We Talk, You Listen

Black Elk

Icon of Black Elk by Rev. Bob Two Bulls

By Tommy Airey, co-editor of RadicalDiscipleship.Net

“Our arms are tired of troubling the waters for you. Do us a favor and trouble your own waters and receive healing.”–Jim Bear Jacobs, Thursday morning at the Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute

Yesterday, on my flight back to Detroit, I had a front row seat for a rather disturbing dialogue. A young man whose family owns a limo company in the suburbs was aghast at Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) who called out the director of Green Book for publicly praising the watch-and-bicycle-company Shinola for their role in “saving Detroit.” Then the young man proclaimed, “In my opinion, gentrification is really helping.” His passionate conversation partner, a white woman about my age, gasped, “Why can’t people just be happy?” Continue reading

Behind the Scenes

baptismal

Detroit, MI

By Tommy Airey, a homily preached at The Abbey Church (Victoria, BC) on Sunday, January 20, 2019

“When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from…” (John 2:9a)

Theologian Kelly Brown-Douglas explains that when the earliest slaves in America listened to the reading of the Bible, they heard the voice of “The Great High God”—the free, sovereign divinity they knew well from their African heritage. This was the creator God who was far greater than humans and all “the lesser gods” in the universe. This is the God defined by Steadfast Love in this morning’s Psalm: in this Higher Power, there is refuge and abundance, feasting and drinking from the river of delight. Continue reading

Strengthening Community, Nurturing Souls, Amplifying Hope

Caring for Souls, ImageBy Tommy Airey, a review of Bruce Rogers-Vaughn’s Caring For Souls in a Neoliberal Age (2016)

It’s the economy stupid. This was the pundit-driven explanation for Bill Clinton’s victory almost three decades ago. It is also the root of our present crises. What we’ve been hearing is true. Times have changed. Not so much in the past two years. More like the past thirty. Yet as depression, addiction, panic attacks, suicide and debt have all skyrocketed, pastoral attempts to get at the roots of the pain and suffering can tend towards family dynamics, relational patterns and trauma.

These factors are real and important. However, in his recent Caring For Souls in a Neoliberal Age, Bruce Rogers-Vaughn implores readers that there are interweaving socio-political powers that shape us in destructive ways too. We must dismantle racism and hetero-patriarchy. But Rogers-Vaughn writes, “Any form of identity politics that ignores class, therefore, will be fated to support the ongoing domination of neoliberal interests” (216). It’s the profit-driven, wage-reducing, deregulating, free trading economy stupid. Continue reading

Congestion

The Hole (1)By Tommy Airey

Advent is almost here. As always, she sends us signs from the sun, the moon, the rising seas and the leafless fig tree. This season, she is speaking to me through a cough that won’t give up. The sinus pressure adds insult to injury. I am now convinced that these chronic symptoms stem from my inability to just say “no.” As it turns out, I have long been addicted to “becoming all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some” (I Cor 9:22). I share the codependent affliction of the apostle who confessed that his life was unmanageable too:

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate (Romans 7:15).

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Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone

Aireys, Early 20s.jpeg (1)By Tommy Airey, a homily for Day House, a four-decade Catholic Worker experiment wedged between casinos and stadiums a stone’s throw from downtown Detroit

I am new to the traditions of Celtic Samhain and Christian All Saints. I grew up in the world of white suburban Evangelical Christianity. I attended a private Christian school that was part of the movement sparked a decade earlier as a response to the Civil Rights Movement and the racial integration instituted by the Supreme Court (and resisted by Governors who were enabled by Presidents). My pastors and teachers taught me that Catholics were going to hell and that Halloween was the devil’s holiday. Continue reading

Help Wanted

By Tommy Airey, co-curator of RadicalDiscipleship.net and the author of Descending Like a Dove: Adventures in Decolonizing Evangelical Christianity

Arrest (1)On that Spring day in Lansing, when Lindsay joined the band of holy rebels getting arrested for civil disobedience (right), I participated in civil discourse with a police officer hired to keep the peace at the peaceful demonstration. Despite the overtime pay, he wasn’t happy. He confessed that he was reluctant to support anyone too lazy to get off their butts to get a job. I shared with him the data—there are hundreds of jobs for hundreds of thousands of applicants. But he had a comeback: “No way. I see help wanted signs everywhere.” Continue reading

A Revelation

Descending, Front CoverAn excerpt from Tommy Airey’s recent release Descending Like A Dove: Adventures in Decolonizing Evangelical Christianity.

A few weeks into 2016, the Flint water crisis went viral. Tap water was poisoned with high levels of lead and bacteria. As complaints from residents came pouring in, city and state officials did nothing to change the situation. Just denial. For almost two whole years.

A month after the crisis made the headlines of every major newspaper in the world, Flint native and retired autoworker Claire McClinton drove sixty miles south to visit a group of us organizing for clean and affordable water in Detroit. These were Claire’s opening remarks:

We send you greetings from the occupied city of Flint. You can go to the gas station and get lead-free gas. You can go to the hardware store and get lead-free paint. Even a capitalist knows the dangers of lead. But we can’t go to our sink and get lead-free water. I’ve got PTSD. In fact, everybody’s got it if you care about humanity.

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