Friday, October 20, 2017

Lift Every Voice and Sing, and Resist!

In a gospel-tinged clapback at white supremacists descending on the University of Florida campus Thursday for Richard Spencer's speech, the school's carillon bell tower played a song known as the "Black National Anthem." You may know it, and sing it, as "Lift Every Voice and Sing"!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Music is Our Sanctuary!

I'm so thrilled that Peace United's a part of "Notes Against the Ban"--a timely and inspired concert featuring music from the seven "mostly Muslim" countries listed on President Trump's executive order banning immigration.  The musicians include locally known and celebrated artists, internationally recognized composers and many, many more.  At the heart of all this is the Bay Area's own Aswat Ensemble, the premier Arab music ensemble in Northern California.  

We're hoping to pack the house and show our friends, from around the world, that we're serious about their friendship and serious about making this community safe for all.

There are all kinds of ways to protest bigotry and nationalism.  And there are all kinds of ways to resist a government that seems determined to harass our neighbors and friends and fellow citizens.  On November 11, we do it through the gift of music, the thrilling courage of composers and artists in our midst.

You can go directly to the ticket page here...and we hope you'll invite your friends to join you!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Daily Walkin'

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Notes Against the Ban: Music & Resistance!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Stay Woke" (Jessica Lá Rel)

Redbone remix (New Lyric by Jessica La Rel)

I woke up feeling like I ought to fear life 
I used to feel that way but now I know right 
I try to muster up my pride 
So long 
We waited for a place to call our home 
We got outlined in chalk outside of our homes 
Thinking we could change their minds 
If I want it I can have it 
If it's freedom I gotta make it my own 
If I want it I gotta take it 
So stay woke 
They'll be creeping 
You stay ready 
Or stay dreaming 
But I stay woke 
They'll be creeping 
When you close your eyes 
Too late 
We seen it all before, so it's just too late 
The past is but our proof so we can now say 
To trust is just a waste of time 
If I want it I can have it 
If it's freedom I gotta make it my own 
If i want it I gotta take it 
So stay woke 
They'll be creeping 
You stay ready 
While freedom dreaming stay woke 
They'll be creeping 
When you close your eyes

Mark 13:37 --  And Jesus said to them, “But what I say to you I say to all: Stay woke!” 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ku Klux Police Department (at 16:15)

The story Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah tells here--at the 16:15 mark in the video--is both unique to him and not unique at all.  It's the story of a night in his life, and the story of nights in Ferguson and Baltimore, Cleveland and Oakland.  What's so powerful is what he's done with that story, how he's remembered it and retold it, how he's honored his own anger by turning toward music and love.  We have so much to learn from artists like this...

Tank And The Bangas: Rollercoasters

SERMON: "Get Creative!"

A Prayer: "Unetaneh Tokef for America"
Rabbi Douglas Sagal, New Jersey

Today it is written, today it is sealed
in the United States of America:
Who shall die, and who shall be injured
who shall be scarred for life,
and who shall be left disabled;
who by full automatic fire, and who by semi auto;
who by AR, and who by AK;
who by pistol and who by revolver;
who by Ruger, and who by Smith and Wesson;
who by Sig Sauer, and who by Colt;
who by Kimber, and who by Springfield Armory;
Who by CZ, and who by Beretta;
Who by HK, and who by Glock;
But repentance, prayer and charity, will do absolutely nothing to avert the decree, nothing,
for our politicians are too frightened.

During their recent High Holidays, most Jews chanted the “Unetaneh Tokef,” a powerful prayer describing how God decides, at the beginning of each Jewish New Year, who will live and who will die.  “On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed / And on Yom Kippur it is sealed / How many shall pass away and how many shall be born / Who shall live and who shall die.”  There’s an urgency to spiritual practice that makes the holidays especially potent in Jewish life.  In the wake of Sunday’s shooting in Las Vegas, Rabbi Douglas Sagal of Temple Emanu-El in New Jersey reframed the prayer as a lament for violence in America and our political leaders’ inaction and complicity.

