Sojourners in Our Midst


Art by Julio Salgado

From the introduction to Ched Myers’ “A House For All Peoples?  A Bible Study on Welcoming the Outsider” (2006):

There have always been two Americas: that of rich and poor, of inclusion and exclusion. The America of inclusion found expression in the ideal of “liberty and justice for all,” and has been embodied whenever Indian treaties were honored, and in the embrace of civil rights, women’s suffrage, or child labor laws. The America of exclusion, on the other hand, was articulated in a Constitution that originally enfranchised only white landed males and has been realized in land grabs, Jim Crow segregation, Gilded Age economic stratification, and restrictive housing covenants.

These two visions of America continually compete for our hearts and minds, not least in our churches. On one side are the voices of Emma Lazarus in her poem “The New Colossus” (“Give me your tired, your poor…”), and Martin Luther King Jr. when he preached “I Have a Dream.” On the other side are those of George W. Bush’s imperial politics and James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family.” Click HERE to read the whole article.





Reclaiming Hope Through Remembering

meeksBy Catherine Meeks, originally published in the January 2017 edition of Hospitality, the newsletter of Atlanta’s Open Door Community

Without memory, our existence would be bar- ren and opaque, like a prison cell into which no light penetrates; like a tomb which rejects the living. … If anything can, it is memory that will save humanity. For me, hope without memory is like memory without hope.
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta took a bold step forward on October 22, 2016, kicking off a three-year cycle of pilgrimages to Georgia martyrdom sites, more commonly known as lynching sites. These pilgrimages are being organized by the Beloved Com- munity: Commission for Dismantling Rac- ism, whose members believe that these sites need to be viewed as places where martyrs were made. And all of us, whites and people of color, who make up the generations of their descendants need to acknowledge these martyrs and mark the places where their lives were sacri ced so that we can make more progress in moving toward the day when this legacy of terror will be vanished forever and hope can have the opportunity to break fully into the dawn.  Click HERE to read the full piece (page 2 of Hospitality).

We Have Been Ambushed

mlkFrom Michael Eric Dyson in his book I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr:

At the heart of the conservative appropriation of King’s vision is the argument that King was an advocate of a color-blind society. Hence, any policy or position that promotes color consciousness runs counter to King’s philosophy…”I have a dream,” King eloquently yearned, “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Of the hundreds of thousands of words that King spoke, few others have had more impact than these thirty-four, uttered when he was thirty-four years old, couched in his most famous oration. Tragically, King’s American dream has been seized and distorted by a group of conservative citizens whose forebears and ideology have trampled King’s legacy. Continue reading

The Violence of White Silence: As Sick As Our Secrets

k-redBy Kim Redigan, high school teacher and activist, a reflection given at First Unitarian-Universalist Church, Detroit, Nov. 27, 2016

Twenty-eight years ago this very day, I made my way down a flight of church basement stairs – the longest walk I’ve ever taken – in order to save my life. Although I was confused and terrified, I knew that if I wanted to live I would have to embrace a new way of life that would require soul-shaking honesty, a focus on my own personal inventory and not the inventory of others, and a willingness to make real amends. In short, if I wanted to recover from the disease that had me in its grip, everything would have to change, beginning with my self-delusion and denial – a painful process that was devastating in its demands, but ultimately, liberating as I came to grips with a disease that left me soul sick and utterly out of touch with myself and others. Continue reading

A New Boycott for a New Era

rosa-parksTomorrow, Shaun King and Injustice Boycott will be announcing specifics about an ongoing boycott of cities, states, businesses, and institutions which are either willfully indifferent to police brutality and racial injustice or are deliberately destructive partners with it.  Sign up to join the boycott and get more details HERE.

On this Dec. 5, the anniversary of when Dr. King and others began the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, we are launching our own Montgomery Bus Boycott to show every city, state, institution and corporation in this country that meaningful, reasonable, achievable reforms on police brutality and injustice are not our long-term dreams. They are our immediate emergency priority… Continue reading

Trumpeting More Whiteness

j-perkBy Dr. James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit, MI

So I am reading the left alt-press for insight on what just happened with the election of Donald Trump, and find myself yet one more time provoked at our white blindness. No less than Glenn Greenwald—whose typically razor-sharp analysis I have relied on so often in the past—quotes Nate Cohn to the effect that “Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters. It’s not a simple racism story.” And offers further: “Matt Yglesias acknowledged that Obama’s high approval rating is inconsistent with depictions of the U.S. as a country ‘besotted with racism.’” How little we have learned for all of our supposed “learning.” Continue reading

Historical Response-Ability

elaineFrom Elaine Enns, the conclusion of “The Stories the Land Holds: Mennonites, Trauma and Indigenous Justice,” a talk given at Mennonites, Land and the Environment: A Global History Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba on October 28, 2016:

Whether we are born here or recent immigrants, we Settlers arrived into a storied and traumatized landscape. Too often we Mennonites have held so tightly to our bloodlines of pain and survival that we ignore these landlines of Indigenous suffering and resiliency. I helped organize a gathering in Saskatoon two weeks ago on the TRC Calls to Action. Harry Lafond, Executive Director of the Treaty Commissioner in SK, told us simply and poignantly, “My loss, is your loss.” Cree elder A.J. Felix agreed: “We are here to talk about how we get well—you and me.” Indigenous leaders understand that our healing as Settlers depends on our willingness and ability to re-vise our stories, and re-member the stories of the land and its First Peoples. Continue reading