The COVID-19 Chronicles, Part 1

Salvador Zuniga CaceresBy Tommy Airey

This is a fictional account rooted in reality. 

“We must shake our conscience free of the rapacious capitalism, racism, and patriarchy that will only assure our own self-destruction. Our Mother Earth — militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic rights are systematically violated — demands that we take action.”—Berta Cáceres (1971-2016)

A decade ago, Aden Alvarenga fled everything he knew in Honduras for a land flowing with milk and honey called “California.” He journeyed north with his Tio Tejada who had been working with Berta Caceres to save sacred rivers from foreign developers cashing in on dam projects. In the months after the military coup, soldiers who were trained in the United States, ramped up their threats and intimidation on Tio and their band of Indigenous troublemakers. His witness protection program required drastic measures so he recruited his nephew to head north to stay with a cousin he barely knew in a place called San Juan Capistrano, named after a white priest who came to Turtle Island to forcibly convert Indigenous peoples to colonial Christianity. Continue reading

Love in the Time of Corona Virus

RudyBy Tommy Airey

“The only regret I will have in dying is if it is not for love.”—Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (1985)

In the rapidly shifting week between last Tuesday night when the NBA announced that rim-protector Rudy Gobert (right) tested positive for Covid-19 and Monday when the current occupier of the White House horrifically changed his language and started calling the pandemic “the Chinese Virus,” the contrast between free-market Capitalism and free-range Christianity was unpixilating in my soul. To clarify, most so-called “Christian” offerings are factory farmed, unquestionably committed to free-market fundamentalist policies—and the rugged individualistic postures they cultivate.

Continue reading

Yet You Do Not Receive Our Testimony

MLKBy Tommy Airey, a seven-minute sermon at Storydwelling, a community of belonging, ritual and resistance in Bend, Oregon

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.”–John 3:11

Nicodemus, like most powerful men, knows how to conduct a covert operation. He was a Pharisee from Jerusalem with a lot to lose if others saw him associating with Jesus of Nazareth, the radical Galilean rabbi. Nicodemus’ night call would be like the President of the United States secretly meeting with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960’s, when Dr. King’s approval rating hovered around 25% in white America. Continue reading

An Alternative Tour

51429161_10218004177755475_3993712457292972032_nBy Tommy Airey

“The time has come, God knows, for us to examine ourselves, but we can only do this if we are willing to free ourselves of the myth of America and try to find out what is really happening here.”—James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name (1961)

“…and a little child shall lead them.”—Isaiah 11:6b

Warning: this essay contains graphic language that may be unsuitable for some adults.

On this date, exactly a year ago, Lindsay and I found ourselves on ancient Chumash land, now called “the central coast of California.” We took the shuttle up to Hearst Castle, the 40,000 acre “ranch” built for newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst and his wife, five sons and mistress. Early in the tour, our six-year-old nephew creatively resisted his boredom by making a game of how many nude statues he could find along the way. He was particularly fond of the penises, which made him giggle uncontrollably. 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

Deep Love

Kings BayBy Tommy Airey

Lindsay shot me a text last Friday afternoon. KingsBay7 all found guilty of all the charges. She concluded with crying emojis. The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 is a motley crew of older white Christians who, on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, broke into a Naval base in Georgia with hammers, crime scene tape, baby bottles containing their own blood, and an indictment charging the U.S. government with crimes against peace. ¡Personas peligrosos!

The Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base is home to at least six nuclear ballistic missile submarines, each of which carries 20 Trident thermonuclear weapons—possessed with 3,800 times more destructive power as the weapons that were used on Hiroshima. Hammers? They were literally following the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.” They discerned the action after two years of prayer and practice. This was a deep symbolic action designed to penetrate souls. Continue reading

May We

Michael Raymond Smith

PC: Michael Raymond Smith

By Tommy Airey

A translation of the Jesus Prayer for this time.

May we celebrate Steadfast Love.
May we pledge to end exploitation and extraction.
May we live simply so it will be simple to love.
May we be released from our shame and supremacy.
May we share the debt load of others.
May our tests and trials transform us.
Amen.

Tommy Airey was born and raised on stolen, unceded Acjachemen territory (“Orange County, California”), was transformed by the thin place the Ojibwe, Huron and Odawa call Wawiiatanong (“Detroit River”) and has entered the sacred “hidden waters” the Molalla and Paiute named Towarnehiooks (“Deschutes River, Oregon”). He is the co-curator of RadicalDiscipleship.Net and author of Descending Like a Dove: Adventures in Decolonizing Evangelical Christianity (2018).