By Lindsay Airey (right, on the banks of Nandewine Sippy)
You say I have a heart so big it needs its own moon to orbit around.
I say this heart of mine feels weary from carrying around so much weight it often feels like it will drown me.
You say what clarity you bring! What love and joy and challenge… How is it possible? In one being.
I say I am so tired… from being one being: feeling fire-tending raging weeping feeling it seeing it saying it wiping your tears building you up holding you up digging you out of the pit with all these hard-fought tears, and knowing.
Happy Birthday to Ched Myers! Today, we honor this cherished mentor and elder with an excerpt from Binding the Strong Man, Uncle Ched’s groundbreaking political reading of Mark’s Gospel. Written in the late 80s. More relevant than ever!
The radical discipleship movement today is beleaguered and weary. So many of our communities, which struggled so hard to integrate the pastoral and prophetic, the personal and the political, resistance and contemplation, work and recreation, love and justice, are disintegrating. The powerful centrifugal forces of personal and social alienation tear us apart; the “gravity” exerted by imperial culture’s seductions, deadly mediocrities, and deadly codes of conformity pull our aspirations plummeting down. Our economic and political efforts are similarly besieged. The ability of metropolis to either crush or co-opt movements of dissent seems inexhaustible.
By Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler, Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ and Director and Chief Visionary, Faith Strategies, LLC
In my ministry in the 1980s in Roxbury, Massachusetts with the recovering community from drug addiction, I encountered one of our struggling addicts and his spouse. He had been using though he was supposed to be in recovery. I shall never forget his explanation of his struggle to remain clean. He said when questioned by me, that I did not understand, his “relapses were getting shorter and his recoveries were getting longer!” His spouse agreed with that reasoned explanation, though I realized his con, but unfortunately his spouse enabled his addictive behavior until he died of an overdose. This was a poignant lesson for me. I see in this lesson how we may enable destructive behavior seeking and hoping that the reasoning and rationalization is true. The rationalization deters us from confronting the real issues where the so-called recovering addict was not recovering, but the avoidance of the issue and the realities would offer some comfort even while eventually leading to death.
As I see it, the United States is in the same boat as the recovering addict. The nation claims to be dealing with its problem of racism, white supremacy, and white idolatry, or claims at times that it has dealt with its problem, rationalizing the progress, when the progress is strained if at all existent. Our behavior as a nation has not changed, and we rationalize our race problems, and pretend that what exists does not exist, and that before long we will be cured. This is how racism and white supremacy remain a persistent disease in the country, and after more than 400 years have not been dealt with, and we continue to claim that our “recoveries are getting longer” and our “relapses are getting shorter,” but the problems of racism and white supremacy remain a fixed reality as most of America delude itself believing that we as a nation is getting better.
By Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, Salt and Light Lutheran Church, Sunday, January 24, 2021, Mark 1:14 – 20
Well friends, it’s January 24. Far and away the most common response I’ve received to the question, How are you feeling since January 20? is…RELIEVED. Not a naive, “Oh everything is going to be fine now” kind of relieved, but a clear and palpable sense of relief nonetheless.
Two images of the nation’s capitol, two weeks apart, have now been seared into our psyches and could not be more striking…one from January 6, and one from the very same place just two weeks later on January 20. Nearly everyone who spoke on Inauguration Day spoke to this stark contrast, though Amanda Gorman said it best:
“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”
It is significant that the federal holiday that honors Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is celebrated in January. On his birthday. Not in April when he was murdered. It is also significant that this year, Easter Sunday is penciled in for April 4, the anniversary of King’s assassination. Spirit is seconding the motions, putting our resurrection theology to the test. So that we might bear witness to Dr. King’s ongoing life and breath in America. King, like Jesus, was killed by empire—and, like Jesus, King is still with us. Not as a symbol or token, but in spirit and truth. Like Jesus, he lives forever to intercede for us.
