Latest Posts

How do we talk across the divide?

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…)

…for you were aliens in Egypt.

Note: This post was originally written for the e-news for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in California-Nevada on March 1, 2012. That is who I am referencing when I say “the region.”
Exodus 22:21, NIV
“Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.” SandhyaLast week there was an article in Business Week about the impact of of Alabama’s strict immigration law put into effect last fall.  The intent of the law was clear–Alabama had an 8% unemployment rate, and they were afraid their citizens’ jobs were being filled by undocumented workers. They passed a bill allowing police to question anyone they suspected might be in the US illegally, including children in school.


The first part of the impact was exactly what the state officials had hoped–immigrants left in droves. The second part, however, came as a shock: almost 60% of the crops in Alabama rotted in the field, and the diminished workforce has led to a loss in state economy that has caused a potential loss of 70,000 jobs in the state, many held by US citizens. (more…)

Drunken international reconciliation–how do we stop the fighting?

I was riding Muni (San Francisco’s public transportation) back from the Landmark communication course I’m taking to a friend’s place where I’m couch-surfing during the weekend-long course. I was riding with another woman from the course, who also lives in the Castro (the neighborhood where my friend lives). During the ride, I discovered she was from Israel (I would have guessed Egypt, but the accent really was Israeli once she said it).


What do we communicate when we communicate?

I’m smack dab in the middle of a weekend-long course on communication offered by Landmark Forum. (And yes, I have done several Landmark courses over three years, and yes, their sales pitch is a little overbearing, but no, they’re definitely not pitching any cult stuff. And so far everything I’ve gotten, which is quite a lot, has been a combination of cognitive behavioral psychology and zen Buddhism, and everything can be found in the bible. In fact, it’s surprising how often they make some profound statement and I find myself thinking, “Jesus said that!”)


My struggle with inner peace

My purpose in blogging every day(ish) during the season of Lent is to wrestle with complex issues in a public forum, hopefully in ways humble and vulnerable enough for other people to feel safe affirming but also challenging me, and engaging in an exchange of ideas as equals. So far, my posts have mostly tended towards the political, although through an experiential lens (that’s the core of liberation theology—we start by acknowledging how our lived experiences shape our lens on the world). Today, I want to take on a personal (and professional) issue, and do so in a confessional way. Now, I often experience that when I’m confessional, people respond, “Good that you realized you’re wrong about that issue which I was already correct about,” when my hope was that I was creating space for them to be self-reflective and confessional about something else in their lives. Nonetheless, I remain open to people affirming that I have a long way to go.  (more…)

Boxed in: does gender identity take away our chance at full humanity?

[for accompanying music, listening to this in the background! And, yes, it does make me laugh to have suggested it.]

traditional male and female imagesgender blending                                     transgender symbol

Some of my friends were joking with me about dressing in drag. “I’m not sure I’d have a ‘drag persona,'” I commented to one friend. He looked at me and said, “She said, with her thumbs in the belt loops of her jeans.” Because that’s unconsciously exactly how I was standing. (more…)

“But there are lots of people of color who support this policy, so it isn’t racist”

In a recent article about Michelle Alexander’s phenomenal The New Jim Crow, a book on the impact of the war on drugs on Black men and women, James Forman, Jr. of Yale Law School raised a criticism or two, including that he feels the book “ignores the violent crime wave of the 1970s and minimizes the support among many African-Americans for get-tough measures,” according to the article.

James Forman, Jr. is a brilliant scholar and comes from solid civil rights pedigree. His critique (soon to be released in the Yale Law Review) is not simply designed to swipe at the book in order to gain attention or diminish a colleague. While I might disagree with some of his analysis, the one thing that rubs me the wrong way is this: that African-American support for get-tough measures functions as a stand-alone argument. (more…)