My church will replace our Black Lives Matter sign. Will America replace its racist myth?

In case you missed it. This is re-posted from a Washington Post op-ed written three weeks ago by Rev. William H. Lamar IV, the pastor of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington.

Do you hear what I hear? I hear the imperial American myth in the throes of its own death rattle. And I hear a people clamoring for a story by which to order their lives.

The United States does not like to call itself an empire. But it is. Through military and economic force, the United States extends its narrative, politics and culture throughout the globe for good and for ill. The American story to which I refer does not shape our domestic life alone. It shapes the world.

Myths, stories, give our lives meaning. They tell us who we were, who we are and who we will be.

Continue reading “My church will replace our Black Lives Matter sign. Will America replace its racist myth?”

Carolers on my Porch

by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

These days my snow-covered porch is covered in discarded seed shells and bird poop. And I couldn’t be happier.

Cedar (age 4) and I have fallen into the Advent tradition of getting out pots and pans and measuring cups. He counts one cup, two cups, three cups, four cups of bird seed. Peanut butter, gelatin, cranberries. We mold wreaths and cookie cutter shapes and muffin cups. We wait days for them to dry. Then add them to gift boxes and stockings.

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POWER TO SPEAK | WWJD: KIRK CAMERON, CHRISTMAS CAROL PROTESTS AND COVID-19

By Tim Nafziger and Ched Myers, re-posted from Ventura County Reporter (Dec 30, 2020)

“Have you ever sung Christmas carols by candlelight in a time when your state governor has prohibited you from doing that? In America?!”  

These are the opening lines of a video by actor Kirk Cameron on Instagram (viewed 80,000+ times) inviting Ventura County residents to join his second “Christmas caroling peaceful protest” at The Oaks mall in Thousand Oaks. Hundreds of people responded to Cameron’s call and gathered without masks to sing at the mall on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 13 and again on Tuesday, Dec. 22.  A similar “worship protest” is slated to take place in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve led by self-described “missionary, artist, speaker, author and activist” Sean Feucht. The California Poor People’s Campaign, along with many faith leaders, are calling on Los Angeles elected officials to halt Feucht’s events.

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Seeing 2020

By Ric Hudgens (right)

This is the year that reveals every “new” year
for the empty symbol it is. Useful for keeping
records, filing documents or measuring our
annual rate of growth, twelve months merely
marks another planetary lap around the sun.
That is all it means. So make some whoopie
if you want, but something has to finish before
the new begins. It’s still not over. The lying
doesn’t end here, but neither does the truth.
Thousands more, someone you never expected,
will die, things hidden will be revealed, and,
dependably, we will learn of goodness abiding
despite. Hold your friends close (we know who
they are now), and keep your enemies
in view. Our tumult continues, and justice
requires a longer arc. I am stuck in the middle
with you. 2020 disappears in the small print.
Our vision may never be so clear again.

A Conspiracy

By Tommy Airey

PC: Nijalon Dunn

During this final fortnight of 2020, my mind has been meandering back to Memorial Day and the short life of George Floyd. He and I were born forty days apart, five years after Martin King was murdered. We came up in a split screen society where two totally different games with totally different rules were being played at the totally same time. King called it “the two Americas.” While I was basking in the sunlight of opportunity, George Floyd’s America had a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair. While I was coddled, George Floyd was criminalized.

Believe it or not, George Floyd and I both played college basketball. He was a 6’7” power forward from Houston. I was short, white and, as one former coach said, slower than shit rolling uphill. He crashed the boards. I hit the threes. After college, we both came back home. While George Floyd was posting up in the projects of Houston’s Third Ward where unemployment was four times the city’s average, I was in the Southern California suburbs saving up my full salary for a couple years while living rent-free with free meals in the home my parents bought in 1970 for $35,000. Mom still stays there and could sell it for thirty times the amount she bought it for.

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The Angels

By Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, a Christmas Eve sermon

[This sermon is a reflection on the biblical stories from the angel’s appearance to Zechariah to the shepherds returning from Bethlehem — stories imagined, acted out and recorded by seven different families with young children from the community.]

Friends, we gather tonight in the darkest time of year, in a year that for so many has been the darkest they have ever known. And right here, right now, in this virtual but very real moment, come the children of this community, like angels bringing joy and delight to our hearts, bringing the ancient and ever-new good news to the people who walked in darkness. Angels, messengers of God of the impossible becoming possible. There are SO. MANY. ANGELS in these stories!

An angel arising from behind the altar where Zechariah was coloring, I mean, doing his work and tending the incense. The mildly maternal-looking angel telling Zechariah how it’s all going  to go down and then giving Zechariah a big long, silent time out for not believing her. 

Another angel with green wings coming to Joseph in a dream!

Another angel descending to sit on the floor next to Mary like best friends with dolls, giving her the news of her unexpected pregnancy, patiently answering her questions, letting her process her feelings until she was ok. An angel doing what a best friend would do.

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A Divine Offering in a Food Tray for Animals

PerkBy Jim Perkinson, from Political Spirituality in an Age of Eco-Apocalypse (2015)

Undoubtedly anxious, perhaps even terrified, Mary breaks water under the bureaucratic duress. Motel 6 is filled, as is the local youth hostel. Tradition has it she camps out in a cave—likely one of the rocky caverns around Bethlehem that shepherds used as corrals. In short order, she has her newborn in a “manger,” feeding trough for domesticated livestock, enslaved creatures whose own wildlands grazing has been reduced to slopping beheaded grain from a wood or stone container.

Meanwhile local herding folk, out on the hills with their flocks, reading the stars and weather, tending to the night cacophony for any hint of danger, schooled, not in texts of Torah but in the sensuous spells of the wild holiness that is their “bible,” are struck with an apparition, an emergent power of the outback, taking shape on the rocks, whispering omens, filtering light into a strange miasma of significance. They hear, are terrified, then comforted. Offered “good news.” An event has taken place. Continue reading “A Divine Offering in a Food Tray for Animals”

Review of Pillar of Fire by Joyce Hollyday

By Kate Foran, shared from Geez magazine

Can we have a story with all the immersive medieval detail—from herb-strewn floors to falconers to feast days— of Kristin Lavransdatter but with none of the tiresome obsession with sexual sin? Can we enter a world with the depth of history of Lord of the Rings without the racist overtones and dearth of female characters? Can we readers have a vision of “The Mended Wood” as cast by S.D. Smith in The Green Ember without buying into the myth of redemptive violence? Can we have a story of risk and companionship written by somebody who knows something about living in community? And can we please have a discipleship story that centers the experience of women?

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On Faith

From Bayo Akomolafe. Re-posted from social media (12/5/2020).

Yesterday, during an interview I quite enjoyed, the host asked me if I considered myself a man of faith. “Of course, I am a man of faith!” I responded. And then I proceeded to offer a reframed and embodied notion of faith that wasn’t necessarily tethered to bearded divinities and religious monocultures. What might faith look like if humans weren’t the unit of analysis? If it didn’t terminate at belief systems or cognitive leaps? A posthumanist faith?

Faith is the fidelity of entanglements. Faith exceeds the doctrines and the human-centric ways we – forced by the imperatives of institutions – have come to see them. It is how bodies come to meet other bodies, how bodies use or borrow other bodies and senses to respond to the creative challenges of a multidimensional reality that is never still – or how those bodies in excess of each other create new edges and experiment with new questions.

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