There are so many loud and shrill voices in various religions today, ones filled with fear and self-righteousness and arrogance and judgement and hatred — the very things that faith tells us to avoid. Those voices try to divide us and diminish us. They twist religion into the opposite of what it’s meant to be, hoping to advance their personal agendas.
This summer, I opened the pages of Nina Riggs’ memoir on living and dying, The Bright Hour, the same day that I walked into a cancer treatment center for the first time in my life. I’d waited for the publication of this book after reading about her embrace of daily life in Greensboro, N.C., as she faced a terminal diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. During the short period chronicled in the book, the author watches her mother and her best friend Ginny die of cancer: To say that Riggs — and here I just have to call her Nina — has a familiarity with grief is a bit of an understatement.
At The Summit, Sojourners' annual gathering of leaders from across the country, attendees spent Friday morning calling their senators, demanding they vote against the bill — which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to push through next week, before the July 4 recess. Those gathered are calling on their constituents to do the same. Here's how.
Many of our national monuments are culturally significant — the Pullman in Chicago, Cesar Chavez in California, and Freedom Riders in Alabama. The recent order by the Trump administration to review these treasured lands puts our national, cultural, and ecological heritage at risk.
By the time I learned to read, Juana’s eldest daughter Lesvi was suffering from a life-threatening illness in Guatemala. She returned to care for her daughter, risking her own safety to make the dangerous trek. When she returned to the U.S., she learned that not only would her asylum status be denied, but she would be ordered to leave the country. But she couldn’t. Her child needed medical care.
We will be making this joint statement under the banner of the Circle of Protection, a broad coalition of leaders from all the families of U.S. Christianity that was founded in 2011 in service of the biblical mandate to protect poor and vulnerable people. While individual members of the Circle have raised their voices in opposition to harmful budget cuts and legislation that the Trump administration and Congress have proposed — notably many of us came together for a powerful prayerful event outside the Capitol Building in late March for just such a purpose —this will be the first time that the entire Circle is making such a joint statement.
The idea of having power is so enticing that of all the theoretical options to destroy Christ, Satan chose the promise of ruling the world as his best and final temptation of Jesus in the desert. It was ultimately a futile attempt, but given the biblical narratives displaying humanity’s addictive desire for earthly kingdoms, their bloodlust for military victories, quests for political dominance, and insatiable greed for wealth, it’s unsurprising that it’s through these manifestations that Christianity is most vulnerable to ruin.
Most Christians I know who have a lot of negative feelings about feminism lack proximity to actual feminists. When I say proximity, I don’t mean that you follow a well-known feminist writer or celebrity on Twitter, or sat in on a think tank, or have that one family member who you only speak to over Thanksgiving dinner. What I mean is most of our circles tend to be homogeneous. We hang closely with people who look, think, and act like we do. We also tend to build close relationships with people who agree with us on certain issues. We further validate our efforts to remain in these homogeneous circles by oversimplifying scripture like, “iron sharpens iron”, or by stating our need for “safe spaces” and like-minded community. However, Jesus did the exact opposite. From life to the desert to the cross, Jesus lived his life and sacrificed it for people who did not look, think, or act like him.
In a nation founded on violence, how are we to respond when young indigenous people are beaten to death by police or young black men are shot in the front seat of their cars? What do we do when young Muslim women are assaulted on the way to say prayers with their community? In an attempt to protect ourselves from violence, we actually bring violence to our schools and neighborhoods, because we live a gospel of violence perpetuated over time by our attitudes of hate and racism toward one another.
The old model was that God created the earth, and human beings were given dominion over it. The earth was a “thing” separate and apart from God. A “thing” to be used by human beings. The new model, and one that makes profound sense to me, is that the earth is the embodiment of the divine presence. It’s not that incarnation happened once and only once in the body of Jesus, but in fact the entire landscape of planet earth is God making incarnate God’s self over and over again.
I had a dream last night that I was reunited with estranged family. Watching them live their lives and being separated from them became unbearable. I sat in my family member’s living room weeping, saying: “I can’t do this anymore.” My not-so-little-anymore niece took me by the hand, in my dream. She walked me to a corner in her room where she laid a prayer cloth on the ground, knelt on her knees facing east, and asked me to offer prayers of forgiveness with her. It stunned me. I woke up.
Father: The necessity of the black church, the African-American church, I think is continuing and compelling. We in my generation depended on the delivery of the Word from the individual but we did not take advantage of all of the technology that was becoming big. I think in this age we must utilize all of the technology plus imagination and all of the equipment that’s available to us to communicate, to involve and to be relevant and liberating both in our word and in our deed.
I believe that although we enjoy fairytales about love overcoming great obstacles, it’s often different off-screen. We are more interested in creating obstacles to love. In our world, Cinderella doesn’t get to dance with the prince and beauty isn’t allowed to love the beast.
The assumed exceptionalism and excessive triumphalism of the American church conflicts with the biblical call for humility as evidenced by lament. The practice of lament in the Bible confronts our American Christian assumptions. Biblical lament calls for honesty and truth-telling about the broken state of society and the individual. As such, the excessive triumphalism of American society has nearly quashed a necessary countercultural practice.
The theology, sociology, and politics of race continue to play themselves out in America in matters of both church and state. That racism is a sin and a gospel issue — and not just a political matter for us as Christians — was asserted once more yesterday. The continuing struggle to put our theology over our sociology among white Christians was again on display.
The core of the contemplative path is not just an individualistic process; it is about being a deeper part of the communal human family through the action of how we live out a just and radical spiritual truth, as Christianity was founded in the radical and revolutionary path of Jesus. The root of the Jesus story, of "becoming" his calling and path, is inherently about the integration of contemplation, action, and healing.
It’s hard enough for somebody who has a lifetime of experience navigating how to be a Christian in Iraq. But most of those facing deportation have no such experience. They don’t have a support network in Iraq. They don’t have homes or families to return to. They don’t even have IDs. Everything they know is in America.
Focus on healing in movement spaces is often reserved for times of crisis — or is reduced to individual consumerist self-care like a glass of wine and a pedicure. In our leadership development, community cultivation, and organizing models, focusing on resilient, integrated, whole selves is considered extra — a fun and indulgent add-on to the “real work of organizing.”
Though they gave respectable answers, I was amazed no one directly quoted the Christian Gospels on the subject.
The Gospel of Mark provides one saying of Jesus directly applicable to this situation. But when we examine subsequent uses of that saying in the other Gospels, we can see why none of the 60 Minutes interviewees dared quote that particular verse.