The Catch

BoatBy Tommy Airey, a meditation on Luke 5:1-11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God…

We grope for what is spiritual-but-not-religious. Beyond the rusted institutions. These have utterly failed to meet human need. Too often, the church is a performance, a club, an obligation. So we go beyond the four walls, where Steadfast Love cannot be contained or confined. We come to the shore. Water and trees and birds bring life and hope and wonder. Jesus meets us there. He is the anti-institutional inspiration. He speaks truth and beauty. The word of God.

…he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.

At the shore, Jesus beckons us to the simple life. Everything we need is right in front of us. Manna. Boats. Fill-in-the-Blank. Cultivating awareness becomes crucial to the spiritual life. Jesus points to the nets. Like our souls, and everything else that carries heavy burdens, they need washing. Continue reading

The Means

Helen Moore

Detroit legend Queen Mother Helen Moore orders a table for one from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (PC: Jennifer Teed)

By Tommy Airey

This is the sequel to The Ways, posted on the day after the Spring Equinox 2018.

I won’t apologize.  But I must confess. I am a “biblical Christian.” Yet, in this post-colonial conversation, I know I can’t just testify. I must specify. The spiritual movement of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus is fundamentally a descent. The bible, like a broken record ever-resisting imperial feedback, plays a prejudiced tune that sides with the poor and oppressed and demonized and scapegoated. To be clear, the way of Jesus does not have the patent on the prophetic path less plodded. It is simply the route I’ve chosen. Or perhaps it has chosen me. Continue reading

When They Call You A Terrorist

When They Call YouBy Tommy Airey

In our hyper-connected world, a buffet of spiritual practices abound. One immediately thinks of meditation, contemplative ecology, yoga, fasting, sabbath, jubilee, self-reflective bible study, liturgical direct action, poetry, therapy, 12-step recovery, mutual edification and confession. Now is a better time than ever for the somewhat privileged people of faith and conscience among us to fast-pass the practice of attentive listening to the front of the line. After all, Spirit moves when the marginalized and muted are given voice—those who are Women, who are Black and Brown, who are Queer, who hail from Somewhere Else. Continue reading

Entertainment for Angels

GuatemalaBy Tommy Airey

Detroit, Michigan

“…because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”—Matthew 11:25b

“This pedagogy makes oppression and its causes objects of reflection by the oppressed, and from that reflection will come their necessary engagement in the struggle for their liberation.”–Paolo Freire, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972)

Many episodes from the biblical script star the widow, the orphan and the immigrant as a sacred Trinity of sorts. The God known as Steadfast Love consistently compels those who bear the Name to never shame nor blame these three. In fact, in these three, Steadfast Love covenants Herself to Justice, promising to be a swift witness against anyone who oppresses or swears falsely against them.  If one’s theology still makes room for hell, this litmus test ought to be included. Continue reading

A Pilgrimage of Belovedness

Ebenezer copy (1)By Tommy Airey

Way back in the wide-open fields of the Clinton years, the seed of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was planted in me during a semester with Professor Bill Tuttle at the University of Kansas. Way back then, I was attending Campus Crusade bible study on Wednesdays, drinking a 12-pack of beer on Fridays and going to an all-white Evangelical church on Sundays. My spiritual life was a complete circus. Way back then, I struggled to make the simple connection that Dr. King was a Christian and that his perspective on Jesus was completely different than what my white Evangelical mentors and heroes were pitching. Continue reading

The Ways

Japan-1

PC: Michael Raymond Smith

By Tommy Airey

Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.
John 20:25

In order to believe (Greek pistis), Thomas had to see and touch the brutal wounds inflicted by empire. Belief, for the first radical disciples, was far more than head knowledge. It was about what one pledged allegiance to, who one was willing to suffer and die for. Thomas wasn’t going down with some crazy-ass conspiracy theory about Jesus the tortured-and-crucified freedom fighter coming back from the dead.   Continue reading

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Mike Lansing

PC: Michael Smith

By Tommy Airey

Lansing, Michigan

Decades ago, Alice Walker suggested that the White House should be run by twelve grandmothers. I spent my Wednesday at the state capital bearing witness to the obvious brilliance of her proposal.

It was almost two years since my first visit to Lansing, days after the Flint water poisoning scandal broke out like an upper respiratory infection.  The brutal part: both viruses still linger.

Back then, business brought my friend Mike to Michigan. But his heart and his camera prodded him all the way to Capitol with me to brave a single-digit-wind-chilled protest during the Governor’s annual State of the State address.  A year later, the state’s Civil Rights Commission issued a scathing 135-page report naming “systemic racism” as a major factor in Flint’s water contamination. Redlining, white flight to the suburbs, intergenerational poverty and “implicit bias” were all chronicled as contributing to the unnatural disaster.  Fifty years after the Kerner Commission report, history came full circle. Continue reading