My heart is really aching, and I have to confess that it’s aching with sadness and also a low-grade anger. I was furious along with many others that on the other side of the country a young black man was killed because of what he was wearing (and even if the allegations are true that he hit his murderer and provoked him, I’m furious about the Stand Your Ground law in Florida and other states that can allow a fist fight to turn into a murder instead of simply a call to the police). I’m furious that one of the most gentle men I know, my co-pastor, gets harassed by police even though I would stake my life on him not doing anything to provoke it, simply because he’s a Black man who wears a hoodie. (And almost all of the African American members of my church, faithful and good people, have stories of unprovoked police harassment or other forms of harassment due solely to the color of their skin.) (more…)
Note: This is a devotional piece I wrote for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in October 2010. It uses some church-y references that I’m happy to qualify if anyone wants it “translated.” 🙂
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19, NIV
We’ve been talking about the joys of missional ministry in this region for a year now. I want to complicate it a little today.
Thirteen percent of African American men (1.4 million) are not able to vote due to felony convictions.
What could this possibly have to do with the church? (more…)
Two things happened today that have me asking the question: how do we foster up healthy conversation about issues on which we differ greatly?
The first thing was a fairly frivolous issue. I’m at the PANAAWTM conference right now (Pacific and Asian North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry) and a fun and spry woman from Arizona brought some political/religious tee shirts. One tee shirt delighted me so much I posted a picture of it on facebook: “Patriarchy means never having to say you’re sorry!” A person from a local church in my region whom I like very much was really offended by the shirt, feeling that I was attacking all men. Most of you reading this post know that I’m actually quite fond of men and consider them (most of them) allies in the struggle to end oppression. But because our society doesn’t foster up clear distinctions about how to define terms, my valued colleague didn’t see the quote criticizing a system that robs both men and women of the fullness of their humanity; he saw me criticizing men. That may be because of a negative experience he’s had where he’s been unfairly attacked for not respecting women, or it may be that he is a big fan of Rush Limbaugh and really believes that feminists are trying to rob men of power that is rightfully theirs. Either way, he clearly experienced me as antagonistic rather than playful, and I may not be able to have a meaningful conversation with him now on that complex issue. But that’s largely about the dangers of facebook and its inability to foster complex conversation. (more…)
I had a conversation with someone recently who had considered being active in our church. I would have been THRILLED to have that person’s gifts and real-life experience in the congregation, but it never quite clicked. Then that person told me they appreciated that my church worked with people with addictions and unsheltered folks, but because we were meeting those needs (and we’re a TINY church), it was pretty clear that person’s more regular “vital worship and strong Sunday School and youth ministries” needs weren’t going to get met unless our church expanded a whole bunch. (more…)