A pastor’s lament: 60 years later, and we still don’t give a s*** about each other

Last night as we waited for the Darren Wilson verdict to return, I went to the right place: I went downtown, where faith leaders and anarchists and socialists and nonviolent youth movement leaders and queer activists of all races had convened because we needed to be a public witness but more than that, we neededContinue reading “A pastor’s lament: 60 years later, and we still don’t give a s*** about each other”

When focusing on the “racist” upholds a broken system

or: When are we going to get real about poor people of color wanting to be safe and the underpinnings of the police force undermining the efforts of good police?   I just came across this article about an Oakland firefighter filing a discrimination case because he and his young sons were held at gunpointContinue reading “When focusing on the “racist” upholds a broken system”

Michael Brown, Worship this Sunday, and Confusing Unity with Comfort

I am tired of my church breaking my family’s heart. I wasn’t going to write about Michael Brown. Many others have already done so, reflectively and powerfully, including writing about the role of the White church in the midst of this moment of pain. I wasn’t going to write about it because I’ve written on itContinue reading “Michael Brown, Worship this Sunday, and Confusing Unity with Comfort”

Homelessness, the woman on my patio and the Woman at the Well

Sermon preached at First Christian Church of Palo Alto, August 10, 2014. Text: John 4:5-15 (with references to later verses), the story of the Woman at the Well Preamble to the sermon: I am known in some circles for preaching a really up-on-your-feet, clap and shout amen kind of sermon. I think that was whyContinue reading “Homelessness, the woman on my patio and the Woman at the Well”

The Myth of Street Smarts versus Book Smarts

Delivered June 13, 2014, at Disciples Divinity House at the University of Chicago annual Convocation. I looked, and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it. He spread it before me; it had writing on the front and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation andContinue reading “The Myth of Street Smarts versus Book Smarts”

“That’s why I don’t watch the news,” #notallmen and the global protection of rape culture

He was for real the sweetest guy I’ve ever met. I had opened up my home to a couple of people coming to Oakland for a conference for activists. We totally bonded over finding a space to create our own identities rather than the identities the world tried to impose on us. He told meContinue reading ““That’s why I don’t watch the news,” #notallmen and the global protection of rape culture”

The cost of being reasonable: reflections on why the whole church didn’t preach about Michael Dunn and Jordan Davis

I have some really smart friends. I have friends who are powerful leaders and facilitators and great thinkers. I have friends from all across the nation (and a few around the globe). I have friends of a fair few religious backgrounds, from Atheist to Zoroastrian. And I have friends from a whole lot of differentContinue reading “The cost of being reasonable: reflections on why the whole church didn’t preach about Michael Dunn and Jordan Davis”

What if Oakland is one of the thin places?*

*thin places: a Celtic term for those places where the division between earth and heaven collapse, where we can contemplate and experience the divine in the midst of our lived experiences. and so is this.       I went to college in Baltimore, and some of my friends still live there. My friends seeContinue reading “What if Oakland is one of the thin places?*”

Police Militarization Makes Us Less Safe: Why I Oppose Urban Shield

“Because we deserve better,” I said to every West Oakland resident I encountered. The 87-year-old lifetime resident and the 30-something hipster alike nodded sagely and said, “that’s right.” I was canvassing with my clergy colleagues, handing out flyers seeking information on the shooting of 23-month-old Hiram Lawrence, Jr. It was late November, 2011. Since then,Continue reading “Police Militarization Makes Us Less Safe: Why I Oppose Urban Shield”

Finding home (or, A million different Occupies)

I attended my very first Occupy the Hood meeting tonight. It’s not like I was unaware of the movement–my co-pastor and I expressed enthusiasm and concern about Occupy Oakland almost simultaneously almost from the beginning, and when we read this article http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/10/occupy_the_hood.php in October, we were pretty sure this was where we belonged. But thenContinue reading “Finding home (or, A million different Occupies)”