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.

Continue reading “Holy Ghost”

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”

Kindred, The News is Bleak

California Wildfires
AP Photo/Noah Berger

By Ken Sehested

Kindred, the news is bleak. For we live in the valley of the shadow, when:

  • the stock market reaches record-breaking levels in the midst of near-record-breaking rates of unemployment;
  • when 1% of US citizens control $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half is saddled with more debts than assets;
  • when the median wealth of Black households is a tenth of that of whites;
  • when yet another unarmed Black man is shot—in the back, seven times, while getting in his car where his children are sitting—by police;
  • when polls show 57% of Republicans (along with 33% of Independents and 10% of Democrats) believe our nation’s COVID-19 death toll (many times greater than any other nation) is “acceptable”—despite ours being the wealthiest nation in recorded history, purportedly with the world’s most advanced health care system;
  • when wildfires in California set yet another record in size and destructive infernos, and similar flames in the Amazon are on track to eclipse 2019’s record;
  • when 30 million families lacked sufficient nutrition last week, yet the suicide rate among farmers—who provide our food—is five times greater than the national average;
  • when the federal hourly minimum wage is $7.25 (lowest it’s been since the 1960s when adjusted for inflation), yet Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos earns approximately $8,961,187 per hour;
  • not to mention a monarch aspirant in high office; and our oldest living president, Jimmy Carter, having
    described our political economy as “moving toward an oligarchy.”

Continue reading “Kindred, The News is Bleak”

Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part II

Mental Health Counseling Conference
 PC: Sam Simpkins

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). Bruce presses for a “post-capitalist pastoral theology” that empowers people to resist the system (instead of adapt to it), to embrace communion and wholeness in relation to others and the earth (instead of functioning in accord with the values of production and consumption) and to pursue interdependent reliance within the web of human relationships (instead of accepting shame-based personal responsibility narratives).

*This is our second Friday with Bruce. See this for Part 1.

Tommy Airey: You described how neoliberalism is a system that “turns control of the economy over to a handful of wealthy rentiers.” What is a rentier? Continue reading “Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part II”

The Poor Among You

Poor Peoples CampaignBy Tommy Airey

Over the decades, I’ve consistently heard conservative pastors quote their Lord and Savior to dismiss policies and provisions that attempt to systematically help low-income residents. You’ll always have the poor among you (Mark 14:3-9). “See,” they say, referencing the Scripture, “Jesus, is telling us it’s a waste of time to try to alleviate poverty. He promises that the poor will always be with us no matter what we try to do.”

In this episode, Jesus is actually quoting Deuteronomy 15, one of the most crucial junctures in the history of Israel. God is preparing the former slaves of Egypt to live in a new kind of way in the Promised Land. As the old African-American proverb illuminates, it is easier to get the enslaved out of Egypt than it is to get Egypt out of the enslaved. The exodus wilderness was a school, a 12-step-program for recovery from the colonial script. Continue reading “The Poor Among You”