Last month, I was texting with Rev. Dr. Timothy Adkins-Jones about resurrection. He got me contemplating how the death of Jesus does an awful lot of theological digging for me, especially in the wake of so much senseless dying. However, resurrection has the power to break the seal of empire with subversive energy. The empty tomb opens up a kind of wonder. I’m not referring to a resurrection that just moves on by holding our loved ones in our hearts because they are in heaven. I am awakening to a brand of resurrection where the dead transition to a new realm in our midst, where we can renew our relationship, where we listen for an ancestral cadence calling us beyond the grave to re-connect with them in a redemptive dance on earth as it is in heaven.
By Cynthia R. Wallace, PhD, Associate Professor of English, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, re-posted from her IG account
Just a gentle reminder for the nice white ladies that opting out of politics is still a deeply political choice.
I’ve seen several post this week from beautifully curated accounts, mostly homeschooling and white evangelical-adjacent, touting the idea that when the news gets “too confusing” we can/should pull back into our homes and focus on making them beautiful and comfortable, raising our children with kindness, pouring into our families.
To be clear, there are absolutely times for rest and retreat, especially for folks who’ve been retraumatized by current events. Doomscrolling, obsessively deep dives, and incessant news updates are probably not conducive to our wellbeing, parenting, or social action. And I’m not talking about performing or proving our political engagement on social media (although I think those with broader influence have platforms that carry certain responsibilities). Much of the meaningful work to understand, connect, and act happens offline or away from social media.
King’s words have been appropriated by the people who rejected him in the 1960s. So by making his birthday a national holiday, everybody claims him, even though they opposed him while he was alive. They have frozen King in 1963 with his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. That is the one that can best be manipulated and misinterpreted. King also said, shortly after the Selma march and the riots in Watts, ‘They have turned my dream into a nightmare.’
Mainstream culture appeals to King’s accent on love, as if it can be separated from justice. For King, justice defines love. It can’t be separated. They are intricately locked together. This is why he talked about agape love and not some sentimental love. For King, love was militant. He saw direct action and civil disobedience in the face of injustice as a political expression of love because it was healing the society. It exposed its wounds and its hurt. This accent on justice for the poor is what mainstream society wants to separate from King’s understanding of love. But for King, justice and love belong together.
Admiring Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is not the same as being captured by it. Too many find it possible to respect the man but relinquish the mission. It has become too easy to revere the dreamer but renege on the dream. So let us now recall the deep roots of that vision as spoken in ages past:
We remember when Hannah praised God by saying: The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength.
We dream of the day when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.
We long for the day when all shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord.
As an unapologetic Black female, senior clergy, serving on the frontlines as community pastor, advocate, and organizer in a community 200% below the poverty level, in one of the most depreciated and disenfranchised sections of Northwest Detroit, I see the age-old constant appropriation and commodification of bodies and choices. Most especially regarding women of color, and most often by men in power. As uncomfortable as it may be, I challenge each of us to experience this text not as a sacred text but as a window into the life of a young girl of color. This young girl who is grappling with decisions that her young mind should not have too. Having to accept decisions made for her and her body. It is incumbent that the lens that this text be read through be that of a Womanist lens, one of empowerment and liberation.
The deep waters of intersectionality that most women, most especially women of color, are forced to wade in and out is often-times murky, muddy, and polluted. The expectation that is placed upon one person to be the acceptable spokesperson for an entire group is too heavy a weight to bear. Yet we see this continually in our communities, movements, churches, and more so in our sacred texts. Far too often, women have been expected to toe the line and operate in accordance with what others—usually men, more specifically white men – have designated as acceptable behavior. Our originality as individuals with unique lives, thoughts, dreams, and ideas is often-times disregarded for the ‘good of all.’
By Rev. Denise Griebler, St. Peter’s Episcopal Detroit, January 10, 2021 (Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11)
In the beginning…
In times like this it’s good to turn to the stories that ground us – that remind us who we are, who we are not; to Whom we belong and to Whom we do not belong.
The creation story that begins the story of the people of Israel is one of those stories. In the beginning…
It was written during a time of crisis – their country invaded and occupied, the leaders had been executed and the ruling and professional classes were captured and forceably removed from their homes, land and country and exiled. It was during exile that the people turned to the old stories to remember who they still were, and to Whom they still belonged.