For as long as I can remember, I've ended my letters and e-mails with the encouragement "Keep the faith." I must have picked that up from my father, since he's the only person I know who signs off the same way. It might have been more lucrative for me to have picked up "It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!" instead, but I've always preferred the flexibility of the simpler phrase. Not everyone who hopes for God's grace is a Christian, after all, and we who are surely hope for more than that. We [...]
When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, he was trying to move the country to take on the moral issue of economic injustice. And, for the first time in many years, the remembrances of King's death (this one the 40th anniversary) urged the nation to do the same. Usually the nation's anniversary celebrations freeze-frame King as the nation's greatest civil rights leader whose famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 was the extent of his message. Later calls for [...]
I want to personally invite you to Washington, D.C., on June 13 through 16 to participate in Pentecost 2008: Training for Change. For more than a decade, we have held an annual mobilization around the time of Pentecost to lift up a vision of overcoming poverty to the nation. I believe that with your help we can make this a pivotal year of elevating poverty to the top of the national agenda, [...]
Friday, April 4, 2008, marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was 39-years-old, yet had already spent 15 years in a grassroots movement that radically reshaped the racial landscape in the U.S. He was not only a great preacher and civil rights leader, a Nobel Peace prize winner, and a courageous voice for peace and justice - King was also a [...]
I have become increasingly convinced that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has become the victim of identity theft. Too often we domesticate King, sanitizing his radical message and selectively choosing his words. Our nation embraces the King of Montgomery and Selma but suffers amnesia about the King of Memphis who called for a living wage, or the King of Riverside who spoke out boldly against the war in Vietnam. Dr. King would be deeply disturbed by the crass materialism and naked narcissism of [...]
No words can really communicate the essence of what we are doing here. For that, you'd need Smell-O-Vision.
In case you didn't know, Smell-O-Vision was a system developed in the 1950s that released odors during the projection of a movie so that the viewer could actually smell what was happening onscreen. Thirty years later, cult filmmaker John Waters tried the same thing with scratch [...]
Lately I keep wishing I was somebody else. Somebody different. Somebody better than me.
Don't worry. I'm not depressed. I am well aware that I have many good qualities and many more good friends. My marriage is strong. My kids are fine. Moreover, I am ever increasingly convinced that the God of love loves me, no matter what I do or don't do.
Unfortunately, none of those things changes the fact that, after nearly 45 years of countless growth opportunities, I remain essentially [...]
Martin Luther King's sermon at Riverside Church linked the devastating Vietnam war to the struggle over poverty. I began working that year in an under-resourced community and wore a "Bread not Bombs" sweatshirt to anti-war demonstrations. Sadly, not much has changed. The amount spent on the Iraq war (CBO estimate $9 billion a month, up to $1 trillion total), if directed elsewhere, would virtually ensure [...]
Until very recently, I had no idea how hard it is for some of our friends just to find somewhere to lay themselves down to sleep at night. I knew that inner-city families moved around a lot, but I didn't realize how much heartache and humiliation goes before and after most of those moves, both for the families and for the neighborhoods they come and go from in search of better space.
Part of the problem is low incomes, of course, which leave almost everyone around here one minor [...]
"We have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly", said Al Gore in is Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. He called on the U.S. and China, the worst polluters, to stop blaming others and take action "or stand accountable before history for their failure to act." God calls us to care for creation and the generations to come; we, too, will stand judged if we do not rouse from our doze and not only call for action on [...]
Suddenly it seems there's a full-scale war going on in our neighborhood, and we and our neighbors here are in a new kind of danger.
On their way back to college after helping out at our weekly dinner party, our friends Jenny and Alyssa stopped at an intersection and noticed a group of guys milling around in the early evening, less than a block from our church. A moment later, guns started [...]
Two months ago, for the first time in my eight years living in Washington, D.C., I was mugged. Two young men rolled up in a pickup truck while I was unloading groceries from my car in the alley next to my condo building. They made me lie on the ground, held a gun to my neck as they took my money, and then locked me in the trunk of my car as they made their getaway. Fortunately I still had my cell [...]
Thanksgiving is the time of year when American generosity is clearly visible. We make donations to our local food banks and homeless shelters and volunteer in soup kitchens. But do we really believe that is the solution to hunger?