In a moment, everything changed. Scores of police in military garb surrounded the crowd, firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. With nowhere to go, protesters poured into our synagogue and the neighboring church. We pulled them in and promised to keep them safe. Concern over property damage may have prompted the aggressive police response, but in our sanctuary, the protesters were our guests and were treated with respect.
Hate groups seized this opportunity to stir up more violence, challenging the police to violate the sanctuary and “gas the synagogue.” This truly horrifying slogan began circulating as a hashtag on Twitter, along with other racist and anti-Jewish statements.
"I have always believed that we can attain this necessary but difficult goal by getting beyond the superficial and tribal nature of our political debates as they play out in the media and the halls of power. We can accomplish that by identifying the deeper moral and spiritual values that are at stake and lie behind these debates. Don't go left, don't go right, go deeper."
ADVENT MARKS THE BEGINNING of the Christian year, for many. We await the return of Jesus and prepare for it by revisiting the story of his first coming. In Isaiah 64, the prophet longs for God to tear the heavens and come down, a description more apt for the latter return of Jesus than his first appearance. The longing for Jesus to return and fix the world’s mess escalated for many last year about this time and was expressed by a widely read online Advent devotional under the hashtag F**kThisS**t. (The original title was unapologetically uncensored. The originators argued that “to convey a visceral gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.”)
There is a theology that says one day God will clean house and fix everything. In the meantime, we have to live here. Advent is about waiting and preparation. What shall we do while waiting for the return of Christ? What can we do about the state of the world? The gospel for the second Sunday in Advent calls for spiritual work, confessing and repenting sins (Mark 1:4-5). The following week the gospel suggests that there is work to which we can put our hands: “Make straight the way of the Holy One” (John 1:23).
It’s a powerful setup, and the girls’ (and their team’s) journeys are inspiring. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that Lipitz is more concerned with crafting a tidy, three-act narrative than with taking an honest look at who these girls are, and the issues they face.
After five days of deliberation, a jury has found the police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile not guilty on all charges.
I continue to be surprised and disappointed by ubiquitous interpretations of [the Samaritan woman] as a “whore” or “prostitute.” John is using symbolism — the woman represents Samaria, which, according to Jewish reckoning, worshipped the five foreign gods. Samaria was seen as being partially faithful to the covenant (“the one you have now is not your husband”). John depicts Jesus as the bridegroom. When the Samaritan woman joins Jesus, the symbolized, divided but related ethnic groups will stop fighting …”
We are here for nothing less than a profound awakening of faith that lives at the center of a people’s movement for economic and racial inclusion, justice, and healing.
I looked around, and saw a collective of emerging disciples, evangelists, healers, teachers, artists, prophets, and peace warriors who loved God with all their hearts and earnestly longed for something new. Holding our own and each other’s wounds, I saw tears of lament that water the earth. I saw a community of spiritual orphans in exile, holding onto Christ while healing each other.
An early scene in Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation depicts the wedding of two slaves. As the bride and groom dance joyfully with each other in the midst of a circle of their fellow slaves, the group around them sings: “You got a right, you got a right, you got a right to the tree of life.”
Several scenes later, Nina Simone’s Strange Fruit plays as the camera pans out slowly to show a massive live oak tree full of lynched black bodies. It’s a nauseating image, and the two scenes draw a heartbreaking connection: In this world, oppressed people claiming their right to the tree of life can be a death sentence.
James Baldwin, the American author wrote about this white inertia:
“Northerners proffer their indignation about the South as a kind of badge, as proof of good intentions; never suspecting that they thus increase, in the heart of the Negro they are speaking to, a kind of helpless pain and rage -- and pity. Negroes know how little most white people are prepared to implement their words with deeds, how little, when the chips are down, they are prepared to risk. And this long history of moral evasion has had an unhealthy effect on the total life of the country, and has eroded whatever respect Negroes may once have felt for white people.” (The Price of the Ticket, p. 266)
I came away from the film asking the question: Knowing that I have white privilege, what am I willing to risk to further the cause of racial justice?
I don’t need to remind you, but I will, that this is the mentality of slave owners — the muscle memory of oppression that beats in American hearts still, in quiet and loud ways, and leads the systems of this nation to marginalize those who look different than the most privileged.
Police in Baton Rouge, La., shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling after pinning him to the ground in a convenience store parking lot.
Graphic footage of the shooting has circulated online, sparking nationwide outrage and protests.
Many criminal justice experts believed that if anyone was to be charged in the death of Freddie Gray, this was the one.
Video of the incident, showing officers pepper spraying and dragging her as they laughed, was released April 28.
Does it make sense for Hillary and Bernie to court the black vote? Absolutely. I am not troubled by their clamor to win our support. What is truly disheartening is that our support does not ensure racial progress. No one candidate should be held responsible for fixing America’s race problem. But what black voters want is a candidate who is brave enough to say that America has a serious race problem.
While both candidates have put some effort in to this message, for both candidates it was only after they faced protest by Black Lives Matter activists. It was only when the media asked them directly if Black Lives Matter that they answered in the affirmative.
Fresh off winning five Grammy awards for his album To Pimp a Butterfly, rapper Kendrick Lamar released eight new tracks on March 4 under the project name untitled unmastered.
These new tracks continue Kendrick's tradition of talking faith and politics, including his relationship with God. For example, a lyric from untitled 05 reads: "Why you want to see a good man with a broken heart?/Once upon a time I used to go to church and talk to God/Now I'm thinking to myself hollow tips is all I got."
On Nov. 22, 2014, a Cleveland police officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice when he was playing with a toy gun in a public park. Over a year later, this past December, a grand jury declined to indict the two officers involved in the shooting.
Now, the city of Cleveland is charging his family for death-related medical expenses.
In an abrupt change, the city of Chicago has made public video footage that documents the shooting death of Cedrick Chatman at the hands of Chicago police. The 17-year-old Chatman was shot and killed while running away from police. The officers claim he turned around and pointed a black object at them, an object which turned out to be a black iPhone box.
Michelle Higgins has been making waves lately. A leader in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, she recently addressed a gathering of 16,000 evangelical students at an InterVarsity conference in St. Louis, during which she urged them to back the movement.