Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It's Time! The Poor Peoples' Campaign

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Teach Your Children Well

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Be Not Discouraged

Charlottesville represents Steve Bannon's dream.  All along, he's hoped to spark a kind of race war, maybe a culture war, and tonight he's seen it all come true.  Bring this fight to TV screens everywhere--and stir racist rage in towns and churches all over the land.  Stoke the fears of struggling folks--fighting for their lives in an economy rigged for the real estate barons of NYC and the golf club clientele of Florida--and turn their hearts against any color, every color, people of color.  Make it a race war.  Make it a class war.  White guys driving cars into crowds.  Iconic statues at risk.  Put it on TV. 

The point of all this--for Bannon and his President--is distraction and deflection.  The real threat to struggling folks, middle class folks is Trump himself, and the economic interests he champions.  The very, very rich.  The privileged investor class.  The oligarchs who buy and sell, and buy and sell.  They don't want us talking about this.  Trump and Bannon, McConnell and Ryan: they don't want us talking about the real threat.

So.  Play to racism.  Play to bigotry.  Play to fear and xenophobia.  That's Steve Bannon's big vision.  Turn the struggling middle class, the vulnerable working class against people of color.  Convince them that immigrants are the problem.  Convince them that Barack Obama's the problem.  Every woman wearing hijab is the problem.  And watch them go to war. 

His President's comments, earlier this afternoon, reflect Bannon's allegiance and Trump's ambition.  They're quite happy denouncing violence "on all sides"--as if racism and slavery balance out something sinister among civil rights activists and human rights advocates and immigration defenders.  They're satisfied so long as CNN and MSNBC and FOX make this into a race war--and ignore the economic war the privileged wage every day on the working people of this country. 

But we are not fooled.  We will not be fooled.  Thank God for the prophets who remind us who we are, who we can be, who we must be.  Thank God for Otis Moss III.

Whiteness is their "God"
Privilege is their icon
Rage is their prayer life
Supremacy is their heaven

Be not discouraged
Love is the manifestation of God
Justice is Love's spouse
And Liberation is their child

We will not be discouraged.  We will not be discouraged tonight.  We will not be discouraged tomorrow.  We will rise up to love.  We will rise up to resist.  We will rise up to pursue justice.

Only justice--economic justice, racial justice, democracy for all--will heal America.  The work goes on.   

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Solidarity Cinema Festival

Monday, July 31, 2017

Palestinian Civil Disobedience

How the world missed a week of Palestinian civil disobedience: The violence of the past week, and the media’s coverage of the bloodletting, erased a central aspect of the story: Palestinian mass civil disobedience. For many Israelis, the violence over the past few weeks around the…

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Op Ed: Protect Free Speech

CLICK ON THE PICTURE...to read the piece.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Repairers of the Breach

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Occupation: An Introduction with Hatem Bazian

Hatem Bazian is a co-founder and Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College, the 1st Accredited Muslim Liberal Arts College in the United States. In addition, Prof. Bazian is a lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Bazian between 2002-2007, also served as an adjunct professor of law at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches courses on Islamic Law and Society, Islam in America: Communities and Institutions, De-Constructing Islamophobia and Othering of Islam, Religious Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. In addition to Berkeley, Prof. Bazian served as a visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California 2001-2007 and adviser to the Religion, Politics and Globalization Center at UC Berkeley.

Find Dr. Bazian on line at http://www.hatembazian.com/about/.

Gandhi, Satyagraha and Trump's Violence

This week, I'm working through Gandhi & Jesus: The Saving Power of Nonviolence, a deeply provocative book by scholar Terrence J. Rynne.  Rynne uses the work of a whole range of Gandhi disciples to describe Gandhi's understanding (and, most importantly, practice) of satyagraha.  I think of satyagraha as something like soulforce.  But its roots go deeper and deeper still.
"Satyagraha is a form of action appropriate to the dual character of Truth as one in essence but diverse in practice...in order to win a greater understanding or realization of Truth, a person or group must recognize the partiality of their own perception of truth even in the process of insisting on it...the opponent must be listened to and expected to yield his or her truth too...That is why all confrontations in the name of Truth have to be nonviolent, for violence would immediately close the door to dialogue and mutual regard." (Rex Ambler, "Gandhi's Concept of Truth")
I'm thinking about all manner of conflicts in my life: the conflict in Jerusalem, escalating, it seems, by the day, and the conflict here at home, around methods of protest and advocacy for the occupied; the larger American conflicts around health care and the common good; and the smaller tensions in a church community allocating resources and managing what seem to be limited funds.  In all these conflicts--and they're unavoidable in human community--we "recognize the partiality" of our own "perception of truth even in the process of insisting on it."  At least, that's the way of the satyagrahi or even the disciple.

