On Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents launched tear gas at parents and children seeking asylum. Far from an isolated incident, this is just the latest outrage in ongoing military escalation.
As a religion consisting of millions of voters, venerable institutions, and large organizations, Christianity is often viewed by governments and politicians as a tool to influence and manipulate. Spiritual jargon is used to lobby segments of Christians to support various agendas, often under the pretense of being “Biblical” and “Godly.” This is how faith becomes co-opted to transform into something it was never meant to be: a way to obtain votes, a method for fueling populist rage, or grounds for implementing oppressive social structures.
On November 12, news broke that Christian songwriter Kurt Kaiser had died at 82. His work, which included memorable songs such as “Pass It On” and “Oh How He Loves You And Me,” spanned nearly 50 years. Kaiser’s name appeared on more than 25 albums and he received a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers for his contribution to Christian music. One of his songs remains one of the most important in my life, some 30 years after first hearing it.
When children scream from tear gas where they’ve been told to wait,
when signs tell families, “Don’t pass!” outside our nation’s gate—
O Lord who welcomed children and loves each little one,
we cry, “Where is compassion?” We pray, “What have we done?”
Christians can overemphasize the importance of the Bible and underemphasize the life of Jesus. Thus, when people advocate for Christ-like things like helping immigrants, providing safety for refugees, empowering the oppressed, and loving others as we wish to be loved, Christians passionately refute such things — using the Bible. They spout verses and use pseudo theology to discredit the actions that are the most Christ-like —all under the guise of “Biblical Christianity.”
This Thanksgiving presents some of the most striking contradictions I can remember: The story of the first Thanksgiving, particularly as taught and internalized among many white Americans, is an optimistic story of radical welcome and hospitality. But what that simplistic story painfully leaves out is how quickly Native welcome turned to European conquest, colonization and, yes, the near genocide of America’s Indigenous people.
The first cast in the ochre light of the dawning sun is a morning prayer, filled with hope and faith that ceremonies sought in earnest will feed the soul. I reel dutifully, waiting for a faint tap on the end of my line. My father stands at the front of the boat, scanning for ripples on the water in the low light. “Wachale!” he exclaims in joking Spanglish as he reels in the first largemouth of the day. Two Mexican-Americans bass fishing in Texas. This is the face of the Reconquista.
One of the biggest changes in policy is a new provision that allows for the accused to cross-examine their accuser at a live hearing. It does stipulate that the cross-examination will be carried out by a third party, a lawyer, or advisor.
Lamps and debt. A friend in the night, and a sower of seeds. Wine, nets, pearls, weeds, and treasure. What is the kingdom of God like? It is like leaven and it is like two sons, like bridesmaids and sheep, like workers and judges.
In the 37 times that Jesus describes the reign of God in the Gospels, not once is the kingdom of God like a kingdom of earth. Thirty-seven times Jesus reshapes the imaginations of his followers. Thirty-seven times Jesus tells them a story to help them remake the only world they know.
As a poet, I used to compartmentalize my poetry. Christian poetry, poetry of the body, and Spanglish poetry all had their unique boxes until I came across the term theopoetics in academic scholarship. We all know how language and scholarship work. While white men are busy naming theopoetics to utilize in scholarship, women, women of color, black women, and indigenous peoples have been theopoeticizing since before Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to the time of Macuilxochitzin.
In my research and experience as a teacher educator, I have found social studies curricular materials (textbooks and state standards) routinely place indigenous peoples in a troubling narrative that promotes “Manifest Destiny” – the belief that the creation of the United States and the dominance of white American culture were destined and that the costs to others, especially to indigenous peoples, were justified.
A dystopian scene is unfolding across California. Charred car skeletons sit idle on the side of roads in the working-class town of Paradise, Calif. In one video, a camera pans to reveal what looks like an apocalyptic movie set — passing the remains of an abandoned school bus, begging us to ask what happened to those who were inside.
Politics has always involved disagreements, but it’s not the same as it ever was in today’s United States. Something has changed. In a national survey we at More in Common conducted last month, fully 87 percent of Americans said that they feel the country is more divided than at any point in their lifetimes.
White evangelicals hold more extreme, negative views regarding immigrants, refugees, and the prospect of the nation’s racially diverse future, than any other group in the country. It is a devastating indictment of the failure of white evangelicals to live as faithful disciples of Jesus in these crucial areas. Further, it confirms how this group, comprising about 25 percent of those who vote, is a core component of President Donald Trump’s political support, with his angry, racially laden appeals to an exclusive ethno-nationalism.
When I was 7 years old, my family began fostering babies. Often these kids would be placed with us after being abandoned just days after they were born. Many of them were never even given a name before their mothers left them at the hospital. When I was about 9 years old, we took in a little boy and his newborn sister. My family eventually adopted them. So, when I screened "Instant Family," starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, so many aspects of the movie rang true: The way the foster children acted out, their desire to be with both their birth mother and their foster parents, and how other people reacted to their family. But what also rang true, and it is a story not often told, is how the kids in foster care are not solely defined by their trauma or their status as “foster kids.”
At the Art Institute of Chicago, James Webb has fit the sound of Chicago’s religious devotion into one room. The city’s religious life spouts from speakers fixed to the floor. Museumgoers shuffle across the expanse of red carpet, pausing over one mushroom shaped speaker and then another — like bees gathering pollen, intent on producing cultural understanding and greater empathy.
She’d kissed her
gently on the forehead
before setting her down
and then — just walked away.
Walked on water right out of the bay,
headed toward the ocean. She’d had enough —
seen enough, heard enough.
She wasn’t made of stone.
For most people, this specific story starts on Oct. 12, the day the caravan left from San Pedro Sula to start the trek towards the U.S. In the days following their departure, it’s all anyone here in Honduras could talk about. Footage of the asylum seekers flooded every news outlet and dominated countless living room conversations and lunchroom chats. From this side of things, it’s hard not to be confronted with the fact that the daily realities here in Honduras make many people feel like leaving the place they love is their only option.
The Many is an indie folk/gospel, liturgically-grounded worship band that creates music for people to sing together. Assistant Web Editor Christina Colón spoke with producer Gary Rand, manager and writer Lenora Rand, and lead singer Darren Calhoun, to learn more about how The Many is creating liturgies that speak to issues of injustice and leave room for lament.