I hope we stop spreading the dangerous myth that abuse and harassment doesn’t happen among Christians.
Eric L. Motley, former special assistant to George W. Bush and current Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute, shares on the hard knocks and treasures of growing up in a largely poor African-American town during the height of the civil rights era in his memoir Madison Park: A Place of Hope. In the memoir, Motley chronicles his journey from a rural town founded by freed slaves in Alabama to navigating the political terrain of the White House. Motley recounts formative and disappointing experiences around the issue of race and highlights some of the small-town heroes that poured into his life as a child. The memoir provides a thoughtful reflection of how faith and radical love within a tight-knit community can significantly impact a person’s life.
Motley recently spoke with Sojourners about his story.
Guerrero, a former missionary turned charismatic fitness guru, is Tom Brady’s miracle man, credited with allowing the star quarterback to play at a top level into his 40s. The two have teamed up to spread the Gospel of TB12 — in a best-selling book and TB12, a lucrative training and fitness brand. In TB products and promotions, Guerrero shares almost every moment of Brady’s life — what he eats, how he exercises and rests, how he mentally prepares for games. He’s even godfather to Brady’s son.
Of course, the two political parties are not morally equivalent; it makes a great difference how we vote, as we will have the opportunity to do later this year. The Republican Party’s political sellout to Donald Trump — and the lack of a clear moral alternative by the Democrats many people of faith are excited to support — leaves many of us feeling politically homeless.
The pope spoke of “faithful creativity” in responding to a rapidly changing world. The job of a theologian is to show people what lies at the heart of the Gospel.
Sure, there are loud voices that seem to feed into certain conclusions about what religious people think about science and scientists. (Consider creationist Ken Ham’s attempts to discredit the theory of evolution.) But, as with any issue, the loudest or most prominent voices are not necessarily the most representative.
As one who enjoys the benefits of privilege in today's world, I felt it important to submit my own sense of what is just and right to other perspectives, especially other perspectives that are informed by biblical witness and the Christian gospel. The 2017 Summit represented that sort of challenge for me.
Vox highlights four major religious trends, shifts, and changes in 2017, and ends with a little dose of optimism for 2018.
“At our frequent worst, gratitude isn’t something we feel so much as calculate, tallying our advantages to weigh against the miseries of others. In the privacy of our own minds, our gratitude can bear a family resemblance to schadenfreude—a secret reassurance that others will always have it worse.”
We feel the darkness all around and need to see some light. We feel hopelessness every day and need some hope. We feel despair for our nation’s life and future and need to see and hear some truth. We see authoritarian political leadership on the rise, a White House that literally puts democracy at risk, and feel the need to make clear where true authority lies.
But Christmas says ...
When the Magi told King Herod about the heaven-sent child they’d come to honor, Herod also issued an executive order — kill every Hebrew child under 2. Herod’s henchmen would have slaughtered the Christ child along with the others had his parents not acted quickly to cross a border and protect their baby. Mary and Joseph were dreamers before Jesus. To prepare for Christmas is to remember Mary and Joseph’s dream and the civil disobedience it inspired.
As the dark horrors of sexual abuse finally begin to surface across all spectrums of our society, we are once again reminded that our churches are not immune from this wickedness. The #metoo and #churchtoo movements are a sobering and painful reminder that a dark winter exists inside the church … a community that claims to follow the One who is the Light of the world.
We feel a deep darkness in our world and in our society right now. We can almost taste it, touch it, and smell it. This darkness invades our souls like a damp, long, December night, bringing a chill all the way inside.
I ask myself how we got here, why the American church has hardened its hearts to refugees when one of the major themes of the Bible is welcoming the stranger. How did we lose trust in a vetting system that has worked for decades? How did we begin to see refugees as dangerous when there is no statistical evidence to back it up? How did we forget that so many of us are descendants of people who were oppressed and looking for a better life? How did we stop seeing the beauty of American culture as coming from a collision of cultures? How did we lose our way — did it happen overnight or has it been slowly brewing for a long time?
While casting our troubles onto God is a critical aspect of our faith, I fear that we often interpret burden as one-directional, particularly with how we react to social injustice. These days, it is hard to miss the consistent threat to human rights on multiple levels, but it is still possible to avoid responding to them. Particularly during the past year, I have heard so many colleagues verbalize their decisions to avoid watching or reading the news because it’s too distressing. Furthermore, common responses from Christian colleagues to my (admitted) rants about the world’s concerning state include “It’s not of God to worry,” and “All of this is a part of God’s master plan.” The feedback that strikes and disturbs me most is when I hear that we should ultimately go to God to comfort our distress over the world’s injustice, often insinuating self-soothing over action.
“…That’s one of the things we look for in a Christmas movie. No, not a leg lamp: a world still innocent enough for such things to cause a scandal. It’s refreshing. Reassuring. And, these days, as elusive as reindeer on one’s roof.”
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the number of journalists imprisoned for their work reached a record high, with Turkey topping the list for the second consecutive year.
Let’s accept Trump’s challenge to “bring back Christmas” — let’s live into God’s love that unites the poor, welcomes the stranger, and frees the oppressed. Let us repent, and kneel before the manger to embrace a poor and refugee Christ. Let us get up and work for a world that will not condemn and crucify him.