Our vote and democracy are under attack in every state across this union. But on November 8th, we as a people of faith must be on the frontline to fight this Goliath that is trying to destroy our democracy. We cannot sit out the Midterm election.
The late John Lewis said best: “A vote is the most powerful non-violent tool we have – almost sacred.” For us, voting is rooted in the belief that everyone is created in the image of God and deserves to vote their values in free, fair, and safe elections.
“There is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks.” – Toni Morrison, Beloved
Last weekend, I hiked with friends on traditional land of Watlala people, about fifty miles southeast of Portland, Oregon. At the trailhead, there were a half dozen Chinook Salmon swimming in the cold shallow water below. They were traveling upstream, from the Pacific to the Columbia to the Sandy to the Zig Zag to Camp Creek. The females, returning to the place of their birth, were preparing to lay their eggs – and then die four days later. Despite all the dams that have been built, there are still a few of these Beings, so sacred to Native people here, who have the strength to swim against the current, teaching us how to give up our lives for the next generation.
On my two-hour drive back to the Deschutes River, I was pondering the contrast between Chinook Salmon who swim upstream and those who built the dams, white people conditioned by conformity, always moving with the current, not against it. I was thinking about the white people I know who now refer to “wokeness” as a bad word, as a kind of far-left cult that is extreme and dangerous, existing only to shame white people. The conservative talking points are penetrating the language of white moderates and liberals. Right-wing strategists know what they are doing! Wokeness is the perfect pinata for people unwilling to swim upstream and shed their own whiteness.
All Biden’s words have done is make clear–abundantly clear–what we already have known: that we are on our own for the pandemic and the little that still remain (for some), will be gone soon (obvi wealthy folks will be able access whatever they want whenever as per usual).
Our work now should be cultural changes, so that we can get (our) folks to get boosted, wear masks and continue other safety precautions. We should be *normalizing* masks. Taking pictures (esp with others) with your masks ON.
One of the effects of the irruption of Global South thought into Global North theology in the last half century is a re-reading of the bible from within the experience of poverty. Not least among the new insights occasioned by this re-reading is that concerning the parables. Scholars like Walter Wink and William Herzog and popular cultural educators like Ched Myers have made us aware that such folk stories, read in social context rather than spiritualized and universalized, have the character of political cartoons. Rather than allegories offering us characterizations of God or Jesus, they are better understood as politically-coded riddles, inviting their hearers to judge for themselves the situations they find themselves in. In 1st century Palestine among an oppressed people, they often served a function of consciousness-raising, provoking peasant listeners to dare risk thinking and voicing their own interpretation of events and discover their own wisdom. Only indirectly and obliquely do the parables speak about God, and then only by way of unmasking domination and uncovering the cry of anguish it silences. The results of such a contextual reading can be startling.
To show support for new voices in literature, Kiese Laymon, Robert Jones, Jr. and Deeshaw Philyaw came together to create #Lit16, a quarterly reading series celebrating sixteen debut authors. This is their inaugural cohort:
I was honored to preach the following sermon at Skyline Congregational Church, UCC, on September 4, 2022. The focus scripture was Luke 14: 25-33.
That subtitle comes from a quote from Carl Jung, from a part of his Red Book in which he was describing his spiritual journey. He says, “In my case, Pilgrim’s Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am.”
[Invite people to visualize this in a little guided meditation–descending the ladders, the clod of earth that is myself. Notice sensations in the body, emotions (grief? fear? relief?), resistance.]
I think this “dirt clod” image provides us with a key to this very challenging text from the gospel of Luke.