Raise the Questions They Cannot Raise

WesSueDay 11 in our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call “fortified hamlets.” The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.

By Sue Ferguson Johnson and Wes Howard-Brook

When King turned his prophetic voice to the war in Vietnam, he joined a long tradition of those who saw and named the connections between what he called the “evil triplets” of racism, capitalism and militarism. A century earlier, former slave Frederick Douglas, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, and women’s suffragette Susan B. Anthony combined in a campaign that similarly linked such evils in their own time (see H. Meyer, All on Fire). Now, fifty years after King, we, too, are called to speak and to act in solidarity for justice in all its interconnected manifestations. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Love Flows Like a River

The Third Sunday in Lent
John 4

By Sue Ferguson Johnson and Wes Howard-Brook

John 4 is like a kaleidoscope. From one angle, it is a story about Jesus’ gender-inclusive invitation to dis-cipleship. Turn it slightly and you can see Jesus seeking to heal a hostile history between Samaritans and Judeans. From yet another angle, it speaks to the question of authentic worship. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: An Unordinary Time

Trees - Reddish Knob.jpgFifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 58:1-12

By Valerie Luna Serrels

We enter this week’s story through a blind spot. The people who historically have awakened to and connected to God, find themselves unable to see, disconnected from God, one another, and the land. This blind spot invites us to reflect on the ways in which we too are unaware and disconnected. Unaware of which world’s code of conduct we abide. What religion we practice. Continue reading

Baptized Into Resistance Work

tridentThis is the first question of a longer interview that Dan McKenzie did with Wes Howard-Brook in Seattle in October.  A read of the full interview is well worth it, available HERE on Dan’s blog.   

Dan: You mention that between the years of 1979 and 1983, you were working in Washington as a government attorney.  Then, something happened and by 1985 you were completing an M.Div.  You seem to allude to a remarkable, and unexpected transformation taking place in your own life.  I wonder if this is also why you emphasize some of the more mystical and experiential components of faith, not to mention things like communal readings, faith-based readings with the assistance of the Spirit, and hiking in the mountains or on trails by the waterways close to you.  Your studies and your areas of focus, seem to arise from deeply personal spiritual experiences.  Am I wrong it wondering about this?  Could you share a bit about your personal journey and how you ended up where you are today? Continue reading

Confronting Empire with the Word

swordBy Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7.13-14)

The final Sunday of the church year celebrates the feast of Christ the King. It is at once a redundant and a confounding claim: Greek christos translates Hebrew meshiyah, meaning “anointed,” marking a person as a king (or priest, in some Jewish traditions). That is, the very label “Christ” for Jesus suggests royal authority. Yet many today reject the image and language of “kingdom” in relation to the nonviolent Jesus, preferring the wordplay, “kindom.” While we certainly embrace the image of the discipleship community as one, big family of faith, we believe that something crucial to who Jesus is—and who we are as radical disciples—is lost when we abandon the notion of God’s “kingdom.” Continue reading

Resurrection: The Hope That Vindicates God’s Justice

romeroBy Wes Howard-Brook & Sue Ferguson Johnson

There is nothing more radical than resurrection.

From the time Daniel 12 apocalyptically announced that God raises the dead, the intellectual elite in Judea rejected it. Sophisticated skeptics have always scoffed at the notion that life extends beyond the bounds of death, because such a belief threatens to undermine the status quo from which they benefit. Consider, for example, this from Ecclesiastes, a text likely written before Daniel:

The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun. (Eccles 9.5-6)

Continue reading

Praying Ourselves Down From Our Privileged Perch

prayerBy Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

Prayer is central to Luke’s Gospel. The opening scene has the assembly of the people in Jerusalem praying while Zechariah is doing his priestly duty (1.10). The adult Jesus’s first appearance in the gospel is while he is praying (3.21). Luke regularly shows us Jesus at prayer as he discerns the Way (5.16; 6.12; 9.18; 9.28-29). Continue reading