This past year, the depression I had suffered twenty years ago returned with a vengeance. I made plans to end my life. Friends begged me to seek help. And I did – eventually. But one of the primary reasons I delayed getting help was because I am a pastor. I agonized over the contradiction of my life. As a pastor, I was expected to have all the answers. As a person with untreated depression, I felt like I had nothing but questions. And I worried that acknowledging I have a mental illness would irreparably damage my relationship with the church
The American Church’s division in our understandings of Jesus neatly follow the fault lines of American society. We hunker in our social groups, worshiping isolated from each other, hearing from preachers who talk like us, and so we natural come to assume Jesus is like us, in talk and in thought.
Resistance is holy work. It is an act of healing. But many clergy and faith leaders (myself included) are either traumatized themselves or so justice-fatigued that it becomes too difficult to sustain resistance.
I arrived at the church and was heartened to see a full parking lot. People scurried inside with umbrellas as shields, determined to comfort Emily and her family. I’m right here for you, they seemed to be saying. Nothing's going to stop us. Where have we heard this before?
Repairing isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s rarely as straightforward as we hope for. And sometimes it’s downright costly, or worse, impossible. If the church wants to be a part of repairing entire communities, we need to be willing to do at least three things: Gather the experts, put in the time, and give and live sacrificially.
In an age when both explicit and implicit biases are becoming legitimate justifications to curse the image of God, it is time for the church in the U.S. to face itself. It is time to repair the broken fabric of our nation. It is time to interrogate the stories we tell our selves about ourselves by immersing ourselves in the stories of the other.
I’m not here to argue about whether Paul’s point is a good one — by all accounts, he does a fine job telling the biblical story in a way his gentile listeners can understand. I, like Paul, am a Christ-follower. I’ve already bought what he’s selling. I’m asking about the way he makes his point — I’m pushing back against the notion that Christianity is an idea that can and should be argued in the public square.
Until the past year, I’d never seen a religious demographic — in this case, white evangelicals — so shamelessly coupled with a partisan identity. I thought Christians were citizens of heaven, whose faith transcends political divisions with the love of Jesus. Instead, it seems we have collectively placed ourselves, or been placed, on one side of a culture war in which no one seems to be winning, but all sides are becoming increasingly suspicious, cynical, and self-protective.
I have been writing, speaking, and teaching about the manifestations and impact of white privilege since I finished my doctoral work on the subject in 2004, and one of the more difficult subjects to address with white audiences is the question of reparations. While white people tend to frame the subject as a discussion about how much money is going to be taken away from them, there is another way to think about it. Getting white people to give up wealth is a bit of a non-starter, no matter how persuasive the argument might be for its justification.
Because of my faith, my story is bound up in the story of others: Stories that filled the backgrounds of my childhood Bible, and stories that friends and family have had to bear, often without recognition or compassion.
To celebrate Mother’s Day, I begin by remembering the many biblical stories of motherhood — stories that too many of us forget, or lack words, to celebrate.
This week has been stunning. Every day there is more stark evidence of White House lying, led by the president himself, and it is compromising the integrity of all the people around him. Direct lies and contradictions appear one after another. And when the president of the United States, and the people around him are lying all the time, including the vice president, it puts the nation in grave danger. It suggests cover up and makes thorough and fair investigations more important than ever. Unless the truth is found and told, this is a danger to democracy.
We have a president who seems not to believe in checks and balances. As I write, Trump’s firing of the FBI director and the real reasons behind it are raising what many are calling a “constitutional crisis.” When a president fires the nation’s chief law enforcement officer who is investigating that president’s administration, and then lies about the reasons why, a moral crisis is also being created. A poll just out says that 61 percent of the American people think the president is dishonest — and that was before the Comey firing.
My depression is frustratingly, deeply, a part of me. My brain chemistry is wired in such a way that I struggle, through no fault of my own. But I do not struggle alone. As a Christian leader, this is my fervent hope and prayer.
In 2010, a terrible earthquake struck Haiti that caused the deaths of over 100,000 people and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. The U.S. granted TPS to 58,000 Haitians to live in safety and rebuild their lives, work, and support family members still in Haiti.
As the country and world saw last night, without any warning or usual procedures, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The only reason given for Comey’s firing was his treatment of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail case — which is laughable, given Trump’s own past statements and myriad contradictions on these matters, even if one agrees that Comey’s behavior and double standards in regard to that case were unprecedented and indefensible.
Lately, we’ve heard a lot about threats to religious freedom in the U.S. We don’t have to look very far to see the consequences of this truth: Attacks on mosques and temples have been consistently rising, and many fear for their physical safety due to their expressions of faith. Yet in November 2016, many Christians reported voting according to fears that their religious freedoms were in danger. On Thursday, the president signed an executive order purportedly to expand “religious liberty,” aimed at protecting Christian freedoms and extending their churches’ political power — which begs the question: Are Christians in the U.S. being religiously persecuted? It depends on who you ask. No really.
Pollution, poverty, and war take their toll on our health in ways beyond our control, and yet health care in our nation is still treated as a commodity for those who can afford it, rather than as a right for all. It is unthinkable that our nation can build pipelines that poison clean drinking water but expect citizens to suffer without affordable treatment due to lead exposure. It is unacceptable that some communities are trapped in cycles of poverty through discrimination often born of racism but cannot afford the medicine they need because their money must go to cheap, often less-nutritious food. And while it is unconscionable that our nation spends more on destroying lives abroad than it does on saving lives at home, the damage from war exceeds mere monetary cost. Investing in fighting an enemy abroad fuels enmity and distrust at home, putting undo stress on us and eroding our sense of compassion.
You might think these men were sentenced to death and slated for execution simply because of the gravity of their crimes. You’d be wrong.
There is something beyond the terrible crimes that determined their fates even more so: poverty. The death penalty preys on poor and vulnerable populations.
The American Christian church once again finds itself at odds with itself, especially in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump. On all sides, there are a lot of questions. To understand where we are, we must look at where we’ve been ...