"Most first-generation immigrants, especially from Korea, found community in church. And so as children of Korean immigrants, most of us grew up in church. It is very much a part of who we are. We’re not trying to proselytize people or save people, but if we can tell a real story, and it's not always pretty, it's not always good or hopeful — just see album two. As long as we can interact with people listening in a real way, then our job is done."
Last week, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival kicked off with eight weeks of nonviolent direct action every Monday. Movements have long recognized the deep work necessary to build community, and that is why after the mass arrests on Monday, the campaign hosts #TruthfulTuesdays, a series of teach-ins for social justice. As the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis said at the first one, “Yesterday we were loud. But we can’t be loud and wrong.”
"We experience being known in many different ways: in baptism, whether as infants or children or adults, in confirmations, in ordinations, in weddings. We haven't had anything for people who have transitioned to change their name or ask that we use different pronouns for them. Yet this is obviously a really profound shift in who they understand themselves to be. It’s important for the church to affirm that identity, and name it as good."
Whatever your opinions of President Trump, his actions and words directly contradict what we are told constitutes wisdom, and fulfill the Bible’s definitions of folly. He seems to be lacking joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control — every fruit of the Spirit.
We at Sojourners were especially blessed to have Peter’s leadership for 26 years on the board of Sojourners and, before that, Call to Renewal, which we and he helped to found on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable. That was a deep passion for Peter, for those left outside that Jesus told us to bring inside.
Strikingly, these Evangelical leaders made no public statements about what was right in front of them. They offered no words about the inhumane conditions their Palestinian brothers and sisters endure. They made no attempt to heal the fighting or bring justice to the situation.
Calling people “animals” misses the mark on all of this, even if the comment only referred to gang members. No, we shouldn’t shrug at evil or avoid calling out awful things and people who are causing great suffering — an important part of our power with language. But even in naming evil we’re to be guided by love for the suffering and those who cause suffering. Jesus loved the criminal on the cross next to him on Golgotha. Each person is made in God’s image and loved by God.
One particularly welcome development at the Met Gala was seeing the mail coif associated with Joan adopted by women of colour such as Priyanka Chopra and Zendaya. This move distanced the saint from her recent nationalist and racist recruitment by Marine Le Pen of France’s Front National and reclaimed her as an icon of ferocity for all women.
Letterman brought up the topic in an interview with Tina Fey on his new Netflix show — to not great effect. “If in the previous three decades, Letterman had hired greater numbers of diverse writers, he would have transformed the comedy world. He chose not to, and that’s part of his legacy.”
The most theologically significant prayer at the ceremony, however, was offered by John Hagee, a megachurch pastor from San Antonio. Hagee, a longtime supporter of Israeli policies, thanked the Lord on this occasion “that Jerusalem is and always shall be the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
Despite the frequency, I have made the decision to allow myself to feel the anger and pain that comes with every example of community profiling, because desensitization feels far more dangerous to me. While this is just a reality for black and brown people, these examples of back-to-back national headlines help provide justification for our outrage and fear. They demonstrate that nowhere seems safe for people of color, and instances like these happen everywhere — including in our own neighborhoods. What cannot be denied is that there is a common thread behind these encounters: A scared white person. For all who feel threatened by even the mere presence of people of color, I have one simple request: Please stop calling the police on us.
"Pope Francis has an enormous capacity to communicate. His words are simple, but clear, and from the heart. He has a great presence that comes from his honesty, his humility, his sense of humor, and his courage."
In my experience, seminaries have perpetuated the notion that Jesus can be molded into the salvific order of the day. While the debate regarding Jesus, his nature, his relationship to the Creator have been the source of debate for millennia, we neglect to account for the debate’s effect on believers. For some, Jesus is an activist intentionally resisting empire. To others, he is ethereal and the God of a few. Others see Christ as the leader of a militant, anti-establishment sect. And to a select few, Jesus is simply “their homeboy”.
The Holy Spirit is at work even in the darkness of this political moment. We feel it calling us to reclaim Jesus from those who have appropriated, co-opted, and hijacked his name for worldly power. Will you join us and show the world that the followers of Jesus refuse to be complicit and refuse to be complicit?
If we commit ourselves, as Christians and communities of faith, to see one another in our full complex experiences of life, if we name and honor and celebrate and walk with one another in each of life’s many layers day after day and week after week, then Mother’s Day will still come each year, as it always does. And it will no doubt, still carry both joy and pain for people. But perhaps it will not be so much an overwhelming challenge to us, to cram a universe worth of feeling and experience that we otherwise neglect into a single day.
Rakem Balogun is believed to be the first person targeted and prosecuted under a secretive U.S. surveillance effort to track so-called “black identity extremists.”
“It makes sense that Kate Bowler, whose career began with a motorcycle-driving pastor of a Mennonite megachurch, would also be the person you’d want to hear from about life with incurable Stage 4 cancer. When life hands you the incomprehensible, sometimes all you can do is pay attention.”
Even though Congress has not voted on the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, states have begun using it as a model for state-level legislation. We must keep the momentum rolling. This Mother’s Day, give the gift of civic engagement.
"I wanted to make a book that (says), this is how it feels, here is how it’s dangerous for me to talk about race and be a black woman in an organization that thinks it’s made it, but it still has work to do. I hope by naming those things and making those things real, it would open up the eyes of white folks and (give) people of color an opportunity to say, 'This is real.'"