How will progressive Christians react to rising anti-Semitism in this pandemic?
In this moment, Chinese and Asian American communities are facing the double stress of having to reckon with the racism and xenophobia they encounter, compounded with having to deal with the virus outbreak itself.
Of course, dirt also tells stories of human triumph and transgression. With one scan from an X-ray fluorescence gun, you can tell whether a soil sample came from Cambridge or Dorchester, based on the amount of lead particulates present. A Ziploc bag full of dirt is also a history of redlining, white flight, and devastating arson, committed by property owners for whom the cost of maintaining the land surpassed the worth of those who called it home. Dirt is an archive of human attitudes toward the nonhuman world — our hubris in thinking ourselves separate from it, though we arose from it, and will inevitably return to it.
With picturesque homes and landscapes, plantations promote a false message of comfort and simplicity. But the people who worked the grounds, managed the home, and fostered their families enjoyed none of the supposed serenity.
Negative social attitudes, such as racism and discrimination, damage the health of those who are targeted by triggering a cascade of aberrant biological responses, including abnormal gene activity.
This challenge to dismantle white supremacy and build a beloved community is one that white Christians need to undertake for the sake of their own obedience to God. Those of us who are white need to realize that this challenge and calling isn't for other people. It isn't for people of color who white people need to help.
During Obama’s second term, less than 50 percent of active federal judges were white men for the first time in American history, according to the Congressional Research Service. In under two years, President Donald Trump has reversed that trend. He has so far successfully appointed 152 individuals to judgeships in the federal circuit and district courts, of which 60 percent are white males. He has also filled two vacancies on the Supreme Court with conservative white males.
A YOUNG LAWYER asks Jesus what he must do “to inherit eternal life.” To which Jesus gives a simple answer: Love God and love your neighbor. There you have it, says Jesus. But the inquisitor asks Jesus a follow-up question: “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25–37). It’s clear from the context that this lawyer was seeking to diminish or limit the scope of who counted as his neighbor. The tone isn’t one of expanding the reach of loving his neighbor but of restricting it. Jesus answers with the exemplary story of the Good Samaritan in a way that upends expectations and gets to the heart of the question. The lesson of Jesus’ parable is much deeper than the traditional understanding of the Good Samaritan—that Jesus is simply commending the act of reaching out to another in need, as the Samaritan does, as opposed to the priest and Levite in Jesus’ story who famously passed by the man because they were too busy or preoccupied or afraid of being late to an important religious meeting.
But what Jesus is trying to teach us here goes much deeper than simple compassion and service to the needy. The Samaritans were not “good,” as far as the Judeans of Jesus’ day were concerned. They were a despised mixed race, considered half-breeds and foreigners by the Jews. They usually provoked disgust, not admiration. But Jesus chooses the hated “other” as his example of who our neighbor is. Jesus then describes the Samaritan taking actions that show us what it means to be a neighbor as the Samaritan reaches out to someone who was an “other” to him with practical assistance, self-sacrifice, and risk on the dangerous highway of the Jericho Road.
Martin Luther King Jr., in the final sermon of his life, the day before he was assassinated, talked about the dangers of the Jericho Road: “It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing,” King said. “And so the first question that ... the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But then the Good Samaritan came by and he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”
Anti-Christ is a very big word, very evocative of our deepest spiritual realties and feelings, and is seldom invoked without controversy. It’s been abused by those promoting bad “end times” and “left behind” theology. But it’s also a profoundly biblical concept, one we must take as seriously in our day as Jesus did in his. Jesus warned his followers to be on the lookout for “pseudo-christs,” those that claimed his name but were far from the true heart of God, and said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
As a result of the political, religious, and moral crises we face today, both the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake. This crisis is fundamentally about our chance and our choice of whether those who call themselves Christians are ready to go back to the teachings of Jesus, and whether such a call might be taken up by others beyond the churches. Many of us share a deep hunger for reclaiming Jesus instead of falling into more political polarization — we want theology to trump politics.
Though Juarez is known as a center of cartel- and smuggling-related violence, El Paso is rated on various websites as one of the safest cities in America and among the best places to retire or raise a family. According to KVIA, a local ABC affiliate, it averages 16 murders a year.
In his seminal work Mythologies, French philosopher and critical theorist Roland Barthes announces that “Myth is a type of speech.” And not simply any type of speech, but a dangerous kind. Myth is problematic, he says, because it allows a fictional brand of naturalism to subsume history. It creates a false narrative that the way things are is the way things are meant to be, leaving ample room for injustice to flourish.
Recently, the playwright Jeremy O. Harris tackled one particular section of American mythos: education. And, in typical Jeremy O. Harris fashion, his exploration is complicated.
I went to see Harris’ fantastical play “Yell: A ‘Documentary’ of My Time Here” in a state of fear and excitement, wondering what dirty laundry he would air about my then-future intellectual home.
Da’Shawn Mosley: What inspired this book?
Robert W. Lee IV: I’m a pastor first. But the events in Charlottesville, and our nation’s response, terrified me and inspired me to put pen to paper and say, “We gotta talk about this, because if we don’t, our silence becomes complicity.”
This summer marks the second anniversary of the white supremacy violence in Charlottesville. What is your read of where we are as a nation? Charlottesville will live in our collective history as an event of great horror. It was domestic terrorism. As we move forward, especially in the 2020 election, we’re going to have to talk about the deep chasm of racism that exists in our country without using it as a pandering mechanism to get votes. It’s important for us to care and be deeply concerned about these issues.
As a white man, how have you navigated wanting to be an ally and not be at the forefront of the movement while at the same time being catapulted into the public spotlight? It’s a learning experience. I hate to put it like that, but it is.
While we shouldn’t be sucked into Trump’s sinister game of getting distracted by and responding to every outrageous and egregious tweet or statement, there is also a corrosive and malignant danger of remaining silent. If we are silent, the cancer of racism will become more and more acceptable and normalized, emboldening white nationalists and supremacists and leaving already vulnerable communities even more vulnerable.
As the climate crisis intensifies and crystallizes, the tangible effects of climate change today are disproportionately dispersed on both the national and global scale. Communities and entire nations who do the least to contribute to rising greenhouse gas emissions bear the enormous burden of climate disaster first and worst on their bodies and their livelihoods.
Know that Black women and our allies across generations are putting everyone on notice that every time these despicably racist and nationalist sentiments are voiced or written, we will rapidly respond, react and confront those responsible at every level. We also caution the news media against affirming, perpetuating, and being complicit with America's growing division by repeating as "breaking news" every insult coming predictably from the White House until Americans become numb and tune it out.
If we hear silence from white people of faith, we are in deep spiritual trouble. Christian moral objection to the president’s racist language must grow every day and from many quarters, but so farno word at all from the president’s most prominent evangelical supporters. Those Trump supporters have other issues and moral concerns, including differences with Democrats on abortion (as others of us do too); but will they call out the President on racism? That has now become an urgent moral and theological test.