Charles L. Howard is University Chaplain for the University of Pennsylvania.
Posts By This Author
To Be Black in Africa
It is an awful and awesome time to be Black in America. I hear the voices of those who came before say “it always has been son.” Yet the last few years have been especially psychologically traumatizing and awful. The images of unarmed Black bodies being shot, choked, and killed by police officers looping on television and social media and the lack of justice or accountability around many of those murders have haunted me. The resurgence of (and the unhelpful media attention given to) a racist White nationalism. The introduction of policies and executive orders that seek to dismantle progress that took decades to build. And the ascendance of a bigoted fearful president who rose to political power on lies about our first Black president, lies about other minorities, and by playing to the siege mentality of many White Americans. All of this has been added to the daily micro and macro aggressions we experience and the contorting demanded of us to calm white neighbors, colleagues and classmates. It is exhausting. Maddening. Awful
Dreaming from the Prophetic Middle
Fifty-four years ago today (Aug. 28), the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared in his baritone voice, which still hangs in the air all these years later, “I have a dream.” A forgotten aspect of King’s witness was his ability to move and bring about change from the “prophetic middle.” The prophetic middle is not about being politically indecisive, indifferent, or even about being a political moderate, as King was none of those. In fact he was far more radical than the domesticated version of his life that is paraded about each January.
My Religion Is Love
We do not believe the same thing. We are Abrahamic siblings, yes, and deeply connected in important ways, but our faiths, theology, practice, histories, views on God are different.
What If We Just Get Rid of Guns Altogether?
With upwards of 42 percent of homes in America having guns in them, we have to muster the courage to engage people in our lives around this issue.
It's hard to see it, but I truly believe we'll get there. This, I think, is one of the great gifts of our world religions. Each religion's prophets helped to paint a vision so that adherents might be able to live in a new way, and a new world, of peace, salvation, enlightenment, and holiness — even while still inhabiting this world. In my own tradition, Jesus came not only to save and give eternal life, but also to invite believers to take up residence in what he called the Kingdom of God. This was a profound calling — to move to a world where enemies were loved, where peace reigned, and where all were valued equally as children of God, even while still living in Rome.
This notion of moving to a gun-free world is not a new religion. In so many ways it's simply a reminder of the invitation(s) already extended. We too can move to a different world even while still living in this one. It's just over there. I believe we will get there.