Possibly Even Magic

Note: In the lead-up to the election, RD.net is prodding leaders to submit creative and concise pieces (500 words or less) on both hope and resistance.

Bree Newsome, June 27, 2015.

By Ric Hudgens

In the early 1980s, not long after the death of Steven Biko, I registered for an independent study on the nonviolent struggle in South Africa. I knew little of nonviolence or South Africa and wanted to learn more. Based on my semester-long research, I concluded that there wasn’t much chance without bloodshed for a peaceful outcome in South Africa. Of course, I was wrong. Academic research is linear, but real life isn’t. There were things below the surface and things about to surface in South Africa that I couldn’t predict.

Continue reading “Possibly Even Magic”

On Getting Stoned: A Sermon on Outback/Wilderness

By Jim Perkinson, for the St. Peter’s Episcopal community in Detroit, MI on October 4, 2020 (Romans 8:18-27; Matthew 3:1-4:11)

Detroit Will Breathe

So we are up against the wall now, facing the logic of the country, as our settler colonial and white supremacist history rises up incarnate in an orange-headed inciter.   We have lived without yet fully facing what we have visited on others—on Natives, genocidally eliminated to the tune of 95% (somewhere between 60-90 million killed over 500 years), African folk enslaved (behind the 12 million carried across the Atlantic and sold on the auction block, 30-40 million killed before getting here), 553 other places invaded over the course of 244 years, resources pirated, garbage and pollution outsourced to the rest of the globe, an ocean heating and full of plastic, 200 species pushed into extinction per day, Water and Fire as Great Living Beings, now shouting back, and a tiny microbe whispering warning: full halt, stop your self-absorption as a species, recognize the rest of the biosphere as well as the all the displaced marginalized people, as Creatures of Beauty and Worth and Mystery.  Do we—who have been the beneficiaries—think we should continue to be exempted from what we have visited on so many others?  We are on the Titanic, the iceberg is in full view, there is probably not time to turn the rudder, what now?! 

Continue reading “On Getting Stoned: A Sermon on Outback/Wilderness”

Hope Vibrates Too

By Tommy Airey

Lawrence, Kansas

Note: In the lead-up to the election, RD.net is prodding leaders to submit creative and concise pieces (500 words or less) on both hope and resistance.

“Hope rises, She always does, did we fail to notice this in all the stories they’ve tried to suppress?”—Alice Walker

With only 29 days left ‘til the election, truth, beauty and goodness are being crucified in press conferences, social media posts and prayer meetings. I must confess: I’m struggling to rein in my resentment. However, I am actively resisting by seizing the hope set before us.

I find hope hiding under tents on my trips to the farmer’s market. Especially when there’s arugula.

Hope tarries during my trail runs on the banks of Towarnehiooks—as the scent of hops from the Deschutes Brewery wafts in the wind.

Continue reading “Hope Vibrates Too”

Holy Ghost

By Jim Perkinson, a sermon for Land Sunday, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (Detroit, MI)

Dr. James Perkinson, offering a spoken word at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, Michigan.

The word for today is “woe.”  Woe, woe, woe, woe, woe, woe!  The potency of a cry!  It is the season of the sob—the wail of grief, the howl of anger, the warning of danger!  But we live in a society that is illiterate in the language of lamentation.  Neither the tears of mourning nor the rage of wounding is acceptable in the halls of power or the decorum of wealth.  Lose a spouse or child to disease?  We give three days off from work.   Then you better be fully functional and productive again, not talk of the agony, not exhibit the melancholy.  Go private with the pain; pretend in public.  Lose a spouse or child to violence—it is the same.  Lose entire families and communities to violence—like generation after generation of black folk up against the nooses and walls, choke-holds and policies, traffic stops and bullet barrages of white folk?  Swallow hard and invisibly, smile politely and submissively, and re-assume “the position.”  Dare arch an eyebrow?  Your funeral is next.  March in the streets?  Now we really uncover the history and reality of the country.  Out come the labels, the AKs, the white-sheet posses (now dressed Hawaiian or khaki), the full metal jacket riot squads hot-to-trot, itching-to-swat, backed by bellicosities Fox and Hannity, Carlson profanity, Barr absurdity and the sheer inanity of an Orange-headed contempt for fact and truth and reasonable conversation.

