Activism

Sharing Our Stories

Yesterday I was in a class where we were trying to frame up the story of ourselves--not just an idealistic fluffy tale--but one that when you told it, others would understand in their gut why you felt the way you feel and maybe even get a glimpse of the "real" you and move a little bit closer to you as a person. A gentleman shared with me his negative feeling of experiencing that vulnerability. I do believe that most people feel this way...scared to go deeper....scared to really talk about [...]

Get Rich or Die Trying

A few years back 50 Cent starred in the movie "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" about a young drug dealer who leaves his dealing to pursue a career as a rap star. The contrast is stark: utter poverty or incredible wealth. No matter the level of material poverty or wealth, believing that more "toys" is the goal will never overcome widespread poverty.

I ran into an acquaintance here at Pentecost 2008 who reminded me of how this "get rich or die trying" message is ingrained in our psychology at [...]

Building the Beloved Community: 40 Years After MLK's Poor People's Campaign

As I attended Pentecost 2008 I was reminded that Dr. King's Poor People's Campaign is celebrating its 40th anniversary. On Friday, Mary Nelson (Board Member of CCDA) and I facilitated a workshop on "Building the Beloved Community." Building the Beloved Community was one of the central messages of Dr. King's ministry. The Poor People's Campaign of 1968 [...]

WEB ONLY: Redefining Holy

Making Dreams Real

Eliacín Rosario-Cruz, 33
Program and Community Catalyst (rabble-rouser),
Mustard Seed Associates, Seattle, Washington
www.msainfo.orgwww.eliacin.com

As you think about your participation in the body of Christ, what’s your biggest passion? We Christians in the North follow our cultural script too faithfully. At the most, some Christians talk about resisting the system, resisting the empire, but resisting takes us only so far and quickly turns us into mere reactionaries. As a Latin American, I find hope and inspiration in the autonomous social movements in the global South—the MST (Landless Workers’ Movement) in Brazil, the Zapatista women in Chiapas, the indigenous movements in Bolivia. The people in these movements are not only dreaming new dreams; they are making those dreams into a new reality. Christians need to create contexts in which we live out the way of Jesus—physical places and relationships in which the story given to us by a market-driven, individualistic, racist, sexist system is challenged and subverted. My wife, Ricci, and I are blessed to be part of conversations with other young and old Christian radicals who are rewriting the story, conspiring, and living incarnationally. At Mustard Seed Associates, we feel driven to collaborate with others in the decolonization of our imagination.

How has your family background enriched your vocational journey? I was raised in a working barrio in the small town of Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico. My father was a factory worker and my mother stayed at home to take care of the family. To me, they were the true new monastics, with rhythms of prayer, work (lots of it), and community.

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Sojourners Magazine June 2008
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A Generation Comes of Age

From mid-January to mid-March, I traveled to 22 cities on my Great Awakening book tour. The most compelling evidence I saw that we really are entering a “post-Religious Right America” is the shifting political agenda and theological emphasis of a new generation of twentysomething evangelicals. I met thousands of them on the road as they came out in large numbers for book events.

I travel with one of these young evangelicals, Chris LaTondresse, a missionary kid who grew up in the former Soviet Union and who recently graduated from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. From the conversations he and I have been having with those in attendance at book events, churches, and evangelical college campuses, it’s clear that churchgoers growing up in conservative pews are finally coming of age with regard to peace and justice issues. This emerging generation is the leading edge of a new movement of progressive evangelicals.

In Boston, I spoke at the historic Park Street Church, where the premier evangelist of the Second Great Awaken­ing, Charles Finney, preached in 1831. The Billy Graham of his day, Finney called people to faith in Jesus Christ and then to enlist in the anti-slavery campaign. Finney actually pioneered the “altar call” so he could sign up his converts for the anti-slavery campaign. Another famous anti-slavery crusader of the time, the more secular William Lloyd Garrison, delivered his first abolitionist speech in the same church when he was only 23 years old.

On that weekday night at Park Street, I encountered a packed church of hundreds of young evangelicals who want to be a generation of new “abolitionists”—focusing on the most vulnerable people in our world today. They suspect that Jesus would likely care about the 30,000 children around the world who die each day due to unnecessary poverty and preventable disease.

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Sojourners Magazine June 2008
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The Dangers of Heavy Metal

In March, advocates from Peruvian human rights and environmental organizations met in Washington, D.C., with representatives from the Inter-American Com­mission on Human Rights and the Peruvian government to demand justice for the people of La Oroya, Peru. La Oroya is one of the 10 most polluted places on earth, according to the Blacksmith Institute, a U.S. think tank that fights pollution in the developing world.

Activists blame the pollution on the poor environmental controls of Doe Run Peru, a corporation that mines and processes heavy metals; it is owned by U.S. industrialist Ira Ren­nert of The Renco Group. The Peruvian Ministry of Health re­ported that 99 percent of La Oroya’s children suffered from lead poisoning, and 20 percent required urgent hospitalization. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), U.S. Catholic bishops, and Peruvian religious institutions are publicly encouraging Doe Run to adhere to environmental laws regarding emissions and protect workers and children, but to little avail. Astrid Puentes, a lawyer with the Inter-American Association for Environ­mental De­fense, told Sojourners, “If this is something the Peruvian government won’t force Doe Run to do, then they won’t do it.”

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Sojourners Magazine June 2008
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