Santa’s Surprise

12600-illustration-of-a-christmas-tree-with-presents-pvBy Liza Neal

I know a child
whose Christmas tree
was packed so high with presents
you couldn’t see its base,
and after a few hours excitement, he was bored.

I know another child.
“Santa Claus brought me a backpack!”
She told me with shining eyes.
And frankly I was surprised,
because I didn’t think
Santa Claus would come
to an asylum seeker at El Chaparral.

It was of course
the only thing she owned,
which did not diminish the joy, weeks later,
of a Christmas gift received
by a child fleeing death. Continue reading

Merely Adequate

MVSFrom the Facebook page of Mark Van Steenwyk (right), executive director of The Center for Prophetic Imagination.

I’m working on giving myself permission to be merely adequate. Otherwise, I hold myself to a ridiculous standard that I don’t hold others to.

Part of being a white man is internalizing a message that dominance and excellence is a birthright. And that to not achieve these things means one is a failure. Continue reading

It’s a Specific Position That Stands Actively–Not Passively

Bree NFrom a recent Black Perspectives interview that Ajamu Amiri Dillahunt did with Bree Newsome Bass, an artist who drew national attention in 2015 when she climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Capitol building and lowered the confederate battle flag.

I often get the question, “how do I become an activist.” The simple answer is that an activist is one who acts, who takes action in furtherance of a cause. I was an activist before I consciously identified as such. I never had ambitions of being an activist, only an ambition to change things for the better. The labels only serve to describe what it is I do. It’s become very hip to identify as an activist–not necessarily a bad thing–but it’s important to not let this word become devoid of meaning. Many of the struggles and movements of the past have been Disney-fied and watered down to focus merely on the tactic of nonviolent protest and to portray the tactic as being the goal itself. That is, the reason for the protests, racial and economic oppression, are erased and glossed over to make it seem like the extent of being an activist is participating in a nonviolent protest. The white power structure continues to find new ways to dilute or subvert the central issue of racism in America. One of its most recent tactics is introducing the notion of “bothsideism” to activism. Every cause qualifies as “activism” and everyone is an “activist” with little time or examination given to what cause folks are actually being an activist for. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Choosing the True Mystery

79965780_509901882994143_3794969524344717312_nAdvent 4A

Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-17, 17-19
Romans 1:1-7

By Lanni Lantto

Isaiah was a prophet in times of kings. In the lectionary passage, God sends him to Ahaz, a king defending his earthy kingdom, to say that God will send a sign: a young child named Immanuel meaning God is with us. This child, from a very young age, will know how to, “refuse the evil and choose the good.” For Ahaz, who may have felt powerless in his situation, this message was meant to give him hope for a time of peace and restoration.

Continue reading

Joseph

Rembrandt_Dream_of_Joseph

Rembrandt, Dream of Joseph, 1645, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

By Ken Sehested

Obscured brother
consigned to the margins
of Incarnation narrative.
Carpentry-calloused hands
now shield the shame
of sagging face, drooping, disgraced.
Chiseled lines prematurely sculpting
age in youthful countenance.
Thoughts of Mary smudge the heart
as tears smear the face.
Mary. Beloved. Betrothed. Betrayed?
Mary. With child. Whose? How, and why?
Joseph, companion in confusion
over God’s intention.
No multi-colored coat for you as for
your scoundrel namesake of old.
But who dares answer, much less complain? Continue reading

This Bethlehem Dream

Advent JesusBy Tommy Airey, from Listening in the Dark: Daily Advent Reflections for Radical Discipleship Communities (2017)

We script & sing this Bethlehem Dream
Of Life reflecting divine Reality,
Light illuminating every dark cavity,
When the lion and the lamb
Dance to a silent tune sung by all humanity.

Until then,
Addiction assaults an
Anxious audience
Caught in counterfeit dramas spun on cable channels. Continue reading

Liberation Feminism

ImaniFrom an interview that The Nation did with professor Imani Perry, the author of Vexy Thing.

I wanted to produce a work of feminist theory, or as I call it, liberation feminism, that would speak to the particular conditions of neoliberal capitalism and the hypermedia age—this eruption of digital media, where things that look like democratic spaces are at the same time corporate platforms.

I saw so many uses of the term “patriarchy” that didn’t actually apprehend the structure of domination. Patriarchy is a project that coincided with the transatlantic slave trade and the age of conquest. It’s not just attitudes. It’s legal relations between human beings, which lead to very different encounters with violence and suffering. The book begins with where patriarchy comes from, and then morphs into the current landscape, in which conditions are different but where that foundational structure is still present. Feminism is ultimately a way of reading the world with an eye towards reducing or eliminating unjust forms of domination, violence, and exploitation.