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