Black Like Me: Gay, Free and Happy!

By Johari Jabir

In Memoriam: Carl Bean (May 26, 1944 – September 8, 2021)

It is an old story. Some ultra-talented Black singer leaves the church in order to pursue a career in a more lucrative career in secular music. Never mind the fact that the binary divisions between the sacred and secular have never really worked when it comes to Black music, Carl Bean is one of those many examples of Black gospel talent who may have momentarily left the building but took the spirit of the church with him. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Carl Bean grew up attending Providence Baptist Church where Rev. Marcus Garvey Good was pastor. In his autobiography, I Was Born This Way: A Gay Preacher’s Journey Through Gospel Music, Disco Stardom, and a Ministry in Christ, Bean describes his childhood church as a community of, “strivers, those looking to advance themselves in not only the intellectual and spiritual realm but the economic as well” (49). The music at Providence was very proper, but Bean was drawn to the more “rootsy” music played in his household and in the storefronts he visited. Bean’s own church preached acceptance, but the churches he visited were the first spaces he heard anti-gay theologies.

Continue reading “Black Like Me: Gay, Free and Happy!”

Los Samaritanos

An update from Chava Redonnet (right), the priest at Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church (Sunday, August 8, 2021).

Dear Friends,

Three years ago we invited some folks in Batavia to get together and talk about how we might support people being released from the detention center. Fili and his family had noticed that there was a need. We wanted to respond as St Romero’s but soon realized that we needed people who lived closer to the center, and needed the input and participation of people and churches in Batavia. The group that met that first night included several pastors – Presbyterian, Methodist, UCC, and myself, as well as some folks not connected with churches. It took us a while to figure out the details, but eventually we had a sign hanging up in the gas station where people are left to wait for a bus, with a number to call if you needed help and a bilingual person holding the phone, who could alert folks that there was a need. Fili told us that we should include on the sign the message, “You are not alone.”

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She Wove Us Together

Linda Marie Thurston, August 7 1958 to May 23, 2021. Re-posted from her obituary site.

Linda Marie Thurston, who spent a lifetime forging connections between and among people, organizations, and ideas in peace and justice movements, passed away in her Brooklyn, NY home due to natural causes. She was 62 years young.

Linda was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on August 7, 1958, the oldest child of James Thurston Sr. and Barbara Thurston (née Oliver). She attended Classical High School and excelled academically, where, as she liked to tell it, a bet between guidance counselors led to Linda applying and being accepted to Harvard University. Linda graduated from Harvard in 1980 with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology where she was a student organizer against South African apartheid and was the president of the Black Community and Student Theater. After working for some years at the American Friends Service Committee, Linda took time out to attend grad school at Temple University where she obtained an M.A. in Sociology in 1994. 

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The Womanist Theology of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon

An excerpt from a reflection on the life of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon by Angela D. Sims. Re-posted from Religion and Politics, February 2019.


In every generation, a “remnant” of scholars emerges that challenges status quo perspectives. Their critiques of normative constructs serve as models for subsequent scholars who learn how to work not only to eat but also to work in a manner that enables others to eat. The Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon was indeed such a person. She loved life, loved people, loved laughter, loved food, loved imagining the not yet, loved calling things into existence. The progenitor of womanist theological ethics, Cannon was a brilliant scholar, a mentor extraordinaire who possessed an ability to discern what was most needed, and generous (almost to a fault) in the sharing of her time and resources…

…Born January 3, 1950, in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Cannon became the first black woman to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church, a precursor to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). After earning her doctorate at Union Theological Seminary in New York City—the first African American woman to do so—Cannon laid the foundation for womanist ethics in her 1985 essay, “The Emergence of Black Feminist Consciousness.” Many black women in theological disciplines, including Cannon, have gravitated to the use of author Alice Walker’s term “womanist” as both a challenge to and a confessional statement for our own work. Womanist, as defined in Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, contains elements of tradition, community, self, and a critique of white feminist thought and provides a fertile ground for religious reflection and practical application.

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Rosa Parks: Presente!

Today is the 65th anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks. When she was forty-two years old, she refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus after working all day as a seamstress at a department store. Many Black folk had done the same thing before. They were arrested, kicked off or killed. Her act of divine disobedience sparked a successful bus boycott that lasted 381 days. But her co-workers refused to speak to her and she got fired from her job. She received constant death threats. When she moved north to Detroit a year later, the threats and intimidation continued. In 1965, a conservative organization plastered huge billboards along the Selma march that depicted Dr. King and Rosa Parks as “Communists.”

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Resistance 2020: Tether and Release

This begins a new series focused on hope and resistance leading up to the election.

by Kateri Boucher

Outdoor liturgy set at the Day House, the Detroit Catholic Worker.
Photo credit: Kateri Boucher

How are you organizing yourself and others for what faithful resistance might require in the aftermath of the election?

For me, the work of the last few months has not often looked or felt much like “organizing” in the typical sense. It has felt like preparation, though, of a slower and quieter kind. 

Perhaps ironically, as I have looked ahead to this fast-approaching future, I’ve found myself turning more inward // downward // back. I have felt the urgency of more contemplative preparation. Of the immense work that is required to simply, as Merton said, “open my eyes and see.” 

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A Curriculum of Backyard Funerals

A collection of animal skulls for beauty and natural history study collected by Kristin Hugo in the hills of California. Credit: Kristin Hugo

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann. This piece first appeared in Geez 58: Breath and Bone.

“It’s okay to go slow,” he says. His four-year-old feet step gently in silence. “That way you can see more things.”

The air is still chilly but the snow has melted. Walking nudges us to take off our sweaters. Below the still-bare branches, wet dirt reveals stories of what has passed in the woods over winter.

Named for this very stretch of land in the thumb of Michigan, my son, Cedar, searches for stories . . . for friends . . . for bones.

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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”