What is at stake in the conversation regarding the decline in religious life is not just the future of our faith institutions but the future of humanity. We are living through a time just as Dr. King described, where reactionary forces seek to double down on the failing status quo through the rhetoric of scarcity, isolation, and walls. In response, a prophetic faith kindles the imagination of humanity helping us to create new pathways to respond to the challenges of our time that are rooted in not in fear, but in possibility and the values of justice and peace.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday are not just moments of remembering events of 2,000 years ago but a celebration of an ongoing reality. Examples of resurrection come in unlikely places. Recently, I found one in a 2013 study of brain scans or people recovering from severe addictions.
What lingers most after seeing Diane, a wise, sad, and beautiful film, and the best reason to go to the movies this week, is the roads. The title character, anchored in an immersive performance by Mary Kay Place, is always driving - from her house to the extended family who josh and complain and hold each other up, from there to the apartment where her son is failing to hide his problems, from there to the deathbed of a dear friend with whom she has a complicated history, from there to the church soup kitchen where she serves.
It was Wednesday, March 27th. I was one of 20 rabbis and cantors, assembled by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), to witness and report on the border. A few hours earlier, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan (now ICE’s acting director) had held a press conference at the same spot.
There have always been demagogues. Those who win power and popularity by arousing the prejudices of the people. Demagoguery was not invented by Donald Trump or Hitler. I’ll bet even Pharaoh in the book of Exodus didn’t invent the concept, but he perfected it. He never knew Joseph, the son of Jacob. He didn’t personally benefit from Joseph’s leadership and wisdom. Joseph, a Hebrew man brought to Egypt as a victim of human trafficking, but who with God’s favor rose to become the most powerful man in Egypt — he was the man whose interpretations of dreams saved everyone from famine.
In June 2018, the Trump administration issued a “zero tolerance” policy in an effort to deter migrants, a majority from Central America, from entering the U.S. The policy resulted in the separation of nearly 2,800 immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border in a little over a month.
Spring is here once again, and we are watching elements of nature in America slowly come alive as the last hints of winter melt away one day at a time. One of the most incredible things we can learn from the earth is the importance of seeing everything in cycles.
It will come as no surprise when President Trump continues his anti-immigrant agenda, ignoring well-established U.S. asylum law and putting children and families in harm’s way even after Secretary Nielsen’s abrupt departure. We know that President Trump forced Secretary Nielsen to resign to find someone willing to enforce even more cruelty at the border. The question now is what unchecked harm he will unleash after the purge of the Department of Homeland Security is complete.
In seeking to better steward their resources, Christians may sometimes wonder how their giving to the poor and marginalized might better reflect God’s ultimate gift and sacrifice. The truth is that giving well and wisely isn’t easy – as givers from Andrew Carnegie to Warren Buffett have observed – and it requires wisdom and its own set of skills.