Welcoming Illegal Life: Disciplines of Readiness

adventA compelling Advent offering from radical disciples in the Bay. 
Somewhere in this country–out in the desert or under a freeway or in some cramped tenement apartment–an illegal baby is being born, brown-skinned and beautiful and trailing the wisdom of the ancestors that we need for this time. We can’t tell you where this birth is happening; if we did, Herod would deport mother and child, or worse. But it is happening. It is always happening.
And wherever new life is being birthed, it is vulnerable and under threat. New life, if it is genuinely new, is a danger to the systems of deathliness amidst which we live, and so new life is endangered everywhere. Women are being subjected to forced hysterectomies in immigrant detention camps while the right of any woman to have sovereignty over her birthing capabilities is under siege throughout the country.
How do we ready ourselves to welcome and protect illegal life–in the world and within ourselves? What are the disciplines of readiness? This is what we will attend to in this four-session Advent series. 
Something is being birthed in you and in us. Let’s prepare together:
Tuesdays, December 1-22
7:30-9 ET/ 4:30-6 PT
By donation to support the work of the facilitators
About the facilitators
Rev. Lynice Pinkard is a Black writer, teacher, healer, pastor, and public intellectual operating at the intersection of Christianity, economics, and social change. Her current work is dedicated to decolonizing the human spirit and freeing people from what she calls “empire affective disorder.” Her commitment is to inspire and nurture a new generation of Spirit-filled servant leaders dedicated to the remediation of day-to-day suffering, the building of collective resilience for transformative change, and the pursuit of structural and systemic justice in the world.
Nichola Torbett is a white spiritual seeker, recovering addict, gospel preacher, racial justice podcaster, nonviolent direct action trainer, and petsitter. She is committed to helping other white people recognize their own trauma and discontent as catalysts for the dismantling of systems of oppression that are killing us all, and killing Black and Brown people first. She is grateful to First Congregational Church of Oakland and Second Acts as her primary communities of accountability.
Lynice and Nichola have been teaching, writing, and fomenting communities of recovery and resistance together for eleven years. Forged by mutual longing, love, and shared risk, their cross-racial friendship forms the basis for the transformative work they do with others.

A Wonderfully Complex Set of Illusions

anti-capitalist-protestFor Good Friday: Rev. Lynice Pinkard.
From her legendary 2014 interview with The Sun Magazine.

There is a seductive beauty in the idea that everyone has equal economic opportunity under capitalism. First, it allows the wealthy and powerful, the owning class, to feel justified in their position. They can believe their privilege is based on their own hard work, or the hard work of their ancestors. Second, just enough of the poorest are desperate enough to think that, despite all evidence, they can become rich. Most poor people don’t believe this, but they also don’t have enough resources or popular support to bring about real change, or else they are convinced that they are indeed unworthy and sometimes even work toward their own destruction. Third, the so-called middle class is led to dream of becoming rich and to fear the encroachment of the poor. Continue reading “A Wonderfully Complex Set of Illusions”

People Who Love Fiercely

lyniceA Friday classic. An excerpt from The Sun Magazine interview (Oct 2014) with Rev. Lynice Pinkard.

I identified deeply with my father’s ministry, and I wanted to emulate him. My siblings and I used to play church. I’d stand on the hearth with a white towel around my neck like a clerical collar and preach. They hated it, but I was the eldest, so they had to go along. As much as I loved Sunday worship services, the cadences of black preaching, the way people expressed their faith openly, the call and response, I also cherished the community, the deep love I felt from the congregation. And Jesus is just about the only man I’ve ever been in love with! Continue reading “People Who Love Fiercely”

Activate That Love

LyniceIn an interview a few years back, Rev. Lynice Pinkard of the Oakland’s Seminary of the Street was asked if there was ever a time that she lost her faith.  This was her answer.

Through it all I’ve continued to love Jesus and the prophets. I love the church. I am a product of it, and I have spent my life serving it in various ways. The problem for me is that institutional church programs and denominational structures are too often removed from real, radical, biblical discipleship. The institutions often become bulwarks against the movement of the Spirit and act to preserve old patterns of power ill-suited to the real message of our faith. And I have to admit that Christians sometimes scare me. I even scare myself.
Continue reading “Activate That Love”

What Resurrection Means

LyniceOur Last day of the Lenten Journey.  [S]he is risen indeed.  From Rev. Lynice Pinkard of Oakland’s Seminary of the Street, in an interview with Sun Magazine in 2014.

We’re not going to do this work — of bringing people together, of stemming the tide of ecological abuse, of dealing with income inequality — without having something inside us change. Before I even get to my interaction with you, I need to examine my own self-interest. That’s what resurrection means to me: being able to rise above self-interest and the interests of your group. For me resurrection is about laying down our weapons and getting up off our assets. Resurrection is not merely about whether Jesus is dead or alive, in the tomb or not. In Romans, the Bible says the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can quicken our mortal bodies to life. We can leave our cemeteries, abandon the deadness and the death-dealing nature of our lives. We can rise above the life-limiting forces that hold us down. For me, that’s resurrection: crossing over from self-interest to true solidarity.

Regular Promises of Peace and Democracy

LyniceDay 14 of our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.
From Lynice Pinkard (photo above), the former pastor at First Congregational Church of Oakland, in an interview with Mark Leviton in Sun Magazine (October 2014):

As a culture we are in a nosedive toward death, and to interrupt it, we must opt out of the capitalist systems that are killing us and decimating the planet. Although we might criticize systems and bemoan their negative effects, we do not often focus on the degree to which we rely upon them. We balk at any course of action that truly threatens the status quo, because a confrontation with the system is going to cost us our comforts and our reputation and possibly our lives. But we have to stop shopping at the bargain counter of the American company store, where we exchange substance for more security, more status, more wealth, and more power. It is nearly impossible to be a prophet with a wallet full of credit cards. Resistance to the system means social death and loss of identity, but it is also a struggle for life. It is not the futile hope for a better day, the self-indulgent staking out of a political position, or a reckless descent into disorder. It is self-determination with integrity. It is the assertion of life without apology. It is the willingness to defend what we love with our lives. Continue reading “Regular Promises of Peace and Democracy”