The Common Good

Diversity

The Bible, Bigotry And The Willie Nelson Look

Source: Patheos
Date: December 27, 2013
Let’s go further. Jim Wallis started Sojourners with a hole-y Bible, a Bible with all the verses about “the poor, wealth and poverty, and social justice” all cut out. As a result, he’s been shunned, shouted at by Glenn Beck and almost thrown out of the seminary where he started. All for just telling people what the Bible says.

Kwanzaa Radio Program Continues 20-Year Tradition of Instilling Values

Kwanzaa began Wednesday but two veteran storytellers began planning for the weeklong celebration of the Western African diaspora back in October.

That’s when Wilmington, North Carolina, storyteller Joyce Grear and Madafo Lloyd Wilson, host of A Season’s Griot, met to decide what story Grear should read this year.

They sat in the wide, barren conference room between radio studios at WHQR Public Radio, where A Season’s Griot has been produced for more than two decades as the only nationally syndicated Kwanzaa radio show in the country.

 

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Yearning for the Pleasing 'Bubble' Version

“Bubble living” might be delusional, but it expresses deep and serious yearnings.

Take “Champagne music” maker Lawrence Welk. His music variety show on ABC was built on perpetuating the squareness of a prewar world being challenged by postwar change.

My father was still watching Welk reruns 40 years after it ceased production in 1971. They reminded him of a world long supplanted.

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No, Megyn Kelly, Jesus and Santa Weren't White

Conservative talk show host Megyn Kelly claimed on her Fox News show last week that “For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white ... just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, you know, I mean, Jesus was a white man, too ... that’s a verifiable fact, I just want kids to know that.”

This statement was in response to a Slate piece by Aisha Harris, “Santa Should Not Be a White Man Anymore,” which notes her confusion between seeing a black Santa figurine in her home while white Santas were popularized elsewhere at the mall and her school. Because the real history of St. Nicholas is so far removed from his present iteration as Santa Claus, she argues that it would be easier and less culturally problematic to change him into a penguin. This avoids questions of race and culture and makes him accessible to all. While I see her point about wanting to avoid cultural problems, it might be a good idea to confront the underlying issue of racism in America rather than continue to ignore it.

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Please Hear Those of Us Who Can't

I just read the Sojourners blog, The Most Ignored and Undervalued People Within Churches Today, challenging churches to reach out to marginalized people. I was saddened but not surprised there was no mention of the exclusion of the largest group of people excluded every Sunday morning: those with hearing loss.

I have always considered myself “progressive,” ready to take up the cause of those in society that needed advocacy. While I was a pastor of a church, I worked toward making our building wheelchair-accessible and dreaming of the day when we could hire an ASL captioner at least once a month.

Yet in my naivety I believed that adult-onset hearing loss could be countered by a good hearing aid, allowing the user to have comprehension close to that of a person with “normal” hearing.

That misguided belief was tested five years ago when, at 63, I became deaf after knee surgery. It was seven months before I received a cochlear implant, but soon discovered it was inadequate for situations I would encounter daily: meetings, restaurants, movies and — most ironically — churches.

At the time, my spouse, Sheryl, and I were awaiting her ordination to find an area where we could continue our ministry. Life, however, had other plans. As we struggled to come to terms with the full impact of my initially devastating deafness, we learned a lot about being deaf that we did not know before I tumbled head first into the community of people with hearing loss.

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Muslim Superhero Kamala Khan No Match for Real-life Islamophobia

When Marvel Comics announced the debut of its latest superhero — a 16-year-old Pakistani-American Muslim from Jersey City, N.J. — it was correctly seen as a positive development. Created and written by two American Muslim women, Kamala Khan (aka Ms. Marvel) holds promise.

But while Khan is a comic book character, she should not become a caricature.

“Her brother is extremely conservative,” the editor, Sana Amanat, told The New York Times. “Her mom is paranoid that she’s going to touch a boy and get pregnant. Her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor.”

American literature is replete with tales of assimilation, from “My Antonia” to “The Joy Luck Club.” The overprotective mother and the demanding father are staples of the genre. But with Khan, there is an additional twist: The “conservative” brother.

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Only 19 Percent Are Women

Date: November 22, 2013
Last week, a controversy erupted over Twitter when it came to light that a prominent evangelical conference with 110 speakers only had four women on stage. Journalist Jonathan Merritt did a quick informal study and discovered that out of 34 prominent evangelical conferences, only 19 percent of speakers at plenary sessions were women.

In Search of the Real Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin was caught on video venting his rage against a photographer and using a homophobic slur. I actually don’t follow Alec on Twitter or keep up with celebrity news on TMZ, but apparently he’s put similar slurs in writing. In this case, however, he denies using a homophobic slur, saying he is being misquoted. And as proof that he is not homophobic, in fact just the opposite, he points to his work on behalf of marriage equality with GLAAD. In defense of his actions in the video, he insists he was only defending his family’s privacy — in the video we can clearly hear him shouting at the photographer to stay away from his wife and his baby. Here’s a brief excerpt from his blog post in which Baldwin expresses his desire to protect his family and neighbors from media harassment:

I am concerned for my family. In Bloomberg's New York, forty or fifty paparazzi are allowed to block streets, inconvenience homeowners, workers and shoppers, and make life miserable for my neighbors. Photographers have tripped and fallen on babies in strollers on my block. They have nearly struck my wife in the face with microphones. They provoke me, daily, by getting dangerously close to me with their cameras as weapons, hoping I will react. When I do, the weapon doubles as a device to record my reaction. And then, apparently, I lose every time. 

And here’s what the prominent blogger Andrew Sullivan had to say. He is among many who called for accountability from Baldwin, GLAAD and his current employer MSNBC. (At this writing MSNBC has suspended Baldwin’s show for two weeks.) Here’s what Sullivan said:

Look: Baldwin’s anger… was thoroughly merited. But he continually resorts to this kind of homophobic poison when he’s angry. Just as Mel Gibson revealed his true feelings about Jews in his drunken rant, so Baldwin keeps revealing his own anti-gay bigotry. These outbursts reveal who he actually is. (Emphasis in original)

So which is it? Is Baldwin a raging (literally) homophobe or is he a decent guy protecting his family and neighbors? Whenever I encounter an either/ or choice like this, I know I am in the presence of a possible scapegoating incident for three reasons.

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Faith Leaders Protest Race In Sentencing

Date: November 21, 2013
Others signing the letter included Paul Basden and Jim Johnson, pastors of Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco, Texas; Roger Olson, Foy Valentine Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics at Baylor University; Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia in Houston; Shaine Claiborne of The Simply Way in Philadelphia; Fisher Humphreys, retired professor at Samford University; Christian author Brian McLaren; Sojourners founder Jim Wallis; and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, associate pastor of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, N.C.