Jesus and the Nice White Lady

NicholaBy Nichola Torbett

*This is part of a series of pieces from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.

Then someone from the part of occupied Turtle Island known as the Midwest came to him and said, “Teacher, I want to follow you. I want to access that eternal life I have heard about–that rich, juicy, for-real life, and most of the time I feel like I’m walking around with a film of plastic between me and the world. My therapist says maybe it’s dissociation from when I was a kid…. Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: An Armful of Bones

20190613_103426.jpgBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I had never noticed how the melting snow of spring makes way for bones. One May morning, we wake early to walk the few acres of woods in the thumb of Michigan. Every few minutes, someone calls out “over here!” and we all rush over with our eyes on the composting leaves. A spine bone here. A skull there. Teeth still nestled in a jaw bone. A river otter? Fox? Racoon? Isaac tries to fit the bones back together in place and using his overly abundant 6-year-old animal knowledge attempts to determine the mysterious creatures. Later he will riffle through pages of his animal track books for further guessing. Cedar on the other hand just wants to fill his small arms with bones until he has so many he asks me to carry the extras. It’s not my first instinct to hold skulls in my hand with any delight or ease. Continue reading

Mothering as Discipleship

58373625_10109215327077547_3301167968863387648_nRe-shared from Bartimeaus Cooperative’s newsletter.

At Farm Church on Mother’s Day, Charletta Erb talked with Erin H, mother of Gabriel (5 years) and Lucia (4 months),about mothering as discipleship, as part of our occasional “biography as theology” reflections.

Is motherhood a spiritual act for you?

Since Lucia’s birth my space has been physically grounded, happily reclusive, narrow, and defined by the predictable cycle of a baby’s needs. At times I find myself fighting it, or wanting my own space, but then I release (often with the help of nursing) and can relax into it as I remember this is such a short season. Then I just stare in wonder at my children. Mothering is a discipline, like training for a century or iron man, or like sitting in meditation for hours: painful and repetitive, yet so rewarding, with fleeting moments of nirvana or bliss. Continue reading

It Was Out of My Heart That I Spoke

MonicaA few summers ago in Detroit, a circle of high school students from a local church gathered with community organizer Monica Lewis-Patrick, executive director of the grassroots We The People of Detroit. The conversation flowed into what it looks like for faith to infuse political action when the odds are stacked against justice, freedom and equity. This is an excerpt.

All we have to do is start connecting the dots and telling the truth. When I started working in social justice, I was working in education, with children that were mentally impaired and extremely violent. What I found out really quickly was that the people at the table didn’t give a damn about the children. It was about the dollars. Because I cared about the children, I had to educate myself in terms of how I influence the policy—or the people who drive the policies—to help my people get the change they need. To help the children I served. That meant going to meetings where sometimes I would be the only one there speaking on behalf of the population that I thought was most vulnerable and most in need. Was I scared? Yes I was. Did I always get the language right? No I didn’t. Did I always have the data on hand that they had? No I didn’t. But it was out of my heart that I spoke. And then from there what would happen is that somebody would give me a card or somebody would say, “You know, I didn’t know that part” or “Can we talk?” And then I had to dig up from my spiritual history or family history and muster up enough energy to go meet with somebody that has a title—that seems to have power—and say to that person “We don’t like this.”