A Holy Week Reflection

This is the week in the Christian calendar when we remember Jesus starting his week on “Palm Sunday” riding into Jerusalem as a form of political protest against the Roman empire’s own procession on the other side of the city who were reminding Israelites that even though they were celebrating Passover, a holy reminder that God had liberated them, that they should not get any grand ideas. However, the same crowd that celebrated Jesus as a conquering hero on Palm Sunday encouraged Rome to kill him on Friday. And of course they did. We do the same thing. We rally around a leader who says, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” We rally around a leader who says, “I am but a humble servant; it will take all of us to effect transformation and liberation.” And when s/he tries to let us lead, we call for his or her head.Continue reading “A Holy Week Reflection”

Shaima Alawadi’s murder: Where is the outrage?

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.)Continue reading “Shaima Alawadi’s murder: Where is the outrage?”

5 things I’d like to share with men about women (including you, because I can tell you’re a very progressive man)

I got called out. Gently. But I got called out by a colleague of mine whom I respect immensely.

He called me out because the other day I posted an article called 5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women. Now the piece is pretty harsh, and it paints in broad generalizations, and I think the author knows that. But my colleague pointed out that generally, I work very hard to talk about issues in ways most people will be receptive, whereas even the title of this article shuts down the possibility of conversation with most men, who will either say “But I don’t hate women” or “Society doesn’t have the power to train me without me knowing.”Continue reading “5 things I’d like to share with men about women (including you, because I can tell you’re a very progressive man)”

Burning Man and the failure of feminism?

“I feel like feminism is dead,” I said despondently to my campsite mates at Burning Man 2011.

(For an uplifting Burning Man 2011 representation, click here, btw.)

“I’m walking around  and looking at these young girls dressed up in costumes that are all about marketing their sexuality.”

“You’re right,” said one of my friends, assuming that my concern was about the sexuality. “It’s the opposite of feminism–it’s utterly hedonistic.”

Frustrated, I said through clenched teeth, “Listen, it’s not the sexuality that’s the problem. I’m a third wave feminist–I’m about as sex positive as a pastor gets. But they’re using their sexuality as a tool to lure men, as if it’s the only power they have, and as if it’s power.”Continue reading “Burning Man and the failure of feminism?”

The New Jim Crow and the church (another old post)

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?Continue reading “The New Jim Crow and the church (another old post)”

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.Continue reading “How do we talk across the divide?”

…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.Continue reading “…for you were aliens in Egypt.”

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).

Continue reading “Drunken international reconciliation–how do we stop the fighting?”

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!”)

Continue reading “What do we communicate when we communicate?”