You listen to her tell the story — then listen to her tell it again
You want to learn her story by heart so you never forget
what she told that interviewer about the time she was arrested
for protesting — when she was just seventeen.
Josh believes that by joining the priesthood, he can legitimately run away from the guilt of leaving Rebecca because he’s doing a noble thing. In a song-and-dance number in this season’s second episode, called “I’ve Got My Head in the Clouds,” he sings, “No obligations are holding me down/that’s what religion is for.” (He later refers to God as his “E-ZPass.”)
Reading and hearing the stories of sexual predator Harvey Weinstein's assaults against so many women has been painful for all of us. The sense of powerful male entitlement to harass, abuse, or assault whomever they want, and by any means necessary, crosses political lines from Weinstein to Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes of Fox News, to Bill Clinton, to current President of the United States Donald Trump. From Hollywood, to the media, to Washington, to workplaces and college campuses and even churches in our country and beyond, this male predatory behavior is common. This Sunday’s Washington Post Outlook cover headline put it well: “A World of Weinsteins."
In the American church, where the right of the individual is sacrosanct, the ability to choose a church is protected with greater vigilance than the possible immoral consequences of that choice. The current segregation of congregations continues to be perpetrated and justified by the idolatry of choice.
On Oct. 21, that same intentional Berkeley housing encampment — which has peacefully existed in its current location for the last nine months, was served a 72-hour eviction notice by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police by request from the City of Berkeley. Despite receiving over 3 million dollars in grants to expand housing, the City of Berkeley invests more of its time and resources displacing marginalized communities.
Yesterday, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said in a statement, “Mister President, I rise today to say: enough.”
I wonder what it might mean if we said that and really meant it.
As human beings.
Legal proceedings revolve around intent. Intent is the difference between involuntary manslaughter and murder. Intent is the difference between a harmless literacy test and robbing people of the right to vote. Intent matters because intent shows us the naked truth behind what people do and say.
Destroyers lack the patience, persistence, and open-mindedness required to build anything of value. Their egos leave no room for the compromise that is required to create. They have no interest in doing the hard work of recognizing what's good in the world and improving upon what exists.
The work of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, born from the April 2016 Rome meeting, recognizes that most of the people with political power are not the victims of social violence. CNI is bringing the voice of grassroots Catholics in the majority of the world, who are the primary victims of social violence and war, into the ring.
If and when a survivor manages to leave an abusive situation, they still face many hurdles in their immigrant community. Some fear that stories of abuse may threaten whatever positive image the community has worked hard to shore up in a time of fear and distrust. Aisha Rahman, Executive Director of KARAMAH, a group of Muslim women lawyers representing human rights, told a story of a Somali woman living in the small town of Lewistown, Maine. After counseling and support, she finally felt able to testify about the sexual assault she experienced, yet only two men in her community were able to interpret for her. During her testimony, the men translated her stories in much softer language (“He was mean to her”), and themselves repeatedly asked her questions like, “Do you really want to expose your husband? Do you really want to expose our community?
A widely-respected white evangelical leader recently expressed to me his personal agony over how “white evangelicalism has destroyed the ‘evangel’ of Jesus — the bringing of ‘good news’ to the poor.” Another leader of a top national evangelical organization told me in a personal conversation that evangelical support of Trump “will destroy our integrity for at least a generation.”
4. Do not wait to have a daughter to finally respect women.
You can respect us because we are human, with all of the glory, nuance, and mess that comes with it. You do not need to imagine a woman as your mother or aunt or cousin to respect her. You can respect her because of the soul that she carries and the life that she lives. Her relationship to you, her partner, her father, or anyone else should not be what defines your respect.
Phyllis Tickle predicted that it would take us — as it has taken others elsewhere — one hundred years to shake it all out once more, to find a new normal as humans, as Christians, as people who are relearning how to love and recognize the image of God in one another. And if this is true, then we are still merely at the beginning of this epoch, marked by the rise of global internet access. We are in the "chaos" phase that every artist knows well, where the supplies are strewn about and the grief that is to be our painting’s subject has yet to be fully deconstructed. To me, there is hope in this reminder — hope that maybe we have been created to live in the muddled period of becoming, committing ourselves to trial and error and to sifting.
Women are showing that, despite being subject to the most violent and forceful manifestations of our patriarchal society and culture, they are willing to stand up in defiance and in solidarity to ensure that we as a society no longer allow incidents of sexual harassment and violence to go unchallenged, unnoticed, and unbelieved. And almost certainly, many other women who have experienced harassment or assault have decided understandably not to speak out. “Survivors don’t owe us their stories” explained Alexis Benveniste on twitter.
1. Let’s start with this — if you are not a person who ethnically identifies as black (truly black — please miss me entirely with any Rachel Dolezal references), you cannot use the N-word. Not in a song. Not ever. I am not going to apologize for this. I am not going to engage in conversations about “rights” as it relates to freedom of speech. You do not have the right to comment on how this word is used by black people within the black community. This word has been bought and paid for through the hundreds of thousands of bodies/lives. I fully recognize that entitlement doesn’t ever want to be told what it can and cannot hold. But entitlement has blood on its hands that it has not yet truly begun to atone for, so I want to say this (and please hear me): This word does not belong to you.
Yet this administration’s guidelines would allow businesses and government employees to pick and choose who they will serve. As a pastor, I have to ask: What religion champions spitting in people’s faces rather than turning the other cheek? How is God’s love shown through public humiliation, hate, or depriving LGBT people of a job or services?
“Now my world is still on fire, but people keep applauding my ability to describe the flames.”
When progress we have worked so hard to achieve is being reversed, we must work to strengthen the partnerships between and among the faith community, communities of color, the environmental policy community, and the grassroots climate justice movement. We need to rebuild, inspire, and resource an American majority that recognizes the reality of climate change and seeks to stop it. The environmental movement must be more open to climate justice concerns and faith perspectives. Faith communities of color must be mobilized to view combatting climate change and building resiliency to climate change effects as central to their missions. And the resolve of sympathetic white evangelicals and Catholics — especially young people — who support action on climate change must be strengthened.
Though politically important during key periods of American history, evangelicals on the left have lost much of the influence they wielded as abolitionists or as advocates for safe working conditions during the 19th century. The history of progressive evangelicals has been full of disappointments, notably declining as the “religious right” rose to prominence in the 1980s. These years ensured that in common parlance, “evangelical” is now a synonym for “conservative.” The continuing dominance of the “moral majority,” and the current nature of partisan politics in the U.S., ensures that Christians who are concerned about social justice issues are minimized in national debates.
As Father Richard McSorley of Georgetown University wrote years ago, “It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon.” We once put that on a poster. Perhaps it’s time to put the poster back up.