David F. Potter is a practitioner of restorative justice and contemplative activism, and a current Master of Divinity student at Yale Divinity School. Connect with him @davidfpotter.
Posts By This Author
Building a World Beyond Policing
Brutality is the rational action of a police state founded on a lie.
The Enneagram Is Not Just for White People
The landscape of social change is evolving. While effective activism and spiritual vitality have long been positioned in opposition to one another, today’s social movements are investing greater attention to their interdependence. At this intersection of personal and collective well-being, justice doula and movement chaplain Micky ScottBey Jones holds both deep conviction and embodied wisdom.
Congress Quietly Passes Juvenile Justice Reform
On Thursday, Congress passed bipartisan criminal justice reform. As deliberation over the First Step Act continues — the bill proposing multiple reforms to the criminal justice system and currently in the legislative limelight — the 5-year renewal of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act quietly achieved measurable impact for incarcerated juveniles.
Boys Will Be the Kind of Boys They Are Socialized to Be
Women have the right to live free from violation to their bodies. There is nothing profound about this statement. I want to believe it holds no hint of hyperbole, that this is a commonly held belief, that it is in fact true But in light of the rhetoric circulating in recent weeks, I’m not so sure.
Heresies of Whiteness
FALSE GOSPEL is interwoven throughout both our national identity and theological imagination. In Reconstructing the Gospel, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove excavates our common story alongside his own lineage. With thorough historical analysis, Wilson-Hartgrove confronts misguided narratives of “who we are” and illumines our current sociopolitical reality.
Beginning with America’s original sin of slavery, Wilson-Hartgrove moves through the Reconstruction era and subsequent redemption struggle, the Jim Crow South, the civil rights movement, and finally, to the truth of today: Systems of enslavement aren’t gone, they’ve merely evolved into new forms. Along the way, Wilson-Hartgrove highlights those who have baptized the sin of racism—from missionaries on slave ships to slavery-supporting preachers Thornton Stringfellow and George Washington Freeman and to Franklin Graham and the Moral Majority—and outlines the destructive patterns of racial blindness, racial habits, and racial politics.
Wilson-Hartgrove reveals that he is “a child of Klan country,” an heir to the sickness of racism. “A man torn in two,” he writes, divided between what Frederick Douglas described as the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ. Reconstructing the Gospel tells of his own untethering from slaveholder religion.
In perhaps the most compelling chapter, titled “Living in Skin,” Wilson-Hartgrove examines how this tradition affects white folks’ dis-ease with embodied life. He asks, “What evil spirit has left us out of touch with our bodies?” Believing the myth of white supremacy requires relinquishing full humanity. “You can’t shut up compassion in a human heart one minute and then go back to normal the next,” says Wilson-Hartgrove. In the process, white folk lose sight of their bodies and solely elevate the spirit. A disconnected body and spirit results in a “fail[ure] to connect faith and politics in meaningful, consistent ways.”
Is a New Evangelicalism Possible?
The first week of Eastertide is bringing hope of revival in Lynchburg, Va.
In the Wake of Hate Marches, a Charlottesville Attorney Is Prosecuting 3 Black Men. Why?
Solidarity Cville, a “community defense network” of multiple local activist groups, is pressing Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney, Joe Platania, to drop all charges against Harris. In addition to holding a vigil outside the police department in the District Courthouse on Thursday evening, the group is preparing a sustained response to Harris’ trial on Friday.
God, Come Near
God of wholeness,
come and fill our hearts and minds,
and our bodies
with deep abiding love.
THE SACRED ENNEAGRAM infuses a centuries-old personality typing system with an often-neglected perspective: grace and compassion. With nuance and genuine curiosity, Christopher L. Heuertz moves beyond personality caricatures common to many writings on the Enneagram and explores the complexities of being fully human. Rather than type-calibrated condemnation, Heuertz’ insights extend affirmation, hopefulness, and an invitation to self-liberation.
A sacred map to the soul, as described by Heuertz, the Enneagram illumines a journey of discovering our true self beyond false identities upheld by “self-perpetuating lies.” This transformation begins with an honest awakening to how we have invested in one of nine identity illusions and continues as we begin to relinquish our defense of this surface-level version of ourselves. Through self-observance and “empathetic detachment,” we cultivate the gifts of mental clarity and emotional objectivity and increase our capacity to reflect the essential nature instilled within us. In this slow conversion toward embracing the imago dei within, we return to God.
Interwoven throughout this work is the wisdom of master spiritual teachers. Thomas Keating’s “three programs for happiness”—in which happiness requires an integrated balance of security and survival, affection and esteem, and power and control—is brought alongside Henri Nouwen’s “three lies of identity”: I am what I have, I am what other people say or think about me, and I am what I do.
Protest, Renewed Hope In St. Louis
The last time dissent rose in St. Louis, it elevated the platform of Black Lives Matter and fueled a sustained, nationwide struggle over police brutality and systemic racism.
We should not ignore the dissent rising in St. Louis again this week.
White Supremacy Versus the Gospel in Charlottesville
On Friday, I traveled to Charlottesville, Va., to bear witness. What I saw there deeply unsettled me. White supremacists, gathered for a rally at a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, boldly manifested the evil legacy of America’s original sin. Unfolding in streets throughout the city the heritage of whiteness was revealed in full display. Perhaps most disturbing was the unashamed nature of this hate-filled display: In 2017, white supremacists wear no hoods.
‘White Supremacy Will Not Win Here’: People of Faith to Counter-Protest Alt-Right Rally in Charlottesville
“It is our duty as white folks to dismantle white supremacy,” Caine-Conley said. “… People of color, both black and brown bodies, have been absorbing violence since our country was created as our country. Showing up in body to absorb some of that violence and tension ourselves, to put our bodies in places that black and brown people have been for centuries, is really important as we begin to dismantle white supremacy.”
How Can Spiritual Practice Sustain Activism?
In recognizing the challenges of working for social justice, spiritually-rooted social action provides something of substance to the people in movements. From this place of rootedness, social movements can set intentions that point towards sustainability.
What the Enneagram Can Teach Us About Beloved Community
Transformation, whether offered through the Enneagram or elsewhere, is limited by the courage of those who receive it. Like someone who looks in a mirror and immediately forgets what they look like after departing, knowledge is futile unless taken accountability for. We can close our eyes and pretend circumstances or negative behavior patterns don't exist, but we can't passively will our way into a new reality. Personal growth happens as a result of intentionality and a commitment to doing hard work. Those who have done the hard work of “coming alive” within themselves till rich soil. Out of this place, beloved community will flourish.