already treating you as if your life was of no value, that was bad before – but all of that gets magnified to unbearable now. And if you were disposable before, you’re sacrificial now. And we are only talking about the violence that we can see. What we have to talk more about is the violence that’s hidden, and that’s domestic violence. To put it bluntly, when men are stressed, women get it in the face and so do kids. These lockdowns are so stressful because families don’t have any reprieve from each other and even the best family needs a little bit of space. Then you add layoffs, economic stress. It’s a very bad situation for women right now.

Pamela Rush. Presente.

pamela
PC: Catherine Flowers

Re-posted from the Montgomery Advertiser. Passed along by the Poor People’s Campaign.

On the afternoon of June 12, 2018, Pamela Rush found herself in Washington, D.C. She had traveled a long way from Tyler, a rural community of about 1,200 people in Lowndes County, to testify in front of a coalition of elected officials convened by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and late Baltimore Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Rush had come to share her story and that of 140 million more like her. As a part of the Poor People’s Campaign — a continuation of the organizing Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began in 1967 to unite the nation’s poor — Rush had traveled about 700 miles to D.C. to demand Congress do something to eradicate the crushing poverty that so many American families had come to know well. Continue reading “Pamela Rush. Presente.”

Class During COVID: A Modest Proposal

CLASSROOMBy Kim Redigan 

I am a garden-variety high school teacher who has spent the better part of the summer trying to get back on my feet after wading through the weeds of a semester marked by the COVID crisis.

Most teachers would probably agree that stepping over the demarcation line between the classroom and COVID country last March was traumatic for everyone involved. Most of us found a way to do it – and we did it well – but throughout the semester my gut was screaming that this way of doing school was brutal, untenable, unhealthy.

Most teachers work harder than people know. Our classrooms are sacred centers of hospitality. Places of grace and, on most days, gratitude. Continue reading “Class During COVID: A Modest Proposal”

The Movement Must Begin Inside Each of Us

LewisA rare Sunday read. From Ric Hudgens. A reflection on the life of John Lewis. This is Quarantine Essay #58 from Hudgens, the Cal Ripken of RadicalDiscipleship.net.

When I want to understand the potential a human being might have or the difference that one person might make in this world, I don’t look to celebrities or billionaires. I look to John Lewis.

Someone who refuses to wear a face mask because it threatens their liberty doesn’t know the price of liberty. Their understanding of freedom is narrow and malignant. John Lewis understood. He paid the price, not once but time again, because freedom is not a one-time thing. Continue reading “The Movement Must Begin Inside Each of Us”

The Sound of the Genuine

ThurmanThe 40th anniversary of Howard Thurman’s Spelman College commencement speech.

There is something in every one of you that waits, listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself and if you cannot hear it, you will never find whatever it is for which you are searching and if you hear it and then do not follow it, it was better that you had never been born…

You are the only you that has ever lived; your idiom is the only idiom of its kind in all of existence and if you cannot hear the sound of the genuine in you, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls… Continue reading “The Sound of the Genuine”