Five Books: Charles Cha

In a new Radical Discipleship exclusive series, we are asking radical Christian leaders one question.

What are the five books or authors that have seriously shaped your spiritual life?

This is how L.A.-based activist Charles Cha answered.

The Post-Colonial Studies Reader

Beyond Civilization By Daniel Quinn

Notes on Resistance: Interviews with Noam Chomsky By David Barsamian

Anarchism: Arguments For and Against By Albert Meltzer

The Wisdom of the Enneagram By Don Richard Riso

The Quelling Word: Emancipation is Still Coming

By Ken Sehested

Written against the backdrop of New Year’s Eve services, 1862, when African Americans gathered to await news of US President Abraham Lincoln’s promised Emancipation Proclamation. Inspired by Revelation 21:1-6a, lectionary text for the New Year’s Eve Watch Night service.

The angel breaks with Heaven’s hail!

from Joy’s horizon on every weary heart,

amid that unruly, precarious land beyond

where cheery sentiment stalls and merry,

bright roads end. Now, in terrain beyond all

mapping, the adventure begins. No warranty

reaches this far. Creature comforts here are

Continue reading “The Quelling Word: Emancipation is Still Coming”

Every Day a Call to Struggle

An excerpt from Dr. Maulana Karenga’s annual Kwanzaa Message, published in the L.A. Sentinel (December 22, 2022).

Again, this year in this our season of celebration, we find humanity and the world are in severe and continuing crisis, including: the resurgent pandemic of COVID-19, constantly producing deadly variants; failed and predatory economies and expanding hunger, famine, homelessness and suffering; continuing conflicts and wars; massive displacement of peoples; unjust and irrational immigration policies; and continuing environmental degradation through plunder, pollution and depletion.

And all these oppressive practices and impositions are carried out by the rich and powerful, the obscenely armed and aggressive, who are irresponsibly and immorally unmindful and uncaring about the cost and consequences they savagely impose on humanity and the world and all in it, especially the most vulnerable among us.

Continue reading “Every Day a Call to Struggle”

Five Books: Johari Jabir

In this Radical Discipleship exclusive series, we are asking radical Christian leaders one question.

What are the five books or authors that have seriously shaped your spiritual life?

This is how Johari Jabir answered.

Just Above My Head, James Baldwin

Beloved, Toni Morrison

Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communist During the Great Depression, Robin D.G. Kelley 

The Communism of Love: An Inquiry into the Poverty Exchange Value, Richard G. Opalsky 

The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel 

Johari Jabir is an artist, scholar, and contemplative. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Johari is director of music at St. George & St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Chicago, IL, and he teaches in the department of Black Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago. His first book, Conjuring Freedom: Music and Masculinity in the Gospel Army of the Civil War (Ohio State University Press, 2017), is a cultural history of the nation’s first Black regiment, the 1st South Carolina Volunteers.

Five Books: Sarah Nahar

In a Radical Discipleship exclusive series, we are asking radical Christian leaders one question. What are the five books or authors that have seriously shaped your spiritual life? We asked Sarah Nahar, a recent recipient of the 2022 AMBS Alumni Ministry and Service Award. This is how she answered.

I actually read a lot of articles, short quotes, anthologies, and social media posts. That is where I get my spiritual digests from people I trust. But if I picked some books they would be:

1. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza  by Gloria Anzaldua

2. Justice and only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation by Naim Ateek

3. The Movement Makes Us Human: An Interview with Vincent Harding by Joanna Shenk

4. Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

5. anything and everything by bell hooks, start with Feminism is for Everybody. Yes! This was a book that had a profound spiritual impact on me when I read it before entering college as part of the mandatory reading list.

Sarah Nahar, M.Div (from Elkhart, Indiana Potawatomi traditional land) is a PhD student at Syracuse University. Her research focus is on the toilet, both the ritual and receptacle. Other interests include working on dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery, community organizing, and capoeira.

Peace on Earth and the Politics of Christmas



Saturday morning, December 3

10:30 am EST

Much of the Christian church in the United States has been co-opted by an American gospel of prosperity, racism, violence, and militant nationalism. The celebration of Christmas is a victim of that co-optation: It is wrapped in innocent, Hallmark-card imagery. But in fact the biblical texts describing the coming of Jesus are making powerful assertions about the politics of the Bible that speak very much to our contemporary global crises.

In this virtual class, we will reflect on the “nativity narratives” in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke to see how they express core biblical themes of justice and liberation. We will “un-domesticate” these tales of liberation and reflect on how they are truly challenging us to a revolutionary discipleship. This program will be broadcast via Zoom. It will be facilitated by Will O’Brien, coordinator of The Alternative Seminary. A perfect event for Advent.

Continue reading “Peace on Earth and the Politics of Christmas”

The Holy Fool

A new zoom offering from Maki Ashe Van Steenwyk who writes:

It is a 4-week elective for folks in our spiritual direction training program, but I’m opening it up to folks who aren’t a part of the program. Registration is sliding scale, but the sliding scale is a guideline. Folks who can’t afford it should feel free to apply and folks who can more-than-afford it should feel free to be generous. Register here.


This is the first part of a long and very compelling Thanksgiving Day reflection from the author Robert Jones Jr. His newsletter is brilliant. You can sign up (free) for it here.

I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

Its genocidal, bait-and-switch origins make it, for me, heinous and not an occasion for rejoicing, to say the least. People get annoyed when I say this because they think it’s “too woke” of a perspective, which I interpret as too honest of a perspective, given the American investment in and penchant for not knowing. And since they like the traditions that have sprung up around the holiday, they don’t want to hear any critique of it, no matter how truthful.

I get it: I also like the idea of gathering with loved ones and sitting down at a banquet to laugh, love, reminisce, and be thankful. So, instead of celebrating the farce that is the colonists’ ploy, I use this time of year—as I touch upon in the video above (courtesy of BOOKCLUB: Black Like We Never Left)—to express gratitude to my Ancestors for their sacrifices and their survival so that I might be here today; to the First Nations/Indigenous/Native peoples upon whose land I live; and to the Universe for permitting me to exist in the first place.

Continue reading “Gratitude”

We Are Literally Right Here

By Jim Bear Jacobs, re-posted from social media with permission (a reflection from 2019)

Brief moment of stepping up on my soapbox for some real talk. To my beautiful friends fighting for immigrant justice. There is a popular trope in these circles. Something along the lines of “We are all immigrants” This idea just needs to stop. We are not all immigrants. This is endemic of Indigenous erasure. I have encountered it in many social justice actions over the years. Once after we had opened an event with a drum circle, the first speaker called for immigrant justice by saying “in this country we have all come from somewhere else!” And I was like there are literally 15 Native people in the same room with you.

Today I was part of a beautiful vigil at the ICE headquarters to call for a stop of injustices committed against our immigrant neighbors. I and another Native clergyman were part of the leadership of this vigil. We opened by acknowledging that we were on Dakota land. We led a prayer to the directions. We sang a song in the Dakota language. I saw one sign that said Americans are all immigrants, and one of the speakers echoed the same sentiment. I know that it might seem overused for Native people to proclaim We Are Still Here, but in this case we were literally right here. There are three of us standing two feet behind you. The smoke from our sage is literally filling your nostrils as you speak.

My social justice friends, you are beautiful. I wholeheartedly love you. I am so grateful for your passion, your energy, your devotion to the cause. We do great work, it would take only a minimal effort to make it better. When you craft your words, when you make your signs, take a moment to make sure that your shouting does not contribute to the erasure of your indigenous hosts. We Are Still Here. We Are Literally Right Here.