PC: Valerie Jean (Detroit, MI)
From Monica Lewis-Patrick (right), executive director of We The People of Detroit, leaders in the struggle for clean and affordable water in Detroit and beyond.
We didn’t call ourselves into this fight. We tell folks that we didn’t choose water. Water chose us. In the divinity of water, water was before everything else was. We see ourselves as called into this great layer of warrior women that are fighting for water all around the globe, from Cochabamba to the Arab Spring, from Ireland to the Navajo Nation, from all over these Great Lakes where we have what I call “bad revolutionary sisters” who have decided that not only will they drink, but that their children’s children’s children will drink. Our vision is even deeper than what we can see right now. It’s a transformative way of thinking.
A few summers ago in Detroit, a circle of high school students from a local church gathered with community organizer Monica Lewis-Patrick, executive director of the grassroots We The People of Detroit. The conversation flowed into what it looks like for faith to infuse political action when the odds are stacked against justice, freedom and equity. This is an excerpt.
All we have to do is start connecting the dots and telling the truth. When I started working in social justice, I was working in education, with children that were mentally impaired and extremely violent. What I found out really quickly was that the people at the table didn’t give a damn about the children. It was about the dollars. Because I cared about the children, I had to educate myself in terms of how I influence the policy—or the people who drive the policies—to help my people get the change they need. To help the children I served. That meant going to meetings where sometimes I would be the only one there speaking on behalf of the population that I thought was most vulnerable and most in need. Was I scared? Yes I was. Did I always get the language right? No I didn’t. Did I always have the data on hand that they had? No I didn’t. But it was out of my heart that I spoke. And then from there what would happen is that somebody would give me a card or somebody would say, “You know, I didn’t know that part” or “Can we talk?” And then I had to dig up from my spiritual history or family history and muster up enough energy to go meet with somebody that has a title—that seems to have power—and say to that person “We don’t like this.”
By Tommy Airey
Like every good Evangelical, my adolescent faith was about giving all glory to the Lord. I sang praise songs to a “high and lifted up” Jesus and always concluded my prayers “in Jesus’ name” (I signed off my emails “Fool For Christ,” but that’s a story for another time). I was taught to utilize “apologetics” to defend the faith and prove that Jesus was, in fact, Divine. I revered C.S. Lewis whose Mere Christianity made a water-tight case for my beliefs. Lewis left readers three choices for who Jesus really was: a lunatic, a liar or the Lord Himself:
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.
Lewis claimed that, when it came to the people who actually met Jesus, they responded in three ways: hatred, terror or adoration. There was no middle ground. Continue reading