What we’ve learned three years after Eric Garner’s death is that we can’t give up on God’s mandate for justice, incarnated in the gospel’s good news. If we trust and believe that selfish agendas of special interests will not prevail, we are compelled instead to believe that love will conquer hate.
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.
At first glance, the meaning behind this tagline for Wonder Woman feels obvious, it is the next step on the DC franchise road to November’s Justice League movie. But of course, there’s more to it than that. Wonder Woman marks a feminist milestone, too, one that feels like artistic justice: it’s the first major superhero movie to feature a female hero, and the first to use a female director, Patty Jenkins.
In the early hours of July 28, 2016, Bresha shot her father with his gun while he slept on the couch. Relatives say this action put an end to years of abuse, accounts that are corroborated with police and child services accounts. In 2011, Brandi Meadows, Bresha’s mother, filled a police report accusing her husband of constant emotional, financial, and physical abuse during 17 years of marriage. She told Fox News, “[Bresha is] my hero. She helped me — she helped all of us so we could have a better life.” According to her lawyer, Ian Friedman, Bresha’s brother and sister — witnesses to the shooting — will testify that Bresha acted in self-defense.
Labor unions have organized May 1 marches for more than a century, rallying support for shorter work hours, benefits, and safe working conditions. This year, for the first time, they are explicitly partnering with immigrants’ rights groups for the May 1st action.
In the midst of so much death, how can we Christians celebrate Easter?
These questions can be paired with questions regarding our own sense of worship on that day. How much have we Christians replaced justice with worship, not taking one into serious relation with the other? Are we accustomed to worship in the total absence of justice?
Indeed, a comprehensive analysis of deterrence studies by the National Academy of Sciences found no evidence that the death penalty impacts murder rates in either direction. Ayala emphasized that her office pursues evidence-based practices, not policies such as the death penalty whose deterrent effect rests on faith alone.
A U.N. report issued last month, based on interviews with 220 Rohingya among 75,000 who have fled to Bangladesh since October, said that Myanmar's security forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya in a campaign that "very likely" amounts to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing.
“The effort to keep the church from stopping this sort of thing is shocking,” she added. “It is about male power and male image, not people’s stories. The real trouble is they have defined their power as spiritual leadership and they don’t have a clue about spiritual life.”
All great resistance communities practice a two-pronged approach. Mohandas Gandhi described this as an “obstructive program” alongside long-term “constructive engagement.” Both are needed for the wheel of resistance to turn.
On Jan. 21, I’ll join thousands in D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington. My first stop will be at a local congregation, one of several hosting a prayer service and warming station for marchers. I’m an anti-racist, feminist, Christian, and for me, faith will be part of the day.
I’ve been disappointed with Christian silence, and even active resistance, to social justice imperatives, but my commitments to justice stem from my faith, and that’s why I march.
On election night, I hunkered down in my living room, eyes glued to the television, waiting for the announcement. When talking heads announced that Hillary Clinton conceded the election to Donald Trump, my body shook — literally. I could not control it. I had never experienced anything like it. A cry rose from the pit of my stomach and quickly turned into a primal scream.
Some of my friends have been talking about giving up the “evangelical” label, because of what it has come to be associated with, in this year’s political campaign. I’m not ready to make that move. I spent a good part of the 1960s trying hard not to be an evangelical, but without success.
When I marched for civil rights during my graduate school years, I helped to organize “ban the bomb” marches and protested the Vietnam War. I was clearly out of step with much of the evangelicalism of the day.
If it is “leftist propaganda” to talk about the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant, to talk about justice and love for God and neighbor, to talk about humility and grace — in short, to talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ, then let us do it all the louder. Otherwise, we trade the truth for power. We trade our witness for the respect of the empire.
Dec. 4 was a beautiful reminder, in the long struggle for justice, that, no matter how long we wait, God hears our cry. And love and justice will win.
A few weeks ago, Chief Arvol Looking Horse issued an invitation to clergy and faith leaders to stand in solidarity with the people of Standing Rock. He said he was hoping maybe 100 would respond. But I joined thousands, in a procession of faith leaders, to gather around the sacred fire at the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.
I knew something special was happening here.
As members of the left, we find ourselves wanting meaning, now, no less than did those who voted to Make America Great Again. We want a theodicy. We want answers. We want, in a sense, a religious explanation for how to proceed next.
It would be intellectually satisfying to come up with new narratives. It would also be lazy.
As Christians, what we are called to do is sacrifice that. We go on living. That’s it. We donate, if we choose to; we participate, when we can, in acts of goodness and solidarity and defiance; we rage against racism when we see it; when men grope women on subway platforms we follow the women to comfort them, as happened to me earlier this week. We do dull, good things, and we vote. We love, but do not soothe ourselves with the softness of that love. We deconstruct our own narratives, especially when they make us feel good.
We cry out in the wilderness. But we do not expect answers — not yet, and maybe not ever. If we are called to anything, now, it is do the work of living without them.
Trump has painted a picture of America where walls loom, refugees are banished without a merciful glance, families are torn apart, people of color are killed more frequently and with even less consequence, and the suffering are left to suffer all alone. I find myself praying for a presidency that is only bad rather than catastrophic. And I find myself resolved with a new certainty to never let the vision Trump has painted come true.
Rebecca Solnit, Maria Popova, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Walter Brueggemann represent cultural figures who model “broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act.” Hope is necessary for action. Yet a transformed future demands contemplation, as well.
The collective turmoil people experience during political uncertainty, systemic oppression, and natural disasters have potential to unlock deep places of human connection. When collectively we are at our worst, let us look back at what we’ve overcome — and remember our deep connection to one another into the future. Contemplative practice is the figurative room in which we experience the freedom to remember and courage to respond. It is what it means to have hope as a spiritual practice.
Harper’s account of the Gospel in her new book is shalom-based. Drawing deeply from a theme that runs through the Bible but is especially strong in the Hebrew prophets, Harper tells a story of a God who acts in Jesus Christ to bring shalom, or holistic peace and justice, in every part of creation.
Why We Can’t Wait is the familiar title of Martin Luther King Jr.’s book from 1964. The volume includes his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (written April 16, 1963) and makes an argument to recognize 1963 as the beginning of “the Negro Revolution” while extolling the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance.
King’s “Letter” issues a call for urgency. He wrote it as a response to eight local white clergymen who had criticized his activities in Birmingham and appealed for a more patient and restrained approach to lobbying for civil rights. The “Letter” expresses King’s deep disappointment with “the white moderate,” who “paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.”