It’s a Specific Position That Stands Actively–Not Passively

Bree NFrom a recent Black Perspectives interview that Ajamu Amiri Dillahunt did with Bree Newsome Bass, an artist who drew national attention in 2015 when she climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Capitol building and lowered the confederate battle flag.

I often get the question, “how do I become an activist.” The simple answer is that an activist is one who acts, who takes action in furtherance of a cause. I was an activist before I consciously identified as such. I never had ambitions of being an activist, only an ambition to change things for the better. The labels only serve to describe what it is I do. It’s become very hip to identify as an activist–not necessarily a bad thing–but it’s important to not let this word become devoid of meaning. Many of the struggles and movements of the past have been Disney-fied and watered down to focus merely on the tactic of nonviolent protest and to portray the tactic as being the goal itself. That is, the reason for the protests, racial and economic oppression, are erased and glossed over to make it seem like the extent of being an activist is participating in a nonviolent protest. The white power structure continues to find new ways to dilute or subvert the central issue of racism in America. One of its most recent tactics is introducing the notion of “bothsideism” to activism. Every cause qualifies as “activism” and everyone is an “activist” with little time or examination given to what cause folks are actually being an activist for. Continue reading

Liberation Feminism

ImaniFrom an interview that The Nation did with professor Imani Perry, the author of Vexy Thing.

I wanted to produce a work of feminist theory, or as I call it, liberation feminism, that would speak to the particular conditions of neoliberal capitalism and the hypermedia age—this eruption of digital media, where things that look like democratic spaces are at the same time corporate platforms.

I saw so many uses of the term “patriarchy” that didn’t actually apprehend the structure of domination. Patriarchy is a project that coincided with the transatlantic slave trade and the age of conquest. It’s not just attitudes. It’s legal relations between human beings, which lead to very different encounters with violence and suffering. The book begins with where patriarchy comes from, and then morphs into the current landscape, in which conditions are different but where that foundational structure is still present. Feminism is ultimately a way of reading the world with an eye towards reducing or eliminating unjust forms of domination, violence, and exploitation.

advent as the seas rise

CABy Jim Perkinson, on Matthew 24:36-44, performed on 12.01.19 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, MI

b & e lifted up as priority
an outlaw god on a mission of
correction, convection, currents
of floods, burned by fire-storms
of trees, california today,
new york city tomorrow, but don’t
worry, just party, drink up your
hot toddy, be snotty, like a donald
trump wanna be, your head in the
potty, doing karate on the future,
the scripture is naughty, sirening
night as the right time, for the
break-in to let the bodies out,
immigrants like abraham finding
oak branches prophesying like
a reckoning for sodom, collapsing Continue reading

The Politics of Christmas in the Age of Trump

Will-OBrien-150x150.jpgBy Will O’Brien

For several years, the Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia has offered an annual Advent program called “Peace on Earth and The Politics of Christmas” Alternative Seminary coordinator and frequent contributor to the Radical Discipleship blog Will O’Brien leads the discussion on how we reclaim the domesticated biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth with their powerful message of challenge to worldly powers.  Folks in the Philadelphia area are encouraged to join this year’s program on Saturday, December 7. You can also spread the word via the Facebook page.

Can we liberate Christmas from its cultural captivity and rediscover the truly prophetic story that speaks to the crises of our world today? Continue reading

Pull Out The Root

RubyFrom the front porch of Ruby Sales.

A movement for racial justice does not require White people to save Black and Brown people(s). Rather a movement for racial justice requires White Americans to save them selves from the strangulation of the spiritual malformation and social perversity of a culture of Whiteness. This means that they must begin the work in their communities to pull out the root that gets to the source of the plague. History shows that Black people can handle our business. It is time for White people to handle their business without trying to manage and supervise our business. If White people carry out this mission, we will have a radical new birth as a nation.

Contemplation Turned Outward

CPTBy Mark Van Steenwyk, the executive director of the Center for Prophetic Imagination

Part of what makes contemplation important, both as a a regular practice and an overall posture of life is noticing inner thoughts, images, ideas, and stories that lead us away from deep connection to the Spirit, each other, and the rest of creation.

However, in a society where we have learned to disconnect mind from body and spirit from politics, there is a danger in contemplative practice. I’ve begun to increasingly suspect that many engage in spiritual practice in a way that is disassociative—they use spirituality to disconnect from anxiety and pain, rather than to allow them to give attention to suffering. Continue reading

Where Does It Hurt?

Council on the WayBy Nathan Holst, a sermon 

O Spirit guide us now, O Spirit guide us now, O Spirit guide us now, in your way, guide us; Spirit guide all of us today as we listen for where you are moving. Amen.

That song by Sara Thomsen is one I used quite a bit at a gathering in Washington DC just last month where 20 white Christian men came together with Ruby Sales, a Black civil rights and freedom movement leader, to talk about a theology of redemption for white men in this time. My friend and colleague, Tommy Airey, invited me to come and be a part of the group that he and Ruby Sales had put together, and partly because Mother Ruby is one of my heroes and because I was drawn to the work, I said yes. When I shared about it with Pastor Kathy, she asked me to preach and share about my experience, so that’s what I intend to do this morning. And as I share, I want to put up a picture of Mother Ruby to honor her and bring her into this space because she was our spiritual guide in this work. Continue reading