Indigenous Wisdom Re-Schooling Christian Vision

LilyFrom the Center For Babaylan Studies, this webinar is live tomorrow at 2pmEST. Click here to register!

Is it possible to learn from indigenous wisdom and practice across the globe and then re-read the biblical writings with an eye to the indigenous traces not entirely erased there? Or is going back to indigenous ways the same as going back to superstitious belief? Does following Jesus mean forsaking all other ancestral ways? This webinar will walk through the scriptural tradition to explore a possibility of calling Christianity to depth-work in recovering some of its own indigenous, anti-imperial roots. Continue reading “Indigenous Wisdom Re-Schooling Christian Vision”

What is Whiteness? A Provisional Articulation

Council on the WayBy Jim Perkinson

Note: this is a long working definition of Whiteness. Dr. Perkinson laid this down for a committee reflecting in the wake of The Council on the Way (right), an October 2019 gathering of white men envisioning and embodying a redemptive white male theology. The conversation over two days in Washington D.C. was conceived and coached by Ruby Sales, theologian and veteran of the Black Freedom Struggle.

What is whiteness? I would understand the paler shades of skin color that are typically referenced, when the term “whiteness” is used, as a kind of shorthand for a whole social system of infrastructure and expectation, as well as conscious/unconscious identification. It is a system that is rooted in European Christian colonialism taking land on this continent by force (either violent conquest or coercive legal imposition) from indigenous peoples and making much of that land yield “resources” by means of enslaved African peoples (as well as other coerced peoples of color, and to some degree even coerced lower and working class European heritage peoples). Continue reading “What is Whiteness? A Provisional Articulation”

What the Waters Know: Re-Reading John 1:29-42

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Photo by Erinn Fahey

By James W. Perkinson

He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure (Ps 40:2).

I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. (Jh 1:31)

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (Jh 1:36).

So we sit today in bit of snow here in Motown, while our news feeds show weekly pile-ups of cold precipitation elsewhere across the land—and pile-ups, as well, of twisted metal in our stupid infatuation with cars and speed—as the Great Stream of Jetting Air bends south and brutal, from the Arctic Circle to Arizona, in announcement that Change, with a capital “C’ is not future, but here.  And we wonder about the upheaval of an entire planet.  Australia become a living kiln, cooking up a billion-fold of living flesh, involuntary offerings to our wanton refusal to heed!  In Puerto Rico they sleep outside, as the fracked Earth, heaving from a thousand cuts, here, there, in Oklahoma now grinding Her teeth in warning hundreds of times per year where She used to rest soft and fecund and quiet, but in our little cousin island to the south, slipping and sliding the soil into great fear and one more sheer nightmare.  Last time—it was the sea and sky as Maria roared through.  Now it is rock and sand, all serving notice they do not plan on being raped and plundered, forever.  But it is the poor who are first forced to hear and bear the pain.  The rest of us sleep-walk in daylight and pull the covers of night over our oblivious heads.  But our time is coming as well, I am afraid.  And we are far more culpable. Continue reading “What the Waters Know: Re-Reading John 1:29-42”

advent as the seas rise

CABy Jim Perkinson, on Matthew 24:36-44, performed on 12.01.19 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, MI

b & e lifted up as priority
an outlaw god on a mission of
correction, convection, currents
of floods, burned by fire-storms
of trees, california today,
new york city tomorrow, but don’t
worry, just party, drink up your
hot toddy, be snotty, like a donald
trump wanna be, your head in the
potty, doing karate on the future,
the scripture is naughty, sirening
night as the right time, for the
break-in to let the bodies out,
immigrants like abraham finding
oak branches prophesying like
a reckoning for sodom, collapsing Continue reading “advent as the seas rise”

Wild Weeds and Imperial Trees: Reading a Messianic Parable at the Crossroads of Settlement and the Wild

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wild mustard (public domain)

By Jim Perkinson, some timely scholarship for this weekend’s Gospel story

*Note: these comments from Dr. Perkinson are a summary of his “ground-breaking” essay on seeds and soils in Political Spirituality in an Age of Eco-Apocalypse: Essays in Communication and Struggle Across Species, Cultures, and Religions (Palgrave McMillan, 2015)

The seed parables of the gospels are “heirloom” for modern readers. They come across time, hard with unpacked dynamism.  As bare kernels, they sit unmoving before the eyes. But given the right nutrients from without, they may sprout with a surprising prolixity.

I want to treat these little Galilean riddles like transportable spore, and see what they do in a plot of contemporary “compost.” Continue reading “Wild Weeds and Imperial Trees: Reading a Messianic Parable at the Crossroads of Settlement and the Wild”

Why Faith Must Learn the Language of Flood: Water as Apocalyptic Witness of Last Resort

J Perk, ShoesBy Jim Perkinson (09.01.2019)

*Note: This is a sermon Dr. James Perkinson (right, performing spoken word at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, MI) did  for the liturgical “season” being adopted by some churches including St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit. It is called the Season of Creation (Sept 1 to Oct 4). The focus on this Sunday (September 1, 2019) was on the oceans. J-Perk included a number of biblical passages related to the seas and water and asked a few questions/made some comments [as indicated], before getting into the sermon proper. 

Background

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and Earth. The Earth was without Form and Void, and Darkness was upon the Face of the Deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the Waters—Canaanite Mythology (Gen 1:1-2).  Continue reading “Why Faith Must Learn the Language of Flood: Water as Apocalyptic Witness of Last Resort”

To Enlist

J PerkAn excerpt from Detroit-based theologian Dr. Jim Perkinson’s classic piece “Theology and the City: Learning to Cry Struggling to See.

*To live in a suburb “neutrally” is to participate in the American fiction of innocence.

…In complex, globally interdependent societies like those we now live in, theology that is not simply ideology requires a kind of militancy. It must enter a fray that is neither gentle nor innocent. But it has not ever been different for Christian “God talk.” In the first centuries of the church’s life, for instance, the early meaning of paganism was both “rural-dweller” and “noncombatant.” To become a believer in the early church meant to enlist. In the Roman imperial order, a sacramentum was an oath of loyalty taken by a soldier to Caesar. For Christians living under that imperial regime, celebrating “sacraments” like the Eucharist was a practice of political resistance in a struggle that engaged war-making as its nonviolent, but combative opposite. From the beginning, Christianity has been about spiritual warfare, when it has not forgotten its calling. And Christian theology in the mix is the articulation of where God is most likely to be encountered in the ongoing conflict.

The Advent of Stars and “Pagans”

MagiBy Jim Perkinson, on Matthew 2:1-12

So, the stage is set. Matthew has an old horny codger taking up a young nubile teenager (could be a headline on CNN tomorrow) but then discovering he is late to the freshness. She already has a loaf in the oven. He resolves to part in quiet but is accosted by a Dream-Time appearance counseling adventure—the child is Spirit-born, the event is “Emmanuel,” the promise is deliverance. He wakes and tries to stay “woke.” Continue reading “The Advent of Stars and “Pagans””