"Get Creative":
A Meditation on Matthew 5:38-48
Sunday, October 8, 2017
After Las Vegas


So here’s how the gospel works in public.  Here’s how agape transforms violence.  Check this out.  It’s the mid-1980s in South Africa.  And that means apartheid.  And that means the dominance of whites over blacks.  And that means the constant threat of violence among Afrikaners certain of their superior heritage, convinced of their privilege.  It’s the 80s in South Africa.

And in a squatters’ camp there, a group of black women face a handful of bright yellow bulldozers, gruesome, destructive machines.  And those bulldozers are poised to demolish their homes, which are just shacks really, but still their homes.  But what happens is this.  This amazing group of women sense that familiar puritanical streak in their white Afrikaner overlords.  They know that these men are governed by certain mores and rigid rules about right and wrong, clean and unclean, flesh and spirit.  You know.  They’re puritans. 

So the black women strip naked—right then and right there—they strip to their underwear and then right down to the bone.  And the shock of this, and the wild and unexpected shock of this, causes the bulldozer operators and the policemen there to run like crazy.  They just run for their lives.  And those wild women, those wild women stripped to the bone, laugh and sing and celebrate a victory over violence.  How's that for good news?


“If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat,” Jesus says, “give your cloak as well.”  To be honest, the translation should probably go something like this: “If anyone wants to sue you for your outer garments, give him your underwear as well.”  Jesus isn’t fooling around.  It's not what he does.  “If anyone wants to sue you for your outer garments, give him your underwear as well.” 

So let’s be honest about what Jesus is asking of us, asking of his disciples, asking of his church.  This could get kind of dicey, right?  Jesus is looking for courage and creativity.  Jesus is out to transform violent situations and violent people and violent systems.   So how does that work?  For Jesus?

Well, this particular teaching is most probably set in a court of law.  Some kind of legal proceeding.  In the first century, debtors are in court all the time.  Rome is taxing her subjects heavily, brutally, to fund its wars and extravagances.   In Israel, Herod is pressing landowners for taxes to pay for his lavish and impressive building projects.  And the landowners, in turn, are passing their burden along to their poor and the immigrant and the widow and the vulnerable.  Everyone’s in debt to somebody.  And more often than not, the whole mess lands a debtor in court.

So Jesus says: When you’re facing the court, when you’re facing that tycoon who’s driven you to poverty, when you’re facing that empire that’s saddled you with all that debt, get creative.  Get creative!  When they’ve stripped you of your land, and they’ve stripped you of your livelihood, and when they’ve even stripped you of your outer garments, go all the way.  Are you getting the picture?  Jesus isn’t kidding around.  It's not what he does.  Give the court your underwear too.  Let them deal with what they’ve done to you.  March out of that court stark naked, if you have to.  Make them think a little.  Make them blush.

Now this is Jesus at his most imaginative best.  Because he knows, Jesus knows, that nakedness is taboo in the ancient world.  And he knows that shame falls not so much on the naked party but (get this) on the one seeing or causing the nakedness.  You see what Jesus is doing?  By stripping to the bone, by giving over even his undergarments to the court, the debtor in court brings shame on that creditor and that whole system.  The entire system by which debtors are oppressed is now publicly unmasked.  It’s brilliant, really.  Prophetic and truthful and brilliant. 

The creditor is revealed in court, to be not simply a money-lender but a party to the reduction of an entire social class to landlessness and poverty.  And this unmasking is not simply punitive, and not just good theater either.  The whole thing causes the creditor, or the rich, or the greedy, to see (maybe for the first time) what his practices do to real people, to real neighbors, to real families.  And this, then, creates the possibility of repentance, of real human change, of true moral transformation.  It’s brilliant.  Just like the South African women stripping before those bulldozers. 

And this, Jesus says, is agape.  This is the gospel.  Do this and you will live.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

And Love is Everything

Friday, October 6, 2017

Recognize Who's Dying