How Making Friends with Indigenous People Changed My Life

By Joshua Grace, originally posted at Red Letter Christians

I’m a Polish-American settler. I didn’t choose the conditions of my birth or my original family. However, I do choose to actively undermRandyine the systems and lies beneath those conditions of various levels of privilege.

Ignorance of our nation’s history, and the systems that our national narrative myth supports, only perpetuate injustice and maintain roadblocks to our greater healing. I was fortunate that in the process, my own Western worldview got challenged and I realized it needed to be overcome. I could not and probably would not have put the work in without supportive community — the Indigenous friends, teachers, and relatives who offered a healing sense of belonging. Continue reading

The Faith of Abused and Scandalized People

Lynching TreeOn Good Friday, we get back to the basics: an excerpt from James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree (2013).

The real scandal of the gospel is this: humanity’s salvation is revealed in the cross of the condemned criminal Jesus, and humanity’s salvation is available only through our solidarity with the crucified people in our midst. Faith that emerged out of the scandal of the cross is not a faith of intellectuals or elites of any sort. This is the faith of abused and scandalized people—the losers and the down and out. It was this faith that gave blacks the strength and courage to hope, “to keep on keeping on,” struggling against the odds with what Paul Tillich called “the courage to be.”

The cross and the lynching tree interpret each other. Both were public spectacles, shameful events, instruments of punishment reserved for the most despised people in society. Any genuine theology and any genuine preaching of the Christian gospel must be measured against the test of the scandal of the cross and the lynching tree.

Latin-X Discipleship

Josh LR2By Rev. Josh Lopez-Reyes (right), Pastor and Community Life Specialist at The Loft in Los Angeles, California

*This is the 15th installation of a year-long series of posts 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.

What is radical discipleship? As I reflect on this question, the image of deep-dirty soil comes to mind. As many contributors have reminded us via this wonderful online community of resisters, the word ‘radical’ comes from the Latin radix or radic meaning roots. Therefore, radical discipleship is the inherit, deep and primary essence of apprenticeship concerning the brown Palestine prophet and peasant. As the Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre reminds us in, The Politics of Jesús: A Hispanic Political Theology (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), this is nevertheless saying “no” to Jesus.[1] That is, it is the rejection of a comfortable, gnostic, white supremacist savior. Radical discipleship is about going to the roots of our tradition, to recover the profoundly deep solidarity of Creator’s love demonstrated in the one who was crucified on Good Friday in unity with the crucified communities of our world.[2] However, it is also about going deep into the roots of who we are. It is about revealing the beloved community as the unique creation that the Creator birthed us to be. In my case, it is about being Latin-X. Continue reading

The Evidence is Clear

Rhiana GunnFrom Rhiana Gunn-Wright, policy director for the nonprofit New Consensus, one of the lead policy writers for the Green New Deal. She was interviewed on DemocracyNow.org and asked about the connections between racial wealth disparity and climate change and how the Green New Deal will address them.

There’s a couple reasons that we see [racial wealth disparity]  connected to the Green New Deal. One is, of course, a moral argument. A lot of the people who are dying from fossil fuel pollution or who are carrying the heaviest burden are people of color, and they’re poor people of color. And likely, when climate change picks up and we see more disasters, more deaths, those are the first people who are on the line. People like to say climate change will kill us all, but the truth is climate change will kill some people first. And so, there’s a moral imperative to make sure that in the green transaction the same people who bear the brunt of our reliance on fossil fuels are not the same people who the green transition is being built on their backs. So that’s one. Continue reading

The Real Substantive Issue

IlhanAn excerpt from the article “How targeting Ilhan Omar instead of white supremacy furthered both anti-Semitism & Islamophobia” at BlackYouthProject.com by Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Margari Hill, Rakel Joseph, and Asha Noor:

The false charges of anti-Semitism divert public attention away from the real substantive issue at hand: human rights abuses by the Israeli government in Occupied Palestine and Israel itself. According to the UN Human Rights Council, over 6,000 unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, including children, journalists and medical personnel, were shot by military snipers during the “Great March of Return” protests in Gaza in 2018. Continue reading

In Ever-More Predatory and Beguiling Forms

BWKFrom Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s recent release Principalities in Particular: A Practical Theology of the Powers That Be (Oct 2017):

In the struggle for racial justice the recognition of “institutional racism,” that insidious structural element far beyond personal prejudice, was a huge step toward seeing racism as a principality. Ironically, however, the liberal preoccupation with its institutional character would prove progressively blind to its overpowering spiritual dimension. The African American freedom struggle, founded under SCLC’s early banner, “To Heal the Soul of the Nation,” tended to become more and more a civil rights movement with a largely legislative agenda. In the several decades since Stringfellow’s address, the legal apparatus of our American apartheid has been all but dismantled. End of racism, right? No. We ignore its spiritual reality at the peril of our national soul. And there is no force in our history that has proven more relentless or devastatingly resilient than white racism. It is empirically a demon which again and again rises up transmogrified in ever-more predatory and beguiling forms, truly tempting our despair. The frustration we suffer is not unlike that of the disciples who were gently upbraided by Jesus, “This kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.”
Continue reading

We’re Not in that World Yet

StevensonIn a New York Times Magazine interview, Bryan Stevenson was asked, “What would the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. think of America if he were alive today?” This was his answer.

When he found out that one in three black male babies born in this country is expected to go to jail and prison, when he saw the level of poverty, when he heard some of the rhetoric that we frequently hear, I think he would be heartbroken. But I also think he would be excited that if he called a meeting, thousands would come. And that’s what has to happen, even without Dr. King — that we have to be willing to make that commitment so that we can create a world where if Dr. King emerged, he would be so proud to say his dream has finally been realized. We’re not in that world yet.

Bryan Stevenson is the author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014) and the co-founder of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (informally known as the National Lynching Memorial).