out of words
We are pro-family! We are pro-life!
Lord, I lack words to describe my anger, frustration, tiredness of the hypocrisy of American Christianity. How empty it is the preach about the hope of new life from which we exclude ourselves.
Where are you Jesus?
Surely not in the sojourner, the refugee.
redlined grace: new racism
Challenged, Frustrated, Misguided Men:
- Mark Anthony Conditt
- Nikloas Cruz
- Stephen Paddock
- Dylann Roof
- Larry McQuilliams
- James Holmes
Dangerous, Criminal, Thug, Threat:
- Trayvon Martin
- Tamir Rice
- John Crawford
- Michael Brown
- Philando Castille
- Alton Sterling
- Stephon Clark
- Brennan Walker
the price of justice
America is trillions of dollars in debt. And I’m not simply talking about financially, but spiritually.
For how long have American companies built empires of exploitation? From humans to the environment, all corners of creation have been destroyed out of a drive for consumption. Labor is simply a cost to bring down to increase growth.
America has not yet paid the price for justice. Every day, it is taking a payday loan on the lives of men and women of color. And it has exacted a toll on those painted white – no one has been exempt from the colonization of the soul.
That house? Built by undocumented and immigrant hands.
The railroads? Laid with the blood of the Chinese laborers.
The culture? Ex-nihilo as black bodies claimed their birthright.
This land? Crafted with the mangled massacres of indigenous.
Every step forward was one borne on the backs of those oppressed; concession by those in power was never reconciliatory – it was always reluctance.
What then is freedom? There is no option for declaration of moral bankruptcy simply to reset the debt clock. It is grace to build the Kingdom; to turn away from the former ways and start walking towards shalom. It is grace to begin paving and paying the way forward.
You dishonor the movement and a prophet if you just remember the prophet without having a revival of the movement he stood for.
- Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II
Dr. King was a martyr for his faith and vision. So often he has been infantilized among white Christians with nostalgic vigor. “Why don’t more black people act like him?” “Where is the peaceful non-violent resistance?” Even I once echoed these same sentiments. But he forcefully disrupted the negative peace in society which sought to turn a blind eye to inequality. He shut down businesses, roads, jails. He dared to believe in this radical dogma of humanity: that all are created in the image of God. He understood that injustice damaged not only the victims, but the perpetuators, and sought to restore that common humanity to all.
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on the eve of a truly historic and prophetic moment: arguing for economic justice in the face of a technological revolution. This Poor People’s Campaign was for guaranteed work, guaranteed income, and guaranteed housing for all poor people of all ethnic backgrounds. This prophetic vision stands ever more true today – as humanity we are intimately bound together on a shared home with finite resources with every growing inequality of opportunity.
As the US Bishops have stated: “The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes.”
So the fight continues. If you believed that Dr. King preached the gospel, the time is now to act – join the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign. If you disagree with his vision now, you know where you would have stood fifty years ago: a road block against the moral arc towards justice.
liturgy of the gun
bullet into flesh, we beseech thee
rain down lead upon our enemy
your most holy originator
who can deny your power?
we are helpless in your hold
our children to you we’ve sold
blood and tears do flow
we pray for victims though
may you accept their sacrifice
for the glory of your holy frame
our guns, who art in our arms
blessed be thy aim
thy destruction reign, thy will be done
everywhere as in Columbine, Sandy Hook, Miami, Las Vegas, Parkland
give us this day our ammunition
empower us, as we sacrifice our children to you
and lead us not into defeat,
but deliver us from everlasting peace.
I never fully understood what Jesus meant – that following him would mean that I would lose friends, family, home. Growing up in self-proclaimed Christian conclaves, I heard the repeated siren: beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing! And so I joined the guard, militantly watching the borders for the outsider that dare try to sneak in. “The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy.” But, I never looked inside the borders.
As I have grown closer to my Lord and sought to follow Him more fully, I have grown in horror to the world from which I have come. The simplicity and allure of that world is still tempting – whitewashed facades of happiness, endless CCM on repeat, dazzling lights and hopeful words of the world to come. But beneath it all, the good news sold salvation that allowed for exploitative consumerism, fear of the other, the death of innocents by drone strike or police brutality or murderers with unfettered access to weapons of mass casualties. To be sure, not all of it was fake; but then, neither is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I had a sense from early on that I was called to be a prophet, yet it was unclear to whom I was to speak. Now, more abundantly than ever, I see that it is within the self-declared borders that I am calling for repentance. “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”
My brothers and sisters whom I so dearly love. Turn yourself wholly to our self-giving, all-loving triune God, I beg of you. I pray for you.
It has been fifty years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. His vision of racial and economic justice, his dream for a common humanity, his hope in the kingdom of God, were brutally interrupted and have yet to be realized. 2018 will be a year of reckoning.
In the past years, we have seen and heard the fervor of demonic powers and principalities rearing their ugly heads, shouting vulgarities from the rooftops, declaring selfishness and fear as love. In a time where brown bodies are being systematically targeted for deportation or incarceration, where women worldwide acclaim #metoo, with renewed threats of nuclear war, it feels and seems hopeless. But this is not a season of their reign – it is the season of their exorcism. No longer moving in the shadows, they have been brought to light and it is in that light that they will be brought to justice.
For out of barrenness, out of the wilderness new life is born. Out of the deep void, the Creator brought forth life. After the great flood came the new covenant. Hannah’s tears ushered forth Samuel’s birth. The exile of Moses led to the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. From the desolation of the cross came the dawn of a new victorious age.
The Lord hears the cries of desperation of his people. The cries of families torn apart by war, disaster, and immigration policy. The cries of those denied the opportunity and ability to live meaningful lives through systems that value capital and personal liberty above shared humanity. The cries of dehumanized, objectified bodies. Even Creation groans at our exploitative stewardship.
As MLK stated: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
What then does the year behold? In 2017, it became clear that we cannot just let a few be leaders and workers for justice. From the Women’s March to the Last Jedi, we become resilient not through personal strength, but through community. We cannot be so concerned with looking for heroes that we miss this essential truth: we are the conduit through which the arc of the universe is bent.
“Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”
Ezekiel 37:4 (NRSVCE)
However, let us not forget we are in the midst of intense spiritual warfare.
Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.
Revelation 12:17 (NRSVCE)
Theotokos, pray for your children as we make war against the enemy and spiritual forces of darkness.
Are we not the Church Militant? Let us all continue to pray, continue to do justice, and continue to seek after the kingdom of God.
parable of the young american
A young American ran to Jesus and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”
He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; love your neighbor as yourself – go, open your doors, welcome the immigrant, refugee, and sojourner, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had America first.
pain now? pain later?
A wise younger cousin once said to me: “Do you want to have pain now, or pain later?”
How is it that we are so caught up as a nation with avoiding maintenance? Our decision making systems seem to be focused on avoiding short term pain at the cost of long term system health, and I am as guilty of this as the next. Proactive healthcare is better than reactive but we’d all rather have the quick fix option. It’s easier to pay for something new then fix it. A lottery win is easier than working hard.
And this extends into how we care for one another as a society. Do we see that people are inherently, unequivocally humans made in the image of God deserving of mercy and care? Proactive social welfare. Preventive healthcare. These things are not simply a free handout, but mitigating future cost. Economics should convince us that it is less expensive to spend money helping someone thrive outside of prison then to keep them locked up. It is an investment in people.
Movements like Advance Peace give me a sense of hope. It sounds crazy to give weapon offenders (convicted or not) money. Are we willing to see people as worthy investments? We may all have the stain of brokenness, but do we believe that all were designed and intended for good?