By Will O’Brien (right), director of the Alternative Seminary in Philly, PA
*This is the 12th 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.
Many decades into a vocation of trying to faithfully engage in movements for social justice and peace, I am coming to sense more and more the powerful and radical truth in the simple phrase from the First Letter of John, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). I am utterly convinced that all systematic theologies, all ethics and morality, all spiritualities are subsumed into this daring assertion: God is love. All of the created order is a miracle of love. The human adventure over millennia is the struggle to know and live out our belovedness. The mystery of sin is ultimately the failure to love or to experience belovedness. Jesus the Anointed One embodies love and invites us to a path of love. Continue reading
From 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.”
Wing and a Prayer, 2014, mixed media, L.J. Throstle
By Lucy Price
Matthew, Mark and Luke all contain seizures and demons in the same sentence and some even translate the word to epilepsy. Lunatic and moonstruck are closer to the original translation, but in any case growing up in the church as a person living with epilepsy, hearing the story of the boy brought to Jesus for healing left me with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. Continue reading
East Coast Friends!! An announcement from The Alternative Seminary in Philly!
THE CROSS OF CHRIST: A JUSTIFICATION FOR REDEMPTIVE VIOLENCE OR A
CALL TO GOSPEL NONVIOLENCE?
The cross can heal and hurt; it can be empowering and liberating but also enslaving and oppressive … I believe that the cross placed alongside the lynching tree can help us to see Jesus in America in a new light, and thereby empower people who claim to follow him to take a stand against white supremacy and every kind of injustice.” ― James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree
By Mark Van Steenwyk
*This is the 11th 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? This used to be a fairly simple question to me. Now? Not so much.
Fifteen years ago, with the confidence of a late 20’s white seminarian, I “planted” a church whose only real mission was to take Jesus seriously. Soon, that new church experiment mutated into a full on intentional community, a sort of hybrid between a catholic worker house and a hippy Mennonite Church. We called ourselves the Mennonite Worker. Continue reading
Some highlights from Rev. William Barber’s 50-minute speech delivered on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Tennessee.
We do not celebrate martyrs. You join them.
MLK Jr. preached, but we make a dangerous mistake that his words were just soaring oratory. He preached civil disobedience and he preached a movement to challenge the demons of Jim Crow.
Not only in sanctuary…but he preached and acted in the streets of the nation.
If … it doesn’t lead to the liberation of the sick, poor and oppressed — then preaching is just words with no action,
People love dead prophets, but the question is, “Are you willing to follow Dr. King today?”
Wangari Maathai mural in the Lower Haight. Photo by Phil Dokas.
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
By Rev. Dr. Victoria Marie
As I reflected on today’s readings, the theme they seemed to weave together is to begin Lent by reviewing our stories. With the First Reading, in which the writers of Deuteronomy are giving the reader a sort of Last Will and Testament of Moses, God’s people are reminded of their history and God’s presence in it. They are told to recount that history in ritual and celebration. We are also being reminded to reflect on our personal intergenerational stories. Who were our ancestors? How was God with them as they journeyed? How do their stories impact your story? How has God’s presence in all of our stories led us to where we are today: physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually? The First Reading reminds us to ponder these questions as we reflect on our stories. Continue reading