It turns out, according to Gandhi, that this isn't merely political, but profoundly theological.  If Truth is God--as Gandhi insisted--my faith is partial; I see through a glass darkly.  I need and rely on the partiality of others--even, especially political adversaries--to engage my spirit in the lifelong project of justice, peace, reconciliation and homecoming.  There's no way to Truth, outside of this work.  We need each other.  We are incomplete without one another.  This goes for the Palestinians who want simply to pray in Al Aqsa and the Israelis who crave a place to call home.  It goes for the fearful (and shrinking) middle class in America and the homeless men picking scraps out of dumpsters downtown.  It goes for the church, the city, the country, the world.

Given this, Donald Trump's rhetoric--most recently, last weekend's Boy Scouts Jamboree--is disturbing and unacceptable.  When he sneers (and find the clip somewhere: he sneers) that he's going to "kill Obamacare," it's unmistakable where he's coming from and where he's going.  It's the same energy he channeled for all those years--as he devoted his life to "proving" the President was a duplicitous Muslim born in some dark, God-forsaken corner of Africa.  What makes a tycoon spend his time that way?  Violence "close[s] the door to dialogue and mutual regard."  Trump's language is violent.  His project is violent: not just silly, not just greedy, but violent.  Killing Obama--or Obamacare--is the pathway to Trump supremacy.  

Now you can accurately say, I guess, that Donald Trump has never advocated for "taking out" the 44th President.  But the scope of his rhetoric, the base he's cultivated and the years he's given to the project speak of a devastating and violent project.  When he says, "Let's kill Obamacare" and goes on to mock his (legitimately elected) predecessor any way he can, he's calling on Boy Scouts everywhere to join his racist, elitist, cynical project.  And that project is about violence: thinly veiled, but clear.  

Let's call a spade, a spade.  This politician trades in xenophobia, racism, homophobia and all the rest.  To that end, he's comfortable stirring up teens, disaffected adults, anybody he can find--to kill anything and any program that stand in his way.  He has no awareness whatsoever of any Truth outside his little mind, beyond his bathroom mirror.  (Even Jeff Sessions is seeing that now.)

That seems pretty dangerous to me. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bankrupt Without Love

So don’t worry about me, or about the rough week Eugene Peterson had. Do worry about those LGBTQ Christian kids who continue to experience stigma, rejection, and even contempt in their own Christian homes, churches and schools. Worry about what the events of last week taught them.
--David Gushee (Religious News Service)

A sad story here, about fear and homophobia in evangelical Christian circles.  When a reporter asked Eugene Peterson (translator of The Message and prominent evangelical) about his 2017 views on marriage and marriage equality, Peterson indicated his willingness to celebrate a marriage between committed same-sex partners.  This marked a significant shift for him, and offered some encouragement to other evangelicals tired of the old line and eager for fresh practice and inclusive sacrament.

Then the backlash.  Publishers threatening to blacklist Peterson's books.  Other evangelicals condemning their onetime hero for embracing weakness, heresy and worse.

So, he backed off.  He retracted the original statement.  

David Gushee writes that the real victims here, always the victims in this kind of thing, are the kids who "experience stigma, rejection, and even contempt" in their homes, churches and schools.  Is this the best Christians can do?  Heaping contempt on kids?

Clearly it's not.  Because I see it every day, every week in my ministry, and in my church.  I see same-sex couples raising loving kids.  I see all kinds of kids growing up in a culture of profound respect, reverence for difference and affirmation.  And I see LGBTQ Christians--of all ages, from all cultures--discovering deep reservoirs of kindness and courage in Christian faith and practice.  (By the way, the same-sex weddings I've officiated have ROCKED MY WORLD!)

So, from The Message, 1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, 
I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, 
revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day,
and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, 
but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor 
and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, 
but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. 
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, 
I’m bankrupt without love.