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Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part V

On Fridays, we are posing questions to Dr. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn (right), an ordained Baptist minister, pastoral psychotherapist and Associate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and the author of Caring for Souls in a Neoliberal Age (Palgrave, 2019).

*This is our fifth Friday with Bruce. See this for Part I, this for Part IIthis for Part III and this for Part IV.

Continue reading “Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part V”

I Need a Moment to Breathe

canaaniteBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (August 16, 2020), from the second-half of her homily at Salt + Light Lutheran Church (Portland, OR)

Radio silence. Is that what you’re giving me? Radio silence? I expected better from you, Jesus. I just told you my daughter is horribly demon-possessed, and you ignore me! We’re family, remember? From way, way, way back. Or did you forget that your ancestors  Rahab, Tamar and Ruth were all Canaanite just like me. We’ve got the same blood, Jesus. Breathe the same air, too. Our bodies made of the same earth. Our spirits part of the same God. 

Well, if that’s how you’re going to roll, then I guess I’ll have to get a little louder.

“Heir to the house of David, have pity on me! You are a healer and my daughter is sick!” Continue reading “I Need a Moment to Breathe”

Luxury Communist Jesus

communistAn excerpt from Michael J. Sandford’s “Luxury Communist Jesus: Ideology, the Work Ethic, and the Antiwork Politics of Jesus” (2012).

Jesus discourages his followers from working and encourages them not to worry about the provision of material needs. The gospels give a strong impression, however, that such behaviour will not lead to impoverishment, but rather to abundance. The Jesus of the gospels does not endorse the “worldly asceticism” (Weber) of the Protestant ethic. Rather, Jesus appears to live lavishly, when the opportunity for such indulgence arises, as the comparisons that are drawn between Jesus and his disciples and the ascetic John the Baptist suggest. In Luke’s Gospel the Pharisees and scribes state, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so
do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink” (5: 33). Jesus
himself seems to agree that “John the Baptist has come eating no bread
and drinking no wine” (7: 33). On the other hand, Jesus states that people call him “a glutton and a drunkard” (7: 34). In stark contrast to John,
Jesus is accused of living indulgently; an accusation which neither he nor
the narrator rejects. Continue reading “Luxury Communist Jesus”

Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part IV

On Fridays, we are posing questions to Dr. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn (right), an ordained Baptist minister, pastoral psychotherapist and Associate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and the author of Caring for Souls in a Neoliberal Age (Palgrave, 2019).

*This is our fourth Friday with Bruce. See this for Part I, this for Part II and this for Part III.

Tommy Airey: Last week, you described neoliberalism as a “neo-coloniality”—that it is about class, but about race and gender too. In your book, you write that “progressive narratives concerning inclusivity and diversity that separate gender and race from class are vulnerable to being co-opted by neoliberal agendas.” Please explain! 

Continue reading “Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part IV”

The Rich Young Ruler as Privileged Liberal

SethBy Seth Mountain, originally posted to Facebook on August 23, 2020.

In Biblical language, I think the story of the Rich Young Ruler offers an excellent case study of a privileged Liberal–someone who excelled at performative actions and who had studied deeply all the woke texts of the time, and who was profoundly attracted to the vision of a just and righteous world. Someone upset about the system and initially eager to join in the new community and way of life Jesus was describing. But when faced with what justice (and, ultimately, salvation) demanded, the figure was tragically unwilling (or unable?) to “Go, sell all that you have, and give the money to the poor.” Continue reading “The Rich Young Ruler as Privileged Liberal”